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Home is Where the Bark Is

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From the author of the delightful Love is a Four-Legged Word comes another novel of romance, mystery, and dogs.

Former model Serena Oakley has opened Paws-A-While, a doggy daycare and spa in San Francisco. When a ruggedly handsome client walks in, holding a Yorki-Poo too dainty for his personality, Serena knows something's not right.

Undercover PI Nick Whalen has followed a series of identity frauds to Serena and is determined to dig up secrets he's certain she is hiding. Despite their mutual distrust, Nick and Serena find themselves bonding over an injured, orphaned dog. And soon they're arousing more than just suspicions. But will the pair trust in love enough to thwart a danger circling too close to home?

352 pages, Paperback

First published May 26, 2010

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About the author

Kandy Shepherd

197 books108 followers

Kandy Shepherd left a fast-paced career as a magazine editor to write award-winning romantic fiction.
Kandy lives in a small farm in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her husband, daughter and a menagerie of four-legged friends.
She believes in love-at-first-sight and real-life romance—they worked for her!

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5 stars
38 (20%)
4 stars
63 (34%)
3 stars
60 (32%)
2 stars
18 (9%)
1 star
6 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa.
240 reviews39 followers
July 6, 2010
It’s a doggie dog world out there and no-one is learning this better than Nick Whalen. A recently retired FBI agent and new private investigator, Nick’s newest case has sent him to the “Paws-A-While” doggie day care and spa. His job is to investigate the owner for possible identity theft. Nick is convinced, since many of the recent victims have been clients of the business, that there has to be a connection. So armed with his aunt’s Yorkie Poo Bessie and his determination to crack the case, Nick enters “Paws-A-While” only to come face to face with the loveliest woman he has ever faced. The case has just entered a direction Nick was not planning on heading in.

Serena Oakley’s new business is booming. At least it was. Lately a lot of her clients have been pulling out due to “financial troubles”. Therefore she is determined to make sure her new client stays, and when he does it’s for more than one reason. Nick Oakley and Bessie are the weirdest dog-child and human pairing Serena has seen since she started her business. Nick is way too masculine of man for a fru fru dog like Bessie. One thing Serena knows is the moment Nick came into her shop is that things are going to be getting fairly hairy quite soon; just how hairy Serena could never guess.

I have to say I rather enjoyed this book. Living in a house with five dogs I found myself laughing at the doggie humor in Home is Where the Bark Is. I found myself relating to Serena’s dog-kid talk and Nick’s “a dog is a dog” talk at the same time. Speaking of Nick and Serena, their relationship is masterfully planned. There is some lust at first sight, but it took a while for the characters to realize they trusted and truly loved each other. Serena had to get past her issues as the result of a crazy stalker and an ex who dumped her by email on Valentine’s Day. Nick has to stop seeing Serena as a possible suspect. It was sweet seeing them bond over Mack and the other dogs in the story. You could almost track their relationship as progressed over the weeks. Truly nothing brings people together like animals and this story exemplifies it.

The stories side subplot of indentify fraud is well written as well. You really go through all the motions believing that one person is guilty only to find them cleared. Then as you get nearer to the end of the book, you start getting suspicious of one particular character. So suspicious you find yourself mentally yelling at Serena to listen to Nick and stay away from said person. The big reveal at the end is wonderfully written and really brought things full circle. So if you’re a doggie person that likes mysteries with romance, than this book is for you. ~
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Aly.
2,425 reviews69 followers
March 25, 2018

Former model, now director of a doggy day-care center and spa in San Francisco, Serena Oakley plan to take a sabbatical from sex and men. But her plan fell apart when Nick Whalen and his Yorki-poo set foot in Paws-A-While. Intimidated by his presence and sex-appeal, she also can't help being suspicious of him. There's something not quite right with the fact he's got a pocket-size dog and doesn't seem to know a lot about the canine world.

You don't need to be a former FBI agent who left for partner with a co-worker in a private investigation business that specialized in identity fraud to know it's never a good idea to lust for your prime suspect. But Nick can't help the attraction and yeah, her gorgeousness is part of the charm, but contrarily to other men, he can see past the sexy model and see her inner beauty and her total dedication to her furry clients. And even though he's not a dog person and can't understand how people can regard animals as children, his heart will get caught by a mutt eventually.

