A Man of His Own [NOOK Book]


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 ...

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A Man of His Own

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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. And in Susan Wilson's A Man of His Own, Pax, with his unconditional love and unwavering loyalty, may be the only one who can guide them home.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for The Dog Who Danced

"Susan Wilson dishes up another captivating story that will keep you hooked until the last page is turned." —Modern Dog magazine

“I would unhesitatingly recommend this book to dog lovers and "non-dog" people alike.” —BellaDog

"The Dog Who Danced simply can't be missed." —The Augusta Chronicle

“An emotion-packed story. As with Marley and Me and The Art of Racing in the Rain, it’s hard not to like a book where a dog is a major player.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Superior. A moving tale about canine healing power.” —Booklist

"Multiple hankies, dog lovers…this is an emotional read." —Library Journal

Praise for One Good Dog

"A wonderful novel: a moving, tender, and brilliantly crafted story.” —Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain


“A finely wrought story of second chances and also of the power of the human/canine bond.” —Bark Magazine


One Good Dog will make you cry, will make you laugh, will make you feel things more than you thought possible—and it will make you believe in second chances.” —Augusten Burroughs, New York Times bestselling author


Kirkus Reviews
Wilson (The Dog Who Danced, 2012, etc.) pens another mainstream novel whose characters find love and a dog. Pax, part German shepherd, is a stray puppy, discovered malnourished in a Boston alley by Rick Stanton, a young minor leaguer. Pax becomes the perfect dog, even accepting Francesca, an Iowa girl on a Beantown visit. There's a whirlwind romance, a marriage, but World War II intervenes. Rick becomes a soldier, as does Keller Nicholson. An orphan, Keller is near-indentured labor for his great-uncle, a reclusive fisherman residing in Hawke's Cove, near Boston. Keller volunteers as a K-9 scout, and he's assigned Pax, reluctantly offered to the service by Francesca. Rick's later wounded in Italy, losing an arm and becoming paraplegic. The war ends, and Keller's tasked with returning Pax to the Stantons. Lonely and firmly attached to Pax, Keller then becomes Rick's personal-care attendant. Wilson does credible work in relating the onslaught of anger, guilt and self-pity attacking a person newly disabled. Those emotions are made evident by Rick's subconscious passive-aggressive scheme to sacrifice himself for Keller and Francesca's happiness. Keller and Francesca grow attracted to one another, but Wilson lets a reasonable conclusion evolve naturally. In a chronological narrative arc that drifts a bit internally, Wilson's point of view jumps from Francesca, to Rick, to Keller, to Pax and sometimes to the third person, but it's not so overdone as to be off-putting. A Nicholas Sparks–ian romantic drama, with an "everyone loves a dog" twist.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250014375
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/24/2013
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 44,414
  • File size: 725 KB

Meet the Author

SUSAN WILSON is the author of seven novels, including the bestselling The Dog Who Danced and One Good Dog.  She lives on Martha's Vineyard. 

