Pets and Romance

dogAs I was reflecting this week on elements that unify us as readers, it occurred to me that many of my reading colleagues are also fellow animal lovers. I live in a house filled with rescued cats and dogs, which is by turns delightful and frustrating. Delightful because life doesn’t get much better than snuggling with a book and a kitty in my lap. Frustrating in that many of my books are now missing covers courtesy of a certain coonhound who has an affinity for ripping them off when my back is turned.

Since I am such a sucker for animals I almost always find it a bonus when a good romance features a furry companion. Especially if the author is adept at creating a unique personality to where the pet becomes an actual character in the story.

Without further ado, here are a few of my favorites:

Jennifer Crusie writes some of my favorite romances. She nearly always includes wonderfully memorable canine characters. Two of my favorites are Getting Rid of Bradley and Anyone But You.

Laura Kinsale’s My Sweet Folly features a heroine with an extraordinary pet: A ferret. I’ve never owned a ferret and never had the desire to own one. Until this book. Toot is so playful and fun that I fell head over heels. And while the rational part of me knows that a ferret would be an utterly bad idea for my household, a tiny part of me still yearns.

Hairy from Take a Chance On Me by Susan Donovan is another favorite. This pint-sized pooch plays a pivotal role in the novel by bringing the hero and heroine together and helping to solve a crime. And how totally awesome is a disco-dancing dog?

But the most memorable for me has to be Otis the parrot from Deep Waters by Jayne Ann Krentz. It has been many years since I read this one and I have long ago forgotten the names of the main characters. But I shall never forget Crazy Otis.

On a related note, I also enjoyed Nora Roberts’ Black Hills, which is mainly set in a wildlife sanctuary. Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega and Mercy Thompson series feature wolf shifters and the author demonstrates an amazing insight into canid behavior. And I must mention Rita Mae Brown’s delightful Mrs. Murphy mysteries. While not romance these novels feature an array of animal characters with their own thoughts and personalities. Plus, they have some mad skills at solving mysteries.

Do you have a favorite book or series featuring animals? Which would you recommend to a fellow animal lover? And should I attempt to teach my coonhound to “shake his groove thang” like Hairy, the disco-dancing Chinese Crested?

- Heather S. AAR

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24 Responses to Pets and Romance

  1. I don’t but hubby does. One night, while waiting for me, he picked up my copy of Jo Beverley’s The Secret Wedding and read through it. The hero reluctantly “inherits” his bride’s cat before they are separated (to be united in the end). The hero and the cat remain together in the book, which is why he continued to read. The book is on his keeper shelf with his military history and golf quotes.

  2. Leigh AAR says:

    What a great topic! David Rosenfelt writes wonderful mystery books that always feature a dog. In real life he has a pet rescue foundation.
    His books, like the link say feature Tara, golden retriever, and her owner Andy Carpenter.

    Love the dogs in Emily Carmichaels’ Finding Mr. Right especially Ms. Piggy, except she is not really a dog

    Kristan Higgins almost always features a dog in her books.

    Authors love animals too. I know that many have donated the royalties from their books to animal foundations.

  3. DabneyAAR says:

    In “My Lord and Spymaster” the heroine has a pet ferret that actually plays a large part in the espionage plot.

  4. Penelope says:

    I love this topic! Take A Chance On Me is one of the greatest dog-inclusive romances ever. Love that book. A couple of other favorites…Christine Feehan’s Dark Symphony, where the Borzoi Celt has a starring role. (I just saw one at the Westminster Dog Show last week…it is truly a regal and wonderful dog). Another great dog-character is the pug Oyster in Eloisa James’ A Duke Of Her Own. The scene at the end of the book where Villiers gently cradles the injured dog in his hands is one of my all-time favorites.

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  6. xina says:

    Whenever I read a well-written dog in a romance, I have to think that the author knows all about dogs and most likely has one at home and that dog is well-loved. Adding to the canine list is Stanley from Chasing Stanley by Diedre Martin. While the book was just so-so for me, I loved Stanley. Our neighbors owned a beautiful Newfy for many years and she would wait for the kindergarten bus when my daughter was tiny and only 5. Maddy was sit by her every day, coming up to my daughters waist. My daughter would lovingly pat her head ignoring the doggy drool…eww. More pets from books….Rex the gerbil from the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Also, Freddie the ferret from The Propostion.

  7. Carrie says:

    I’ve enjoyed Elaine Fox’s Guys and Dogs series, as well as many books already mentioned. (Take a Chance on Me is a wonderful book, how can anyone not love Hairy.) But one of the funniest interactions between hero and canine is in Georgette Heyer’s Arabella. The one-sided conversations between Beaumaris and Ulysses are priceless, especially when delivered in audio by the great Eve Matheson. This is a hard-to-find audiobook, but worth the effort. Check your local library. Mine often has copies of older books on cassette.

    The Cinderella Deal by Crusie is recommended, as well as Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis. The author has a hilarious blog that often stars her wayward lab puppy, Frat Boy. I also loved the little dog in Heiress for Hire by Erin McCarthy.

