I write romantic suspense and feature a dog in every book. Yes, I am a dog lover, and our dogs, Mae-belle and Harvey, have appeared in previous books. Can you smell these wet, salty dogs who are enjoying a day at the beach?
In romantic fiction dogs give characters something to do while showing depth. To give you an example, Sweet Pea, a cocker spaniel, belongs to a secondary character in Deadly Alliance. Sweet Pea warms up the alpha hero, Finn Donahue, when he helps his dad play a trick on a neighbor next door. Sherlock, a blood hound belonging to heroine Tori Morningstar in Unholy Alliance, comes in handy for searching. What reader wouldn’t love a dog who saves lives?
Most pet owners consider their pet a member of their family, meaning they let their animals sleep with them, take them on vacation, buy them Christmas presents and celebrate their birthday (ah—guilty). But it is more than that; perhaps there has been a sort of meeting of the minds between people who consider animals pets, and people who consider animals as having a job to do. Each type now seem to have a new appreciation of the ways animals enrich our lives—in both work and play.
And our romance books reflect that. More and more, the animals in our stories have a specific job to do, maybe as a member of a K-9 police or military unit, or a therapy dog or search and rescue dog.
Excerpt featuring Sweet Pea from Deadly Alliance:
Papa’s lungs rattled with each breath. “Aren’t you glad you taught me how to text?” The grin on his lips spoke of his capacity for jocularity. Papa stood, and the men hugged, patted each other’s backs, and then split apart.
“Can I do anything for you before I leave?” Finn asked.
Papa nodded. “Rip the cover off my National Geographic. It’s sturdy enough.”
“Sure,” Finn said, all too familiar with his dad’s scheme to move Sweet Pea’s leavings from his yard to Dolly’s front steps. The operation required finesse— moving it without disturbing its shape. “Papa, it was dark last time.”
“Yup, and that night a star was born,” Papa said. “You sneaked out and made the perfect transfer.” Mick really wanted him to do it.
“Where’s Dolly?” Finn asked.
“Riding the senior van to the store.” Papa crinkled his nose. “Well then?”
Finn nodded. “It’s an honor to be chosen for this task.”
“You’re about to win another metal.” Papa looked at him with genuine pride.
How often did Finn do something simple but greatly rewarding? The only the negative consequence would end up on the neighbor’s shoe. His dad beamed, and Finn relished the rush it gave him.
Excerpt featuring Sherlock from Unholy Alliance:
She closed the door and veered around. On the driver’s side, she flipped up the seat, stowed her supplies behind it, and sunk next to Sherlock. She’d become accustomed to the bloodhound riding shotgun. She ruffled his ears, and he snorted in response. As she drove, she stared straight ahead, willing the red light to change to green. She sneaked a glance at him, and he held the toy bloodhound in his mouth.
The light changed, and she lurched into the intersection. The sudden movement slammed Sherlock against dashboard and bounced him onto the floorboard where he crashed into the empty plastic water bottles she’d meant to recycle.
“Sorry! Next time I’ll use the seat belt.”
Sherlock looked at her with his soulful eyes, no worse for the wear, but stayed on the floor with his chin on the seat.