Our Story BEFORE The Stories ~ Jake, Lola, Sam, & Arthur – by – Bonnie Engstrom Candy Cane Girl Series

Cast of canine characters from The Candy Cane Girls Series:
Jake from Connie’s Silver Shoes
Lola from Melanie’s Blue Skirt 
Sam from Melanie’s Ghosts 
Arthur from Doreen Finds Her Groove

The scene opens with the dogs arguing about which one is more important.
Why aren’t we in this last book about Natalie’s Red Dress? Jake the Miniature Pinscher cocked his head to one side. We are all on covers, except Sam who makes a cameo appearance in Melanie’s Ghosts. I have the biggest cover feature on Connie’s Silver Shoes!

Because we are in a lot of her other books, Mr. Smarty. Sam the Chihuahua snorted. Even I figured that out, he huffed. He picked up his yellow ball, ran to the top of the stairs and dropped it to watch it bounce.

No one wants to play with you, Sam, so ditch that idea, Lola sneered. And ditch that ratty ball, too. You have three others, all newer and nicer, not falling apart or smelling like your breath. She blinked her long lashes and raised her ruffled brows. Tilting her pointy snout up high she wiggled her rump, backed up as close to Sam as she could and whopped his nose with her whirling tail. Sam blinked but made no move.

What’s the matter, old man? Confused? Watch me. I’ll show you how to play. She grabbed her favorite toy and swung it dramatically. See, not hard. Aw forgot, you only have nineteen teeth. I have all of mine. She shook her huge ears and swishing her dainty bottom pranced away, tail still rotating in overdrive.

That wasn’t very nice, Lola, Arthur admonished her. Not ladylike, either. You should be kind and caring to your brother. You are younger.

Ha! As the elder he should be kinder to me. I think he’s losing it, getting a bit senile.

He does stare off into space sometimes, Jake said. But, you do, too.

That’s only when I’m hungry. Like when I do this.

Lola splayed on her tummy with her back paws spread and front ones under her chin. I do have a perfect princess look, don’t I?

Well, you are the only bitch of the four of us, Arthur noted. That makes you the minority. You always get the treats first. Not fair!

You guys scoop up the crumbles I drop when I deliberately leave them for Sam. My hearing is better, but your eyesight is better. So there! My luxurious eyebrows get in the way. Swinging her derrière again, she sauntered away with a princess swagger.

Now, can we please get on with the story? I think Natalie might finally find her true love. Lola sneered. With my help and intervention, of course. She needs the help of a princess. Maybe that kitty, Shooting Star, in Cindy’s story has an idea. Although I hate to admit it, cats are smart.

What about the big Maine Coon cat in A Penney from Heaven? Jake asked.

And the Golden Retriever in that meatloaf story? Arthur asked.

Don’t forget the cat in A Culinary Catch. The one named after a spice. Sam held his head high and gave a sharp bark.

Gosh, Sammy Boy, you have a better memory than I thought. Lola said. But your bark is piercing! Tone it down, okay?

I guess I’m smarter than you thought. But we are the only animals featured in the Candy Cane series. Except Shooting Star.

Guess we are demoted to second, third and fourth best. Jake grumbled. Let’s get on with Natalie’s story. I hope the poor girl finally finds love. Maybe the story in Natalie’s Red Dress will bring love to Natalie.
Jake, Sam and Arthur nodded and laid down on the sofa sighing.

Are you boys arguing again? So like the male gender!

~ ~ ~ ~


Six high school freshmen in Newport Beach, California formed a swim team that became legendary. They won the state relay swim championship four years in a row. In addition to their skill and devotion to daily practicing, they prayed together and vowed to be sisters forever. Another thing that set them apart was they chose their own swimsuits making them a team within a larger team. They chose red and white diagonally striped swim suits. Thus, became known as the Candy Canes. They always will be.

Noelle’s Christmas Wedding gave birth to a series, The Candy Cane Girls. Each book highlights one girl in particular, but all the girls and their families and friends are mentioned in every story because their lives are intertwined by a strong faith and strong friendships. Two decades later, some have married, two have children, one is pregnant with twins, one is a fashion designer, one is an international model, and Melanie is added to the group.

Woven into each story is a challenging social situation. Noelle barely escapes brutality and stalking; Cindy must decide if her love is strong enough to marry a man with a debilitating disease and a history of alcoholism; Candyfaces her own dilemma with a man she divorced because of his emotional and alcohol problems – now that he is rehabilitated, should she marry him again? Connie falls in love with the “wrong” man, at least wrong in the lily-white environment of small town Newport Beach. Natalie is left hurting on the ground after an aborted sky dive and feels deceived by her instructor whose identity she doesn’t know. Melanie, the new girl in the group, is painfully lonely and seeks love by adopting a dog and joining an online dating site and she encounters the same situation Connie had.

Then tragedy strikes and changes her life. Can she live with the “ghosts” that haunt her? Doreenseems to live a charmed life as a renowned model, even with one leg shorter from the accident her now best friend caused. But while planning her wedding her fiancé gets a phone call that threatens their future. Natalie still longs for love and believes she has found it . . . until. Does the brother of one of her best friend’s truly love her? Whom can she believe? Him or the mystery man?

