Barking of the Wrong Tree

Bluff Point Romance #2

By Jenn McKinlay

ISBN# 9780399584749

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele


Carly DeCusati returned home to Bluff Point, Maine, with her tail between her legs. But she’s determined to get her life back on track—and that means finding new homes for the elderly golden retriever and overly talkative parrot she inherited before her old life fell apart.

Enter physical therapist and hot one-night stand James Sinclair. James doesn’t care that Carly doesn’t do relationships. He is determined to win her heart, promising to help her with the pets if she’ll just give him the time of day.

Carly agrees to date the irresistible James, and, for the first time in years, she’s dreaming of a happily ever after. But James has secrets, and if he can’t open up to Carly, their future could go to the dogs…. (Goodreads)


I am just going to come out with it – I read Barking Up the Wrong Tree simply because Jenn McKinlay wrote it, and I am a big fan of all of her cozy mystery series.  I am not much of a contemporary romance reader, but the humor, and the inclusion of the pets, won me over.  I genuinely enjoyed my time spent in Bluff Point, Maine.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree is the second book in the Bluff Point Romance series, but it can be easily read as a standalone novel.  The series focuses on a group of friends, and this story is all about Carly, a thirty-ish woman with some serious commitment issues.  One night stands are her standard MO, and she thinks she has found the perfect evening’s entertainment in James.  She knows she is in trouble when she breaks her number one rule – do not wake up beside your date the morning after.  Plus, unlike her recent home of New York City, Bluff Point is a small town, and she is sure to run into James.  And she does…a lot.  She fights her every instinct in an effort tto avoid James, but James is set on making Carly his own.

I did not like Carly at all in the beginning of this book.  She comes across as shallow and a bit uncaring.  Of course, we soon learn that she was badly burned by someone and has closed herself off to any kind of relationship.  This includes the geriatric dog and salty mouthed parrot she inherited from her NYC neighbor.  As the story progresses, she does indeed thaw and is much more likable and relatable.  James, of course, is almost too good to be true, but I enjoyed everything about him.  A nice guy, he is kind of the opposite of Carly. Once he falls for someone, it is serious, and here he makes it his mission to woo Carly.  The inclusion of Carly’s group of friends adds variety, and their interactions are fun.  James’ family is a hoot, and I would like to hang out with them over dinner.

As I mentioned above, the pets are the highlight of the story.  Saul the dog is a steadfast presence, and James’ disabled basset hound Hot Wheels adds a lot of warmth to the story.  But it is Ike the parrot that steals the show with his foul mouth and imitation of Carly in the throes of passion.

The romance is uber-light and sweet.  I wish there had been a little more conflict before they rode off into the sunset, but that is just me.  Their past that links them is far-fetched, but McKinlay has changed my mind about contemporary romance – I will at least continue to seek out her works.  I highly recommend Barking Up the Wrong Tree to any romance fan.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*