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Deb Wiley | Pets as Side Characters in Genre Fiction

February 18, 2019

Today we are joined by Senior Reviewer Deb Wiley, with an article all about charismatic pets as side characters in cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, and other fiction genres. Enjoy!

Stories featuring pets are always a popular draw for me. Whether it involves a man borrowing someone’s dog to capture the interest of a woman, such as in Sarah Morgan’s NEW YORK, ACTUALLY, or a mysterious cat who keeps popping up at the most opportune times, such as in FINAL SHADOWS by Kay Hooper, dog and cat stories are almost guaranteed to be on my TBR shelf. But what about stories featuring some more unusual animals rather than the expected dog or cat? Here are a few of the more intriguing stories I’ve read with pets outside the norm.

Kym Roberts is hands-down the winner for having the most unusual and most entertaining pet! Her Book Barn series features a bookstore owner, which already draws my attention. However, Charli Rae Warren’s pet pink armadillo, Princess, steals the show in almost every book. In KILLER CLASSICS, Princess gets a boyfriend.  I’m not going to spoil anything by saying more but if you love pets and other animals getting involved in the storylines, then I can guarantee you’ll love KILLER CLASSICS as Princess is a hoot!

A pig is another animal that doesn’t readily come to mind as a pet I would be fond of. However, Amanda Flower has changed that perspective quickly with PREMEDITATED PEPPERMINT in which Bailey King gets roped into taking Jethro the potbellied pig with her as she tries to uncover a murderer. Jethro doesn’t say a word throughout PREMEDITATED PEPPERMINT, after all, he is a pig, but Amanda Flower manages to convey so many silent expressions throughout the storyline. I love Jethro and hope to see this pampered support pig in future books.

And finally, Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series featuring the Aeslin mice. While the mice aren’t strictly pets, they are an integral part of the series as they keep the history of the family through time. The Aeslin mice also have intricate worship rituals revolving around the Price family. TRICKS FOR FREE includes a short story entirely about the Aeslin mice although they aren’t a part of the actual novel itself. I love the Aeslin mice and relish every moment they pop into the InCryptid storyline!

Many other books featuring pets are out there and I’m always looking for my next new favorite book or series. Whether it’s cats with a magical twist, like Sofie Kelly’s Magical Cats series, or a teacher with a love for dogs and dog shows, as in Laurien Berenson’s Melanie Travis series, there’s something for everyone. What are some of your favorite books featuring pets or other animals?


NEW YORK, ACTUALLY by Sarah Morgan

From Manhattan with Love

New York, Actually

One man. One woman. Two dogs.

Meet Molly—New York’s most famous advice columnist, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they’re other people’s. Still bruised from her last breakup, Molly is in no rush to find happily-ever-after—the only love of her life is her dalmatian, Valentine.

Meet Daniel—A cynical divorce lawyer, he’s hardwired to think relationships are a bad idea. If you don’t get involved, nomone can get hurt. Until he finds himself borrowing a dog to meet the gorgeous woman he sees running in Central Park every morning…

Molly and Daniel both think they know everything about relationships. But as they try—and fail—to resist their undeniable chemistry, they’ll soon discover they just might have a lot left to learn…

Romance Contemporary [HQN, On Sale: May 30, 2017, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780373804108 / eISBN: 9781488023453]

They are determined not to fall in love…



Bishop Files

Final Shadows

A desperate underground war with the survival of millions at stake looms in the electrifying conclusion of the New York Times bestselling Bishop Files Trilogy.

Tasha Solomon’s world turned upside-down when the psychic abilities she had tried so hard to live within secret suddenly made her a target stalked by unseen enemies.

John Brodie is by nature, by training, and by instinct a Guardian. He is a member of an intricate and secretive network of individuals who have devoted their lives to the deadly struggle of saving psychics in danger of being taken or being killed. It is a war very few other people even know exists, and yet its tentacles stretch deeply and dangerously into every aspect of society.

Tasha has abilities not even she is aware of, abilities that the other side would give virtually all they possess to destroy. And if being hunted like an animal were not bad enough she has to learn how to become a warrior in a battle she did not choose, to save people she does not know, and possibly even the very world around her.

If John Brodie can keep her alive long enough.

