Goodreads ~ Rick Stanton was a promising professional baseball player with dreams of playing in the major leagues and starting a family with his young wife, Francesca, when World War II changed everything. Rick returns from the war with his body broken and his dreams shattered. But it was not just body and spirit he sacrificed for the war. He and Francesca volunteered their beloved dog, Pax, for the Army’s K-9 Corp, not knowing if they’d ever see him again.
Keller Nicholson is the soldier who fought the war with Pax by his side, and the two have the kind of profound bond that can only be forged in war. Pax is the closest Keller has to a sense of family, and he can’t bear the thought of returning him to the Stantons. But Rick and Francesca refuse to give him up. Instead, an arrangement is made: Keller will work as Rick’s live-in aide. And thus an unlikely family is formed, with steadfast Pax at the center. As they try to build a new life out of the ashes, Keller and Francesca struggle to ignore their growing attraction to each other, and Rick, believing that he can no longer give Francesca what she needs and wants, quietly plans a way out.
All three of them need healing. All three of them are lost. Pax, with his unconditional love and unwavering loyalty, may be the only one who can guide them home.
All Rick ever wanted to be was a baseball player. When he finds a ten-week-old puppy in an alley, he adopts him and he and Pax (which means "peace") become best friends. When Rick falls in love with and marries Francesca, Pax accepts her into their pack. When the U.S. enters World War II, Rick is drafted and sent overseas. Francesca does the right thing and volunteers Pax to the K-9 unit ... the deal was that Pax would be returned after the war is over.
After his parents died, Keller was passed from relative to relative before ending up in a reform school. His great uncle takes him in but only because he needs the help in the fishing industry. Life wasn't pleasant with his great uncle so he enlisted in the army as soon as he turned 18. His role was to train dogs and he is assigned Pax and they become very close.
When the war is over, Rick is back home but severely injured ... needless to say, his dreams of being a ball player again are dead and he sees no future for himself. Francesca does her best to take care of him but he is paralyzed, missing a limb and extremely depressed. Keller is honour-bound to return Pax but he makes it clear to Rick and Francesca that he won't/can't give up the dog. They come to an arrangement that Keller will move in and take care of Rick ... and all three will be able to enjoy Pax.
This is the first book I've read by this author and I really enjoyed it. I was attracted to this book because it's about a dog (and I love dogs).
I liked the writing style ... I found it was well-paced and moved along well.
It is written from different points of view ... it's first person from Francesca's perspective and third person when it is from Rick's, Keller and even Pax's perspective. Regardless of what point of view it was, it was obvious what the character was thinking and feeling.
I liked the characters. I found their emotions believable. Rick was dealing with what happened to him in the war, Francesca was soooo patient in waiting for Rick to go back to being the man she married (mentally and emotionally), Keller did what he had to do to be able to stay with Pax and ended up becoming part of their strange family and Pax was happy that he had all the people he loved in one house.
This was an excellent story and I recommend it!