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The men’s room stinks so badly that Rick walks past it and out the open back door of the tavern. He’s in an alley, a brick wall conveniently placed, so that he conducts his business in privacy. Today was the last day of play for the Waterbury Comets, and Frederick “Rick” Stanton has just spilled his good news to his teammates. Despite the C-league Comets’ losing season, he’s pitched well, and in the spring he’ll report to the minor-league AA team, the Hartford Bees. It was surprisingly hard to say, and he was a little embarrassed to have gotten choked up, especially when they all raised their beer mugs and toasted his good luck.
He’s finally going to be able to say good-bye to cobbled-together amateur teams, and all his years of hard work, from sand lot to high school to playing in college, have paid off. Sacrificing steady employment in a respectable profession like his father’s, banking or accounting, in favor of menial jobs he has no compunction about leaving when practice starts up has been worth it.
Still, he’ll miss these guys, the oldest among them the catcher, “Foggy” Phil Dexter; the youngest, a kid of sixteen who cheerfully takes all their good-natured abuse, lugging most of the equipment, always riding stuck between two bigger players, fetching for the rest of them, and enduring persistent razzing about the state of his virginity.
Finishing up, Rick feels the first drops of rain on his bare head. Those few drops are quickly followed by a complete cloudburst, but he stays where he is. It’s hot inside, and the cool rain feels good. Rick raises his face to the sky and opens his mouth, taking in the taste of fresh rain. “I’m the luckiest man on earth,” he says to the sky, and in that moment, he’s pretty certain that he is. Well, he should get back in. Eat another couple sandwiches, toss back one more beer; laugh at a few more tired jokes. The season is over and no curfew tonight.
Thoroughly soaked now, Rick turns around and trips over something, nearly pitching headlong onto the brick pavers. That something yelps.
It’s a puppy, and rather than running away after being tripped over, it stays put, and for a hard moment, Rick thinks he may have accidentally killed it with his big feet. In the weak light of the open back door, Rick sees the glint of life in its eyes. “Whoa, fella. Where’d you come from?” Rick squats down and the wet and trembling puppy inserts itself between his knees as if seeking shelter. It sits and rests its muzzle on Rick’s leg. As quickly as the cloudburst started, it fades away, the rivulets trickling down the side of the wall, pooling in the interstices between the bricks. “Where’re your people, little guy?”
The puppy shakes, spraying Rick with a thousand droplets. Rick scoops it up and heads back into the tavern. In the light, he can see it’s a boy, silvery in color, with a darker saddle across narrow shoulders and along ribs that poke out like the bones of a chicken. His ears flop over at entirely different angles, as if they belong to two different puppies. Probably a German shepherd, or at least mostly shepherd. The bartender doesn’t say anything when Rick comes in carrying a puppy, so Rick holds him up. “He yours?” The barkeep shakes his head no.
The barkeep’s wife swings a new pitcher onto the table and considers the dog on Rick’s lap. “Probably got dumped out back. You found him, you keep him. Don’t leave him here.”
The puppy has settled neatly on Rick’s lap, gently taking the bits of meat Rick offers without nipping those important fingers with his sharp teeth. He can’t keep a dog; he’s living in a boardinghouse. In nine months, he’ll be at training camp. In a year, with luck, he’ll be pitching for the majors.
“Got to name him if you’re keeping him.” Dan Lister, their manager, spreads a gob of mustard on his third corned beef sandwich. “How ’bout Spot?”
“Too common. Besides, he doesn’t seem to have any spots, and who said anything about me keeping him?” Rick fingers another tiny bite of sandwich into the puppy’s mouth.
“Lucky.” Foggy has slumped in his chair, so that his chin is barely above the edge of the table.
“Well, he is a lucky dog if one of you bums keeps him.” Rick holds the wriggling fur ball up as if offering the puppy for auction.
“Darby?” This from the kid.
“I had a dog named Darby. My dad’s Irish. It’s how they say Derby over there. Darby was a real good dog, never left my father’s side all the time he was sick with tuberculosis. We even let him come to the funeral.”
The group grows silent. No one had known that the kid was a half orphan.
“Maybe I’ll call him Rin Tin Tin. He looks like he might be shepherd.” Rick scratches the puppy under the chin. “What do you think? You gonna grow up to be some kind of movie star hero dog?” The puppy yawns, drops his head, and is instantly asleep. Rick realizes what he’s just said. If he names this puppy, how will he ever drop him back in the alley? It’s not even fair to keep the dog on his lap, to allow the little thing to accept a few minutes of comfort, let him think that humans are trustworthy. The party will break up soon, and what then? Abandon the tyke to the elements? His first trust in humans to do right by him destroyed, and maybe he’ll never trust another human being again. Rick can feel the puppy’s beating heart in the palm of his pitching hand. The fluff of baby fur feels like the softest mink of his mother’s fur stole as Rick strokes him, lifting the spatula-shaped paws and feeling the thick bones of a puppy with the potential to become a large dog. If he’s not hit by a car or starved to death.
Dan Lister pushes away from the table. “I’m done in. Go to bed, gentlemen. I bid you farewell. Keep healthy and see you”—he looks at Rick—“most of you, in the spring.” The manager presses both hands on the table, suggesting that he’s more sober than he is.
The bartender hands Rick a length of string for a leash, but Rick carries the ten pounds of soft fur in his arms. Foggy is bumbling into chairs and tables while trying to find the front door. “Come on, Phil, throw an arm over my shoulder.”
Foggy Phil Dexter gladly slings his arm over Rick’s neck and leans into him. “You’ll be great. Bees need a good curveball pitcher.” His breath is rank with beer and pastrami, but Rick doesn’t mind. Phil’s been a good friend and taught him a lot about the game. “By God, you’ll be in the majors in a year.”
“Your mouth to God’s ear.” Rick bears the weight of the man and the small burden of the puppy as they walk the few blocks to their boardinghouse.
Everything that he’s done has been fed by his lifelong ambition to play for the majors. Rick has never wanted anything else in his life. As a kid, he asked Santa for gloves and balls and bats; as a teen, he paid his own way to baseball camp, using the money he earned from a paper route. He never learned to sail, letting his father practically adopt the next-door neighbor’s kid to crew for him. Tomorrow, he’ll head down to his parents’ Greenwich home. He wonders if, when he gives them his good news, his extraordinary and long-awaited news, they’ll finally respond with some pride and enthusiasm.
The puppy in his hand wriggles himself up and under Rick’s chin. Well, so what if they don’t. He’s a grown man, he’s stuck to his plan, and now, at very nearly the last minute, at age twenty-seven, he’s finally there. Almost. He doesn’t want to be the world’s oldest rookie when he finally gets the call to major-league baseball.
Maybe this will be the last winter keeping fit by any means possible while substitute teaching or doing temporary work at a busy accounting firm. In eight months, he’ll be back in training, a hardball in his hand, sensitive fingers feeling for the seams, the magic of that perfect throw. The future spools out in front of him: a winning season with the minor-league Bees, then getting the call to the majors. His first appearance in the National League. Rick sees himself doffing his ball cap and waving at cheering fans. He’s paid his dues, by God. Forfeited job security and Mary Ann Koble, who didn’t want to be a ballplayer’s wife.
The puppy yawns, burrows his tail end deeper into the crook of Rick’s arm. Why not keep him? He could be a mascot. A lucky charm. A companion on all those miles of roadwork.
There is a church along the way, more beautiful than any other building on this defeated main street; its all-white marble facade glows softly in the newly rain-freshened air. Picked out in gold leaf on the pediment are Latin words: Gloriam Deo Pax In Terra.
“Pax. Peace.” Rick looks at the puppy in his arms, now sleeping with utter trust in the man carrying him. It’s started raining again, a warm drizzle that makes the wet pavement shimmer beneath the sparse streetlamps. “I’m the luckiest man on earth.”
Pax. The puppy in Rick’s arms suddenly wakes. He reaches up with his baby muzzle and his long pink tongue comes out to lick Rick’s nose. Pax.

