Monday, November 23, 2015

Tails of Love - Lori Foster and others (Berkley - June 2009)

Ten all-new stories that celebrate our animal friends, by bestselling and award-winning authors.

From Seeing Eye dogs to the cat who cuddles in your lap, animals are there for us in more ways than we can count. Helping us get through the day with a wag of the tail and a tilt of the head, they let us know that someone is on our side-no matter what. They also have an amazing ability to break down barriers between people; bringing families and loved ones closer, and giving strangers an excuse to strike up a conversation. In "Tails of Love," each writer draws from her own unique perspective on our loyal friends--exploring the many mysterious ways they bring love into our lives.

Featuring stories from "New York Times "bestselling authors Lori Foster and Stella Cameron, and Ann Christopher, Kate Angell, Marcia James, Dianne Castell, Donna MacMeans, Sarah McCarty, Patricia Sargeant, and Sue-Ellen Welfonder.


Man's Best Friend by Lori Foster
Series: SBC Fighter (Book 8)

Erin has known Gary since she was six years old and he was her brother's best friend. She's been in love with him almost as long, but since he became an SBC fighter she has felt that he's beyond her reach. When she's leaving work late one night, in pouring rain, she trips over a small puppy. Unfortunately, her car battery is also dead and her brother unavailable by phone. Her only other real choice is to call Gary for help, but her phone dies just as she reaches him. I loved the way that he came charging to the rescue.

Gary has had it bad for Erin for years. When she was younger, he avoided her for obvious reasons, but lately she's been avoiding him. He's grateful for this chance with her, and plans to make the most of it. I loved seeing the way he countered all of her objections as he brought her and the puppy to his house.

It was sweet to see the way they came together to take care of the puppy. Thanks to him, Gary had a chance to tell Erin how he felt, and Erin to see that he was, at heart, the same man she'd always known. The ending was hot and sweet.

A Knotty Tail by Stella Cameron

Cute story about a woman who adopts two dogs and a man with a cat. Rose and Simon had lived near each other for six months, but both seemed unable to gather the courage to approach the other. Rose is a nurse who, though she'd never had a pet before, adopted the dogs for company. She's a bit unsure of how to treat them. Simon is a bit of a loner, a cartoonist who keeps to himself.

Dickens and Madeline are the two dogs, and Clawdia is the cat. Most of the story is told from their viewpoint. I felt bad for the two dogs and the reason they were up for adoption. The conversations between the two were cute, as Madeline tries to instruct Dickens on proper behavior for getting adopted and kept. Clawdia was the personification of a cat - independent, selfish and snooty, but she had the redeeming factor of wanting Simon to be happy.

I loved seeing her scheme to bring the two humans together. I also enjoyed that the dogs didn't just go along, but put their own spin on the process. The interactions among the animals are pretty funny, especially their opinions of each other's intelligence and motives. I liked the way they got Simon over to Rose's house, and how the humans took it from there.

Norah's Arc by Kate Angell

Adorable story of how a pygmy goat brought a zookeeper and construction man together. Norah owns a petting zoo of miniature animals, one of which is a pygmy goat named Houdini. As indicated by his name, he is an expert at getting out of his pen. Currently, his favorite thing to do is visit the construction site next door, wreaking havoc as he does so.

The story starts as Mike confronts Norah about the goat currently bouncing around on the hood of his Corvette. Norah explains how the escape happened, and why the goat is on the car, and suddenly Mike finds himself providing a load of boulders for the goat pen to keep him occupied.

A bout with rain, mud and the goat, have both Mike and Norah wet, and the attraction between them really starting to sizzle. I loved Houdini's assistance in getting them past their first kiss. He seems intent of finding ways to get Mike and Norah together, though his methods don't do much for Mike's peace of mind. 

When Houdini goes missing again, and no one can find him, Norah goes to Mike for help searching. I loved his kindness and patience during the search, and how much he helped when they finally found him. But what really sealed my liking for Mike was what he did for Norah and Houdini the next day. I loved seeing how Mike came to care about Norah and her animals.

The Pursuit of Happiness by Dianne Castell

A rather strange story. Jane is a good Savannah girl with a family full of unique personalities. Her boyfriend, Rex, is a veterinarian. The story opens with them in bed, doing what comes naturally. When finished, Rex is trying to get up the nerve to talk to her about their future. He has a problem that he needs her help to fix, but they get interrupted by a call from her mom before he can tell her.

