Todd Dwyer, a successful app designer, wasn’t planning to adopt a dog, but when his Uncle Bertie dies and leaves his little mutt Archie homeless, Todd can’t help welcoming the pooch home.
Archie could charm the marrow out of a bone, but Todd’s girlfriend Gwen is less than impressed with the instant bond the fluffy white ball of fur makes with her boyfriend. When things go awry the first night, she insists that Todd give Archie to his sister, Claire, whose rural home is a day’s drive away.
Todd and Archie hit the road, but circumstances compel them to make a detour to a quaint hotel run by Todd’s childhood friend, Emma Carlisle. As it happens, the hotel is hosting a colorful group of ghost hunters in town for a paranormal conference, and when Archie starts howling into the air vent, it isn’t long before their road trip turns bumpier than an unpaved country lane.
But with Archie’s unerring canine instincts and loyal heart, he may help Todd and Emma see the happiness that’s waiting just under their noses . . .
“This is a light heartwarming read perfect for a wintry afternoon at home or a sunny beach vacation.”– RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
“Pethick combines a love story about second chances, a mystery, paranormal elements, and a winsome dog in her feel-good debut.” – Barbara McMichael, The Bookmonger (The Kitsap Sun & others)
“Amusing…cute…the perfect airport book.” – Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm (Spectrum & others)
“A funny and sweet book with plenty of howls!" – The Parkersburg News & Sentinel
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)|
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By Sue Pethick
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Sue Pethick
All rights reserved.
It was odd seeing a dog at a man's funeral, Todd thought as he glanced at the little mutt sitting in the pew, but that was Uncle Bertie for you — odd. The dog's name was Archie and he was the fourth dog with that name that Todd's uncle had owned over the years, every one of them a well-trained part of Bertie's stage act.
Todd's mother liked to say that her brother was the only person she'd ever known who actually carried out his threat to run away and join the circus. Uncle Bertie had spent three decades touring the world, and when living out of a trunk became too much for him, he'd begun a second career performing at kids' birthday parties and volunteering at nursing homes. In his handwritten will, he'd asked that there be no tears at his funeral.
On the other side of the pew sat Todd's sister, Claire. She'd flown in to help their mother clean out Uncle Bertie's apartment and make arrangements for the funeral, and she'd be leaving after the reception. Claire had been in a snit ever since their mother agreed to give Archie to Todd, and he didn't want her to leave town if there were any hard feelings.
He nudged her with his knee.
"You mad at me?"
She shook her head. "But I still think you're making a mistake. Gwen's never going to let you keep him."
"Will you cut it out? She's always saying she wants a dog someday."
"Someday, sure, but not today and not a dog like that, either."
"What's wrong with him?"
Todd looked down at the little fur ball lolling in the pew beside him and smiled. Archie had a mass of unruly white fur and a patch of tan that looked like the faded remains of a black eye, but there was a warmth about him that was as comforting as a hug. Todd reached out and patted him protectively.
"Nothing," Claire said. "But I'll bet he's not the pedigreed pooch Miss Gwendolyn Ashworth had in mind."
Todd ignored the barb. If his sister thought Gwen was a snob, there was nothing he could do about it. He decided to change the subject.
"Did the boys get my present?"
She rolled her eyes.
"Yes, and it's driving me crazy. Did you have to do all the dogs' voices?"
Todd had sent his nephews a prerelease sequel to his megahit game app, Pop Up Pups, and he'd been anxious to find out what they thought. Claire's eight-year-old twins were his most reliable product testers.
"So they like it?"
Claire couldn't suppress a smile.
"Of course they like it. Their friends think they've got the world's coolest uncle."
Todd grinned. "No argument there."
"I thought Gwen was coming," Claire said.
"She was," he told her. "Something came up at work."
"You pop the question yet?"
He shook his head.
"But you're going to."
Claire nodded tactfully, but Todd knew he'd be getting an earful later. She glanced back at the rest of the mourners.
"So, what do you think?"
He smirked. "What a bunch of clowns."
It was true. With the exception of the immediate family, every person sitting behind them had come in greasepaint to honor Bertie Concannon, a man who'd been clowning longer than many of them had been alive. Though barely five-six, he'd always seemed larger than life. He had an Irishman's gift of gab, a voice that could fill a theater clear up to the cheap seats, and hair a shade of orange unknown in the natural world. Uncle Bertie had never had much, but he never seemed to need much, either. He was funny and carefree and utterly ridiculous, and Todd had admired the hell out of him.
The service began and the mourners stood for the first song. As the opening strains of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" rose from the pipe organ, Archie sat up and looked around. He cocked his head and whimpered; his chin quivered and his eyes grew misty. Then, as the organ music swelled, the little dog began to howl.