  8. Meegoh says:

    Stories with canines involve never fails to touch me. One favorite story though is the dog named Hatiko, who continually waits for his master at the train station event though his master’s had long passed away.

  9. DabneyAAR says:

    As a non-pet person, I don’t usually go for books with pets in them. I did really like the animals in Lisa Kleypas’s the Hathaway series, the ferret in “My Lord and Spymaster” and the dog in Eloisa James’ “A Duke of her Own.” I think I like pets when they are used to illustrate a character’s true nature more than I do when they exist as characters in and of themselves.

  10. MarissaB says:

    I recently finished listening to The Search by Nora Roberts. I like both the H/H, but it was the dogs that won my heart. The heroine is a dog trainer and also is part of Canine Search and Rescue. She meets the hero because he has a puppy that likes to eat everything. Naturally, he named the puppy Jaws. All the dogs were just adorable, and I loved seeing how they played a part in the romance. Also, it was enlightening to see how Canine Search and Rescue works.

  11. I liked the dogs in Nora Roberts’s The Search, any Cruise book that has a dog makes me love it 10x more than I already would have, and I loved Beatrix Hathaway’s menagerie in Lisa Kleypas’s Hathaway series.

    Right now I’m reading Ain’t She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and although Sugar Beth’s dog isn’t a huge feature, I’m loving how he seems to worm his way into certain scenes so well.

    Anyone have any good recommendations (romance-wise) that feature cats?

  12. HeatherS AAR says:

    Wow, what great suggestions! My TBR list is growing exponentially. The Search and Animal Magnetism were already on my radar, but now I have even more books to anticipate.

    I can’t believe I forgot Kristan Higgins. My only defense is that I was loopy on cold medicine when I wrote this. I picked up my first Higgins because of the dog on the cover. I loved the story as well so she became an auto-buy for me. I loved The Next Best Thing, which features the heroine’s cat named Fat Mikey. I’ll try to think of some more romances with feline friends.

    Thanks so much for all the great suggestions! Keep them coming!

  13. Corie says:

    I love all of the animals in all Kristan Higgins books, but especially Angus from TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. He was fiercely loyal and he helped reveal the Hero’s excellent character (love the scene where Angus bit Callahan after he rescued the dog, but instead of taking offense Cal just toweled his wet hair and kissed the top of his head…it was truly a bone-melting aww moment).

    And animals also provide such comic relief like in Susan Donovan’s AIN’T TOO PROUD TO BEG where in one scene Genghis, the mongrel (not the Mongol), paraded the heroine’s vibrator (he wanted to play catch at that moment) in the living room when the hero was in her apartment. Talk about mortifying, but also very hilariously written. :D

  14. Ellen says:

    One of my favorite romances of all time is Emily Carmichael’s Finding Mr. Right which features Piggy the Corgi as a main character. Piggy is a Corgi but wasn’t always a Corgi. There are 3 books featuring Piggy, and Finding Mr. Right is the best of them IMO. The second, Diamond in the Ruff is okay, but less, and the third, Gone to the Dogs is better again.

  15. HeatherS AAR says:

    Corie, oh my! That sounds like a must-read. I have several Donovan books, but somehow missed this one. It’s definitely being added to my list.

    Ellen and Leigh, I must find the Corgi (but not really) story as well! Sounds intriguing.

    Thanks again everyone for the recommendations. I love it when I have a great list to take to the bookstore with me! :)

  16. Kathy W says:

    Absolutely agree with Corie! I love all of the special dogs in Kristan Higgins’s books. My favorite is Maggie and her golden in Far East coastal Maine in Catch of the Day. I am hoping for another cat in one of her future stories – Fat Mikey in The Next Best Thing was a fun surprise….more please!
    Kristan Higgins is an auto buy for me – love the New England settings too!

  17. AndyR says:

    A mystery series featuring a cat–Midnight Louie–is written by Carole Nelson Douglas.

  18. PatW says:

    One of the best written cats in a romace has to be Manegold in Diane Farr’s delightful Once Upon a Christmas.

  19. Jennifer T says:

    I am a cat lover and I love the cat, Galahad in the In Death series by JD Robb.

  20. Anne says:

    Love David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter mystery series featuring Tara (the greatest dog in the world) and another mystery series by Spencer Quinn starring and told from the point of view of the dog Chet who tries desperately to help his not-too-successful PI owner Bernie solve their cases. Unfortunately Chet usually get distraced by… well… stuff that would distract a dog… like interesting smells, animals and a tendency to mind wander at inappropriate times. The clever titles of the Quinn series intrigued me enough that I purchased the first and then the two subsequent books…. Dog On It, Thereby Hangs a Tail and To Fetch a Thief… Hilarious

  21. Anne says:

    Forgot to mention that the Spencer Quinn Chet and Bernie website is

  22. Wendy says:

    I loved the furzels in Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair.

  23. Christina says:

    To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt – a beautiful example of a man and his best friend. The relationship between Alistair and Lady Grey, his deerhound was so moving – it made me cry and provided a lot of insight into Alistair’s life and lonely existence.

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