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Positive Lightning (Blue Feather Books) tells the story of the intersection of two lives—both a little lost, both trying to find a way back to wholeness. Faith Hutchins is blind as a result of a recent tragic accident. The once independent, athletic woman has been reduced to activities tinged with a tentativeness that she hates. Twice before, she has signed up for the guide dog program to help her become more mobile, but both attempts failed, leaving her with only her white cane and a too-clingy ex-lover to help her get around.
Kate Winter is a successful dog trainer. She works at The Dog House, where she teaches classes and does private tutoring for canines and their owners. Her boss, Sandy, thinks a great deal of Kate’s training ability, but not so much of her choice of partners—and she doesn’t hesitate to make her opinion on the latter known. Because of Kate’s occupational ability, Sandy thinks Kate would be the ideal choice for a special project: training a dog for a blind person with special circumstances. Although Kate has never worked with a guide dog before, she reluctantly agrees to Sandy’s proposal.
As training begins with her new canine live-in student, Kate’s partner Trish is visibly pushed out of shape. Apparently, Trish is not an “animal person.” Although Trish has tolerated Kate’s well-behaved dog Dakota, putting up with a new puppy, Juneau, proves too much for her patience, and Kate must make adjustments to placate the self-centered woman. To her credit, Kate doesn’t let Trish’s attitude interfere with her new training endeavor, yet she does seem to be making accommodations in other respects, and her invitation to Trish to sit down and talk about their issues is rebuffed. At about the same time in the story, Trish’s hospital duties keep her away from home for long periods, allowing a tentative peace couched in loneliness to settle into Kate’s life while she continues Juneau’s education.
The two protagonists finally meet when Faith, having been told about the trainer at The Dog House, shows up unannounced to quell her nervousness and curiosity about another possible guide dog failure. When they meet, there is an immediate attraction, but Kate is in a relationship with Trish, and Faith doesn’t think she’ll ever love again.
As Kate’s relationship plunges into a hopeless mess, it is Faith who comes to her rescue with a place to live and the chance to allow Faith and Juneau to bond. As Faith’s feelings for Kate grow stronger, Kate still struggles with her failed relationship with Trish. When Faith makes another unexpected stop at The Dog House, she discovers that Kate has gone to Trish’s place, throwing Faith into an emotional crisis that sets her walking down the road alone on a path towards disaster. If Kate can only figure out Trish’s true colors and let down her guard with Faith, maybe the chaos and hesitancy that surrounds each of them will turn to calm and confidence, but first, Kate has to find Faith, whose whereabouts are unknown.
The cautious, newly blossoming love story between Kate and Faith is sweet. Faith’s sense of humor shows through, even in adversity, and makes for a charming addition to her personality and her relationship with Kate. Kate is drawn as the strong yet flawed hero, easily making her special to the reader. Author Laurie Salzler’s knowledge of all things canine and equestrian shows through in this story, and her details about dog training and horsemanship give an added dimension to the story that animal lovers will appreciate. There are some technical issues in this tale: Ahab, Faith’s cat, starts out as a three-legged pet with a whole backstory as to how he got that way, yet later, he is standing “on all fours.” In addition, the ending of the story seems a bit of an add-on, wrapping up rather abruptly and having no evident purpose for the climactic incident in question, but since the relationship between the main characters was already set, this was only a slight distraction. All in all, Positive Lightning is an inspiring story, andSalzler’s work shows potential to entertain and enlighten readers.
By Laurie Salzler
Blue Feather Books
Paperback, 9781935627517, 278 pp.