I have four cats and one dog. Some would call me a Crazy Cat Lady. That term wouldn’t be too far off. I once said I could sum up my life with LOLcat pictures from icanhascheezburger.com. People thought I was joking. I wasn’t.
|Chaos & Yoda|
Pets are an important part of my life. Although I have a husband and three children who are around much of the time, the animals are my constant companions while I write. Right now one of my cats, Spirit, is keeping me company while I write this post. Another cat, Smalls, is asleep next to me. If it wasn’t so warm, I’m sure the dog would be upstairs with me instead of napping downstairs where it’s cooler.
I love putting pets into my romance novels. Before I had furbabies of my own, I used other people’s pets for inspiration for my animal characters. A friend from college, Mike, had a cat named Francis who was named that for two reasons—Frank Sinatra and Shakespeare. I used both the name and the basis for his name in my first Silhouette Romance If the Ring Fits….
A deep longing for a dog led me to create Denali, a blue-eyed Siberian Husky, who appeared in my Harlequin Romances Rescued by the Magic of Christmas and Christmas Magic on the Mountain. Giving a heartbreaker-player type hero was a way to show a different side of him. And if he was willing to commit to a dog, maybe he wasn’t quite the confirmed bachelor he claimed to be. (We ended up adopting Chaos, a Norwegian Elkhound, after realizing a husky's personality wouldn't be a good fit for our family.)
Our newest cat, Yoda, who we adopted from a local Humane Society and is pictured above with Chaos, ended up being the inspiration for a stray black kitten taken in by my hero in my Harlequin Romance Not-So-Perfect Princess.
It was so much fun to use Yoda, who is known as the Master of Disaster and Ninja Kitty, to create Boots. The kitten not only is the catalyst for my heroine and hero meeting, but the cats brings them together throughout the story. I fell in love with my fictional kitty when it came time to make Romance Trading Cards for my characters I made him one, too!
Here’s a little taste of a scene from that book with my hero, Alejandro, and the kitten:
Lying in bed, Alejandro Cierzo de Amanecer heard a noise outside his room at the beachfront villa. The stray kitten he’d found at the boatyard must want something. He opened his eyes to see sunlight streaming in through the brand-new floor-to-ceiling windows. Most likely breakfast.
The bedroom door burst wide-open. Heavy boots sounded against the recently replaced terra-cotta tile floor.
Alejandro grimaced, but didn’t move. He knew the routine.
A squad of royal guards dressed in blue and gold uniforms surrounded his bed. At least they hadn’t drawn their weapons this time.
Not that he would call another intrusion progress.
“What does he want now?” Alejandro asked.
The captain of the guard, Sergio Mendoza, looked as stoic as ever, but older with gray hair at his temples. “King Dario requests your presence at the palace, Your Highness.”
Alejandro raked his hand through his hair in frustration. “My father never requests anything.”
Sergio’s facial expression didn’t change. He’d only shown emotion once, when Alejandro had been late bringing Sergio’s youngest daughter home from a date when they were teenagers. In spite of the security detail accompanying them, Alejandro had feared for his life due to the anger in the captain’s eyes.
“The king orders you to come with us now, sir,” Sergio said.
Alejandro didn’t understand why his father wanted to see him. No one at the palace listened to what Alejandro said. He might not want to be part of the monarchy, but he wasn’t about to abandon his country.
He’d founded his business here and suggested economic innovations, including developing their tourist trade. But his ideas clashed with those of his father and brother who were more old-fashioned and traditional in their thinking.
A high-pitched squeak sounded. The scraggly black kitten with four white paws clawed his way up the sheet onto the bed. The thing had been a nuisance these past two weeks with the work at the boatyard and renovations here at the villa.
“I need to get dressed before I go anywhere,” Alejandro said.
“We’ll wait while you dress, sir.” Sergio’s words did nothing to loosen Alejandro’s tense shoulder muscles. “The king wants no delay in your arrival.”
Alejandro clenched his teeth. He wanted to tell the loyal captain to leave, but the guards would use force to get him to do what they wanted. He was tired of fighting that battle. “I need privacy.”
Sergio ordered the soldiers out of the room, but he remained standing by the bed. “I’ll wait on the other side of the door, sir. Guards are stationed beneath each window.”
Alejandro rolled his eyes. His father still saw him as a rebellious teenager. “I’m thirty years old, not seventeen."
Sergio didn’t say anything. No doubt the captain remembered some of Alejandro’s earlier…escapades.
“Tell me where you think I would run to, Captain?” Alejandro lay in bed covered with a sheet. “My business is here. I own properties. My father’s lackeys follow me wherever I go.”
“They are your security detail, sir,” Sergio said. “You must be protected. You’re the second in line for the throne.”
“Don’t remind me,” Alejandro muttered.
“Many would give everything to be in your position.”
Not if they knew what went with being the “spare” entailed. No one cared what he thought. Even when he tried to help the island, no one supported him. He’d had to do everything on his own. Alejandro hated being a prince. He’d been educated in the United States. He didn’t want to participate in an outdated form of government where too much power rested with one individual. But he wanted to see his country prosper.
“Guard the door if you must.” Alejandro gave the kitten a pat. “I won’t make your job any more difficult for you than it is.”
As soon as Sergio left, Alejandro slid out of bed and showered. His father hadn’t requested formal dress so khaki shorts, a navy T-shirt and a pair of boat shoes would do.
Do you have any pets? Do you like books that have pets in them?