Books one and two in the Rescue Me Series
There’s a new contemporary romance novelist who features animal rescue work in her books, a heartwarming combination! In her Rescue Me series, Debbie Burns writes about a fictitious no kill animal shelter located in St. Louis, Missourri, where she also resides.
The first novel, A New Leash on Love, introduces the High Grove Animal Shelter and some delightful characters. The romance centres on Megan, the temporary shelter manager, and Craig, the recently divorced dad who shows up surrendering a puppy. Megan has a hard time being on good behaviour in the circumstances, but Craig makes it up to her many times over as the two navigate a close friendship filled with sparks. Craig’s children have a part to play in bringing the couple together, as do some adorable dogs and cats. We also meet Patrick, a volunteer with Asperger’s Syndrome, whose challenges are noted with compassion and insight.
The second novel in the series, Sit, Stay, Love, takes us into the world of rehabilitation of dogs rescued from illegal dog-fighting. The shelter is able to house a fair number of the dogs on a lovely aging estate gifted to them on the sole condition that Mr. Longtail, the donor’s fluffy cat, may live out the rest of his life there. Mr. Longtail has been standoffish during brief daily visits, but accepts the dogs and warms up to Kurt, the ex-military dog handler who moves in. Sparks fly between Kurt and Kelsey, the shelter’s rep assigned to the project.
Protesters who don’t believe in second chances for “killers” lend drama, while Ida, the donor’s elderly sister next door, welcomes the couple with apple pie and stories of the remarkable home they come to love. Family provides challenge as well as support, in the way of families across the ages. Kurt’s mental health demons arise as he works through a difficult past. Transformations occur, both four-legged and two-legged, with love, patience, determination, hard work and more love.
Some favourite quotations follow. The first talks about a philosophy of animal training using positive reinforcement rather than domination: "He was commanding and alert without being harsh or overpowering. During her years working at the shelter, she’d witnessed harsh and overpowering from a few people who’d come in claiming to have a way with dogs but who just intimidated them until the dogs were uncomfortable and submissive. In no way was this Kurt. His voice was never raised, and his movements were slow, fluid, and a bit exaggerated, easy for the dogs to observe."
The second quotation was fun for me as it referred to our own Canadian home renovation stars, twins Drew and Jonathan Scott: "Growing up, her brothers had been so engrossed in bodybuilding that she’d almost been turned off muscles entirely. But nothing about Kurt turned her off. Not only did he have the perfect physique, but he was equal parts Cesar Millan and the Property Brothers."
I’m looking forward to the third novel in the series, My Forever Home.
- Irene Plett