Second Chance Romance, The Magic Of Christmas, And So Much More Awaits At The Christmas Cabin.

Title:  The Christmas Cabin
Author:  Michelle Major
Format:  ERC 
Length: 384 pages
Expected Date Of Publication:  October 24, 2023
Publisher:  Canary Street Press
Rating:  4.5 Stars

There’s no place like home for the holidays…

As a girl, single mom Lauren Maxwell hated Magnolia, South Carolina. And she thought she’d left her hometown in the rearview mirror years ago, but a message from her beloved baby brother, Brody, changes all that. He’s getting married on Christmas Eve. So a holiday at Camp Blossom, the rustic sleepaway camp that had been a haven during her growing-up years, it is. Lauren won’t even have to see her dictatorial father. Or her ex-husband, Ben…

When Ben greets her at the surprisingly decrepit cabin, he’s just as stubborn—and as irresistible—as ever. And when she discovers he’s working with her estranged father to buy the campgrounds and rebuild them as luxury housing, Lauren is furious. She won’t let the man who broke her heart win. So she and her daughter stay in town to block the sale.

But the magic of the Christmas season brings back memories Lauren tried so hard to forget: his crooked smile, their daughter’s laughter at the breakfast table, the feel of her hand in his. As the spark between them rekindles, Lauren realizes that second chances are real. And they’re worth fighting for.

Bonus Novella!

A Carolina Song

Country Western singer Walker Calloway thought he was making romantic progress with shy and lovely schoolteacher Meghan Jacobs. After all, he’d written her a love song! But she thought it was for his ex. Now it’s up to him to prove that his heart already belongs to Meghan…for keeps…

Please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from:
The Christmas Cabin

What do a small town. named Magnolia, unchecked sibling rivalry, a teenager with a DUI, a second chance romance, a summer camp named Blossom, and Christmas have in common.
Well nothing... actually!
The fact that they are part of the plot of the newest offering in the Carolina Girls series not withstanding.
That's right.

Book #6 is hot off the presses.
Loaded with more family drama than an all day Dr. Phil marathon.
A second chance romance plot twist so heartfelt that Hallmark should be taking notes.
All tied in the perfect bow of love and forgiveness that only stories set in the Christmas season can provide.

Yes...its true.
The Christmas Cabin is all that and a bag of Christmas cookies.
That is once the oldest two siblings decide to grow up.
The younger brother stops playing the martyr.
Everyone learns to ignore the overbearing ass of a father.
And the teenager with the DUI proves on more than one occasion that she is the most emotionally intelligent person in the room.

This is a quick, if not light read that is sure to touch your heart in the way that dogs that are so ugly they can't help being cute, and surly old grampas do.
With an unmistakable charm and real world honesty that is not to be missed.

Thanks to Negalley and Harlequin for providing the review copy on which this honest critique is based.
This book may be read as a standalone. Though it is the 6th in a continuous series.
This book also contains bonus material.

About Michelle 

Michelle Major grew up in Ohio but dreamed of living in the mountains. Soon after graduating with a degree in Journalism, she pointed her car west and settled in Colorado. Her life and house are filled with one great husband, two beautiful kids, a few furry pets and several well-behaved reptiles. She’s grateful to have found her passion writing stories with happy endings. Michelle loves to hear from her readers at

Andy Carpenter Is Giving The Humbug To Crime In "T'was The Bite Before Christmas"

Title:  T'was The Bite Before Christmas
Author:  David Rosenfelt
Format:  ERC
Pages:  304
Publisher:  Minotaur Books
Rating: 5 Stars 
In National Bestseller David Rosenfelt’s ‘Twas the Bite Before Christmas, all through the Carpenter house, five dogs are stirring, and not even Andy can get out of working this latest case at his door.

Reluctant lawyer Andy Carpenter is at the Tara Foundation’s annual Christmas party. The dog rescue organization has always been his true calling, and this is one holiday tradition he can get behind because every dog that’s come through the rescue—and their families—are invited to celebrate.

This year’s party is no exception. But before the stockings can be hung by the chimney with care, homicide detectives ruin the evening. Derek Moore, one of the foundation’s best foster volunteers, is arrested for murder.

Andy discovers Derek—whose real name is Bobby—is in the witness protection program after giving evidence against his former gang. The police believe Bobby murdered a member. But Bobby swears to Andy he didn’t do this. He’s built a new life, a new business, has two new dogs after being a double foster-failure.