Having sisters is cool. Having a sister who share my passion of reading and who I can talk about books with is the best ! She saw the cute cover, read the back cover and probably thought romance, contemporary, a little bit of mystery but nothing too dangerous and animals, that's the kind of books Aly would like. So she recommend it to me. And she was right :) I had a great time with this novel and I would recommend it if you like the elements I just listed. There were things really well done in the story and others who weren't. For example, Nick was not the best PI. He had no poker face and he didn't make research before going undercover at Serena's business. But that's also part of his charm in a way and made him seem more genuine even if he's hiding his true intentions and he's got such a compassionate heart that it was impossible for me to not crush on him. The story is interesting but the pace is slow. It was definitively a romance novel, which I like. The investigation was also a great part. The first clue Nick uncover, I didn't see it coming and the case lead them to a couple of surprise, but the outcome left me disappointed because to me it wasn't original nor beliveable. As for the dog part, I was totally pleased because there was several dogs in this story and I could feel that Serena's love for them was genuine. She gave care and affection to them and they gave it back to her.
779 reviews57 followers
July 2, 2010
Home is Where the Bark Is by Kandy Shepherd
Contemporary Romance – July 6, 2010
3 stars

I was at the Romance Writers of America meeting when Editor Kate Seaver said to me, "Send me a romance with dogs in it!" and that's precisely what this book is: a light-hearted, fun romance set in an unusual location and peopled by fur-folk.

Home Is Where the Bark Is opens in a doggie day spa of staggering indulgence. This is a very uncomfortable place for ex-FBI, now private eye hero Nick Whalen to go undercover posing as dog owner for a puffy Yorkie-poo (his aunt's dog). But this dog spa seems to be the point of origin of several recent identity thefts, so undercover it is. The proprietress of the spa, Serena Oakley, has her own reasons to be uncomfortable around big, handsome men, including the fall-out of a modeling-career-gone-wrong, some bad boyfriend experiences, and a dislike of authority figures. So, of course, the two characters are instantly attracted, and have much baggage to overcome.

This book is a reasonably fun and a fast read. Some ideas don't entirely pan out. The suspected micro-recording-camera is every bit as far-fetched as it sounds, given that Serena doesn't bother to password-lock her business computer. But if the reader is willing to suspend disbelief over a few technical issues, they'll enjoy a nice beach read. The sexual tension between the characters in this novel are well written and not too in-your-face, and the cuteness-factor of the many dog personalities contributes to some fun along the way, so the book is appropriate to many reader-types. Animal lovers will enjoy the sympathies directed toward the dogs by caring, interested characters.

Reviewed by Adrienne from the Bookaholics Romance Book Club

Profile Image for Lyssa.
Author 54 books115 followers
May 28, 2011
This is kind of like a sequel to "Love is a Four-Legged Word." The main character, Serena, was introduced in the first book as Maddy's best friend. Now Serena, ex-model, has opened up a doggy day-care. PI Nick has noticed that quite a few of Serena's clients have had identity theft issues which leads him to the doggy day-care to check out the owner, his number one suspect. Right away there's tons of fireworks between Nick and Serena that they both deny and the book follows them, a sweet doggy Mack and the hunt for the identity thief.

