Posted in animals, christmas, excerpt, Holiday, romance on October 18, 2017

Synopsis

Sit! Stay! Speak! author Annie England Noblin’s novel takes one woman starting over, adds an aging pug named Teddy Roosevelt, and proves the power of a well-baked dog treat.

All she wants is a settled-down life.

What she gets is a dog—and a whole new normal . . .

There he stood in the doorway: overweight, depressed and nearly homeless—a pug named Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy was Brydie Benson’s latest problem, arriving on top of her messy divorce and sudden move. Brydie needed a place to start over, so this rent-free home seemed a great idea. She just never counted on Teddy, or his owner, the Germantown Retirement Village’s toughest customer, Pauline Neumann.

And because rent-free doesn’t mean bills-free, Brydie gets a night-shift job at a big-box grocery. Whoever guessed there were so many people who wanted baked goods after midnight?

Then, she gets an idea—why not combine her baking skills with her new-found dog knowledge? And so her store Pupcakes is born. Along with a new start comes a possible new love, in the form of Nathan Reid, a local doctor with a sassy Irish Wolfhound named Sasha. And as fall turns to winter, and then to Christmas, Brydie begins to realize that life is a little bit like learning a new recipe for puff pastry—it takes a few tries to get it just right!

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Excerpt

After dinner, Nathan refilled their wineglasses and led her into the living room. Sasha and Teddy had settled there as well, and when Nathan built a fire in the fireplace, Teddy dropped right in front of it and started to snore. Sasha wasn’t far behind him.

“The living room at Mrs. Neumann’s house has a fireplace, too,” Brydie said. “I thought about lighting it the other night, but it hasn’t been lit in ages.”

“I’m sure she wouldn’t appreciate it if you burned her house down trying to light the fireplace,” Nathan replied.

“No, I can’t imagine that would make her too happy.”

“Listen,” Nathan said, scooting closer to her on the couch. “I’m sorry if I asked too many intrusive questions earlier. I’m hopeless at small talk, and when I get nervous, I tend to fall back into doctor mode. I swear I didn’t mean to interrogate you over chicken.”

“That’s okay,” Brydie replied. “It was actually kind of nice to talk about it with someone who doesn’t know anything about my life before I moved here.”

“How do you like Memphis so far?”

“It’s getting better,” Brydie said with a sly grin. Between the wine and the fire, she felt deliciously warm.

“I’m glad to hear it.”

Brydie watched him watching her. She liked the way his curly black hair fell in his eyes when he was concentrating. She liked the way his T-shirt fit, not too loose or too tight. She liked the way he asked her questions—soft, curious, but not intrusive. It made her want to tell him everything, anything, just to keep him looking at her. Paying attention to her.

But more than that, she realized, there was something familiar about him, comfortable. She couldn’t put her finger on what it was, but despite the constant butterflies in her stomach, he made her feel calmer somehow. She could understand why people would be drawn to him as a doctor. She could even understand why a woman might visit her elderly aunt in order to be near him.

Nathan moved a hand up to Brydie’s face, tucking a wandering strand of damp hair behind her ear. It sent a bolt of electricity through her, and when he moved his hand away, Brydie felt herself grabbing a fistful of his T-shirt and pulling him closer to her until her mouth was on his, and she could taste the wine on his lips.

Brydie fell back into the couch and pulled Nathan down on top of her. She could feel his hands exploring her body underneath her T-shirt, and she burned with a need she hadn’t known existed until that very moment.

“Do you want—” Nathan began in between frenzied kisses, but before he could finish, the ringing of his phone in his pocket cut him off.

“Ignore it,” Brydie murmured.

“I can’t,” Nathan said, pulling himself away from her with a groan. “I’m on call at the nursing home tonight.”

About the Author

Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three dogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Her poetry has been featured in such publications as the Red Booth Review and the Moon City Review. She spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs.

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Posted in animals, Cozy, excerpt, mystery, Spotlight on January 4, 2017

Synopsis

In the small town of Clarkesville, in the heart of the Oregon Cascade Mountains, a humble forester stumbles into the complex world of crooked cops and power-hungry politicians… all because he rescued a stray, injured dog on the highway.

