Today I’m excited to have author Margaret Daley here, talking about the first book in her new Second Chances series: Love Gone to the Dogs!
Tell us more about your book—take us beyond the official “book blurb.”
Love Gone to the Dogs is about Arnold and Princess playing matchmaker between their masters, Leah, a single mother, and Shane, a widower, who is a doctor and town mayor. The two dogs have their work cut out for them. Their owners don’t always cooperate with Arnold and Princess. They sometimes have to resort to desperate measures.
Give us more info about your main characters—who are they?
Leah is a single mother who has her hands full raising two active boys and a grandfather who doesn’t understand what the word danger means. Shane is a doctor who loved his deceased wife and didn’t think he would have a second chance at love.
What scene in your book was the most fun to write, and why?
When Leah and Shane were caught “parking” by the police, because of the consequences of this little escapade.
How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?
I’ve been writing for over thirty years. What inspired me to write was being an avid reader of romances.
What do you like best about being a writer?
Being my own boss and getting to make up stories and not get into trouble.
What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
Being my own boss and having to wait all the time on another.
What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?
I have another book in the Second Chances series (Love Gone to the Dogs is first in that series) planned as well as the second book in The Protectors series. I just recently put out the first book, a romantic suspense called Dangerous Pursuit, last month.
What authors have inspired you?
My favorite author is James Rollins. He writes action and adventure stories.
What are you currently reading?
Rollins latest book—The Eye of God: A Sigma Force Novel.
Please share a favorite scene from your books with our readers.
Inside Shane’s car, Leah started to buckle her seatbelt when he stopped her. He leaned toward her, his expression unreadable in the dark.
“Now for the ‘that’ I promised you earlier,” he murmured, his breath tickling her ear.
She shivered, the flesh on her neck hypersensitive. Turning her head to face him, she opened her mouth to protest, and his crushed hers, his tongue sliding between her teeth to explore the deep recesses within. She was lost from that moment forward.
Melting into the seat she wound her arms around his neck, pressing him against her. He satisfied a need in her that she hadn’t even realized she had until his lips had touched hers the first time. He ignited a fire deep in her that burned hot and fierce for him alone.
Answering his exploration with her own, she delved into his mouth, tasting him, seeking to match him bold move for bold move. He grasped fistfuls of her hair, tilting her head back to allow him free access to the soft column of her throat while he pushed her down and covered her body with his. He nibbled a path downward until he reached the scoop of her neckline.
Releasing his hold on her hair, he slipped one thin strap down her arm and was turning his attention to the other. A glaring light flooded the car’s interior, illuminating everything inside.
Shane shot up and peered out his side window. “It’s the police!”
“The police!” Leah dragged the strap of her sundress up her arm with shaking fingers.
“Let me handle this,” Shane whispered, then rolled down the window. “Hello, Tom. It’s good to see you.”
Good to see a policeman while caught necking? Leah closed her eyes and prayed she would be in her bed and this would all be just a nightmare, that it would go away once she was awake.
“Shane? I didn’t realize that was you. Thought you two were some teenagers. They like to use this place.”
“We were just out for a drive after dinner.”
“Ned wanted us to keep an eye out for intruders. He said someone has been vandalizing his property.” Tom shone the light on Leah. “Ma’am, sorry to disturb you.”
“That’s fine,” she murmured in a choked voice. Leah wished she had the ability to disappear in a blink of the eye. Her cheeks burned with embarrassment. What a great impression to make with the police force of Shady Oaks. She was getting really good at making lasting first impressions. She and her family had managed to acquaint themselves with all the emergency services—fire, ambulance, and now police.
“Well, I’ll leave you two alone, then.” The officer dropped the flashlight to his side and walked back toward his squad car.
“I suppose this has dampened the mood,” Shane said after he put up his window.
“Your grasp of the obvious amazes me.” She could still feel the slow burn on her face as the police car pulled away. “I know it’s not possible to die of embarrassment, but I think I’ve come close to it tonight. We were caught necking! I have two sons. I’m supposed to be a role model for them.”
“We didn’t do anything.”
“Try telling that to the Neds of this world.”
“No one will hear about this. Certainly not from me.”
“You’re not who I’m worried about.”
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Sound tempting? Love Gone to the Dogs is available now at Amazon.
Single mom Leah Taylor has her hands full with her grandfather, an inventor who is a bit risky when it comes to his job, and two sons, one of whom is also a rambunctious genius. But it is her free spirited beagle who gets her into trouble with her new neighbor, Dr. Shane O’Grady, when her dog makes a move on his champion Bichon that he wants to breed.
Leah and Shane clash over their dogs that clearly like each other. Leah is determined to ignore her neighbor, but when her youngest son tries to defy gravity and ends up hurt, it is her neighbor the doctor who takes care of her son. Can Leah and Shane find love, or has love gone to the dogs?
