A fairy tale for dog lovers

Jackie Bouchard brings humor, charm, and whimsy to this modern-day Cinderella story that has a fun, dog-tastic twist. Readers who enjoy seeing a heroine triumph over the odds and get her happily-ever-after will be delighted by Cara's journey in Stray Magic.”
- Tracie Banister, award-winning author of Mixing It Up and Twin Piques

My new book, Stray Magic, here! It's available as a paperback or ebook (for $3.99) via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Cara Snow is newly divorced, stuck working for a jerky boss at a pet boutique, and dreading her soon-to-be-empty nest with only her beloved corgi for company. Worse still, her ex just got engaged. Doesn’t she deserve some romance, too? Or, at least a date for the Fur Ball. She’s always enjoyed the annual pet rescue gala, but this year her ex will be there with his fiancée. Meanwhile, Cara hasn’t met anyone— other than the irresistible dogs at the boutique’s adoption events.

Cara is shocked when her wish to fall for a man as easily as she does for those mutts summons Vincent. His velour track suit, paunchy belly, and tough-guy accent don't exactly fit her childhood image of a fairy godfather. Not exactly on top of his game, he admits to being twenty-five years late. (Her daughter Winnie is convinced he must be there for her!) Vincent does his best and casts a spell "guaranteed" to help Cara find the One. But when she actually starts meeting men, none of them are her type. If only they were as perfect for her as the dogs they adopt. Did her screw-up fairy godfather botch the spell? If so, what will it mean not only for Cara but Vincent as well?

From USA Today best-selling author Jackie Bouchard, comes a tale of love, laughter, and the profound magic of believing in yourself.

This scene takes place at the beginning of the book. Cara is in the shower, washing off the smell of all the adoptable pups from a long day at the doggy boutique where she works. She's thinking back to the news her daughter told her earlier that day - that her ex-husband is newly engaged and planning to get remarried on Valentine's Day. Cara thinks to herself that that gives her 10 short months to find a new man for herself....


I’m not one of those women who has to have a man, Cara reassured herself.
Of course, having been with Todd since her sophomore year of college, it had been a long time since she’d been alone. But she wasn’t totally alone. Not yet. Not until Winnie moved to UCLA in a few short months. And even then, she’d only be a hundred and twenty miles away. (Cara had mapped the distance from her house in San Diego to the campus on her phone app). And besides, there’d still be the dog.
She stuck her head under the water. I can do this. I can get by on my own. But... She sputtered water from her lips and ran her hands over her face. If a handsome man suddenly came into my life, well, I wouldn’t say no to that. She enjoyed picturing Todd’s jaw drop as she introduced him to her imaginary, hunky, tall new boyfriend.
It wasn’t that she wanted Todd back. God, no. And, honestly, she did want Todd to be happy.
Just not yet.
She hadn’t met anyone since Todd left, so how had he not only met someone, but fallen in love, moved in together, and gotten engaged? Why couldn’t she have that too? Or at least a little bit of that.
Why does this have to be so hard? I fall in love every weekend at the dog adoption events.
If only she’d meet someone.
I wish falling in love with a man was as easy as it is with the rescue dogs.
Just this morning there’d been a little shepherd mix she couldn’t keep her hands off.
She turned off the shower and closed her eyes, squeezing the excess water out of her hair.
And then she heard a man clear his throat.
Cara froze.
There hadn’t been a man in the house in months. Not since Winnie put coffee grounds down the garbage disposal and they’d had to call a plumber. (Cute and chipper, but married.)
She waited. Her ears must have been playing tricks on her. It must have been the dog.
“Llewellyn?” She tentatively pulled back the shower curtain and peeked out.
“Aaaaaagghhhhhh!” Cara screamed. A man stood in her bathroom, leaning casually against the toilet tank. A ridiculously tiny man, but still...
“Arrrrrrggggghhhh!” The tiny man screamed back, jumping several inches into the air.
Cara clutched the shower curtain against herself, her heart pounding as she stood there naked hiding behind the thin sheet of fabric. Her eyes scanned for a weapon. Her shampoo bottle was the jumbo size from Costco. That might hurt if she hit him hard enough. Her razor? She abandoned the idea, remembering the dull blade. She kept forgetting to bring a new one into the shower with her. Aha! There! She darted out a hand and grabbed the scrub brush that stood in its holder between the shower and toilet. It wasn’t much of a weapon, but its once-white bristles had turned rusty brown from use. The ick-factor alone should be enough to keep him at bay.
“Freeze!” She brandished the brush as if she were a thug with a gun from one of the black-and-white gangster movies her mom and grandpa had gotten her hooked on. “Take one step, and I’ll scream!” She spoke louder with each word.
“Geez, Cara, please. No more screaming.” He clutched his chest. “You ’bout gave me a heart attack there.” Now he held up his hands in surrender. “You can put down the, uh, weapon. After all, you’re the one who called me.” He had a heavy New Jersey accent. He muttered to himself, “You know the godmothers don’t have these problems.” He smoothed his black velour tracksuit over the hump of his belly and said slowly, enunciating each word as if she were an idiot, “I am just answering the call of duty.”
What the hell was he talking about? Was he insane? Now that she had a second to assess the situation, she realized she felt alarmed, but not afraid. Her heart still raced from the shock, but he hadn’t made a move, and he wasn’t very menacing. He’d slipped his hands into his pockets, and stood there, ho-hum, rocking back and forth as if he belonged in her bathroom.
Plus, he was the shortest person she’d ever seen. The top of his head, with its greased back salt-and-pepper hair, didn’t even come near the top of the toilet tank. Where’d he get that suit? It must have been custom made. Or was there such a thing as a Husky Toddler size? No, he definitely wasn’t frightening, with his bushy eyebrows and his scuffed, white sneakers.
Still, it was unnerving to emerge from the shower and find a strange man in your bathroom—no matter how small.
She felt like she did the first time a giant moth got in the house after Todd moved out. Her top priorities were that it not touch her, and that she get it out of the house without having to touch it. This guy needed to keep his distance, and he needed to go. Now.
“I want you to leave.” Cara kept her voice steady and loud.
“Leave? Look, Cara, you called. I’m here. But, uh,” he motioned over his shoulder. “I’ll wait out here ’til you get all decent like.”
Cara grabbed her robe off the towel rack and slipped it on as the little man sauntered out. She heard him muttering again as he headed to her adjoining master bedroom. Something about “screw this lottery system, or at least do it by gender,” and hadn’t they been “complaining about this for eons?”
She heard huffing and wheezing, and from the scuffling of what sounded like tennis shoes against wood, she assumed he must be struggling his way atop the cedar chest at the end of her bed. Where the hell was Llewellyn? He normally went nuts at anything different in the house—giant moths, flies, lizards, delivery boxes, stray leaves, and especially strange men. Why wasn’t he barking and creating a scene? How had this guy gotten past Llew?


Hope you enjoyed this sample of STRAY MAGIC!

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