I liked this book because it had romance, mystery and dogs! I did find the first half of the book moved a little slow and focused too much on Serena's and Nick's suppressed feelings for each other. I would have rather cut that out and had more time with them together! Kandy did use one of my most favorite words ever-towhead (it was a word of the day in 5th grade, the only one that I remember!). I love the puppies in the story and the puppy love. I wouldn't say it was a page turner, until the last couple chapters where everything was resolved very quickly, but it was a sweet, easy and fun read.
12 reviews
May 14, 2015
A fun yet pulling shirt novel, Home is Where the Bark Is is a novel about Serena Oakley, a retired model tired of being single and unloved. Although she has had many suiters in the past she just can't seem to find the one. She recently opened Paws-A-While, a fancy daycare for everyday mutts in busy San Francisco, but the dogs aren't helping her find the one she knows she is meant for. As one handsome man walks through the front door, Serena falls head over heels for him, but she shouldn't be so happy. There is something about him that doesn't quite make him "hubby material". This adorable novel tells a tale of love, attraction, and adorable pups.
Profile Image for Helen.
2,314 reviews12 followers
January 30, 2011
This was such a good book a fun book to read
Profile Image for Kristin.
992 reviews6 followers
November 24, 2021
A bit deeper than the usual dog-centric mysteries I tend to read, 'Home is Where the Bark Is' brings together Serena Oakley, a character introduced in one of Shepherd's earlier books, and newcomer Nick Whalen. Oakley runs a posh doggy daycare which caters to every whim a pet parent wishes for their furry family member and is surprised in many ways when Whalen walks in, looking to board his tiny Yorkie-Poo. Oakley is just coming off a traumatic experience (likely the focus of that earlier book), and has sworn off men, but Whalen is drop dead gorgeous. Yet there's something mysterious about him, because Oakley has learned how much people and their dogs seem like a matched pair, and Whalen is definitely NOT the Yorkie-Poo type.
The sparks fly immediately for Whalen too, but he must keep his composure, as he is a retired FBI agent who is now an independent private investigator and his current case involves a string of identity thefts. The common link among victims is that they all are clients of Oakley's doggy daycare, making her prime suspect #1. Conveniently, Whalen's elderly aunt was looking for a house and dog sitter while she did some travelling, so Whalen moves in and uses her Yorkie-Poo as a means to get information about the goings on at the doggy daycare.
Of course, it's part mystery, part romance as they both unsuccessfully fight their urges to get to know each other. Yes there are some steamy scenes, but they aren't overly graphic, more implied events than going into explicit details, which I like in a romance book, let the reader use their own imagination to fill in the blanks.
The book is also very dog heavy, as certain clients of Oakley's daycare take prominent roles in the plot. Had I read the earlier book featuring Oakley, I also would have likely been familiar with the recurring canine characters, but I felt Shepherd did a good job of providing the necessary backstory info in order to enjoy this one. Whether or not she spoiled the ending of that other book, I cannot tell, as any time Oakley discusses the event that I believe forms the plot of the other book, she refuses to name the 'bad guy', saying that uttering his name brings the bad memories flooding back.
Profile Image for Sarah.
96 reviews13 followers
August 9, 2022
This was such a cute book and kept me engaged and wanting to read. It is written very much like a cozy mystery, just without the murder! Still a mystery to be solved and the light suspense that goes along with it, and mix in a little romance for a wonderful read.
January 25, 2023
Aside from a few words used incorrectly, I adored this book so much. I’m a sucker for books with animals! I finished it in less than 24 hours. So cute!
Profile Image for RomanceNovelNews.com.
66 reviews106 followers
July 21, 2010
Written by B.A. Ruggiero for RomanceNovelNews.com

Serena Oakley is starting over. After a successful modeling career – her crowning moment was posing half-naked in a bath of melted chocolate – she’s trying to put the past behind her.

Failed relationships and a traumatic threat from a stalker have soured her taste for the spotlight. She’s chosen to hide out at her new business venture – the upscale Paws-A-While Doggie Daycare and Salon in San Francisco.

All goes according to plan until Nick Whalen walks into the salon holding a Yorkie-poo named Bessie. Nick is more of a Rottweiler man – muscular and domineering – and seems uneasy cradling the purse-sized pooch. Serena’s animal instincts tell her to be careful while she attempts to heel her instant attraction to this alpha-male.

And there’s reason for Serena to be wary. Nick is a private investigator sent to look into a series of identity frauds that have been tracked to Serena’s salon. Although it appears that Serena is not the guilty party, Nick won’t let his guard down until the case is solved. It takes an abandoned, injured mutt with a taste for Big Macs to knock down their walls and create a bond between them that neither could have predicted.

Serena and Nick attempt to keep their relationship undercover while they dig through the lives of her friends and co-workers, searching for any clues and unearthing more than they bargained for.

“Home is Where the Bark Is,” the second installment in Shepherd’s San Francisco dog tales, is a fast-paced romance mystery that leaves the reader guessing until the final pages. While portions of the plot are predictable, Kandy Shepherd commands a memorable pack of two-and four-legged characters in this romantic romp about trust, loyalty and man’s best friend.
Profile Image for May.
Author 2 books52 followers
July 9, 2010
This is the second novel I've read (and I believe it's her second as well) from this author and both times the hook for me was that her stories revolve around dogs + some romance.

For a 'former model' woman, I found Serena to be highly likeable and didn't feel like she was a perfect woman. In fact, there were a few things about her that actually grated on me. She's terrified of "cops" a term that apparently extends to anyone in military, fbi, or any other remotely related field. She also has some odd ideas about friendship - more than once she states that she can't call on her best friend "because she's married now". I hate that perception that marriage = end of life. WhatEVER.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There's a bit of mystery (we've got to figure out who is stealing info from the clients!), lots of dog moments (both in the over the top pampered-ness of the pets + good dog lover moments), a romance, and a story that moves right along and kept me interested.

Not a top shelf/all time fave - but solid. I really appreciated that for the romance the characters seemed genuinely interested in one another, not just all about 'let's get it on'...

