J Arlene Culiner, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. I’m Kayelle Allen, author and owner of this blog. Happy to have you here! We support all furbabies, real life or fictional. We want to know all about your Fiction Furbaby, but first, please tell us about your books.
Romance in Blake’s Folly: Desert Rose and All About Charming Alice by J Arlene Culiner
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Book heat level: Rl
These two books go together, and dogs play an important role in both — as you can see from the covers.
The setting for both is Blake’s Folly, Nevada, a backwoods community of abandoned clapboard shacks, endless wind, and scraggly vegetation. In All About Charming Alice, Alice, my heroine, is a prickly character who rescues dogs, protects snakes, and actively fights against hideously cruel sports like rattle snake shows. My hero, Jace, an intellectual from Chicago, isn’t crazy about dogs or dog hair, and he hates snakes. Neither Alice nor Jace expect love, with its hesitations, misgivings, and bliss, to come galumphing over the horizon. Of course, before their relationship can work, Jace will have to learn to appreciate snakes — and that won’t be easy.
In Desert Rose, my hero, Jonah Livingstone, spends much of his time out in the open, sighting mule deer, bobcats, spotted bats, sidewinders, rattlers, and little gray lizards. My heroine Rose runs a secondhand dress shop, and the last thing she needs is an animal — what customer will buy clothes covered in dog hair? But when Alice arrives with Noodle, an ugly rescue dog, Rose doesn’t have the courage to hurt the poor beast’s feelings by rejecting him.
Desert Rose by J Arlene Culiner
Men love Rose Badger, and if the other inhabitants of this dead-end town don’t approve, she couldn’t care less. With a disastrous marriage far behind her, settling down is out of the question. Isn’t life for fun? Doesn’t a stable relationship mean predictability and boredom? Perhaps things would be different with Jonah Livingstone, but he’s off limits because of a complicated past relationship. Besides, Rose has a secret life, and she’ll never give that up for any man
The last person geologist Jonah Livingstone expects to meet in a semi-ghost town is Rose Badger. She’s easy-going, delightfully spontaneous, and Jonah is certain their attraction is mutual. But Rose is always surrounded by admirers and doesn’t seem inclined to choose a favorite. And does he really want to settle into a permanent relationship?
All About Charming Alice by J Arlene Culiner
Alice Treemont has given up all hope of falling in love. Living in a semi-ghost town of old trailers, clapboard shacks, and thirsty weeds, she spends her time cooking vegetarian meals, rescuing unwanted dogs, and protecting the most unloved creatures on earth: snakes. What man would share those interests?
Jace Constant is doing research for his new book, but he won’t be staying long. Blake’s Folly is hell on earth. He’s disgusted by desert dust on his fine Italian shoes, and dog hair on his cashmere sweaters. As for snakes, he doesn’t only despise them–they terrify him.
So how is it possible that each time Alice and Jace meet, the air sizzles? Still, it looks like this relationship is doomed before it even starts.
Meet Killer and Noodle from All About Charming Alice, and Desert Rose
Nickname: They have no nicknames — but why would they need them with such original monikers?
Gender: Male dogs
Species: A strange mixture of anything that happened to be passing through town
Physical description of Killer
“The dog was large–very large. Its bulbous head seemed to sway on a sagging neck. Its legs were long, knotted, spindly, and its ribs wanted to punch through a dull, ratty-looking coat. Yet, ugly though it was, the damn thing still had appeal.”
Physical description of Noodle
“The creature in question was the size of a very large shepherd, and it had rough unappealing fur of a splotchy beige-ish color. It also had the whiskers of a terrier, pointed ears, a corkscrew tail, and huge hairy paws. It was horribly ugly.”
Killer’s relationship to the main character:
In All About Charming Alice, Killer is the abandoned dog Jace brings to Alice’s dog shelter.
Relationship to main character:
Alice takes Killer in, and he joins all the other abandoned dogs living with her. But she protects snakes, too.
Relationship to the villain/antagonist:
When Alice is aggressed by a man who runs snake shows, Jace, much to his own surprise, comes to her rescue.
Where this furbaby came from:
Killer was found wandering along the desert highway in Nevada
Noodle’s relationship to the main character: In Desert Rose, Noodle is brought to Rose’s secondhand shop by her friend Alice who thinks she needs protection.
Relationship to the villain/antagonist: There’s no villain. Jonah loves any animal, and if Rose has adopted a dog, that’s fine with him.