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author Margaret Daley
Margaret Daley, an award-winning author of eighty-four books, has been married for over forty years and is a firm believer in romance and love. When she isn’t traveling, she’s writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household. To find out more about Margaret, visit her website at http://www.margaretdaley.com
Want more? How about another excerpt?
When Leah Taylor heard the pounding on her front door at seven o’clock in the morning, she jumped, nearly sloshing her coffee all over her hand. Did burglars now announce themselves before stealing a person blind? No one else in his right mind would be out visiting at this time. Carefully, so as not to spill the hot brew, she placed the mug on the kitchen counter and made her way toward the insistent pounding that she was sure was waking up the whole neighborhood.
She peered out a narrow slit in her mini blind and saw an enraged, huge man standing on her front porch with a shredded newspaper in one hand. The other was clenched at his side. He wore practically nothing except a pair of jean shorts. He stepped back and glanced around, clearly not happy that no one had answered his summons.
Backing away from the window next to her door, Leah nervously chewed the end of one of her acrylic nails. The man looked familiar. She was sure she had seen him in the yard across the street. He had to be a neighbor. But why was he welcoming her to the neighborhood at such an early hour, and with an angry expression on his face? She had been here only a few days, and her family hadn’t done anything yet to upset the delicate balance of this small town. Or had they? She thought back over the past few days of almost nonstop unpacking. She had been too tired to even venture from the house much, and the same went for the rest of her family—she hoped.
When the pounding started again, she was so surprised by the sound that she bit through the end of her new acrylic nail. Well, now he was making her mad. Without thinking, she yanked open the front door and prepared to confront the man who had the nerve to pay her a call at seven o’clock in the morning.
“Look what you made me do!” Leah held up her hand. “I’ve tried everything to grow my own nails long, and nothing’s worked. I finally decide to get fake ones—that I might, by the way, tell you cost me forty dollars—and look what your pounding has done. They haven’t even lasted one week.” She blew out a deep breath, then brushed her bangs away from her face in frustration.
His dark eyes widened, and his mouth dropped open. He started to say something, but decided instead to allow his gaze to trek downward slowly—way too slowly for Leah’s peace of mind. A blush leaped into her cheeks as she remembered her skimpy attire. She controlled the strong urge to try to stretch her large, white T-shirt until it covered more than the tops of her thighs. When his survey stopped at her bare feet, her toes wiggled as if they had a will of their own.
She felt practically naked under his intense look. While he was staring at her, she began at his bare feet, which were braced apart in a stance that conveyed his anger, not one toe wiggling. Her gaze traveled upward over long legs that probably belonged to a runner, to narrow hips that the jean material hugged nicely. She paused ever so slightly at the washboard ripples in his flat stomach and came to the decision that the man worked out religiously, something she religiously tried to avoid. Her impression of his being an exercise freak was confirmed when her gaze skimmed over a broad chest, wide shoulders, and arms with taut muscles bulging as he held them rigid at his sides. Bod of steel, she thought, realizing her impulsive inspection had done nothing to cool the heat in her cheeks.
That realization was utmost in her mind until her gaze came to rest on his face—not poster boy handsome, but rugged and very masculine. Then she noticed his eyes, dark as chocolate, growing rounder as he took in her features. Oh, no! All traces of the heat from her blush left her cheeks. Why hadn’t she remembered that she had forgotten to remove yesterday’s makeup, when she had fallen exhausted into bed, and that her short hair lay at odd angles all over her head as it did every morning? Realizing she looked like Rocky the Raccoon having a bad hair day, Leah stepped behind the front door, gripped its edge, and peered around it to carry on the rest of the conversation, trying to hide as much as possible from view. Too bad she didn’t have a sack to put over her head.
Her actions snapped the stunned expression from the man’s face. He held up the newspaper, which appeared to have gone through a shredder. “This is what your dog did to my paper—for the third morning in a row, I might add. Makes it a little hard to read.”
His tightly clipped words blasted her. Who still read an actual newspaper? Her grasp on the door strengthened. “That’s not possible. He’s in the backyard—which is fenced, I might add.”
The man’s scowl deepened. “Your dog’s a beagle, right? I saw him this morning. Medium size, brown, black, and white.”
“Must have been someone else’s beagle. Arnold is as secure as a baby in a playpen.” Then, without really thinking again, Leah swung her shield wide open, leaving her visible to his full view once more, and motioned her less-than-friendly neighbor inside. “I’ll show you you’re wrong about Arnold.”
“Lady, I’m not wrong,” he said, as he stomped into her house, his large presence in her small entryway dwarfing everything, including her.
“Leah Taylor.” She held out her hand for him to shake. After all, they were going to be neighbors, and he would realize his mistake when he saw Arnold in the backyard. She believed in making a good first impression—which in this case had been blown. At least she could shoot for a good second impression.
