Blog Post by Sally MacKenzie

I’ve led a pet-deprived life. According to family lore, we did have a dog sometime before I was born. The experiment wasn’t a success—the dog chased cars, ate blankets, and hid under the bed, growling at anyone who came near. I wanted a cat, but my parents nixed that. I thought my mother just wasn’t an animal person, but I suppose the reason might have had something to do with my childhood asthma.

I also wanted a horse to keep in our small suburban backyard. Didn’t get that, either.

What I did get was a little dime-store turtle with Houdini-like skills at escaping its plastic bowl—and then I had to find it a new home when we learned it could spread salmonella. During my sophomore year of college, I tried keeping goldfish in my dorm room, but they mysteriously died during home football games.

Once I married, I had my hands full with four boys. When the Cub Scout pack gave me a plant as a thank you for being Cubmaster, my first thought was, Oh, no. Not another living thing to take care of!

Clearly, I am not destined to be a pet owner, but I love putting imaginary pets—dogs and cats and parrots and monkeys—in my books. I blame Georgette Heyer for that. The antics of Lufra, the “Baluchistan hound,” in Heyer’s Frederica still make me giggle.

Dog breeds change over time, so when I needed a large dog for Loving Lord Ash, I did some research. I knew Lord Byron, the Regency poet, kept animals, but I didn’t know he had such a varied menagerie. Percy Shelley, visiting Byron in Venice, catalogued the poet’s many pets: ten horses, eight “enormous” dogs, three monkeys, five cats, an eagle, a crow, a falcon, five peacocks, two guinea hens, and an Egyptian crane. All but the horses roamed freely through the house!

So many book ideas.

Even though I don’t own any animals, my life is full of critter joy. I live across the street from a neighborhood park with a small pond. Summer evenings, with the peepers and bullfrogs singing, it sounds like a jungle. Deer, rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels crisscross my yard; Canadian geese use the road for a runway; herons feast on the frogs in the pond. I’ve moved turtles off my driveway and been awakened in the night by a cat and a fox yelling at each other. When I come home late at night, I often find tiny frogs hanging out on my siding, and I have to scoot a toad off my threshold so I can get inside.

Sometimes the critters sneak by me. Once I was startled to see a large “dust bunny” in my foyer actually jump! A toad had gotten inside my less-than-pristine home. I ushered him out and poured some water over him to get the fuzzies off. When I checked back, he was gone, off to join his friends, I hope, and serenade me another night.

Sally MacKenzie

“A pure delight. Sharp dialogue, a creative premise, and plenty of tugs on the heartstrings.” —New York Times bestselling author Betina Krahn

Scandal does not define the “fallen” ladies of Puddledon Manor’s Benevolent Home. Instead, it’s a recipe for an intoxicating new future as the women combine their talents—to operate their own brewery and alehouse . . .

When Penelope Barnes arrived at the Home with her young daughter, she discovered a knack for horticulture—and for cultivating the hops needed to produce a superlative pint. She put her scandalous affair with Harry Graham firmly in the past, along with the wrenching pain she felt when he went off to war. After all, she’d always known a farmer’s daughter had no future with an earl’s son. Now she has the pleasant memory of their passion, and she has little Harriet, for whom she would do anything—even marry a boring country vicar . . .

Harry went off to fight for the Crown unaware that his delightful interlude with his childhood friend had permanent consequences. Now he’s back in England, catapulted into the title by his brother’s untimely death. He sorely misses his former life of unfettered adventure, so when he has reason to explore Little Puddledon, he jumps at the chance. But what he finds there is something—and someone—he never knew he’d lost, and a once forbidden love whose time has come, if only he can persuade Pen he’s home to stay . . .

Sally MacKenzie’s novels are . . .

“Always a delight.” –Booklist, Starred Review

“Perfect.” —RT Book Reviews

“Naked, noble, and irresistible!” —Eloisa James

“Great fun.” —Publishers Weekly