Claire's comment continued to weigh on Todd's mind at the reception. As he passed through the crowd, accepting condolences and offering homemade hors d'oeuvres, he wondered if adopting Archie was a mistake. His relationship with Gwen was serious — serious enough that Todd was planning to propose to her that weekend — but they'd been living together for only a few months and there'd already been a few bumps in the road. Would adding a pet at this point really be a good idea?
A succession of clowns was coaxing Archie to do the tricks that he and Uncle Bertie had used in their act. As Todd watched the little dog dance, play leapfrog, and give high fives, he felt his anxiety start to lessen. He'd spent the last five months creating virtual dogs for his game app; it was going to be fun having a real live dog again. And once Gwen met Archie, he told himself, she was going to love the little guy too.
A clown in a pink wig sidled up and took a crab cake from his tray.
"So, you're Bertie's nephew," she said. "What is it you do?"
Todd hesitated. The success of Pop Up Pups had been a pleasant surprise, but he wasn't comfortable with the public attention it had brought him. The billion-dollar acquisition of his previous start-up hadn't garnered any interest outside the business world, but thanks to his game app, he was on the verge of becoming a household name.
"I write game apps for smartphones," he said.
"Anything I might have heard of? My kids play a lot of those."
She popped the crab cake into her exaggerated mouth.
"Ever heard of Pop Up Pups?"
She swallowed. "That's you?"
"Wow. My kids would play that game all day if I let them."
A hobo clown with a pile of cheese puffs on his plate gave Todd a curious look.
"Hey, I know that game. Isn't one of the pups named Archie?"
"That's right." Todd smiled. "It was sort of a tribute to Uncle Bertie."
Inspired, he said a few words in the virtual Archie's voice, a sound GamePro magazine had described as "a Rottweiler on helium."
"Right," the hobo said, his eyes narrowing. "You do the voices of the dogs, too. I think I read something about that."
"So," the pink-haired clown said as she shifted the last two crab cakes onto her plate. "I hear you're adopting Houdini."
Todd frowned. "Who?"
"Houdini." She pointed at Archie, whose ball-balancing act was getting cheers from the guests. "Bertie's dog."
"You mean Archie?"
"I guess." She shrugged and brought another crab cake to her mouth. "But Houdini's the only thing Bertie ever called him."
When the last guest had departed, Archie was passed out under the coffee table. Todd took the trash out to the Dumpster and headed back inside. Claire and their mother, Fran, were in the kitchen, cleaning up.
"It was a good service," Fran said. "Nice reception, too. Bertie would have liked it."
Claire slipped on a pair of rubber gloves and started washing the serving dishes.
"A few of them cried, though," she said. "Bad form."
Todd popped an olive into his mouth and grabbed a dish towel.
"They were sad clowns. That doesn't count."
"Too bad Gwen couldn't come," his mother said. "Another big project at work?"
"Mmm. Something like that."
"Well, I suppose work comes first," she said. "You know what they say: 'The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.'"
"Right," Claire said. "And hard work never killed anyone, but why take the chance?"
Fran took out a stack of Tupperware containers and began lining them up on the sideboard.
"Are you sure you want to take Archie?" she asked Todd. "Claire says there's room for him on the plane."
"I'm sure," he said, setting the turkey platter back in the cupboard. "And even if I wasn't, there's no room for a dog on one of those little puddle-jumpers."
"But you and Gwen just got settled. Don't you think it'd be better not to add another complication?"
Claire was scraping the last of the Jell-O mold into the sink. "Give it a rest, Ma."
Todd gave his sister a grateful smile. He loved his mother, but it was hard to get her off a subject once she got started.
Fran was indignant. "Why? What did I do?"
"You're butting in."
"Who's butting in? I just think it's the considerate thing to do, especially if he wants to marry this girl."
Todd shot Claire a dangerous look. "Who says we're getting married?"
"Oh, don't blame your sister," Fran said. "Anyone could see you're crazy about Gwen, and why not? A girl like that doesn't come along every day."
"I agree," he said. "But I'd still appreciate it if you'd let me handle this my own way."
"Well, I suppose you know best," Fran said, looking doubtful.
"I do," Todd said, kissing her cheek. "And don't worry. Gwen'll be thrilled."
Archie was quiet on the way to the airport. As the car inched its way through traffic, he lay on the backseat, shifting his gaze between the two people in front. Todd watched him in the rearview mirror.
"I think Archie misses Uncle Bertie."
Claire glanced back over her shoulder.
"What makes you think that?"
"I don't know. He just looks kind of sad."
"He's probably just carsick. Bob says dogs don't really have feelings like we do."
Todd held his tongue. Bob was all right as a brother-in-law — he was a good provider and he loved Claire and the boys — but he had a habit of stating his opinions as facts, and God help you if you disagreed with him. If his sister wanted to believe that Archie had forgotten Uncle Bertie, that was fine, but Todd knew a sad face when he saw one.