The Candy Cane Girls Series is nearing an end. The last story is Natalie’s. Natalie’s Red Dress is not completed, yet. Will Natalie find love? To help the author, please make suggestions. Here is a blurb about Natalie to help from Natalie’s Deception.

Lies, guilt, stalking. Natalie is injured and left lying on the ground.

Two handsome men vie for Natalie’s attention, traveling from Newport Beach to Scottsdale, Arizona to woo her. But one caused her back injury, and one strands her on the top of a Ferris Wheel knowing how terrified she is of heights, even though she took sky-diving lessons with him.

Will Natalie ever find love? She wants it badly, but is thrilled two Candy Canes are expecting babies. She will be an aunt again. But, when will she be a wife and mother?
Will a mystery man emerge from her past? Will she fall in love with a friend?

Natalie needs help. From you, Dear Readers. Share ideas in the comments. If your idea is chosen, you will have a cameo appearance in Natalie’s Red Dress and be thanked in the acknowledgements. You will also receive a signed copy of the book when it is published.

~ ~ ~ ~

Bonnie Engstrom will give away a signed copy of
Noelle’s Christmas Wedding, the first book in the Candy Cane Series to start you off.

A Women’s Fiction/Romance novel

Please be sure to leave your email and your state when commenting.

~ ~ ~ ~


I wear two domestic hats, both super important to me. I am a wife to my psychologist husband, Dave ~ have been for almost 55 years ~ a real milestone for a shrink!

Shrinky Dave and I have three children and six grandchildren, which brings me to my other domestic chapeau.

I am a grandma! Actually, Grammy is my name. Fifteen years ago my friend Judy said, “Choose your name well. It’s what they will call you. Like forever.” I did, and I love it!

I am Grammy to six kids. Four near me in Arizona and two in Costa Rica on the beach. Pura Vida!

Nuff about me. Let’s move on.

~ ~ ~ ~

Purchasing links:

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9 thoughts on “Our Story BEFORE The Stories ~ Jake, Lola, Sam, & Arthur – by – Bonnie Engstrom Candy Cane Girl Series”

  1. Thank you, Joy, for having me on your blog. I hope readers will have fun with the silly dog scene. It does reveal each of the dogs' personalities. Readers can see them all on the covers of The Candy Cane Series books. I hope, too, readers will explore the series and enjoy it.Thanks again!Bonnie


  2. Bonnie;It's so good to have your cast of characters here over this next week – I think your animals are the first characters to GIVE US THEIR STORIES BEFORE THE STORY here at Journeystojoy.netI am excited to see what kind of BUZZ they create.Hugs


  3. I’ve read several of the Candy Cane series books and enjoyed them! I talked this over with my husband, Kent, and he said he thinks a person whom Natalie had met in 10th grade; and had a shared attraction to, but due to circumstances at that time, nothing came of it. Now, two decades later they meet again, sparks fly and they live happily ever after! This is OUR story, Bonnie! Kent and I had an attraction in high school but went our separate ways for 11 years. Met again one evening (it was all of God, of that I’m sure!) and have been together ever since (28 years together, 27 of them married). I KNEW God wanted me to be with Kent. Not sure what you think of the idea, but if you decide to use it, you can use his name in the book and sign the book to him!! I really enjoyed the dogs’ take on things, by the way! It was fun!Rita Spauldingmainemoose1@twc.comKent Spaulding kentspauldingusn@hotmail.com


  4. From what I read, I assume both men who are vying for Natalie’s affection would be in the same town at the same time. Here is my suggestion. Natalie is out in a public place for dinner or whatever with Ferris Wheel guy when Back Injury guy enters the same restaurant. When Ferris Wheel guy leaves the table for a moment (restroom break, talk to a friend, whatever), Back Injury guy saunters over to Natalie and says,” So, what are you doing out with him? Don’t you know I’m in love with you and I’m going to marry you someday?” That’s a sliver of my story. LOL! Mind you, I had talked to my husband a few times at work and he had not asked me out yet when he told me this. He was right. We were married just short of 39 years when he passed away in 2016.Just a note. If the choice is only between these two men, I would definitely have her marry Back Injury guy. Ferris Wheel guy strikes me as the type who would forever prey on Natalie’s weaknesses or fears and make her life miserable. Or, as suggested above, you could introduce a third person into the story who has nothing to do with the other two.Loved the dog scene! It was awesome!


  5. Hi Bonnie, I think that one of her friends cousin that lives in a different state comes to visit his cousin. Well, when her friend introduces Natalie to her cousin they both just look at each other and there is a spark and a feeling in each of them like neither of them have ever experienced, it is love at first sight. By the way they guy is a very sweet guy and he drives a motorcycle. Natalie falls head over heals for him, he is the kind of guy that shows his love for her with his actions, he believes that talk is cheap. Wow, I could go on and on. Hope you like it Bonnie. aliciabhaney@sbcglobal.net


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