A series of unfortunate events lead to a meet-disaster in Julia London’s affecting and ebullient romantic comedy You Lucky Dog. Austinites Carly and Max have very little in common apart from very good taste in basset hounds and bad luck with dog walkers. Carly is a newly independent (and recently unemployed) public relations consultant catering to clients in the fashion and art world. Max is a socially awkward neuroscientist fixated on achieving tenure at the University of Texas.
With such disparate lives, the stars must align just right for these two to get together. When dog-walker/drug dealer/agent of chaos Brant gets caught up in a police sting operation, he enlists a friend to return his canine charges to their rightful homes. This friend, however, has trouble differentiating between Max’s perennially perky Hazel and Carly’s chronically depressed Baxter, and returns each dog to the wrong human. Even worse, with Brant out of the picture, Max has no one to dogsit while he takes his brother to a long-promised weekend in Chicago.
After bonding with Hazel, Carly is more than qualified to pinch hit in an emergency, and by the time Max returns, Hazel and Baxter are bonded, and Baxter’s outlook has improved. From there, it’s only natural that the four keep in touch. Chaperoned doggy dates allow humans and hounds to bond, and attraction evolves into romance. And yet, the course of true love never did run smooth. Otherwise, You Lucky Dog wouldn’t be the entertaining comedy of errors it is. Conflicting career paths and curious coincidences create roadblocks for Max and Carly without ever veering into angst.
London’s loose and limber comedic writing amplifies Max and Carly’s appeal, filling each voice with a unique perspective and personality. Max is a caring man who “was worried about his Very Good dog, a fourteen on a scale of ten on any damn day. He hoped whoever had ended up with her was taking good care of her.” As a scientist, he thinks about attraction in biological terms: “he felt a bit of a flutter in his chest, a telltale sign that the hormone norepinephrine was coming together with the rest of him to brighten his day.” Carly’s free-associative brain, meanwhile, overflows with pop culture references. She lives in a carriage house previously “occupied by a coven of witches or hippies or maybe even Matthew McConaughey—it depends on who you talk to.” The beauty is that the differences don’t just contrast; they complement, making Max and Carly’s love story a delight.