by Kelly Moran
Pub. Date: 2/28/2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cade O’Grady has never met a woman he couldn't handle, but when Avery Stowe walks into his office late one night cradling an injured puppy, he’s struck stupid. Which might explain her total lack of interest in him. But now that she’s working for his family’s clinic, he doesn't have to lust from a distance. He might just have a chance at convincing Avery—and her too-guarded heart—that falling for the right man isn't a mistake . . .
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Avery didn’t glance up from the screen. “Making a supply list in Excel.”
Hell. Why was that hot? She wasn’t his usual type.
Okay, to be honest, any female with too many brain cells wasn’t his type. It wasn’t out of a sense of shallowness he sought that variety, but preservation. Until he found someone who made his heart beat like Heather used to do for Drake, he’d stick with superficial. No point in getting hurt or hurting someone else. But ever since Heather died, Cade tried less and less to settle down or find that person. He was aware of it, aware he was doing it, and damn if he ever questioned his actions until now. People rarely recovered from that kind of love. Why search for it?
Perhaps it was Avery’s long legs in those black leggings, or her pink sweater the same shade as her cheeks when she blushed, or her brown hair—more chestnut really in the sun—piled on top of her head and held in place with a pencil that seized his interest. He bit back a sigh. Nope. It was her brain, her humor, and her strength.
Aunt Rosa glanced at him over the top of her book, a knowing smirk on her face.
“A supply list?” Bully for him. His voice sounded normal. He still had no freaking clue why, but if he wasn’t bumbling like a moron around Avery, he was saying moronic things. Where the hell was his swagger?
“Mmhm.” Type. “So we don’t over order things or run out. Gabby and Brent can just check off what they need and I can order from the supplier.” Type, type. “Did you know you had ten cases of cat litter? Insane.”
He scratched his jaw. “Uh. No.”
“Putting Zoe’s stuff on here, too. Her shampoos and whatnot for grooming.” Type.
“She’s making a supply list,” Rosa beamed, waving her hand like this was an epiphany. I told you I’m all-wise. I hired her!
Cade frowned at his aunt. She’d been the office manager, for Christ’s sake. She should’ve been doing this.
Flynn came up to the desk and tapped Avery’s shoulder. “Have you seen my backup bag? Gabby and I need to head out to Miller’s farm.”
Avery nodded. “In the supply room, stocked for you. Your new bag should be here Monday.”
At Cade’s questioning glance, Flynn signed, “A goat chewed my other one when Gabby was busy chasing a barn cat.”
And this was why he wasn’t the house call vet.
Flynn tapped Avery’s shoulder to get her attention again. “Marry me?”
She laughed. “Not today, but you’re welcome. Shoo, now.”
What. The. Hell.
As if sensing Cade’s thought train and derailing it, Avery said, “He asks me to marry him daily. Hourly, depending on what I’ve done.” Type, type. “Relax, Dr. Cade. He’s joking. Besides, I don’t do office romance.” Right, Flynn? she signed.
Flynn grinned, the asshole, and strode into his office, only to emerge moments later with Gabby and his travel bag.
Cade flipped him off behind Avery’s back as he was walking out the door.
“Saw that.” Type.
Of course she did. All moms had eyes in the backs of their heads. And that was the other thing. She had a kid. Not that he didn’t like kids. He did. Maybe even wanted a couple of his own someday. But it wasn’t just one person involved when dating someone like Avery. It was two.
And they weren’t dating. Not even a little. He hadn’t asked her out and, aside from that first day when her gaze had shown interest, she’d seemed immune to him.
That hadn’t happened in…ever. He found it oddly refreshing.
With Flynn and Gabby gone, Cade glanced around. “Where’s She-rah?” The cat was usually perched on top of the printer, plotting world domination.
“Avery put her on time-out. She’s in the back room.” Rosa’s grin grew to oh shit size, and he figured his aunt had read all his previous thoughts. Like a Vulcan mind meld. Which was never a good thing.
Wait. A time-out? He looked at Avery. “You put a cat on time-out?” He didn’t know whether that was cute or genius.
Avery never stopped typing, which was beginning to infuriate him. “Yes, she was scaring Thor.”
Cade looked down, just noticing Thor’s head in Avery’s lap from the other side of her chair. The Great Dane looked at him as if to say, Neener, neener. “Dust bunnies scare that dog.”
“Well, the cat needs manners. Plus, Thor and I are working on his courage. Aren’t we, boy?”
Thor barked. And not in fear. Yes, my liege.
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Kensington/Lyrical launched the first story in my new small town rom-com series Redwood Ridge in February. Puppy Love is about a veterinarian, Cade, who's the youngest O'Grady brother and known as a bit of a playboy. What I loved most about this book (and the two releases following) is that the animals are like secondary characters. There's a clinic cockatoo, a great dane, and a cat, plus the characters' pets. So fun.
I'd been wanting to write a small town series for quite awhile and also had veterinarians in mind for potential heroes. I've always been an animal lover and my best friend is a vet tech. The stories she tells me? Hilarious! My main inspiration, though, was my beloved black lab, Willow. She was a rescue dog and was about 9 months old when we adopted her. The husband and I didn't have kids yet, but we recognized from day one she'd be great with anyone.
Gentle and intuitive, she knew I was pregnant before I did. She followed me around everywhere and kept nudging my belly. From the time we brought our twin boys home from the hospital--and 4 years later, our youngest son, too--Willow was the perfect dog. She would commando-crawl on the floor to lay beside them, careful not to smother. When they started toddling, she watched them from a distance, giving a wide berth to not topple them. And as they got older, she handled their rough-housing without batting an eyelash.
I used to study her and them, thinking to myself, this needs to be in a book. The way they interacted and played was something truly special, and so the idea for Puppy Love (later to become a series) was born. Animals have instincts we don't. They see the world in a way we, as humans, never will. They are a gift and a blessing we so often take for granted, and enrich our lives with unconditional love.
Sadly, after 15 wonderful years with our Willow, she passed away just a few weeks before Puppy Love's release. We're heartbroken and miss her terribly. Losing her is a void we won't fill. There was no other dog quite like her, but she's in a place where she can play forever. I can't help but think of the irony as well. That having her as part of our family spurned the idea to write this book, and after years of idly thinking, I finally did it, then she crossed the rainbow bridge right before its release. Almost as if to say, the boys are growing up and you're all good now. My quest is complete.
I suspect, when a decade passes and our boys are settling into their own futures, I'll look back and remember how we didn't raise them alone. How a furbaby we happened to check out at a shelter taught my husband and I more about patience and understanding than any instruction manual or piece of advice. We rescued her, but we were the lucky ones.