I'd buy her next book.
Profile Image for Virginia Campbell.
1,282 reviews250 followers
August 17, 2014
The sexiest weakness in a man is his vulnerability to that one special woman. No matter how big, gruff, rough, and tough a man may be, love makes him reachable. The bigger they are...the harder they fall. The most invincible Alpha male may offer his heart like a gift to the woman he loves, and then he will wait for the look on her face to make sure she is pleased with the gift. In one who is usually without self-doubt, that moment of uncertainty is very appealing. I love a man who loves dogs and is kind to animals, and Nick Whalen, the sexy P.I. in Kandy Shepherd's "Home is Where the Bark Is", certainly fits that description. When he goes undercover to investigate a fraud scheme, he never dreams that he will fall head-over-heels for his prime suspect. When he meets Serena Oakley, the owner and operator of "Paws-A-While", a trendy doggy day-care center, he is thrown for a loop! She seems sweet and sincere, and Nick definitely finds her sexy! Serena is immediately drawn to Nick, but somehow he just doesn't seem like the kind of guy to own a prissy little toy dog like the one he brings to her pet place. Suspicion, sweet sensuality, and secrets aplenty are combined with mysterious mayhem, great charm and humor for a very satisfying romantic read!

Review Copy Gratis Author
472 reviews1 follower
November 8, 2010
So, My four year old daughter actually pointed this book out to me at the library becuase the little puppy on the front looks likes our neighbors dog and we love her so I had to pick it up. It was fun, quick read, didn't have to think to hard which is a major plus for me at the moment. Just an easy one to sit back and enjoy. Also perfect for those of you who find the dynamic of the little hand held dog being the latest fashion statement as interesting as I do... It's a DOG! I'm a dog lover, owner and even a card carrying PETA member but really? We got to draw the line somewhere.
Profile Image for Jenn Richardson.
321 reviews8 followers
September 24, 2016
This was a cute book. Nothing fantastic but not bad either. For the most part it was entertaining and had a lot of "doggy" parts, which I liked (the dog is the main reason I picked up this book). It also had a bit of mystery to it. I figured out the mystery pretty quickly but it was still a nice addition to the story. So, not an all time favorite, but it was cute. This would be a good vacation read.
1 review
January 1, 2017
A friend gave me this book because someone gave it to her and she just couldn't read it. It's kind of a mystery-romance that takes place in San Francisco and is about a doggy day care owner. I really love mysteries and dogs so I thought I'd give it a read. I didn't hate it, but I wouldn't really recommend it. I read it mostly in the bath as a light read.
Profile Image for Ann.
132 reviews17 followers
October 2, 2010
This was a pretty good book. It was very easy to read. It wasn't boring at all, but it isn't one of my favorites either. I liked that every time I thought I knew what was going to happen, I was wrong! I absolutely loved the ending.
Profile Image for Michelle.
175 reviews8 followers
June 2, 2011
Slow, predictable plot. The ending is supposed to come as some surprise but you see it coming around the middle. There are some character details and a few plot details that are too far-fetched to overlook.
Profile Image for Cooper.
78 reviews17 followers
June 30, 2011
I should have known better by the description... This is time I will never get back. However, I am proud to say I figured out the whodunit before the undercover sexy FBI agent did... But then again sexy FBI agent had other things on his mind wink wink... Oops
21 reviews
July 17, 2011
The characters are likable. The situations range from day to day realistic to somewhat outrageous and rushed. And maybe it seemed like a happy surrender of women's autonomy every time the expression "his woman" and it's cousins were tossed about.
27 reviews3 followers
June 24, 2010
Fantastic feel-good read with likeable characters, spoiled doggies and with gorgeous cover to boot!
Profile Image for Rebekah.
845 reviews15 followers
October 5, 2010
Oh god. I knew it was going to be bad, but it was SO bad. Fortunately I was able to move the story along by skipping pages at a time.
644 reviews
July 29, 2016
Hm. Read a little and quit. Not really my type of book.
Profile Image for Cathleen Ross.
Author 46 books179 followers
December 27, 2010
Loved it. This one is very funny. Shepherd writes engaging characters. An author to watch.
Profile Image for Kelly.
250 reviews
February 8, 2011
no thanks, i read about three chapters and was so confused by the characters and the all over story line, i'm done.
166 reviews3 followers
July 2, 2012
This was in general fiction, so I wasn't expecting formulaic pot-boiler romance. Cute, but very predictable.
Profile Image for GJS.
149 reviews4 followers
July 31, 2013
I loved this sweet romance! Would love to read this author again!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews

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