TUESDAYS WITH STARLA KAYE: Author Tory Richards on Animals in Romance

Today I’m welcoming the multi-published romance author Tory Richards to my guest author blog. Tory writes for Liquid Silver Books, Ellora’s Cave, Whiskey Creek Press, and The Wild Rose Press. She also writes as Debbie Wallace for Whiskey Creek Press.

Before we get to your guest blog topic, can you share with us a couple of random thoughts about yourself, something that might surprise your readers.

I once raced a car up to 110 miles an hour.

(Starla) Oh, you naughty girl! Fun, huh?

I was on a plane the morning of 9-11.

(Starla) That’s definitely something you will never forget.


How and why did you decide to use a pen name?

I only have one pen name, Tory Richards. When I first started out I used my real name. However, because I worked for Disney at the time, and I wanted to write erotica, I decided I should come up with one. Tory Richards just happens to be the first name I thought of and when I tried it on a few friends they liked it, so I just went with it.


Animals in Romance

You probably think that when I say animals in romance I’m talking about werewolves. I wish! Werewolf stories are hot. But I have yet to venture down that road. No, when I say animals in romance, I’m talking about your typical household pets. Dogs, cats, even birds.

I’m a big time animal lover. I have three furry felines of my own. And each one is as different as the next. They have their own little personalities and quirks. And they are amusingly entertaining. Because of that, you’re going to find an animal of some kind in a lot of my stories. And not just in the background lifting a leg or something, either. The animals in my books bring something to the plot. One reviewer even labeled the talking bird in All the Right Moves, a secondary character.

Animals add a lot of quality to a plot, like they add to our lives. They love us unconditionally. They protect us. They’re faithful.

In Cupid’s Arrow, it was a dog that brought Emma and Mike together for the first time. My first book with Whiskey Creek Press, Cupid’s Arrow, didn’t have a very big role in the story but the concept certainly gave me something to think about, and the possibilities were endless. It was like a light bulb going off. Animal lovers will get a kick out of reading about animals in romances. No matter what their role, it kind of makes the story seem more real.

I came to realize that animals can play an important role in stories. After all, we have them in real life, too. And with the right script they can be just as entertaining as the hero and heroine. You can use them to your advantage and their presence, under the right circumstances, is a great page filler.

Annie had a mynah bird named Harold in All the Right Moves. He added a lot of humor to the story and was a source of annoyance to the hero. Come to think of it he annoyed Annie, too, when in the mornings the first thing out of his beak was “You need a man”! I mean, can you imagine waking up in the bed of a handsome stud, to hear your pet bird saying something like that?

One of my little felines, Rufus, made his debut in It’s All in the Jeans. If it hadn’t been for him getting stuck up a tree Logan and Libby might never have met. Some, ah, interesting discoveries were made while they were rescuing Rufus from that tree.

A white wolf was my hero’s cabin companion in Someone to Love Me, a story that takes place in the Alaskan wilderness. And a mischievous little dog named Dammit came between Mike and Maggie in Wicked Desire.

It’s cool reading romances that have animals in them.


Now let’s talk about your newest book from Liquid Silver Books…The Promise

Genre:  Contemporary erotica

ISBN:  978-1-59578-818-4

Length:  89 pages

Release Date:  April 2011

Buy Link:  Liquid Silver Books



Shannon Hayes’ husband David was killed in Iraq nearly a year ago, and now she must face her first holiday season without him. With a toddler in tow, she travels to the Vermont farm where the rest of the family has gathered for the holidays. There she comes face to face with the man who was with him when he died, and her destiny, his older brother Ryan.

For the first time in years, Ryan returns home to keep a promise he made to David — to take care of Shannon and their daughter. It’s a pledge Ryan is reluctant to keep because he’s been secretly in love with Shannon since first setting eyes on her. Their attraction to each other is instant, intense and soon the promise isn’t the only thing between them.