The issue for her is that she is the one who is stuck solving the problems created by her family. One of the things she loves about Rex is that he is so normal. When he comes to see her, he finally explains the problem. He is a werewolf, cast under a spell years ago, The spell can be broken by true love (of course) and he has the instructions on how to do it. Jane freaks out, believing he is just as nuts as her family members, and refuses to have anything else to do with him.

I really liked Rex a lot. Yes, he has that problem, but he's an all around nice guy. He loves Jane and isn't put off by her crazy relatives. Jane was kind of a doormat with her family. I got a little frustrated with her confrontation with her mom over the car. She needs to be able to put her foot down and make them responsible for their own actions. If the car ends up being a problem, mom has to deal with it herself.

However, I did enjoy mom's reaction to the news about Rex and how she gave Jane some advice to think about. What Jane did then was fairly predictable, but there was a bit of fun on the way to do it. The ending was fun.

Atticus Saves Lisa by Ann Christopher

Cruz and Lisa had known each other for a long time. Cruz is her younger brother's best friend. There's definitely something between them, but Lisa has been fighting it. Her brother Keenan is in a wheelchair, victim of a drunk driving accident. She feels guilty because she was driving and feels that she should have been able to avoid the drunk driver. She has spent the last two years devoting all her time and energy to Keenan, and convincing herself that she doesn't deserve anything more in her life.

At the time of the story, she, Cruz and Keenan are celebrating Keenan's return to the workforce and independence. He has an assistance animal, a little monkey named Atticus, who helps with the things Keenan can't do. 

Cruz decides it's time to make Lisa aware of his feelings. She fights it hard, afraid to be happy. I liked the way that Cruz tells Keenan of his intentions, and how he tries to get Lisa to face her fears. It takes some straight talk from Keenan to make Lisa see that she's allowed to be happy. Because he has Atticus he doesn't need her to take care of him any longer, freeing her to live her life. She then went to Cruz and admitted her love.

This was okay, but there wasn't much to it.

Rescue Me by Marcia James

Sweet story. Adam is a former football player who now owns a restaurant. One day he finds a small dog in the alley behind it. When he's not sure what to do with it, someone suggests he take it to the Rescue Me shelter a few blocks away. When he arrives there, he's stunned to find that it is run by his former college girlfriend, a woman he has never forgotten.

Adam admits to himself that he'd been a selfish, arrogant jerk when he left to take up his football career. Now that he's seen Claire again, he wants a second chance with her, and the little dog gives him the perfect excuse. It was really sweet to see the way that Adam bonded with the little dog, and kept going back to visit. It also gave him the way to see Claire every day. It was fun to see him "court" her by bringing gifts for the shelter. I also loved seeing the way he showed interest in her work.

Claire hadn't forgotten Adam either. The anger she still felt for him disappeared quickly as she saw the way he treated the dog. She was surprised by the way that he kept coming back, and didn't want to believe that it was because of her. She was wary of getting hurt again. I loved the scene with her coworker as it got pointed out to her that everyone could see how much Adam cared.

I loved the ending, as Adam got up the courage to ask her out. His nervousness was adorable. The scene in the restaurant was sweet and romantic. 

Lord Hairy by Donna MacMeans

The only historical in the collection, this story was fun, with something of a Cinderella theme and a most unusual fairy godmother. The story starts with Hannah in the kitchen sneaking a snack, when she is spotted by her stepmother. Her stepmother isn't a very nice person and has nothing good to say to or about Hannah. However, she is determined that Hannah snag the attention of newly arrived in the area Lord Ashton. To punish Hannah for her snacking, she sends her off to deliver the food to a poor family.

While walking through the woods, Hannah is accosted by a huge black dog who steals the food that Hannah has. She can see that he's hungry and appears to have been in the woods for quite awhile. She can't just leave him, so she takes him home with her. Frustrated by her stepmother's harping on Lord Ashton, she names the dog "Lord Hairy Ashton". Her stepmother isn't happy to see the dog with Hannah and when she refuses to return the pooch to the woods, banishes both the dog and Hannah to the stables. She also denies Hannah the opportunity to attend the dance at Lord Ashton's the next night.

