Home is Where the Bark is

Author: Kandy Shepherd

Publisher: Berkley Trade

Release Date: July 6, 2010

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4.5

Format: PRINT

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Six months ago, Serena Oakley opened her upscale doggy spa and day-care center named Paws-A-While, often playing the game of matching the dog to the owner. She had a year to make her business a success before she ran out of the funds from her previous job. She had been a famous model, using the name Serena St. James, known as the Chocolate Girl after posing in a tub of chocolate for her best friend, Maddy, who has a cooking show on television. When Maddy asked her to do a modeling job for her magazine, Serena could not say no. However, the pictures of her sitting in a tub of chocolate, seemingly wearing nothing but the chocolate, had given her attention she did not need. A stalker had finally been jailed, though she had not wanted to go to the police. Growing up, she had learned to fear authority figures, people in uniforms, through her parents, who did not like such people.

Nick Whalen, a private investigator, had left the FBI to go into the private investigator business with a former co-worker, Adam. They specialized in identity fraud and were working on a major case involving victims in the Bay Area and Marin County. Suspiciously, twelve of their twenty victims kept their dogs at Paws-A-While. Nick needed a way to get into Paws-A-While to scope out what shady dealings were going on there. As a result of house-sitting his Aunt Alice’s place while she was out of town, he had access to Bessie, his aunt’s purse-sized Yorkie-Poo.

When Nick walks into Paws-A-While with his aunt’s dog, Serena knows at once, they do not match and her instincts tell her to be on guard with this new client. Acting as though Bessie is his dog, he went into the doggy day care to sign her up. He had not expected this woman with the sexy curves and sense of humor to be the owner of the center. When Nick approaches her, he sees her back up with fear in her eyes. An expert in false identities, he knows something is not right. He had noticed that she did everything she could to downgrade her attractiveness, but nothing could detract from her beauty, not even her pulled back hair and frumpy uniform. She has secrets and he is determined to uncover them.

Initially figuring that so many of her clients being victimized was just a coincidence, Serena’s demeanor forced him to deny the sudden attraction, as she was now his prime suspect. If he could crack this identity fraud case, his lucrative contract with the insurance company would put his business right on track. He was also starting to get the idea he had seen her somewhere before, but he couldn’t figure out where. It was not until his partner pointed her out on the internet that he realized she was actually Serena St. James.

Working together, he becomes convinced of her innocence, as he is falling for her. As they work together to help an injured dog who has been abandoned at Paws-A-While, their feelings for each other deepens so much that Nick begins to wonder if they have a future together. But soon they have to trust in each other as Serena faces a threat close to home, putting her life and, possibly, their future in jeopardy.

HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS is a mysterious contemporary romance. Not believing in coincidences, Nick checks out the doggy spa, where twelve of the twenty identity fraud victims have their dogs registered. But it doesn’t take long for Nick to see that Serena is an innocent victim also. Now he just has to figure out the identity of the real culprit. Enhanced beautifully with mystery, fast-paced action, blazing hot love scenes, captivating characters, plot twists and an abundance of enchanting four-legged secondary characters, this charming story will keep you turning pages until you reach the very end. I look forward to reading more of this author’s works.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Dottie

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