Just as she stepped off the bottom step, she heard a noise at the front door. She hesitated, unsure what to do. Who could be visiting at this hour? Just when she expected to hear a knock, she heard something else instead. A key was being inserted into the lock, and right before her startled eyes, she watched the knob turn and the door open. Her gaze landed on a pair of army boots and slowly traveled upward, taking in the muscular body in military fatigues. Her mouth dropped open in shock. Ohmygod! Ryan had come home!

He appeared just as startled as she was. Halting in the threshold as their eyes meet, his rugged expression carved in granite. Only his eyes, those piercing blue orbs, showed any sign of life, if you could call it that. Shannon had a feeling that Ryan Hayes didn’t reveal any emotions that weren’t hardened by years of combat. For a moment, she thought he wasn’t going to speak and half expected him to back out and leave.

“Do you mind if I come in?” His deep voice was just as Shannon remembered. “It’s damn cold out here.”

For the first time she realized she was blocking his way. Swallowing, she stepped back enough for him to enter and close the door behind him. He dropped a large army bag on the floor by his feet, and shook off the snow onto the floor mat. All the while keeping his eyes trained on Shannon, as though she were the enemy. She took a nervous step further into the foyer, directly into the soft glow of the lamp that had been left on in the living room.

Ryan looked just like he did the last time she saw him. Big and tall, cloaked in that attitude of quiet strength he seemed to possess. His black hair cut in military fashion and suited his strong, square boned face. Though sporting a tiny scar over his left eyebrow and another, bigger one halfway down his left cheek he was still a handsome man. He eluded danger in practically every move he made, every glance. His eyes dropped, running over Shannon rapidly, making her painfully aware of her disheveled state.

She refused to reach up and smooth her hair back, knowing that it would do no good. The tiniest quirk on his full, sensuous mouth revealed he found her condition amusing. Quickly, his lips thinned almost menacingly when his gaze narrowed on her breasts. It was then that Shannon reached up and pulled her ruined blouse together where the buttons had come off. She finally found her voice.

“Welcome home, Ryan.”

“Where is everyone?” His tone seemed hard, gruff, more commanding than inquiring. He slipped off his jacket and hung it on a peg on the back of the door, and then bent to slip off his boots.

“Mom went to bed with a headache. Sheila must be putting the kids to bed. The rest won’t get here until tomorrow night.” Shannon couldn’t help but notice the quick glance he shot her way when she called his mother mom. She watched quietly as he set his boots against the wall and stood, towering over her again.

“It’s just as well. I’m tired as hell and want to turn in early myself. But first, I want to find something to eat. I’m starved.” Closing the distance between them, Ryan halted when he reached Shannon. “Is that okay?”

Shannon felt a telltale heat rush up to her cheeks when she realized she was watching Ryan’s mouth form the words. What the heck was wrong with her? Jet lag, that’s what. She gave her head a little shake. She must be more tired than she thought. As his words became clear, it dawned on her that she was once again blocking his way.

“Oh! I’m, ah sorry.” Instead of moving to let him pass, she turned and began to walk in the direction of the kitchen. “I’ll be glad to fix you something to eat.”

“Thanks, but that won’t be necessary.” He was right on her heels.

“That’s okay.” Shannon pushed the kitchen door open and flipped on the light switch on the wall next to it. “Sheila put a plate for me in the oven and if I know her, she left enough for two. I don’t mind sharing.” Not waiting for Ryan to acknowledge her, Shannon took the potholders from the counter by the stove, opened the oven door and retrieved the plate. “Just as I thought.”

She turned and showed him the full plate of corn beef hash. But the expression on Ryan’s face almost made her drop it. Sweat had broken out on his forehead and he’d turned pale, his lips were thin as a muscle twitched in his jaw that had hardened in an effort to hold back that he was in obvious pain. Intense pain. He was clutching the island counter in the middle of the kitchen as if it alone was holding him upright. “Ryan!” Shannon set the plate down and rushed to his side. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

He held a hand up in a silent warning for her to back off. She stopped immediately and waited for another sign from him, afraid he was having some kind of attack. After a few more seconds, he sucked in several deep breaths and released them slowly. It was clear by his expression that he hated showing her even that one small weakness. It was very clear that he didn’t intend talking about it. Shannon knew the moment the pain left his body when his expression relaxed.

