Saturday, October 22, 2016

Love’s Best Friend

With: Leslie P. Garcia

Congratulations to "Linda H.", the winner of a $25 gift card! And "Natalija", "Laney4" and "Mandy", the winners of ebooks.

            Childhood fantasies of romance and love may be fueled by adult role models, but they are also colored by interpretations, misinterpretations, raw emotion, literature, and crushes—and often by animals.  That animals can have tremendous impact on relationships shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been owned by a dog,  cat or other critter.
                  Riding my mother’s great Danes down a red clay road taught me that lesson early on.  Our family lived in a sparsely populated area, without many kids our age around, but what kids there were noticed the dogs—and by extension, my sister and me. Over time, the dogs were replaced as attention getters by horses and ponies, but the idea of attracting a dream-worthy suitor always seemed to hinge for us on having the right animal at the right time.
            Our innocent belief in the power of pets to change boys’ hearts and make them notice us faded eventually. Flirting, it seemed, attracted more attention than owning the county’s fastest pony. Maturity taught my sister and I that some crushes are one-sided, and that the eternal loves of fourth grade or even middle school probably will not last a lifetime, even if you have ponies, horses, and dogs. Blithely, though, we believed for a while in the power of an amusement park—and its animals to hasten the arrival of our respective princes.
            Oh, the amusement park! The uneducated me planned to devote my entire life to that ragtag collection of exotic animals, native Georgia wildlife, and horses and ponies. The educated me shudders now at the ignorance and the danger of that insane period in my family’s life. But the attraction factor was undeniable, wasn’t it?  An African lion, monkeys and snakes—surely true love would come calling in Greenville, Georgia!
            Well, it didn’t. But the assortment of animals—the menagerie, if you will—find reincarnation, in different ways, in the new Crimson Romance bundle, Man’s Best Friend, featuring ten full length romances which  might still prove that animals are love’s best friends—when it’s right. From shifters and demons to rescued animals, you’ll find every avenue imaginable in which love and animals become intertwined.
            Regrettably, though, the animal element doesn’t always guarantee a happy ever after. Eb, our African lion, came to us from a man named Bob Steel. Stephanie and I were impressed by the tall, bearded stranger who came to visit ‘his’ lion. He explained that his landlord wouldn’t let him keep both Eb, and Tom, his cougar. He did ads for Mercury with Tom, and couldn’t give up his source of income, so he reluctantly sold Eb to us.  We encouraged him to come visit any time—but the next time, he brought his wife Dawn. He only visited once or twice after that, so we let go of our fantasies gracefully, and decided we’d have that kind of love—one that didn’t require office work or living a bland life with routines that didn’t include animals of all stripes.
            Years later—in 1982—I would hear a news story of a cougar who mauled a nine year old at a Philadelphia car show. Amazingly, it was Bob Steel’s Tom. And he and Dawn were arrested for attacking the officer who had to kill Tom. The story served as a grim reminder that as uplifting and energizing as animals can be, some relationships end badly—and priorities can be mixed up. I’ve often wondered what happened with Bob and Dawn, and how their relationship dealt with that devastating incident. The romantic illusion I had of them disappeared with the events in Las Vegas—but until tragedy overtook it, their love seemed remarkable.
            Not everyone wants a furbaby, pet, or critter to complicate his or her relationship and few would choose a cougar or lion, but many do find that the innocent joy of fur babies adds to their lives in unimaginable ways. Thinking about what our animals contribute to love reminded me of country singer Gary Allan’s “Tough Little Boys,” in which he admitted not letting anyone know he cried “when Old Yeller” died”. Maybe if the Hester twins had cried when we saw Old Yeller with them—but that’s another story.
            What pet or animal, if any, has captured your heart—and helped bind you to the love of your life? My husband is in the hospital right now. He’s always claimed to ‘hate’ animals, but right now a lab-shepherd pup, a psycho cat, and a water turtle are all waiting for him to come home. I guess all those childhood fantasies didn’t escape after all.
            We hope you enjoy Man’s Best Friend, and we all love hearing from you. If you have a minute to comment, have animals played significant roles in your relationships?


