Dr. Charlotte Rodriguez is single—again—and she blames Jane Austen. She made brooding, aloof men sound oh sodreamy. But after years of failing to find her own Mr. Darcy, Charlotte decides it’s time to swear off dating. She’s going to lavish all her love and affection on someone who actually deserves it: her new puppy, Bingley.
And there’s no one better to give her pet advice than her neighbor and coworker George Leneghan. He’s quiet and patient and, best of all, way too sweet to ever be her type. But as their friendly banter turns flirty, the unimaginable happens—Charlotte starts catching feelings.
Just as Charlotte is trying to untangle what it is she truly wants, George announces he’s contemplating a cross-country move. Suddenly, Charlotte wonders if she’s kept her soulmate in the friend zone so long that she’s entirely missed her chance at a happily ever after. Dear Reader, could it be possible she’s had it wrong all this time?
Please enjoy this excerpt from
Pride And Puppies
The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much! —Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen I blame Colin Firth.”Charlotte Jane Rodriguez, MD, PhD, and self-proclaimed total badass, stood in the center of her living room, weaving only slightly from the four shots of tequila she’d downed in the last hour—one for each month she’d dated Jerkface Jeff—and glowered at the stern, brooding face currently occupying her television screen. It was all Colin Firth’s fault. At the tender—and romantically precocious—age of nine, Charlotte had seen the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice for the first time. Colin Firth had smoldered onto the screen, and Charlotte had fallen hopelessly, irrevocably in love. Other little girls could keep their Prince Charmings. She was devoted to Mr. Darcy. Charlotte had always seen herself as the heroine of every story. Her father was very easily imagined as Mr. Bennet, calm and intelligent and kind—and while she only had two sisters rather than four, she still felt a definite kinship with Lizzy. She, too, was from a small town filled with gossip. She, too, was far too clever to be wasted on a Mr. Collins—even if her mother had made the unconscionable blunder of naming her after Charlotte Lucas. And she, too, had a mother who frequently took to her bed—though it was chemo and not the vapors sending her there. One might argue that Charlotte’s feelings for Mr. Darcy bordered on pathological. When examining her fixation, her therapist might point to the fact that the BBC miniseries was the last thing she ever watched with her mother—who was herself a Jane Austen aficionado—and say Charlotte was using her obsession in an attempt to avoid processing the trauma of her mother’s death when she was a girl. She might say that Charlotte’s lifelong quest to date a Darcy was unrealistic and problematic. She might be right. “Don’t blame an innocent actor,”argued Magda, one of Charlotte’s two very-best-friends -in-the-whole-wide-world. She slumped with her legs crossed on the floor, having sunk there after taking four sympathy shots. Magda, sadly, lacked Charlotte’s ability to turn alcohol into manic energy. “Blame Darcy,”Mags advised. “Or better yet, blame Jane Austen. She created him.”“I’m sorry.”Kendall, Charlotte’s other very-best-friend-in-the-whole-wide-world, raised a single index finger in dissent. “Jane Austen didn’t make you date a series of assholes. You did that all on your own.”Charlotte swung her glare to Kendall, who had an unfortunate tendency to call her out on her bullshit right when she wanted to have a good wallow. “She gave me unrealistic expectations of men.”“You just keep picking the wrong men,”Kendall insisted. “Smug assholes aren’t all Mr. Darcy under the surface. Sometimes a brooding, self-important dick is just a brooding, self-important dick. You gotta listen when people tell you who they are.”Charlotte narrowed her eyes even more. “So I was supposed to know that Jeff was going to cheat on me on Valentine’s Day?”She hadn’t even found out about it until today, over three weeks later, when the idiot had posted about it on Instagram. It had been quite a day. Surprise! Your boyfriend of four months has a secret second girlfriend! Surprise! Your boyfriend has a separate Instagram account he’s been using to post photos with that other girlfriend for six months! Which technically made Charlotte the other woman. Which was squicky for all sorts of reasons. She didn’t want to think about how long she would have continued dating Jeff if he hadn’t forgotten to log out of the account she followed before posting gushy I-love-my-girl stuff with Valentine’s photos of the wrong girlfriend. Who posted Valentine’s pictures in March anyway? It was practically St. Patrick’s Day. Kendall had the grace to wince. “Well, no, not that specifically. But you already knew he wasn’t worth your time.”She met Charlotte’s eyes with her usual brand of tough love. “You didn’t really like him, did you? Or else you wouldn’t be pissed off and blaming Colin Firth. You’d be heartbroken and sobbing.”She waved a finger in a circle to encompass Charlotte’s righteous irritation. “This is no Warren.”She might have a point. There had definitely been sobbing with Warren. But Charlotte refused to be derailed by Kendall’s logic. She tilted her chin up indignantly. “I am perfectly capable of being heartbroken and pissed off at the same time. I contain multitudes.”“Has anyone else noticed the room spinning?”Magda asked from the floor. The four shots had undeniably been a bad idea, since Mags almost never drank, but she’d insisted on throwing them all back in solidarity. Charlotte might need to change her break-up ritual—or start having shorter relationships—just for Magda’s sake. During the Viking funeral for her relationship with Warren, they’d watered down Magda’s sympathy shots, but tonight Charlotte hadn’t had time to prepare, and they’d all been drinking the hard stuff. She headed to the open-concept kitchen to grab Mags a glass of water without interrupting her discussion with Kendall. “I’m processing my grief over the death of my relationship. This is how I process.”