What is it about puppies and kittens and ponies (and even hamsters, though I have never had one) that we love? Every jaunt through Facebook includes adorable pictures of friends’ furry loves (my own included), heartwarming stories of pets reunited with their pet people, or passionate pleas for adoptive homes for animals in distress.
Most of my friends have pets. Most of my family and extended family are pet lovers, too. I have two rescued cats and two noisy and happy parakeets. Pets are like members of the family. I like people who like and respect and protect animals.
So what does that have to do with romance novels?
I love to read sweet romance and light mysteries. I also like to write them. I feel that a large part of the joy of our stories is directly related to the ability to identify with.. and LIKE the characters. Though it may sound corny, in a good book, they actually feel like friends to me. Real. The kind of people I like.
I am seeing how the memorable characters in my favorite books (both romance and mystery) often have a pet that matters a lot to them. Like Stephanie Plum and her hamster, Rex. Or Jesse Stone and his big lovable dog. Jessie. This can also been seen in sweet romance movies, like Tom Hank’s adorable dog Brinkley in “You’ve Got Mail.”
In many of my earlier books, my characters have pets too. In “Daring Hearts”, my heroine helps a sad little boy get a puppy. In “Love, Julie”, my heroine saves and trains a wild horse that people have given up on. In “Noah’s Bark”, my heroine is a veterinarian who fights for animal rights and cares for a bevy of animals, usually with no pay. In “Patient Heart”, it’s all about an errant pony.
There is a certain kind of sweet loving heart that is open to loving a pet, and that trait is very attractive to me in a romance novel, as well as in real life. In our sweet romances, the emphasis is on heart and character and story. The inclusion of pets often makes the story richer, more realistic and heartwarming to me.
What do you think? Do you have a pet? Do you find stories richer with characters who love their pets?
Christine Bush is the award winning author of many books and novellas of sweet romance and light mystery. When she isn’t writing, she can be found working with clients as a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice, or teaching Psychology at a local college. She lives with her family and two crazy cats in northeastern Pennsylvania, and loves to hear from readers and aspiring writers.
Check out her reissued Award Winning book “Cindy’s Prince!”