Lessons in Magic: Recently unemployed and rudderless, Phoebe agrees to get her late aunt Edna’s house ready to put on the market. While cleaning up cobwebs, she unexpectedly discovers her latent family talent for summoning a demon, who arrives disguised as an irresistable puppy. Noah Rossi, wizard in training, comes to the rescue, but can he save her from accidentally destroying the universe?
Text Me: Abigail Jeffries gets a random text from a stranger only to discover the sender, Carter Coben, isn’t so strange after all. Soon she’s caught up in a game of assumed identities with the same gorgeous guy she got fired from his job. Carter has no idea that “She Hearts Dogs” is the girl who blew his world apart. They’ll have to navigate mixed signals, mistaken identities, and misunderstandings to find real love.
All About Charming Alice: Quirky Alice Treemont gives up hope of finding love in rural Blake’s Folly, Nevada, where she spends her time rescuing unwanted dogs and protecting the most unloved creatures on earth: snakes. That is, until dashing and well-to-do author Jace Constant comes to town to research his new book. Opposites indeed attract, and soon the whole town is determined to make a love match.
Wildflower Redemption: Luz Wilkinson returns to tiny Rose Creek, Texas, to lick her wounds and toughen her resolve against love’s sting. She wants nothing more than to spend her days caring for discarded animals. But will Aaron Estes, her riding student’s widower dad, spur her to try again?
Atonement: A former marine sniper suffering from PTSD, Deputy Nicolette Rivers hides her own deadly secrets from everyone but detective Con O’Hanlon, who, along with his military dog Cadno, is more than willing to help cover up the fallout. But is he too late to prevent Nic’s dark, downward spiral? Or is Con the one man stronger than her demons?
Fated Hearts: Sheriff Carter McAlister and his dog, Dublin, have their lives upended when he offers mysterious newcomer Henley Elliott a job as his assistant. Breaking through her carefully built shell proves to be a near-impossible task, and now a dangerous new presence in the Cove seems to be targeting Henley. To get a second chance at happily ever after, Carter and Henley will need to leave their secrets and scars in the past.
Sweet Texas Kiss: Veterinarian Gavin Cooper can’t wrap his mind around why country music superstar Macy Young would end up inheriting his family home. Seeing his childhood memories handed over to his high school rival—the first woman to break his heart—stings. Luckily, Macy can’t sell the house for one year—plenty of time for him to find a way to get it back. Can they find a way to bury their animosity and rediscover their first love in the process?
Unstoppable: When veterinarian Lara Monroe’s fellow cat shifter—and secret crush—Booker Chase needs help, she’s willing to use her special healing touch to help him survive his emotional hell. As a top-notch physician, he’s not convinced anything can repair his soul, broken from the loss of his wife and burdened with PTSD from his service in Afghanistan, but Lara is showing him flashes of what might be. But they can’t grab this second chance at love unless they can shut down the Nexus Group forever.
Bloom: When L.A.’s charity fundraising maven Ava Bennett heads out to the middle of nowhere to check on a friend for her rock star client, she never expects to tangle with infamous music producer Nate Robinson, nor endanger his dog’s health. Can a career woman find love with a virtual hermit?