“Yes, I know. By doing shots, torching everything he ever gave you, and watching Pride and Prejudice. By the way, are you keeping those ruby earrings as your memento mori? Because if not, I want to claim them before they go into the charity pile.”Charlotte paused with Magda’s water in her hand, frowning as Kendall’s words penetrated, carrying with them a galling realization. Kendall was right. This wasn’t a ritual to deal with her pain anymore. It was a routine. A habit. She didn’t feel heartbroken. She didn’t feel…anything. Except irritation. And maybe, if she was being completely honest with herself, a tiny little bit of relief. She’d dated Jerkface Jeff—so dubbed by her sister, Elinor, who had the annoying tendency to be right about Charlotte’s boyfriends—for four months. She’d poured all her energy—and Charlotte had a lot of energy—into making the relationship work. She’d accommodated. She’d bent over backward. She’d made excuses and allowances. She’d done what she always did. But she wasn’t sure she’d actually cared. After Warren, it had been hard to get her hopes up again. Hard to believe the fairy tale she worked so hard to spin for everyone else. She’d thrown herself into the relationship as much as she could, but she had disappointment fatigue when it came to men. It wasn’t Mr. Darcy’s fault. It was Warren and Hunter and Landon and Bridger and freaking Jerkface Jeff. It was all the men who weren’t worth her time, but whom she kept giving it to, over and over again. Kendall had dubbed them the Darcys, but not one had turned out to be hero material. “Are you going to give Mags that water?”Kendall asked. “Or just stand there like one of those living statue people until we tip you?”Charlotte jolted back into action, shoving the water into Magda’s hand. Then she took a step back, facing her best friends—and Jennifer Ehle, who was now on screen—and squaring her shoulders to declare “I’m doing it. I’m swearing off men.”Magda’s brows pulled together in a puzzled frown. Kendall cocked her head. “Is that a yes on the ruby earrings?”The reminder of the earrings catapulted her into motion, and Charlotte charged down the short hall in her cozy little two-bedroom condo. She hadn’t had time to gather all the things Jerkface Jeff had given her. The Instagram incident had escalated quickly, and they’d been officially broken up less than an hour after his accidental post. She’d texted Magda and Kendall while still angrily messaging with Jeff and her friends had come over right away—which, since Kendall lived a short walk and Magda lived a short drive away, meant Charlotte hadn’t had time to do more than change her relationship status online. She snatched the ruby earrings off the dresser, along with an Hermès scarf and the ugliest heart pendant in the history of heart pendants, which he’d given her as an apology for being busy on Valentine’s Day—apparently busy with his real girlfriend. Charlotte started out of the bedroom—and paused, her gaze catching on the open door to her walk-in closet. On impulse, she darted into the massive walk-in, which had made her fall in love with the condo in the first place, and snatched a small decorative box off the top shelf. The box was light, just cardboard, but in the shape of an old-fashioned hardback edition of Pride and Prejudice. She carried it out to the front room, where Kendall and Mags waited. The memento mori, as Kendall called them, were the solitary items from each of Charlotte’s past relationships that she kept tucked away after she’d evicted every other trace of her exes from her life. Charlotte set the box, along with the remnants of her relationship with Jeff, on the coffee table and stared down at them, coming to a long overdue decision. “I’m getting rid of all of it.”“Really?”Kendall asked, her voice rife with skepticism. “Even the box,”she declared. “It isn’t the box’s fault,”Magda protested. “It’s tainted by the bad memories,”Charlotte insisted. And the good ones. The good ones were always harder to let go. Charlotte flipped open the lid, and there they were. Remembrances of boyfriends past. The silk scarf Bridger had gotten her. Landon’s locket. The pearl earrings Hunter had bought her because all the women in his family had them and his future bride needed her own pair—though he’d never proposed, and he’d broken up with her as soon as he realized she wasn’t going to quit med school to be his trophy wife. And then there was the diamond tennis bracelet. The one she’d woken up one morning to find fastened to her wrist, with Warren smiling down at her, his stupid Colin Firth–esque brown eyes glinting. And now Jeff’s contributions. All gifts that had more to do with her exes and who they wanted her to be than they ever did with her. Because none of those men had ever bothered to know her. She’d tried so hard to make things work, but she was the only one trying. For years she’d worried that she was too needy, too demanding, that she wanted things too much. That she wanted love too much. She’d only ever wanted to be someone’s whole world, to be the person that mattered most to them, but she needed to reset those wants. She tossed Jeff’s gifts into the box and snapped it shut, then shoved it across the coffee table toward Kendall. “Give it all away. I don’t want any of it.”Kendall eyed the box. “You don’t want me to pawn them? I’m pretty sure the tennis bracelet alone is a mortgage payment. Maybe several. You suffered through dating Warren. You should at least get something out of it.”“Pawn it, give it away, whatever. I need to stop holding on to things. I’m swearing off men.”Charlotte ran through her memories of her relationship and felt foolish for all the times she’d believed Jeff. She should have known. Even Elinor’s dog, Dory, who loved everyone, had hated Jerkface Jeff. Dogs always knew. “I need to get a dog.”As soon as she said the words out loud, the sheer genius of them seeped into her. The absolute rightness. “A dog?”Magda echoed. “In lieu of a man?”Kendall drawled sarcastically—but Charlotte wasn’t joking. “Exactly.”She bounced a little on the balls of her feet. She loved dogs. She’d always wanted one, but while completing med school hadn’t felt like the right time, and then she’d been dating Warren, who never wanted to share her attention with anyone. But now…
Buy The Book Here: