BOOK/FILM REVIEWS

Moonlight Over Manhattan By Sarah Morgan Book Review

Moonlight Over Manhattan (Manhattan With Love #6) by Sarah Morgan

Review by Janet Webb

Harriet Knight is an irresistible heroine: following the advice of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, to “do one thing every day that scares you,” she develops a plan to “conquer a lifetime of shyness.” This December will be different from any other – she’ll take a risk every day, culminating with the great risk of all, spending Christmas on her own instead of relying on the company of her sometimes-over-caring family. Harriet is a twin: readers met her sister Fliss in Sarah Morgan’s Holiday in the Hamptons. Fliss is also Harriet’s business partner: they own Bark Rangers, the dog-walking, dog-sitting, and dog-everything company on NYC’s Upper East Side.

Getting a peek into Harriet’s psyche is both funny and fraught with uncertainty. She’s so insecure.

  • The F word loomed big in her world.
    Not the curse. She wasn’t the sort of person who cursed. For her, the F word was Fear.
    Fear of humiliation, fear of failing, fear of what other people thought of her, and all those fears originated from fear of her father.
    She was tired of the F word.
    She didn’t want to live life alone, which was why she’d decided that for Christmas she was giving herself a new gift.
    Courage.

Change can be hard. An on-line generated dinner date ends up with Harriet climbing out of the restaurant’s bathroom window in “insanely high heels.” So much for the challenge of the day, “Don’t be reserved with strangers.” If a stranger is a creeper, what’s a gal to do? Harriet’s plunge from the window has an unexpected outcome: she ends up in the emergency department, treated by Dr. E. Black. He naturally wants to know how she injured her ankle.

  • She’d jumped from a window?
    “You’re a bit of a risk-taker?”
    She gave him a wry smile. “My idea of risk is reading my Kindle in the bath so no, I don’t think I’d describe myself as a risk-taker.”

There’s something that doesn’t quite ring true about this patient but patients come and go in a busy emergency doctor’s life. Or do they go—hold on to that thought!

Harriet credits her sister with the success of their joint enterprise, saying that Fliss had the idea for Bark Rangers and that she “handles all the new business.” Glenys, an elderly client turned friend calls her on that mistaken notion, asking why does she “think people come to you for dog walking?” It’s Harriet.“Because everyone in Manhattan with a brain and a dog knows that Harriet Knight is the person they want. Customer service. Individual attention. Caring. That’s what it’s about. That’s why the Bark Rangers is a success. You are to dog walking what Tiffany’s is to jewelers. You are diamond and white gold. The best.”Harriet is ridiculously flattered by Glenys’s praise but she can’t linger—she has a dog she must walk, Why, since Harriet has a great crew of dog walkers but in this case, she’s “doing a favor for a client who has had a family emergency.” Harriet says Debra “has left Madi, her dog, with her brother and I promised to walk him.” When she gets to the door of the apartment, she senses something is wrong.

  • She’d fostered enough pets to sense disaster when it was close by.
    She had no idea what the apartment looked like normally, but she guessed it was nothing like this.
    Cushions lay scattered on the floor, their stuffing surrounding them like clouds. Toilet paper was festooned over the furniture like giant ribbons.
    Staring at the mess in dismay and disbelief, Harriet walked through to the kitchen.
    There, on top of a mound of dried pasta sat Madi, looking guilty.

Harriet’s dog-whisperer skills come to the forefront as she sweetly calms Madi down. Harriet always puts the needs of her canine clients before anything: “she’d never known the animal to behave badly before, which had to mean she was distressed.” No worries, she murmurs, everything’s going to be fine.

  • “I don’t think so. In fact I’d say everything is far from fine.” An icy voice came from the doorway and Harriet turned her head quickly. She hadn’t heard anyone else enter the apartment, and neither had Madi, who wriggled off her lap and bolted for safety, scattering pasta and rice.

Harriet recognizes the “ice-blue” eyes, to “go with the icy voice.” It’s her emergency room doctor, Dr. E. Black, who understandably, asks, “What the hell happened here?” Harriet, who doesn’t lack courage when she stands up for her clients, retorts, “I’m guessing Madi didn’t appreciate being left alone all day in a strange environment. The poor thing was scared.” Then an elderly neighbor shows up with a fierce look on her face. Mrs. Crouch tells the doctor that the tenants cannot tolerate a dog howling all day. Harriet looks on in bemusement while the good doctor calms down his neighbor with masterful skills: “the man was wasted as a doctor. He should be a hostage negotiator.”

The minute the door shuts, however, the doctor attacks Harriet with both barrels—what kind of a dog sitter is she anyway, wasn’t she supposed to walk the dog twice a day—Harriet attempts to straighten him out but she finally flees into the snowy night with Madi. When she returns, he apologizes profusely but Harriet is upset (she hates anger) and she has no confidence in his ability to be a good temporary caretaker of his sister Debra’s precious pet. She’ll foster Madi at her own apartment. The desperate doctor calls on all his diplomatic skills to win over the two skittish dames.

“Come here, girl,” he croons to Madi.“Good girl. Lovely girl. Most beautiful dog in the world.” Madi sat down and looked at him. Ethan looked at Harriet. “If she’s ready to give me another chance, surely you can too?

With a frenetic spaniel as duenna and matchmaker, the two of them don’t stand a chance.

  • “That’s a low trick, Dr.—”
    “Ethan.” He said it softly.  “My name is Ethan. And it’s not a trick. Stay for dinner. Dinner and one conversation. That’s all I’m asking.”

If you like the opposites-attract trope, if you have a soft spot for Christmas romances, and if pets in romances make you smile, you’ll love Sarah Morgan’s Moonlight Over Manhattan. Ethan and Harriet are a delightful couple, and you’ll lose your heart to Madi.

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