What a Texas Girl Dreams: They are opposites in so many ways, but the more veterinarian Trickett Samuels gets to know footloose and fancy free Monica Witte, the more he wonders if he can convince this Texas girl that having roots will only help her soar higher.       
EXCERPT from Wildflower Redemption
Something heavy and warm moved on the edge of the mattress behind Luz, bringing her instantly awake. Apprehension bordering on fear gripped her, making her hold her breath and keep still while she figured out options and actions. Rose Creek hadn’t had a homicide that she’d heard of. There had been a rape, a few drunken assaults, but no alcohol hung in the air.
Her pistol was in a dresser drawer, across the room. Out of reach.
The dog—where the hell was the dog? Was she cowering in the kitchen—she’d been so abused. Who could blame her?
What if—her breath caught. What if the dog had been killed?            
I’ll count to three. Then I’ll roll out of my bed and get the gun.                     
Her hand tightened on her quilt as she tensed to roll.
A snort gusted against her head, followed by the rough rasp of a tongue across the exposed skin of her cheek.
 She rolled, realizing who the intruder was just as she hit the floor in a tangle of linens.
 Stupid, ungrateful dog.
 “Luz?” called Aaron’s voice, worried. And then, from the door, “Luz, is everything okay?”
 She exhaled. “Yes. Everything is fine.”
“Because I heard this noise—”
She propped herself on an elbow, careful to keep the bedspread and sheet blanket wrapped around her.
“A loud, kind of heavy thud,” he continued, humor erasing any of his previous concern. “It’s okay, baby. Everything’s fine,” he called over his shoulder.
Chloe popped into the room. She looked at the dog on the bed and Luz on the floor, and giggled.
“She knocked you off the bed!”
“She didn’t, exactly,” Luz muttered. “More like kissed me off—” she stopped, seeing Aaron’s lips twitch. Last thing she needed was him laughing at her.
“Let me help you up,” he offered, holding out a hand.
She glared at him. “I’m not an invalid, Aaron. I can get up.”
“Still.” He moved his hand closer.
But he didn’t know that she’d done her laundry last night after they left. That she’d sat down on the bed in a towel, waiting for the last load to finish, knowing she had other nightclothes, but wanting the leopard print nightgown. And that she had fallen asleep in a towel and never put a thing on. Not a thing, although sometime during the night she’d woken with very little covering her and burrowed under the covers.
The dog had never gotten on her bed before, darn it! Of all the inconvenient—and of all the stubborn, stupid men—
With Chloe still giggling in the doorway, standing up and confronting him stark naked couldn’t happen. Typically not her kind of move, anyway, but—she frowned, and tried to put meaning in her words.
“You and Chloe should wait in the kitchen. I’ll need to get dressed, anyway.”
He pulled his hand back. “Just looked like you could use a little help. Chloe, why don’t we go so Luz can get dressed?”
“Sure.” She clucked at the dog, and trotted off. After a moment, the pit bull jumped down and followed her.
“Hmmm…I believe you were leaving, too?”
He pulled his hand back slowly. “Yeah. Sure.” And then came the dimples, and that quick, killer smile.
“Although I have to wonder why you won’t let me help you up. You’re practically mummified. Makes me wonder what would happen if I grabbed a corner of something and pulled.”
“Curiosity kills a lot of cats. Go away, Aaron!”
He shrugged and went, looking back at her with a wide grin as he locked the door from the inside and pulled it shut after him.