“Shane O’Grady.” He nodded his head slightly, but didn’t take her hand in his. He still clenched the newspaper with torn bits hanging like black and white streamers.
Her blush came back to haunt her cheeks. Leah gritted her teeth and proceeded to the kitchen, intending to show the man her dog and then, with a relish, the door. Forget that second impression. “One of the reasons I rented this house was the chain-link fence. It’s four feet, and Arnold isn’t even two feet tall. I don’t think he’s learned to pole vault yet, even though he did enjoy watching it on the Olympics telecast.”
Shane O’Grady shot her a skeptical look. “I know I saw him. He was running back toward your yard.”
Leah waved her hand toward the window that afforded them a view of the yard behind her house. There lay Arnold by his doghouse, sprawled on his back with his legs stuck in the air as if he were dead. She pointed to the closed gate. “Did you see him open the gate and run back into the yard?” It was hard to keep the smug tone out of her voice. In fact, she didn’t succeed.
“It was him, lady.”
“Are you the type of man who doesn’t like to admit he’s wrong, Mr. O’Grady?”
The flint in his eyes could have set her on fire. “Ms. Taylor, if you don’t take care of the problem, I will.”
“What do you mean?” Her voice rose with panic.
“We have leash laws in Shady Oaks.”
The threat hung suspended between them. The only sounds in the kitchen were the clock ticking over the stove and Leah’s increased breathing.
“I’m not without some pull, since I am, the mayor.” He stalked toward the door, turned back to rake her with a sharp look, and added, “Keep that hound in your yard. We’ve had problems with wild dogs biting people.”
“You must be a dog hater,” she shouted at his retreating back as she followed him to her front door.
Shane halted on the bottom step. “Far from it. I have two dogs of my own, but you won’t see them running wild in the neighborhood. I keep them where they belong.”
She came out onto her porch. “Yeah, well, Arnold is innocent. In America even a dog is innocent until proven guilty. Where’s your proof, Mr. Mayor?”
He said nothing to that last remark, probably because he was jogging across the street and up the flight of steps in front of his house. But several people had heard her words—the woman next door, who was coming out to get her newspaper, and two men power walking. They all stopped what they were doing and stared at Leah as if she were an alien who had just landed in the middle of their peaceful town.
Leah did the only thing she could think of. Smiling, she waved to each one. “Just exercising my voice. It’s such a beautiful day to exercise, don’t you think?”
One man shook his head as though he couldn’t quite believe his eyes, and the other laughed. They resumed their power walk while the woman grabbed her paper and rushed back inside, probably heading straight for the telephone to tell everyone that the newcomer was obviously crazy.
“Welcome to Shady Oaks,” Leah muttered to herself as she made her way back inside her house.
When she caught sight of herself in the mirror in the entrance hallway, she groaned. She looked worse than she had thought She had dark mascara circles under her blue eyes and her orange lipstick was smeared across her right cheek. And her hair was just awful—a brash, coppery shade of red that shone in the sunlight. Well, she couldn’t help it if her home tinting had gone awry. Red was normal—usually.
Shrugging away her less than desirable reflection, Leah headed straight for the back door. “Arnold. Breakfast,” she called out, and watched her beagle roll his head into a position to see her. He stared at her for a good minute before getting up and slowly walking toward her as if he hadn’t had twenty hours of sleep, and barely had enough energy to make it to the door.
“For being falsely accused you get an extra portion this morning,” she murmured, and bent to pat Arnold. Her hand stopped on the fur by his neck. She spied a strip of newspaper tangled in his collar, and closed her eyes.
When she opened them a second later, Arnold was butting her hand to get her to scratch him behind the ears. Instead, she took the scrap of newspaper off the collar and saw the evidence against her dog mount—the piece of paper had the day’s date written across it in bold, black letters.
“Oh, no, Arnold, you couldn’t do this to us. We’ve just moved here. This was supposed to be a fresh start. Now look what’s happened. I’ve antagonized the town mayor.” Leah balled the shredded piece up in her hand and marched to the trashcan. No one was going to know about this.
Looking out the window at the securely shut gate, she wondered how Arnold had gotten out. He couldn’t open it, then close it, could he? Well, however he had gotten out, she would make sure that Arnold didn’t escape again, even if she had to chain him outside the next morning.
She had wanted to make a good first impression. She plopped down on a stool at the kitchen counter and buried her face in her hands. She knew how important that was in a small town, where everyone knew everyone. She wanted her family to belong, to finally have a place they could call home. She had researched Shady Oaks, and the town had everything she wanted, especially an excellent school system.
The sound of feet running upstairs drew her attention. Her exchange with Shane O’Grady awakened the neighbors, and her family as well. She turned her accusatory glare on her dog that sat at her feet wagging his tail while he patiently waited for his breakfast. “I should give you half rations, you Benedict Arnold.”
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