Claire opened her purse and started rifling its contents.
"So, why didn't you call Gwen?"
"I didn't want to bother her at work," he said.
"There's still time to change your mind, you know."
He shook his head. "No, thanks."
As he waited for the cars around them to start moving again, Todd's mind began to wander. In a little over forty-eight hours, he'd be asking Gwen to marry him. If she said yes, he thought, he'd be the happiest man on earth. If she turned him down ...
"I see you've bought your girl a ring."
He jumped. It was like his sister had been reading his mind.
"How'd you guess?"
"You've had your hand in your pocket all day, Todd. I just hoped it was a ring you were holding." She held out her hand. "Can I have a look?"
He took the velvet box from his pants pocket and passed it over. Claire snapped the lid open and gasped.
"Holy moly! Where'd you get this, Buckingham Palace?"
She took the ring out and watched it catch the light.
"Gwen saw it in a jeweler's window a couple of months ago," Todd said. "I'm going to pop the question this weekend."
He stuck out his hand. "Now, give it back."
Claire kept the ring just out of reach.
"Not so fast. I haven't had a good look yet."
Todd's embarrassment turned to pride as he watched his sister's reaction.
"You like it?"
"Of course I like it," she said. "But, Todd, it must have cost a fortune."
He shrugged. "Not quite."
She put the ring back in its box and handed it over.
"Are you sure about this?"
"Why, you think she's too good for me?"
"No, I think you're too good for her." Claire tapped her forehead. "You've got a brain. All she does is gossip about people she doesn't know and prattle on about the stuff she owns or wants to buy."
Todd felt his lips tighten. "How can you say that? You've only met her once."
"Once was enough. I don't know what you see in her, but I certainly know what she sees in you."
Todd pretended he hadn't heard. If Claire thought that Gwen cared only about his money, there was nothing he could do to change her mind.
"Sorry," she said. "I know it's none of my business. I just don't understand the attraction. There was a time when you would have seen right through a girl like that."
There it was, Todd thought. The unspoken accusation that he suspected Claire had been holding against him for years. When was she going to let it go?
"This is about Emma, isn't it?"
She crossed her arms and looked away. "Not necessarily."
"When are you going to get it through that thick noggin of yours?" He reached over and tapped her temple playfully. "That girl doesn't exist anymore."
Claire's eyes flashed. "How would you know?"
Todd felt a stab of guilt. Things had happened back then that his sister wasn't privy to, but if she was going to blame him for something he didn't do, he figured she should at least know the truth.
"Maybe I should have written to her," he said, "but when Dad died, things changed. I had to get a job. Then there was the house to take care of, and you and Ma. I don't remember hearing any complaints about that."
Todd swallowed the lump in his throat. Looking back, it felt as if losing his father had cut his life in two. He understood why it had happened, knew he hadn't been the only one forced to adjust to a new reality, but he resented it when Claire accused him of being heartless.
Claire's voice softened. "I know that, deartháir."
"And don't go all Irish on me," he snapped. "Emma's home life was a mess; things were never going to work out between us. Ma said it'd be better if I didn't write to her, so I didn't. End of story."
"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I didn't know."
"It was a long time ago," he said, gripping the steering wheel tighter. "I've got a good life now. The last thing I need is to be pining for Emma Carlisle."
He heard the scream of jet engines; Archie dove for cover as the 747 passed overhead. Todd reached around the seat and patted the little dog's head.
"It's okay, boy," he said, grateful to be changing the subject. "That's just how civilized people fly: with reclining seats and restrooms and tiny bottles of booze."
Claire craned her neck, taking note of the bumper-to-bumper traffic that jammed the Interstate in all directions.
"Oh, yeah. This place is real civilized." She took out her ticket. "Terminal D, smart guy."
They pulled up to the curb and Todd grabbed his sister's luggage. As he closed the hatchback, a cold blast of air nearly knocked him over. He set her bag down on the sidewalk.
"You want help with this?"
"I'll be fine." Claire's hair was buffeting her face. "But you'd better roll up that window. Feels like a storm's moving in."
Todd glanced back at his car. Sure enough, one of the back windows was open.
"Thanks for telling me," he said. "I didn't realize I'd left that down."
They hugged briefly.
"Call me when you get home," he told her.
Claire grabbed her bag and smiled. "Call me when Gwen says no to the dog."
"She won't," he said. "But thanks."
"I'll talk to you later," she said. "And, Todd? Good luck."
Todd waited until Claire had disappeared into the crowd before getting back into the car. Archie was sitting up in back, an expectant look on his face.
"How you doing back there?"
The little dog tipped his head and whimpered.
"Must have been cold back there with the window down. You want to move up here?" He patted the passenger's seat. "Be my guest."