There isn’t much Andy likes about this case, but he likes Bobby. If he’s innocent, Andy wants to help. Before Andy can settle down for his long winter’s nap, he has a client’s name to clear, a murderer to catch, and two new dogs to look after: a golden and a Dalmatian. Andy’s golden retriever, Tara, will have to adjust to not being the only golden at the house while Andy gets to the bottom of this one…

Please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from:
T'was The Bite Before Christmas

I don’t like eggnog, and I dYoubt that anybody really does. It’s too thick and too sweet for my taste . . . like drinking melted chewing gum. I just tried some again anyway and found that sucking some of this batch through a straw requires either a serious pair of lungs or a hydraulic pump; it’s not nearly good enough to justify that amount of work. But the reason I doubt that anyone really likes it is that it’s only popular at Christmas. Good food or drink should not require a holiday to justify consumption. As evidence I point to the fact that there’s no such thing as French Fry Day, or pizza season. Those foods are timeless. I feel the same way about fruitcakes and candied yams; if you like them, eat them all year. Otherwise, I don’t want to hear about them. Right now I am particularly focused on eggnog because I am currently doling it out. It’s Christmas party time at the Tara Foundation, the dog rescue group that I run with my friend Willie Miller and his wife, Sondra. It’s named after my golden retriever, who is so great she should have an entire planet named after her.
My Thoughts
Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas for Andy Carpenter and company. In this the 28th offering from author, David Rosenfelt.
And while it seems that everyone in the Carpenter household, as well as those associated with Andy's beloved Tara Foundation, are up to their eyeballs in seasonal good cheer. He is facing the holiday in usual Andy fashion.

Complete with sardonic wit, a touch of self deprecation, and a dash of pet fur thrown in for good measure.
Until family friend and pet foster turned ower, Derek Moore, finds himself going from serving eggnog at the foundation's holiday shindig. To possibly serving prison time for murder.
Leaving him and his beloved pets Sasha and Jake in need of help that only Andy can provide.

This book has everything.
Witness protection, mobsters, vendettas, murder, plot twists...
And Andy of course.
There is never a dull moment.
Every time you think that you have things figured. something happens to make it very apparent that YOU DON'T.
This book offers that perfect escape into whodunit goodness. With a side of holiday happiness. That is far from the toothache inducing sweetness that is pumped out by the page full around this time of year.

Reviewer's Note
Special thanks to Negalley and St. Martin's Press for providing the review copy on which this honest critique is based.
Though this book is part of a continuous series. It may be read as a standalone.

About David
I am a novelist with 27 dogs.

I have gotten to this dubious position with absolutely no planning, and at no stage in my life could I have predicted it. But here I am.

My childhood was relentlessly normal. The middle of three brothers, loving parents, a middle-class home in Paterson, New Jersey. We played sports, studied sporadically. laughed around the dinner table, and generally had a good time. By comparison, "Ozzie and Harriet's" clan seemed bizarre.

I graduated NYU, then decided to go into the movie business. I was stunningly brilliant at a job interview with my uncle, who was President of United Artists, and was immediately hired. It set me off on a climb up the executive ladder, culminating in my becoming President of Marketing for Tri-Star Pictures. The movie landscape is filled with the movies I buried; for every "Rambo", "The Natural" and "Rocky", there are countless disasters.

I did manage to find the time to marry and have two children, both of whom are doing very well, and fortunately neither have inherited my eccentricities.

A number of years ago, I left the movie marketing business, to the sustained applause of hundreds of disgruntled producers and directors. I decided to try my hand at writing. I wrote and sold a bunch of feature films, none of which ever came close to being actually filmed, and then a bunch of TV movies, some of which actually made it to the small screen. It's safe to say that their impact on the American cultural scene has been minimal.

About fourteen years ago, my wife and I started the Tara Foundation, named in honor of the greatest Golden Retriever the world has ever known. We rescued almost 4,000 dogs, many of them Goldens, and found them loving homes. Our own home quickly became a sanctuary for those dogs that we rescued that were too old or sickly to be wanted by others. They surround me as I write this. It's total lunacy, but it works, and they are a happy, safe group. 

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Upstairs / Downstairs Romance Makes Way For An Unforgettable Forever In "The Duke Starts A Scandal"

Title:  The Duke Starts A Scandal
Series:  The Duke Hunt #4
Author:  Sophie Jordan
Format:  ERC
Length:  352 pages
Expected Date Of Publication:  October 24, 2023
Publisher:  Avon
Rating:  5 Stars

A gentleman never dallies with the help, but the new Duke of Penning is no gentleman in this steamy fourth and final book in The Duke Hunt series by New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan.

A duke with secrets.

Lucian, the newly minted Duke of Penning, has much to prove-- to himself, his family and the ton. Craving spotless respectability, he must find an aristocratic wife. Unfortunately, he can't keep his eyes--and thoughts--off his deliciously distracting housekeeper. Such a dalliance can only mar the facade he's constructed to protect his sisters' future from the demons of his past...but this fiery passion is a temptation he cannot resist. While Susanna may not the bride he needs, she is everything he desires.

A woman with a past.

As the housekeeper to one of the grandest estates in England, Susanna Lockhart has worked determinedly to become all that is proper and efficient, and she never steps over the line. Romance is an indulgence for the upper class, not for her--and most especially not with her employer. But every smoldering glance from the surly, handsome duke calls to the long-buried reckless wanton inside Susanna. A love between them can never be, but will Lucian and Susanna risk being together...

Even if it starts a scandal...

