Research comes in all forms and from all places…
When my husband and I were first married I discovered a horrible truth about him: he didn’t read for pleasure. Oh sure, he read journal after journal of medical minutia to keep up on the latest things he needed to know for his practice, but the simple act of reading for the shear pleasure of it was alien to him.
Until he married me, of course.
I wanted him to learn the joy of relaxing with a good book , so I came up with a very simple plan. We would choose a novel together and then each night one of us would read a chapter aloud to the other. We did this for quite a while and one of our favorite writers was James Herriot, the author of the All Creatures Great and Small series. It was while reading through that series I began ruminating on a story line of my own about a family of veterinarians.
By reading the Herriot books, I began to see how I could structure the life of a veterinarian, his loves, his losses, and how he dealt with everyday life as he did with the animals he cared for. He would need a strong willed woman by his side-that was a given-and their love affair would need to be the kind filled with obstacles, both professionally and personally, and life’s usual ups and downs.
Decades later, my veterinarian family was born on the page.
On May 6, my second novel in the MacQuire Woman Series will be released, titled, There’s No Place Like Home. It tells the story of a veterinarian’s daughter, Moira Cleary, and her best friend, veterinarian Quentin Stapleton. Quentin has loved two things his entire life: horses and Moira. His reputation for being a profound “horse whisperer” is solid, and he uses his talents and love to help heal a broken Moira when she returns home after four years of traveling with a professional symphony.
Working with horses is a subspecialty of veterinary care, and Quentin needed to have a broad knowledge of the animals in addition to his natural healing essence and nature. To give him that knowledge base, I began devouring books on horses: their anatomy and physiology, information on breeding, ancestry…you name it. I spent hours trolling the Internet for information on horses and watched every movie about them I could find. By the time I started writing the book I felt I knew more about horses than I’d ever use. Some simple facts helped in various scenes, such as, horses have 360 degree vision and have the largest eyes of any other land mammal. They drink about 25 gallons of water per day and you can tell if they are dehydrated by pinching their skin. These facts Quentin would need to know to effectively treat a sick horse, and he uses this info in the book.
Research is valuable, in whatever form it comes in. I will never be a horse whisperer, treat an ailing stallion or a pregnant mare. But because of that love of the Herriot books, I have created a stable of men who can. Quentin Stapleton is one of them.
Symphony pianist Moira Cleary comes home after four years of touring, exhausted, sick, and spiritually broken. Emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of someone she trusted has left her gaunt, anxious, and at a crossroads both professionally and personally.
Moira’s best friend, veterinarian Quentin Stapleton, wants nothing more than to help Moira get well. Can his natural healing skills make it possible for her to open her heart again? And can he convince her she’s meant to stay home now with the family that loves her - and with him - forever?
“Remember when your cousin Tiffany got married in the backyard here?”
Confused, Moira nodded.
Quentin rubbed her bottom lip with the pad of his thumb. “When the Reverend told Cole ‘you can kiss your bride,’ and he swooped her off the ground, spun her around and kissed her silly? Remember what you said?”
“I think I said it was the most romantic thing I’d ever seen.”
He nodded. “The exact quote was, ‘I hope someone kisses me like that some day.’”
Her grin was quick at the memory. “Pat snorted and said I’d better be satisfied with licks from the horses and Rob Roy because no guy was ever gonna kiss me.”
“He wasn’t known for tact back then.” He rubbed a hand down her back as he held her. “Remember what happened later on behind the barn?”
Because she did, she couldn’t stop the heat from spreading up her face like wildfire. When she nodded again, he said, “You wanted to know what it felt like to be kissed like that and since I was your best friend, you thought I should be the one to do it, because you – quote - felt safe with me – unquote.”
“What was I? Eleven?”
“Thirteen. And I was more than willing. Almost broke my heart in two when you said afterward, ‘I don’t see what all the fuss is about.’”
“Hush.” He kissed her forehead. “Ever since that day, all I’ve wanted is a second chance. Now,” he pulled her body closer, wrapped both arms around her small waist, his hands resting just above the dent in her spine. “We’re both a little older, a little more mature. Some of us are much more experienced—”
“Experienced,” he said, the laugh in his voice quiet and seductive, “and things can be so much better.”
Peggy Jaeger’s love of writing began in the third grade when she won her first writing contest with a short story titled THE CLOWN. After that, there was no stopping her. Throughout college and after she became a Registered Nurse, she had several Nursing Journal articles published, in addition to many mystery short stories in Literary Magazines. When her daughter was born, Peggy had an article titled THE VOICES OF ANGELS published and reprinted in several parenting magazines, detailing the birth and the accident that almost turned this wonderful event into a tragedy. She had two children’s books published in 1995 titled THE KINDNESS TALES and EMILY AND THE EASTER EGGS, which was illustrated by her artist Mother-in-Law. While her daughter grew, Peggy would write age appropriate stories for her to read along with, and finally, to read on her own. Her YA stories are usually mysteries involving smart and funny 12-13 year old girls and an unusual collection of friends and relatives. They all take place in the 1980’s.
In 2005 she was thrilled to have an article on motherhood placed in the CHICKEN SOUP FOR VERY MOTHER’S SOUL edition. She has won several awards in various Writer’s Digest short story and personal article categories over the years. Recently, she has placed first in the Dixie Kane 2013 Memorial Contest in the Short/Long Contemporary romance Category, and in the Single Title Contemporary Category, and third place in the ICO Romance Contest for 2013.
A life-long and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.
Peggy has embraced the techno age and writes for three blogs, all detailing events in her life. One titled, 50 pounds for 50 years is a personal blog about weight loss, one about her life as an EMPTY NESTER and her most recent one MOMENTS FROM MENOPAUSE, a humorous and informative guide through this time in a woman’s life.
Her first romance novel, SKATER’S WALTZ, book 1 in the MacQuire Women Series, was released on March 4, 2015 from the Wild Rose Press. The second book in the series, There’s No Place Like Home will be released on May 6.
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I'm currently writing a novella which will be included in a multi-author boxed set, due to be published in February 2019