Copyright © 2013 by Susan Wilson

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Susan Wilson is one of those authors that I pre-order new books

    Susan Wilson is one of those authors that I pre-order new books just so I can read them as soon as they're released. A Man of His Own was worth the weight. I usually don't read historical fiction but occasionally they get in under the radar and I enjoy them in spite of myself. This was one of them. 
    The story didn't always proceed as I expected, there were some turns and decisions that I didn't expect. And there were times when I loved Rick and then other times when I didn't. Other times I wanted to steer the story in a happier direction. 
    The story evolved to tell the perspective of the 4 main characters. Fully developed characters with real emotions and real conflict. I'm a nurse and fully identified with the caregiver angst in this story. As much as I enjoyed every page of this book (reading hours through the night just to get to the end!), the end was like reaching the summit of a mountain. The view becomes clear and there is a feeling of triumph that life is good. 
    You'll feel better about the struggles in your own life after reading this.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Heartwarming, Heroic!

    Are you an animal lover? Ever had a dog you felt you were one with? A Man of His Own by Susan Wilson is a simply amazing story of Pax, a rescued puppy, his life and the lives of those he touched. Set in the early 1940s, when America is just being drawn into World War II, this is the story of love, courage, loss, loyalty, and re-kindled hope for Pax and his people as dreams are crushed, bodies are ravaged and the future seems to hold no light at the end of the tunnel. Was it the love Pax gave or the love he received that kept an odd assortment of people together when they needed each other most?

    Susan Wilson has recreated the feel of the days, months and years surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor by taking a small piece of Americana and turning it into a heartwarming tale that will, at times bring tears to your eyes. Throughout this tale the points of view change, but none are as touching as Pax’s own point of view, his ability to know who needs what from him, his understanding or lack of what is happening around him and his courage to stand his ground when needed. Beautifully told, beautifully detailed an emotional story that deserves to be read and read again!

    An ARC Edition was proved by NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2014

    I loved Susan Wilson's One Good Dog and The Dog Who Danced and c

    I loved Susan Wilson's One Good Dog and The Dog Who Danced and couldn't wait to read this book. At first I thought I would be disappointed. It didn't seem to have the immediacy the others did, and seemed to be more "tell" than "show." But the imperatives of the story swept me up and then nearly consumed me. It was a difficult journey and one that didn't seem possible to end well. But I finished it this morning in tears, so glad I'd taken it. Please don't miss any of Susan's book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2013

    What a heart warming story. Loved it. I'm now going to look fo

    What a heart warming story. Loved it. I'm now going to look for One Good Dog. I can't wait to see what she does next. Her earlier novels were very good too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Pax may have started life as an ordinary dog but the two distinc

    Pax may have started life as an ordinary dog but the two distinct lives he led, the lives he saved and the people who loved him and he them made him one extraordinary canine.
    Rick Stanton had three great loves in his life and almost lost all three because of WWII.
    Just as his big break as an aspiring albeit aging professional baseball player happened war broke out and he left his wife, Francesca and his dog, Pax to serve his country.
    Francesca sent her husband and her dog off to war, she’s grateful to have her husband home and alive and when she learns that Pax made it out alive as well she’s hoping the reunion between man and dog produces miracles she’s been unable to create.
    Orphaned and unwanted as a young boy Keller Nicholson’s solitary existence ended the day he was paired up with Pax in the war dogs program.
    He has Pax to thank for surviving the war and when it’s time to send Pax home he decides to deliver him personally and hopefully leave with him again.
    But who will win and who will loose when tragedy and fate bring these lives together?

    Susan Wilson has outdone herself with this incredibly poignant story about loss, courage and the power of love. She spotlights the WWII war dogs program by telling the before, during and after story of not just this very special dog but also his people. Her narrative will bring the horrors and joys of her tale to life, and will let readers visualize a time of battlefields, big bands and of a country united in the efforts of war and the aftermath. Her special talent in giving voice to her dogs is an amazing feat and when she entwines that voice with those of her human characters it’s a symphony in perfect pitch. Her star characters all shine each in his or her own unique way, all play their parts to perfection and readers will wish just one more chapter when the tale ends.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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