As Archie settled down on the seat beside him, Todd started the car. Claire was wrong, he thought. Gwen was going to love Uncle Bertie's dog just as much as he did.CHAPTER 2
Emma Carlisle was not having a good day. In fact, at that very moment she couldn't remember the last time she'd actually had a good one. When she inherited the Spirit Inn from her grandmother, she'd thought her life was finally turning around, that all the lousy relationships, rotten jobs, and just plain bad luck in her life had been payment in advance for her once-in-a-lifetime windfall. Instead, it seemed as if karma was once again having a big ole laugh at her expense. You thought you were out of the woods? she heard it snickering. Ha-ha! Fooled you again.
This latest bout of karmic deserts was being served up by Harold Grader, her up-until-now friendly local banker, who'd apparently decided that loaning her more money to maintain and upgrade her hotel would be throwing good money after bad.
"I'm sorry, Emma," he said, looking anything but. "The committee just isn't going to approve another loan when you're only making the minimum payments on the one you have."
"I understand," Emma said, "and I know it doesn't look good, but business has really been picking up."
"Yes, I can see that," he said, prodding the financial statements on his desk with the tip of his finger. "But your overhead has also increased. If anything, it looks as if you're making less on a per-guest basis than you were before."
Excerpted from Pet Friendly by Sue Pethick. Copyright © 2016 Sue Pethick. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love this book!
Me to!! I wonder if theres a series
Dogs are soulful and smart. They know more than we give them credit for. They are family.
Okay, but certainly not great. No depth, no character development, unresolved minor characters. Amateur fiction but at least held my attention until the end. Would not recommend,
Simply put: If you want a complicated "deep" novel, then definitely pass on this book, but if you want a "beach"-type, "fluffy" (no pun intended) read that is predictable and light, with a bit of mystery and romance, and are a dog lover (although this is not a requirement) than this is the book for you. I could tell that this was Pethick's debut novel by her writing in the beginning (which seemed a bit 'forced'), but by the middle of the book she seemed to get into more of a "rhythm" in her writing. In short, I enjoyed the book for it's light and uncomplicated plot while I was relaxing on my deck, soaking in the sun on my day off.
Fun read for dog lovers!
This was a great ?il nook, wish it would have been longer tho. I loved all of it. Especially Archie the dog. Plus Ho don't live a man that loves a dog.. Maybe there will more books about ppl that visit the pet friendly hotel. Don't yall think that would be a great 2nd book?
“All the World Loves a Clown--& His Little Dog Too!” Uncle Bertie has past away. He was a well-known Circus Clown who also had a dog act as a part of his Shtick. The pews at the Church were filled to capacity with fellow performers, complete with their colorful greasepaint. Who was in the front row but his four-legged canine partner, Archie, also known as “Houdini”. Bertie’s Nephew, Game App Designer, Todd Dwyer also attended the funeral. He was always very fond of his Uncle, but was he fond enough to agree to his Mother’s strong suggestion to take ownership of Archie? He ordinarily wouldn’t mind, but he is living with champagne taste and spoiled Gwen Ashworth and intends to propose the following weekend. Todd and Gwen had been discussing getting a dog, but Archie is not the cutesy type that Gwen would certainly have her heart set on and then, sadly, another argument would take place. He decides he will have to “Introduce” Archie to Gwen. Maybe, just maybe, she would grow fond of the talented little ball of fur like he did. Sadly, Todd decides to take Archie to live with Todd’s Sister, Claire. What an adventuresome trip they have, as Archie escapes from the car and runs away. Todd’s search lands him at the “Spirit Inn” and a pleasant reunion with Emma Carlisle, a girlfriend he supposedly abandoned from his past. Emma has inherited the Inn from her Grandmother, but it seems the operation is having financial problems as well as needing an upgrade of the ages-old hotel. Thankfully, for the 6th year in a row, the S.S.S.P.A., a society for paranormal activity is having their convention at the Spirit Inn. Perhaps, that will help the cash-strapped Inn? Misinterpretations make the reunion uncomfortable but, just when you think all will be better—it’s just the opposite. Did Archie spy a ghost? Or did he just have some tricks up his paw? Will Todd get his feelings and mistaken beliefs sorted out? Will Emma be able to save the Inn from having to be sold? And our beloved Archie—Who will take him in and give him a home? If you’ve needed a break from high-drama type fiction, this is the book for you! It’s a light-hearted, heart-warming, easy read filled with love, loyalty and a large helping of humor. Well done Ms. Pethick! I’m hoping there will be a sequel as every dog lover will fall in love with Archie. The Author has kindly included a very informative section written by Pet Travel Expert Amy Burkert on preparing your dog for a pet-friendly vacation. Be sure you put this title on your “To Be Read” list. Nancy Narma
Oh okay! Hey baby! Can you get instagram?