Lehigh Carter didn’t really mean to adopt the dog. But his ex-fiancée, Stacy McBride, convinces him to do it, with a promise to help. Their rekindled romance angers her father, state Senator George McBride, who sees her backwoods suitor as a blemish on his carefully created political image. It also sets off a chain of events that entangle Lehigh in a life-or-death conflict with the senator’s hardnosed campaign treasurer, Paul van Paten, who had his own plans for Stacy’s future.

The Mountain Man’s Dog is a briskly told crime thriller loaded with equal parts suspense, romance, and light-hearted humor, pitting honor and loyalty against ruthless ambition and runaway greed in a town too small for anyone to get away with anything.

Excerpt

Lehigh slowed down around the S-curves on Brady Mountain Road even before the speed limit sign told him to. The fog rolled in thicker here due to the nearby lakes, intensifying the dark and making the night seem much later than it was. A guy never knew what the night fog might throw out of the woods in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, especially in late September. He didn’t want adventure on a Thursday night. He just needed some groceries, stuff that old man Patterson’s market didn’t carry, and anyways, he closed at five o’clock. So, as much as he hated doing it, Lehigh had to drive down the mountain into town.

Just go to WinCo, get some groceries, and leave. No distractions.

He braked just in time not to kill a coyote darting across the highway. It startled him and sweat rolled down his back in spite of the chill. He shook his head and took a heavy breath. Focus on driving, dumb-ass. Don’t get all riled up.

He kept his speed down below forty. Good thing, as it enabled him to brake in time once again, this time to avoid hitting a yellow hound dog limping across the road. Well, normally he’d call it a good thing. In coming years, Lehigh often argued it was anything but. He wasn’t much of a dog person, ever since Uncle Ted’s German Shepherd near tore his hand off as a kid. Or so he remembered. The injury grew with every retelling.

Lehigh didn’t so much fear dogs as loathe them. Dogs were nothing but a nuisance: noisy, smelly, always needing attention and cleaning up after. Kind of like a kid that never grows up. Still a committed bachelor at thirty-seven, his position on kids was pretty clear.

He came to a full stop for the yellow hound. It limped so badly, it hardly moved, really. Its brown eyes reflected the glare of the truck’s headlights, making them shine red like the indicator lights on his dashboard. The dog froze in his tracks as Lehigh waited. Then it lay right down across the center stripe, its bleeding belly exposed and vulnerable.

Dumb-assed dog. He could get killed like that. Of course, that might well have been the dog’s intention. Dogs, his uncle used to say, can smell their own death, and will go take care of it when the time comes. Maybe the dog wanted him to run it over.

Hmm. Tempting.

He shook his head. Nope. Can’t do it. Dogs may be mean, stupid little bastards, but he couldn’t just up and kill one of ’em. Maybe Uncle Ted’s nasty old shepherd, but not one that hadn’t done anything to him first.
He left the old Ford running, tucked his shaggy brown hair into the Dodgers hat he kept on the seat and stepped out into the fog. The dog looked up at him, stared a second, then lay his head back down on the pavement. Lehigh approached him, taking small steps, still wary, twenty-nine years after feeling that shepherd dog’s teeth on his fingers. He could just move the pup aside a bit. Move him and be on his way.

He fetched the wide aluminum shovel out of the back of his truck, just in case he had to prod the old hound to move. The dog looked friendly, but one never knows what a dog’s going to do. What if he’s rabid, like Uncle Ted’s dog? You just never know. Those shots hurt like hell for days and days. He had no desire to go through that again.

The lazy flap of the dog’s snakelike tail against the damp black pavement told him rabies were probably not an issue. Its pink tongue flickered between furry lips, anticipating rescue. The dog’s brown irises and black pupils filled the top hemisphere of its eye sockets in a steady, whimpering stare. Its bleeding belly and forlorn face melted Lehigh’s apprehension. Dogs may be a nuisance, he reckoned, but this one was just
hurting.

He set the shovel down and held his hand out, palm down, in front of the dog’s nose, the way Uncle Ted had taught him. Wet, gentle lapping on his knuckles confirmed the dog’s friendliness—or at least, its trust. “Let me take a look at you, boy,” he said in as soothing a voice as he could muster. He used the handle of the shovel to lift the dog’s hind leg, exposing more of its belly and crotch.

