There's a new vet in Barleybridge, and before long the usually calm practice is rife with anxiety and tension...
There's trouble afoot in Barleybridge. The vets' practice, which normally runs so smoothly, is disrupted by the new locum, Dan, who seems to be annoying just about everyone with his abrupt manner and unreasonable demands. And when he succeeds in losing an important client through his arrogant attitude, the wives connected to the practice are determined that something has to be done.
But Kate, who works at the practice, finds she rather likes Dan's no-nonsense approach, despite what everyone thinks of him. Then, when she is suddenly confronted by a devastating tragedy at home, it is Dan, with a sad secret of his own, who helps her come to terms with her new situation...
The second entry in Shaw's Barleybridge series (after A Country Affair) is a charming account of life in and out of a small English town's veterinary hospital. Newcomer Daniel Brown is a temporary vet with a passion for his craft, but his gruff manner costs the practice an influential client, angering his employers. Dan does have a few fans, though, including Miriam Price, the senior partner's wife, and Kate Howard, a receptionist who aspires to be a vet. Both rightly suspect something unfortunate has happened to Dan in his past, and as he takes Kate along on appointments, pieces of his past come to light. Kate, meanwhile, wants to know more about her mother, who abandoned the family when Kate was born, but she doesn't want to hurt her dad or her stepmom, Mia, who raised her. When a tragedy befalls Kate's family, she gets her wish, for better or worse. Though Shaw creates memorable characters, she goes overboard with one villain. That aside, the action at Barleybridge from catching an animal abuser to the office politics spurred on by the vets' wives makes for addictive reading.