Thriller Paranormal – Supernatural | Romance Paranormal | Romance Suspense [Berkley, On Sale: December 31, 2018, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780515153354 / eISBN: 9781101589816]

Fascinating, out of this world, finale

A Captivating and Shocking Conclusion to the Bishop Files Trilogy

A stunning thriller — can the war on psychics be won?



Book Barn #5

Killer Classics

Small-town life in Hazel Rock becomes a Texas-size crime scene when murder takes a page from Charli Rae Warren’s book club’s latest mystery . . .

Charli takes great pride in running one of the few independent, family-owned bookstores in small-town Texas. She vets everything carefully, with an eye to the eclectic tastes of the locals. That includes the Book Barn’s weekly book club selection. This time out it’s a mystery whose characters bear a striking resemblance to local citizens, including Charli’s friend Sugar . . . who’s the prime suspect when her real-life nemesis is found dead in a hotel’s water tank.

With help from her pet armadillo Princess, Charli campaigns to clear Sugar’s sweet name—literally—when the up-for-election mayor becomes a killer’s next target. Murder and politics make scandalous bedfellows as Charli discovers that fiction may be fatal, but reality could be just as deadly . . .

Mystery Cozy [Lyrical Press Underground, On Sale: December 4, 2018, e-Book, ISBN: 9781516106592 / eISBN: 9781516106592]

The best installment yet in the series!

Murder and mayhem in small-town Texas



Amish Candy Shop Mystery #3

Premeditated Peppermint

Someone’s sweet on revenge . . .

Christmas is Bailey King’s favorite time of year. For her first Yuletide in Harvest, Ohio, the former big-city chocolatier is recreating a cherished holiday treat: peppermint combined with molten white chocolate. But her sugar high plummets when her former boyfriend walks into the candy shop she now runs with her Amish grandmother. New York celebrity chef Eric Sharp and his TV crew have arrived to film an authentic Amish Christmas. Bailey’s not about to let her beloved town—and Swissmen Sweets—be turned into a sound bite. Unfortunately, she gets more publicity than she bargained for when Eric’s executive producer is found strangled to death—and Eric’s the prime suspect.

With Bailey’s sheriff deputy boyfriend out to prove Eric’s guilt, her bad-boy ex tries to sweet-talk her into helping him clear his name . . . and rekindle their romance to boost ratings for his show. Now, between a surplus of suspects and a victim who wasn’t who she seemed, Bailey’s edging dangerously close to a killer who isn’t looking to bring joy to the world—or to Bailey—this deadly Noel . . .

Mystery Cozy | Holiday | Amish [Kensington, On Sale: September 25, 2018, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781496706430 / eISBN: 9781496706447]

A solid mystery, fabulous characters, and darned good humor!


TRICKS FOR FREE by Seanan McGuire

InCryptid #7

Tricks for Free

The seventh book in the funny and fast-paced InCryptid urban fantasy series returns to the mishaps of the Price family, eccentric cryptozoologists who safeguard the world of magical creatures living in secret among humans.

Penance, noun:
1. Punishment for past actions.
2. An attempt to pay for what can’t be bought.
3. See also “exile.”

Antimony Price is on the run. With the Covenant on her tail and her family still in danger, she needs to get far, far away from anyone who might recognize her–including her own mice. For the first time in a long time, a Price is flying without a safety net. Where do you go when you need to disappear into a crowd without worrying about attracting attention? An amusement park, of course.

Some people would call Lowryland the amusement park. It’s one of the largest in Florida, the keystone of the Lowry entertainment empire…but for Annie, it’s a place to hide. She’s just trying to keep her head down long enough to come up with a plan that will get her home without getting anyone killed. No small order when she’s rooming with gorgons and sylphs, trying to placate frustrated ghosts, and rushing to get to work on time.

Then the accidents begin. The discovery of a dead man brings Annie to the attention of the secret cabal of magic users running Lowryland from behind the scenes. They want the fire that sleeps in her fingers. They want her on their side. They want to help her–although their help, like everything else, comes with a price.

No plan. Minimal backup. No way out. Annie’s about to get a crash course in the reality behind the pretty facade. If she’s lucky, she’ll survive the experience.

Fantasy Urban [DAW, On Sale: March 6, 2018, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780756410407 / eISBN: 9780698183582]

Marvelous Book, Plenty of Fun and Excitement

An amusement park should be a safe place to hide…

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