“Huh. I guess I shouldn’t call you boy no more,” he said, a little embarrassed. She licked his hand again. He looked closer at the cut. She’d somehow sliced herself across the belly, maybe jumping over a freshly-pruned hedge, or a barbed-wire fence, or maybe a cat or raccoon had clawed her. The ragged cut caused her skin to gape an inch or so apart. It would need stitches, probably several.

“Well, you ain’t gonna walk into a vet’s office all on your own,” he said. “But the sheriff’s office is on the way to town. Maybe he’ll get you there. Which means, I’ve got to get you to him. C’mere, girl.”

The dog found his eyes with her own, and laid her head back down on the pavement. He nudged her backside with his foot. “C’mon girl, get up.” She stayed put and glanced at him sideways, panting just a little. Moisture from the dog’s breath danced in the beam of his truck’s headlights.

“You gonna make me pick you up and carry you?” She didn’t look heavy. But to pick her up, he’d have to risk putting at least one hand near her head. Near her open mouth.

Pain. Fingers. Bleeding…

He shook his head. This dog knew more about pain and bleeding than he ever would. Come on, Lehigh, do what you gotta do here.

He crossed around the dog and slid the edge of his shovel under her furry back. At first she remained dead weight, a passenger in the next step of her journey. He pried her body up from the pavement, using the shovel as a lever and his foot as a fulcrum. He grunted under the awkward exertion. Six-one, one-ninety-five, he ought to be able to lift this skinny mutt with ease, but not from this position.

Just before he let go to start over, the dog responded. With a herky-jerky motion she stumbled to her feet and sauntered to the open door of his pickup’s cab, panting, a hopeful and grateful dog-smile painted on her weary face.

“Wait,” Lehigh said. To his surprise, the dog obeyed. He scratched the stubble on his chin. “You been around people.” That changed his strategy a bit. He had intended to put her in the bed of the pickup, but he discarded that thought like an empty carcass. Instead he spread a small tarp onto the passenger’s side of the seat. The dog put her front paws on the truck’s sidestep and convulsed in a pathetic attempt to climb further. Fresh blood trickled down her hind leg. Lehigh winced. Careful not to touch the wound, he pressed the flat blade of the shovel against the dog’s hindquarters and pushed her onto the floor of the truck, then guided her onto the tarp.

“I don’t reckon you’ve done anything wrong,” he said after climbing in next to her, “but I think it’s time you and Sheriff Summers got acquainted.”

The dog responded with a quick lick of her lips, heavy panting, and a low, prolonged whine.

About the Author

Gary Corbin is a writer, actor, and playwright in Camas, WA, a suburb of Portland, OR. In addition to his novels, he writes on assignment for private sector, government, individuals, and not-for-profit clients, and his articles have been published in BrainstormNW, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, and Global Envision, among others.

Gary earned his B.A. in Political Science and Economics at Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigers!) and his Ph.D. at Indiana University (Go Hoosiers!), writing his dissertation on the politics of acid rain (1988). After working variously on farms, construction, in restaurants, and in various information technology positions, in 2005 he founded Gary Corbin Writing and Consulting.

Gary is a member of the Willamette Writers Group, the Northwest Editors Guild, the North Bank Writers Workshop, PDX Playwrights, and the Portland Area Theater Alliance, and participates in workshops and conferences in the Portland, Oregon area. A homebrewer as well as a maker of wine, mead, cider, and soft drinks, Gary is a member of the Oregon Brew Crew and a BJCP National Beer Judge. He loves to ski, cook, and garden, and hopes someday to train his dogs to obey. And when that doesn’t work, he escapes to the Oregon coast with his sweetie.

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Posted in 3 1/2 paws, animals, fiction, humor, mystery, Review on February 9, 2015

animal cracker

 

Synopsis

Who hasn’t suffered in the workplace with a strangle-worthy boss? With humor and charm, “Animal Cracker” offers up a bunch of smart women who plot to get the goods on their boss at Boston’s venerable Animal Protection Organization.