“You said something about sharing your dinner?” He pulled out one of the barstools from around the island and sank down onto it. Shannon hesitated for a moment, fighting the urge to question him. Something was terribly wrong, she just knew it, but she didn’t know Ryan well enough to feel she had the right to ask him anything personal. The look in his cold eyes warned her she’d be shot down before she managed to speak the first word. Forcing a smile she was far from feeling, she turned to get a second plate.

“I’ll thank you not to mention what just occurred to my family,” Ryan surprised her by saying while her back was turned to him.

“If that’s what you want,” Shannon responded, opening a cupboard door. She glanced with surprise at where the plates were usually stacked. Glasses had replaced them. Marsha had obviously done some rearranging since the last time Shannon had been there. She opened up several other doors before finding the plates, stacked on the second shelf. Standing on tip toe she strained to reach them.

“Here, let me help you.”

“Oh!” Feeling Ryan brush up against her, Shannon spun around before she could think. Suddenly, it wasn’t her backside feeling his hardened muscles. Since he was in the process of reaching over her head for a plate, they were now flush against each other. Her breasts flattened against his hard chest, the lower halves of their bodies were shockingly aligned, and their thighs were touching. Mouths within inches of each other, their breath mingled. It was crazy but Shannon was sure she felt their hearts beating in rhythm. She began to tingle everywhere and held her breath.

Their gazes met and held and Ryan became motionless, his arm still above her head reaching for the plate. It struck Shannon that she was seeing the dangerous side of him, the soldier sizing up the situation and preparing for action. Only in this case, what would that be? She refused to let her mind go there.



Author Website:  Tory Richards

Blog:  Tory Richards

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10000095375408

Twitter: Tory Richards

Authors Den:  Tory Richards

Email:  [email protected]

8 thoughts on “TUESDAYS WITH STARLA KAYE: Author Tory Richards on Animals in Romance

  1. Valerie Mann

    Tory, this blurb and excerpt are excellent! I am definitely going to pick up a copy of this book. I don’t do a lot of recreational reading anymore, but I will make an exception.

    I’m an animal lover, too! We’ve always had dogs and cats, but lost our two dogs a couple of years ago. Right now we have two cats and three chickens. Cats say, “hey, check it out, chicken nuggets in our own back yard!” Chickens say, “Share your kibbles and we might let you in the coop.” Chickens eat ANYTHING.

    1. Tory Richards

      LOL, too funny Valerie! Thanks for leaving a comment. And I’d love to hear back from you after you read The Promise.

      I used to be a dog person but have discovered I love cats just as much. In two years I have adopted three, a little stray and two from the pound. I wish I had room for more!

      I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your dogs. I know it’s one of the most heart breaking experiences we can go through. Over my life time I have lost many.

      Take care:)

  2. Frances

    great blog post! I am both an animal lover and a lover of books featuring them. Your Mynah bird is definitely a selling point for me! 🙂
    I also use animals in my stories. I think as an animal person its difficult not to have them in there. When I create characters, some naturally come with pets in tow. Are they a cat person? A dog lover?
    Someone who would adopt an orphan space slug…etc. 😀

    Thanks for posting on such a fun topic.

    1. Tory Richards

      You’re welcome Frances! One of my favorite topics, too, animals. I had a lot of fun with Harold, the Mynah bird in that story. Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment.


  3. Cara Bristol

    Love the story concept of The Promise. I’m going to check it out

    I also have included animals in the romances I’ve written. I’d noticed in the past that I always mentioned cats when I mentioned an animal, so in one of my WIPS, I actually made a cat a minor character.

    I was writing one day and my husband asked what what happening in the story. I said, “the hero and heroine are looking for a lost cat.”

    “I thought you were writing erotic romance!” he said.

    1. Tory Richards

      LOL…at least he didn’t say porn! That’s what my hubby calls it. The animals we write in our stories can actually bring our characters together. In It’s All in the Jeans, my hero and heroine were also looking for a cat, during a hurricane. It led to one of the hottest scenes I’ve ever written!



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