And other retailers


Leslie will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky person leaving a comment or email entry. She will also be giving away three copies of Man's Best Friend to 3 lucky commenters. 

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Oct. 23rd. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.


  1. I have bought so many Crimson Romance box sets, now I just have to find time to read them :) Great stories and even better price! As for the question, I'm not really a pet person, but I do enjoy books that feature them.

    natalija DOT shkomare AT gmail DOT com

    1. Thanks for dropping by Natalija, and good luck! 'Vicarious' pets are fun, too!

  2. I'd still love to ride a Great Dane, but the chances are slim these days; it all has to do with growing. Best of luck to you and us with the bundle, Leslie. And yes, I've been pushed off beds many times by these fuzzy friends.

    1. LOL, J. Arlene Culiner--growing does occasionally get in the way of fun (but forbidden!) stuff, doesn't it? Our Rottweiler was notorious for pushing people off couches or beds if he didn't know them well. And as you say--best of luck to all of us. Hope our stories will touch hearts and spark memories and new stories for readers!

  3. I wouldn't say my pets have played a role in romance, but they are a consideration. If my dog doesn't like someone that's a pretty big sign.

    I hope your husband is feeling better and home soon. It's terrible when our loved ones are sick, and especially when they're in the hospital.

    Goldgirl149 at hotmail dot com

    1. Thank you, Laura! My husband is home now, and the animals are happy. (As are the human family members!) Dogs do have good intuition very often. Thanks for your visit, and good luck in the giveaway!

  4. My husband and I both grew up with dogs as pets. Unfortunately, he developed an allergy to pet fur early in our marriage. We still visited my parents often (where my husband would have a constantly runny nose) but never got a pet ourselves. Then, about 10 years ago, we found a nasal spray that effectively stopped those symptoms.
    I brought a Golden into our garage and later my home, and my husband was fine. My husband pet the dog repetitively and was fine. So we started dog sitting for our neighbour's parents. That led to dog sitting for another friend's Golden (who eventually died and was replaced by another Golden). Another friend had a Terrier we dog sat and, again, all was fine.
    We can't afford to have our own Golden, but we DO enjoy dog sitting for others in the meantime....
    Maureen has my email address....

    1. What a wonderful story! I'm so glad you've been able to keep a relationship with the dogs you both loved as kids! Good luck in the drawing, and thanks for coming by!

  5. no pets

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    1. Hi, bn100! Nice to have you come by. Good luck in the drawing!

  6. no pets

    alysap at yahoo dot com

    1. Thanks for coming by, JCP! Good luck in the drawing.

  7. I love animals and always have a variety in my house... dogs, cats, birds, lizards, rodents, etc... my dogs have always let me know when they do not like someone...

    1. Your house sounds like a terrific place to be. Dogs do have good intuition on who your friends should be--or significant others for that matter. Thank you for coming by, and good luck in the drawing.

  8. Thanks to Maureen and Just Contemporary Romance for inviting me over. Please excuse any weirdness in my comments--my computer is acting up, and none of my usual incantations (or curses!) are helping so far! I hope you enjoy the post, and good luck in the drawing!

  9. I wouldn't say my pet play a role in my romance life, but a couple of pets that I had - dogs and cats - were mostly stick close to me (I even woke up with the kitten drapped over my chest) and my family is that who claimed to not like animals, like your husband I guess. Personally, I think we humans protest too much but animals know what's in our heart. :)
    Wishing your hubby a speedy recovery, Leslie. And thank you for this lovely post.

    1. Oh, forgot to include my email, it's
      puspitorinid AT yahoo DOT com

  10. Dee, thank you so much--such kind words for both my husband and my writing! IO agree about protesting too much--I might say my dogs aren't spoiled, Best of luck in the drawing!

  11. So far nope :D
    Thanks for the lovely post :)

    1. Thank you, Bube, for stopping by JCR, and for the kind words. You never know when a four legged critter will have an impact. I don't know if you'd think that's good or bad. :) Best of luck in the drawing!

  12. When I was growing up we always had dogs and raised puppies, cocker spaniels. I've always had a love of that breed. We don't have any dogs now but we do have a very spoiled cat named Tigger.

    linda dot henderson70 at yahoo dot com

  13. Linda, thanks for visiting us here. Isn't it funny how cats spoil themselves with no human help at all? lol Love the name, by the way! Good luck in the drawing!

  14. We're complete dog people, here. When I was younger, I dreamed of having a monkey...definitely not as impressive as a lion. Thankfully, I watched a documentary on monkeys as pets and learned that they're basically two year olds that never grow up. That's too much work for me!

    corozondemono at gmail dot com

    1. LOL, Mandy! And you're right--monkeys were actually worse than the lion. At least, the macaque was. I may have misspelled that, it's been years. But it was basically a miniature chimp. Thanks so much for coming by. Good luck in the drawing!

  15. Sending best wishes out to your husband for a speedy recovery. I've never had any pets since I have really bad allergies so I'm finding it very interesting reading about how pets affects relationships. Thanks for sharing!

    thebigbluewall77 (AT) gmail (DOT) com

    1. Thanks for the wishes, Anita! I'm sorry about those allergies, but am glad you enjoy reading about pets. Thank you for stopping by and good luck in the giveaway!


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