Animal Cracker’s a comedy and a mystery! Diane Salvi has found the job of her dreams in a pet rescue operation. Her gorgeous boss should be on her side, but instead obstructs her efforts to promote more animal adoptions. Is he merely annoying, or guilty of something much, much worse? Diane, her reporter roommate, and some savvy women in the office join forces to find out.

Readers rave! “Hilarious plot is cleverly crafted around believable characters… couldn’t put it down, found myself laughing out loud through the plot’s twists and turns, and would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys great dialogue and three dimensional characters.”

More from readers: “Worth missing a night’s sleep.” And “I laughed and cried, but mostly laughed.”

Animal Cracker is the perfect read for anyone seeking sharp writing, clever women, and a great page-turner. You don’t need to be an animal lover to love Animal Cracker, but if you are a champion of animal rights, you can’t miss this one.

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Review

Hal is definitely a character you will hate. I suspected what was uncovered near the end (hate to write cryptic reviews but don’t want to spoil anything) and thought that Hal got what he deserved.

Diane is in a job she loves but just has to work for Hal, but at least she has a support network because no one else there likes Hal either.

The characters bring in a myriad of personalities and motivations to round out the story and make it interesting. I enjoyed the story although parts were not very realistic with what we see in today’s world….but this is fiction so the author can take some liberties IMHO!

There were a handful of F* bombs in the book, but thankfully not very many. I appreciate when the author is able to write a book and not use this word repeatedly.

We give this book 3 1/2 paws

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About the Author

andi brownAndi Brown has enjoyed a successful career as a professional fundraiser for several nonprofit organizations.  She is proud of her track record in securing resources that have enabled worthy organizations to fulfill their missions.

Andi is a graduate of Colgate University, and has studied creative writing at the University of Iowa and Boston’s Grub Street. She enjoys few things more than speaking French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese with the locals she meets during her travels.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Andi has two young adult children and lives in the Boston area. Her experiences as a lifelong “dog person” inspired her to write Animal Cracker. When not working or writing, she can usually be found, knitting needles in hand, eating chocolate.

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Giveaway

Enter to win a signed copy of Animal Cracker by Andi Brown. Open to US residents only 13 and older.

The winner must respond within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.
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Posted in 5 paws, animals, Review on September 8, 2013

The author’s daughter contacted me about reading one of her mom’s stories. She had offered up another one but this one caught my eye, probably because it involved a dog!  Jeanne Donnelly has 2 other short stories .  One is called Blood Aversions and the other is Betrayed by an Angel.

soul mates

 

Synopsis:

She was dying. Her life draining away on a hot city sidewalk and she gave it up willingly. Life had been hard and she was ready. With a jolt and a prayer she awakens in Heaven.

Through her flows all the joy and wonder of existence and she comes face to face with God. Overwhelmed, she begs to reincarnate to share this wonderful message of God’s unconditional love with those on earth. Will God give her this chance?

One thing before she goes, “Please,” she begs. “I want to be blond and petite and find my soul mate in this new life.”

Poof! She wakes up on earth as one of the smallest dogs on the planet!

Does God have a sense of humor or what?

Review:

What an emotional short story! A woman who falls into the grips of drugs and homelessness dies and asks God to come back as a petite blonde. What she failed to factor in is God’s sense of humor and she comes back as a Chihuahua. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through the first bit because of an abusive man named George that mistreated the dog and called her Rat. But it takes a turn for the better and then bad again and then better. If you cannot handle reading books about dogs that are mistreated then DO NOT pick up this book. While it is such a small part, it did make my heart heavy to read about the abuse (even though fictional, we know it happens around us every day).

We give this 5 paws and it is not a long read at all.

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**I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

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Posted in animals, California, contest, Cozy, Giveaway on October 5, 2011

One of my favorite cozy series is Pet Sitters series by Linda O. Johnston.  Probably because I love dogs (have 2 myself) and I like reading where pets are always involved in the storyline.  Well Linda created a new series based off a character that made an appearance in Howl Deadly, Lauren.  Lauren runs a no-kill shelter…something I wish all shelters were but realize that it can’t always be that way.  This series is called the Pet Rescue series.

Anyway, if you visit Dollycas Thoughts you will have a chance to win 1 of 2 copies of The More the Terrier which is the 2nd book in this new series.  I’m entering…..and hope I win this new book!

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