It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that I am head over heels for the mighty little breed commonly known as Chihuahua!

It wasn’t always that way, though. I, too, bought into the negative PR that called members of the tiniest dog breed vicious, crazed ankle biters with a Napoleon complex.

But then my little girl became utterly obsessed. She begged and pleaded for her own Chihuahua to love. Mind you, it took us several months to realize what she was begging for, as our then-three-year-old princess said she “needed a Jawa.”

So, after several talks that always ended with “Ugh, why a Chihuahua? I really don’t want one of those!” we finally took her to meet a litter of puppies. We reasoned she wouldn’t actually want one of these tiny terrors once she met some in person.

But we were wrong again!

A couple weeks later, we brought home our first Jawa, which she proudly named “Sky Princess.” Okay, fine. This was my daughter’s dog, and she already loved it like crazy. We had four other awesome dogs and—seriously—how much trouble could a one pound puppy actually get into?

I was on a tight writing deadline at the time, so I asked my husband to take care of the puppy during the day while our little girl was at school. He did, but occasionally the little pupster wanted to spend time with me in my office.

And she always—always!—begged for me to pick her up and set her on my desk. Once there, she’d cuddle into my chest and even climb into my shirt to snuggle. She was too little to climb the stairs by herself, so I took to carrying her up at night for bedtime.

Speaking of bedtime, the crafty little thing actually figured out how to open her crate and came to cry at our bedroom door during her second night with us.

Little by little, I fell in love… and, oh, I was a goner!

A few months later, we found out that Sky Princess’s mother needed a new home due to sudden health issues with her original owner, and now I was the one begging and pleading:  “Please give me my dog’s mom!”

And so we welcomed our second Jawa to the fold, Mama Mila, who—you guessed it—was the basis for Mama Mary in this book. With two wonderful, loving cuddle bugs to call our own, I quickly moved from hate, to indifference, to like, to an overwhelming devotion to these little dogs—these mini miracles.

Did you know that Chihuahuas are the second most euthanized dog breed in America? It’s sadly true. That’s why I one day hope to open my own rescue and breed education program to show the world just how lucky we are to have Chihuahuas in it.

I never knew such a tiny dog could fill my heart so completely! Now imagine having two. Or, in the case of Abigail and Pastor Adam in A New Life, five.

There are so many Jawas—so many dogs—out there who need a second chance at forever. Don’t look past the Chihuahua just because you’ve heard some not-so-nice rumors. Each dog deserves to be judged for her own heart.

Each dog is a blessing.

And, yes, a miracle.

A New Life

A New Life

Series: Charleston Hearts, Book 1

Abigail Sutton’s husband didn’t survive the war, leaving her pregnant, alone, and questioning God’s plan. To pick up the pieces of her broken life, she must now return to her childhood home in Charleston in this tender and unforgettable novel from New York Times bestselling author Melissa Storm.

When a rare snowstorm blankets the city on Christmas eve, a Chihuahua takes shelter in the church’s nativity display to give birth to her litter. Abigail’s father, the pastor of the local church, rescues the shivering pups and entrusts them to his daughter’s care.

Can the brave mother dog help Abigail embrace motherhood, rekindle her faith, and learn to smile again?

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Abigail Sutton sat in the dark living room waiting for her father to return from his Christmas Eve sermon. Much to his chagrin, she’d refused to attend church with him that evening. She also wouldn’t go tomorrow morning, next Sunday, or any other day for the rest of her life as long as she could avoid it.

Avoiding church when your father was the pastor took quite some effort, but Abigail had committed herself to just that. The last time she’d stepped foot into the Eternal Grace sanctuary had been for her husband’s funeral, which had forever tainted the place as far as she was concerned.

It had destroyed her relationship with God, too.

She’d happily praised His name all her life, and for what? The first time she’d truly needed God, He’d failed to show up. What good is having an all-powerful Heavenly Father if he couldn’t even take the one second that was needed to shield her husband from the bomb blast that had claimed him far too soon?

Then there was the guilt.

Abigail herself had been the one to convince Owen to take a second tour of duty before they’d settle down to start their family. If she’d just asked him to stay home, they’d be together singing holiday hymns at church with her father and planning the start of their family side by side, hand in hand.

Instead, Abigail sat alone. She’d moved back in with her father about two months ago. Back to her childhood home in Charleston.

It was an odd thing returning to your hometown when you thought you’d already left it behind. It was almost as if her life with Owen hadn’t even happened, like the world wasn’t just burying his body but also his memory. But it couldn’t get rid of her husband that easily, for Abigail still had two very good reminders.

One was the glistening gold band on her finger. They said people wore rings on their second smallest finger because it had a vein linked straight to the heart. She’d always liked that.

Her other reminder of Owen was also near to her heart, as in literally growing just beneath it. Their child. The last piece of Owen anyone would ever have in this world.

She didn’t know how to feel about becoming a mother and a widow at almost the exact same time. She’d only found out about her pregnancy a few weeks before the solider with downcast eyes and a blank expression had delivered the folded flag to her doorstep. She’d called to tell Owen the news even though it was still early, and conventional wisdom said not to tell anyone until the first “dangerous” twelve weeks had passed.

But the news of their child was supposed to keep him safe, give him something that much more special to which he’d returned. Instead, she would always have to wonder if it had been the distraction that knocked him off his game and ultimately ended his life way out there in that horrible desert so far from home.

She hated picturing it, but she couldn’t stop either. Every time Abigail closed her eyes, she saw her Owen smiling and wiping away tears of joy at their wedding. But in an instant, his handsome face would be replaced by a bloodied, torn visage mangled by pain. It was this last haunting version of Owen that remained with her, and it didn’t even look like him.

But what about their baby? If it turned out to be a boy, would it look like Owen? The real Owen?

She didn’t know whether that would make things easier or not. Would having a little boy the spitting image of his father break her heart every time she looked at him—or would it soothe her?

Abigail wished she didn’t have to consider these things. She wished she could be a normal mother expecting her first child and expecting her husband home healthy, happy, and in time for dinner.

A part of her also wished that she had never met Owen at all. Each time Abigail thought this, though, a tremendous wave of guilt overtook her.

When would the tears stop coming? When would the guilt stop eating her from the inside out? When would she actually be happy about this baby?

Never couldn’t possibly be the answer, but it was the one she expected. She’d given God her everything, only for Him to take it all away at the first chance He got.

She glanced at the clock on her cell phone. Her father should have been home at least half an hour ago. She groaned and curled her legs up beneath her on the chair. It wasn’t that she needed his company, but she liked to have benchmarks by which she could measure the passage of time.

Her biggest comfort these days was simply that time pressed ever onward. After all, it was supposed to heal all wounds. And Abigail had few other options left when it came to finding some way—any way—to begin to feel normal again.

Another five minutes passed before she heard the sound of her father fiddling with the doorknob outside. “Abigail, can you help?” he called through the thick wooden door. “I have a surprise!”

Slowly, she lifted herself from the chair, bracing herself for whatever came next. She’d asked him not to make a big fuss of Christmas this year, but that didn’t mean he’d chosen to listen. Her sweet father was always coming up with grand schemes, and they all too often involved her. Even before Abigail had moved back home, he’d often call her out of the blue and stop by the base to invite her on an impromptu day trip.

Normally she loved his zeal for life, but lately it was just too much. She needed him to be calm, reserved, forgettable. Then maybe she could put these painful days of grieving behind her, too.

Somehow she doubted that would happen. She took a deep breath, then placed a shaking hand on the door knob and twisted it open. The surprise that greeted her on the doorstep was quite possibly the last thing she’d ever have expected…

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