I loved how the servants refused to have that happen and arranged for Hannah to make it to the dance after all. Just as Hannah is enjoying a visit with her friends, mayhem breaks out as the dog, who had been left at the stables, comes bounding into the ballroom looking for Hannah. What follows is a very amusing encounter between Hannah and the dog's owner who is, naturally, Lord Ashton. They appear to connect very quickly over the dog. The ending is very good and has a very funny twist.

Danny's Dog by Sarah McCarty

A story that's sad, but also full of hope. It opens with Kathy helping with an animal rescue. One of them is a black lab that is so covered in sores that she doesn't know how he's still alive. When the shelter manager plans to put the dog in the terminal category, Kathy refuses to accept it and is determined to save the dog. There's something in his eyes that speaks to her. He makes her think of the dog she and her soon to be ex-husband were going to get their son.

The only way to take care of him is to find the dog a foster home, as she can't keep him in her apartment. And the only place she can think to take him is to her old house, but facing Walt is something she doesn't want to do. They had split six months earlier after their grief over their son's death tore them apart. Neither one had known how to express or share their grief.

I liked Walt. We learn a little about his background and why he had trouble sharing his grief. When Kathy left him, he finally got the help he needed to deal with it. This helps him face Kathy and let her know that he hasn't given up on them. 

When she ends up in the hospital because of a fall, a nurse there sees the love that Walt still has for Kathy. She points Kathy in the direction of the help she needs, and soon Kathy is ready to face Walt again. 

The day that Kathy goes to see Walt would have been their son's first birthday. What happens between them is emotional, sweet and shows great promise that they can move forward together, along with Danny's dog.

Scaredy Cat by Patricia Sargeant

Cute story with a beat up alley cat playing Cupid. Thomas is a cat that Kendra had found badly injured and took to the vet before adopting him as her own. The problem she has is that her boyfriend Harvey really doesn't like Tom - and the feeling is mutual. The story opens with Tom doing his best to keep Kendra from going out with Harvey and succeeding brilliantly. He also notices when another man comes to the rescue when Harvey leaves Kendra stuck on a ladder. I loved seeing his thoughts as he followed Paul to see where he lived and decided to try to bring them together.

The next day brings Harvey back to see Kendra, this time with a definite goal in mind. He wants to see Tom gone so that he has Kendra's attention again, but the way he goes about it is doomed to failure. I got a real chuckle out of seeing the way that Tom manipulated Harvey, though he certainly didn't expect the reaction he got. I loved seeing Kendra treat Harvey just as he deserved.

Once Tom knew where Paul lived he wanted to find a way to bring him and Kendra together, but he met with a difficult obstacle. That block has been claimed by the trio of cats that had attacked him the first time. He is wary of running into them again. But his motivation is strong, and he makes the attempt. I really loved the way that he overcame his fears and did what he had to do, even though he was attacked again. But it's what he did then that showed his real determination.

Circumstances like that are what bring out the true nature in people, and that it what it did for Paul. I loved seeing the way that he immediately stepped in to help Tom and how he supported Kendra while he did it. It was sweet to see the effect it had on Kendra, even as she was worried about making another mistake. The scene in the back room at the vet's was adorable, and I loved Tom's satisfaction with the results of his actions.

A Man, A Woman, and Haggis by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

Cute story about a man and a woman brought together by the ghosts of their grandparents and a dog named Haggis. Jilly had come to Scotland to fulfill her grandmother's last wishes - to take the locket given to her by a Scotsman who had broken her heart and bury it on his grave. While having lunch at a nearby inn, she sees a highlander and his dog who encourage her to try the haggis to eat. As soon as it is served to her, the food is snatched from her plate by a dog also bearing the name of Haggis. His owner is an incredibly handsome man, who apologizes and offers her a tour of the loch on his boat.

Jilly knows she should say no, but she's intrigued by the man and agrees. When she tries to chicken out, she sees the highlander and his dog again, and it becomes clear they are ghosts. Succumbing to their obvious wishes, she goes on the trip and finds herself drawn to the man, but hesitant to get involved because of her family history.

Kieran is drawn to Jilly, but there's also something about her that is eerily familiar. When he figures out what it is, he's not happy to see that she's the granddaughter of the woman who broke his grandfather's heart. Some ghostly interference makes him realize that there is more to the story. 

I loved seeing him convince her of the truth. It was sweet to see them figure out what really happened and use it to settle the truth. I loved seeing them resolve to make sure that history doesn't repeat itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment