Operation Blind Date by Justine Davis (Book three of Cutter’s Code series)

Title: Operation Blind Date
Author: Justine Davis
Series: Cutter’s Code
Genre: Contemporary romantic suspense
Published: 2013
Rating: 4 stars

Okay, I admit it. Sometimes I don’t bother reading the author notes before or after books, though I do read them more often than not these days, looking for insight into the writer’s mind and the art of writing itself. In the case of Operation Blind Date, not only did I read the author’s note at the beginning of the book, I immediately read it out loud to the Mini Moes. I’m pretty sure Mini Moe #1 had headphones in, but #2 thought it was as amusing as I did. (Or at least she pretended. She’s good like that, sometimes.)

I once set up a friend on a blind date. While they were out doing the traditional dinner and a movie, I sat at home in a panic. It would go horribly, they would have a horrible time, they would hate each other and then both hate me, what was I thinking? As time passed and my friend didn’t call to berate me, and I couldn’t reach her, that writer’s imagination that is both a blessing and a curse went crazy. By midnight I’d decided they’d both been killed in a car accident. By 2:00 a.m., they’d picked up a hitchhiker who turned out to be an axe murderer. By 4:00 a.m., I’d sent my friend into the clutches of a serial killer.

Ten months later, they got married. They’d been talking all that time, and never once thought of me and my wicked imagination. Hmpf.

I knew right then that I’d have fun with this book. Clearly my imagination and author Justine Davis’s were separated at birth.

Dog groomer Laney Adams knows that something is wrong, but no one believes her. Four weeks earlier, her best friend Amber went out on a date—a date that Laney had encouraged her to go out on with a guy that Laney had met a few times through her job, though she didn’t know him well. She hasn’t seen Amber since, and the only communication that she’s had from the friend who normally communicated with her daily was a handful of texts that seemed…off. The authorities, though, are sure that it’s just a case of girl-ignoring-old-friend-for-new-boyfriend. Laney’s sure it isn’t.

Teague Johnson was minding his own business, picking his boss’s fiancée’s dog up from the groomer. Sure, the groomer was cute, but she seemed a little upset about something. Not his problem, though—at least that’s what he thinks—until Cutter, said boss’s fiancée’s dog, decides to make it Teague’s problem.

Cutter has instincts about people and situations—so much so that the people of the Foxworth Foundation, the group that Teague works for, often rely on those instincts to get their jobs done. With a lot of nudging from Cutter, Teague gets Amber’s story out of Laney, a story that sounds like just the kind of case Foxworth should take on. Soon the resources of the entire Foundation are looking into Amber’s disappearance, and Laney and Teague are thrown together. A lot.

Okay, so it’s a Harlequin Romantic Suspense. We all know where this time spent together on the case is going to lead to—there is no suspense there, and that’s fine. The actual mystery, though, did have some unexpected twists and turns, which kept me turning the pages. This was a quick, entertaining read—and the hero was former military, so it fit the bill for my July 4th reading material. I enjoyed Laney and Teague’s story, and definitely want to read the other two books in the Cutter’s Code series. They come before this one and are alluded to several times, but even so this one works fine as a stand-alone. Cutter is obviously a fictional dog, but I liked the author’s idea here. I don’t know about the total package, but I think some of what he does and can do isn’t totally outside the realm of possibility. Even if it is—it still makes for a fun read!

In a nutshell: Entertaining romantic suspense from a series with a neat twist for dog lovers. Four stars for a new-to-me author that I’ll be reading more of in the future.

(I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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