Where this furbaby came from: He was abandoned by a family that no longer wanted him.
What inspired you to create these characters?
In All About Charming Alice, I wanted to present snakes, especially rattlers, in a positive light. I know many people have an instinctive fear of them, but I think that fear can be lessened when learning about such creatures. Unless they are threatened, snakes are certainly not aggressive, and having a herpetologist as my main character was the best way to explain that. We need snakes; they play such an important role in the natural world, yet they are persecuted.
Of course dogs are equally important in my books. I rescue dogs — and snakes, birds, rabbits, mice, snails, or any creature that needs help — and so several creatures always make guest appearances in my tales.
What does the main character think about this furbaby?
All my main characters love animals. I wouldn’t really want to write about people who didn’t.
What does this furbaby add to the story?
Animals bring my main characters together.
What about this furbaby will readers like, and why?
Who doesn’t like big, sloppy, affectionate dogs? And the fact that all the dogs in these books are rescue animals, certainly strikes a chord with many readers. As for snakes, I hope people will start to see them in another light.
Please share an interesting fact or tidbit about one sort of furbaby.
Even though they are loners, snakes meet up with others and spend winters in a hibernaculum or hibernation hole. Baby snakes even follow their mother’s scent to get to these holes. Inside some of the largest hibernacula, you can find hundreds of snakes as well as the other creatures they share the space with, such as tortoises.
Describe a humorous incident involving the animal character.
One morning, before Jace knows that Alice is a herpetologist, he goes into her study with the intention of charming her. And just when he’s contemplating bending down to kiss her, he catches sight of a photo on her desk — the photo of a large rattler. All thoughts of seduction disappear, and terrified, he can’t move away quickly enough.
Which, if any of the pets in your writing are modeled after your own pets? In what way?
You have to know dogs to be able to write about them. My own dogs are former strays. I found Yellow wandering along the road, just like Killer in All About Charming Alice. Virgule was an abandoned dog, just like Noodle in Desert Rose, and he ended up at the local SPA. I fell in love with him immediately because he is just too big, and too cute. I also have two indoor cats Petit Chat and Mocky (my garden is a registered bird and butterfly reserve, so cats can’t go outside and kill things). One cat was abandoned in the middle of the village; the other I adopted from the SPA.
What do your pets do when you are writing?
The dogs all come to where I’m working, lie down around my desk and look sorrowful because I’m not out walking them. The cats drape themselves over my papers and keyboard.
What do you feed your pets?
Dry kibble, but the dogs also love apples, pears, nuts, pumpkin, bread, and anything else tasty.
Describe a toy or favorite item your pet loves.
Virgule loved chewing and demolishing plastic: electrical plugs, my cell phone, my computer transformer, plastic casing on wiring. Thankfully, as soon as I found Yellow on the road and adopted her, Virgule abandoned plastic.
Where to buy All About Charming Alice or Desert Rose
J Arlene Culiner Social Media
Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave-dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.
Storytelling Podcast https://soundcloud.com/j-arlene-culiner
Shout out to Rob’s Rescues – founded by a 9-year-old animal activist
Rob’s Rescues is a non-profit organization in Georgia helping people in need care for and feed their pets. It was founded in 2014 by a then nine-year-old boy. Rob’s Rescues is dedicated to collecting pet food for people in need to reduce shelter surrenders, and to advocating for the adoption of shelter pets. Rob writes monthly articles advocating for shelter animals in the Around About Local Media magazine publications. His column was first published in 2014. He also has pet food collection sites for people in need in the community and interviews amazing people. His interviews appear online once they are published in his column. Rob volunteers for Pet Buddies Food Pantry, the Cherokee County Animal Shelter and Cobb County Animal Control and collects pet food for these organizations and the communities they serve. He also wants to bring attention to smaller, rural shelters. Mostly he wants to get kids to be Rob’s Rangers to teach kids that they can help shelter animals. Rob has also talked to kids in a classroom setting. Rob’s Rescues is a Non-Profit Corporation and all donations are tax deductible. Website http://www.robsrescues.com/
Shout out to SPA and Orangutan Project
From J Arlene Culiner: I have a monthly donation to the SPA here in the Mayenne region of France. This is where I adopt my animals (this is a no kill center). The SPA also runs inexpensive clinics for animals belonging to people with low incomes: La Société Protectrice des Animaux : firstname.lastname@example.org
I contribute each month to The Orangutan Project. They rescue orangutans that are homeless or dying because of forest destruction: email@example.com