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Reviewed by Java Davis for Readers' Favorite
Capone is a rambunctious black lab puppy in need of a good home. Josie is a bookstore owner who is somewhat bewildered by the gift of Capone from her friend Anne. Josie has loads more trouble than just learning how to be a dog-mommy. Her bookstore has been broken into, books have been vandalized, expensive books are gone, an accounting ledger is missing, and the new coffee shop next-door isn’t bringing in any new book-loving customers. Josie inherited the bookstore from the late former owner, Benjamin Bartleby. Was he in the throes of dementia or was he a crafty genius? Throughout Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone by Abigail Drake, there are references to Jane Austen novels and, of course, Bartleby the Scrivener in the form of the previous owner.
The story is written from the point of view of Capone, the puppy who can’t seem to stay out of trouble even though it’s his fondest wish to be a Jane Austen-style gentleman, like the ones he watches on television. Josie is a bookish young woman who is still half in love with Cedric, her ex-boyfriend, who forgot to mention that he was married. Thanks to having a new dog, Josie finds new people to date, but Capone is determined to help her find her Mr. Darcy. Capone rates each of her new dates by where they fall in the pantheon of Jane Austen characters. So much of the trouble that Capone gets into are things that I went through with my own black lab puppy, so I can vouch first-hand for the fact that his puppy antics are authentic. The others in the cast of characters are so real that I felt like I could meet them at the local bookstore, or maybe the coffee shop. The plot was well-crafted. The animal characters were a fun mix of friends and protectors. This book is a lively romantic romp through the town of Beaver, Pennsylvania. Romance and chick-lit fans will enjoy this story.