Please enjoy the exclusive excerpt from
The Duke Starts A Scandal
It was her own fault, she supposed. She should have known better than to be caught out in the countryside after dark amid a storm. She was no green girl. No untested maid. Susanna Lockhart was the Duke of Penning’s housekeeper, and she held herself higher than such foolish behavior. Susanna minded her steps in the falling darkness. She knew these lands well. Every well-trod path, every pasture, every field of wildflowers was known to her like the back of her hand. Still, in the fast-fading light, one could not be too careful and she had no wish to turn an ankle. The last thing she needed was to be relegated to her bed. How would she serve Penning Hall then? Her boots plodded along cautiously over the ground, for all that she was eager to reach the warmth and safety of the hall. She was envisioning the cozy fire in the kitchens, a bowl of Cook’s heavenly pottage waiting for her, the fragrant steam wafting to her nose as she filled her stomach with the thick, savory broth. Susanna shook her head in disgust. She should have returned hours ago. She had spent far too long in the village. At least the basket she held was now empty and lighter for it. It swung easily looped around her arm. The vicar and Mr. Gupta had been most grateful for the baked goods she brought them today. The Penning cook was renowned in these parts, and Susanna made certain to spread the wealth of her culinary talents to the good people of Shropshire. The storm had rolled in suddenly, darkening the skies prematurely. She should have had another hour of light. The rain started with a few fat drops, landing on her nose, cheek, hair. Then the skies opened in a heavy deluge. She was soaked immediately. Her steps grew labored, the wet, spongy ground sucking at her boots. The familiar path curved and she stopped, breathing heavily, looking down the hill to the grand residence of the Duke of Penning spread out in sprawling splendor below. Lights twinkled in the many windows, beckoning her. Home. It should not have been to a woman of such humble birth, but it was more home to her than the one she left behind so many years ago. Almost there. Dry clothes, a warm fire and a hearty meal are only a short away. She heard the horse and rider before she saw him. The pounding of hooves rang like thunder, rivaling the loud rumblings in the sky. The staccato thuds increased, growing closer. She turned, whirled around just as beast and man rounded the path, straight for her. Her scream was lost in the air, swallowed up by rain and the clap of thunder and the horse’s panicked neigh. She flung up an arm in front of her as though that would stop the violent impact. As though that would shield her—save her from imminent collision. As terror seized her, so, too, did a sense of mortification. Regret coupled with a sense of shame that she should die this way and not in her bed at a ripe old age. Indeed not. Trampled to death. That would be her ignominious end. The horse reared. Hooves clawed the air overhead in a wild frenzy and she fell back, landing hard on the wet ground in her attempt to scramble out of the way. She bit the inside of her cheek and the coppery taste of blood filled her mouth. She turned her face and jammed her eyes tightly shut, recoiling, shrinking inside herself as she waited for the sensation of steel hooves to come down, to cut into her flesh and bones and smash her apart, leaving her broken in the mud. They never came. There was no pain. No breaking of her body. Instead a litany of stinging curses burned her ears and the earth shook as the horse came down near her head, shuddering the ground, spraying her with fresh mud. Near her head, though. Not on her head. A body landed not far with an oompf. A long groan followed. She could not move at first, breathless and stunned, gazing up at the water-soaked night. She pressed a hand over her chest. Her heart felt like it might burst through her rib cage. “What in bloody hell is wrong with you?”The hard voice tore through the storm raging around them. She blinked against the falling rain, sitting up slowly and looking around, finding the rider inches away, unmoving on his back. Her lips parted, moving without making a sound. Her voice was lodged in her throat. In the gloom, she could see very little of his face, but she could hear the heavy huff of his breaths  .  .  . and, of course, his cruelly biting words: “Are you trying to kill yourself, lass? Or just me?”She scowled, finding her voice finally. “You’re talking, aren’t you?”He grunted. “Then you are not dead,”she added succinctly. “No, thanks to you.”With another grunt, he sat up. “It was no easy trick, but I avoided you.”He hauled himself to his feet, his hand going to his side, rubbing at some invisible ache with a hiss of breath. “Even if that meant flinging myself off my horse.”“So heroic,”she tsked, even though she allowed, to herself, at any rate, that it was quite the feat. “You should not have been riding so recklessly,”she charged. “Me? Reckless?”he scoffed with a wide wave of his arm. “What do you call someone strolling about the countryside in the dark in a storm?”Disliking how vulnerable she felt sitting at his feet, she lifted herself up, slipping on the slick ground but managing to catch and balance herself. That was little better. Goodness, he was big. On her feet again, she could see at once that he still towered over her. His shadowed figure moved, cloak whipping around him as he inspected his horse for injuries—all the while grumbling beneath his breath. “This is private property. Who are you?”she demanded. He continued attending to his horse, ignoring her as though she were so very  .  .  . ignorable. “Do you not hear me? This is the Duke of Penning’s estate,”she pressed. “I am certain he would not approve of you tearing about at night on his lands like some, some wild—”He whirled around to face her. Rain fell between them like needles, but he fixed his attention on her, no longer ignoring her. “I am the Duke of Penning.”She hesitated only a moment before letting loose a laugh. “No. You are not.”She knew the duke. She was his housekeeper, after all. “Oh, yes. I am.”He pronounced this with such complete confidence that her laughter faded. A small current of apprehension trembled through her. Then her certainty reasserted itself. The newly minted Duke of Penning and his son had been in residence for months now. This man was lying. He was a liar. He was a lying liar. Doubtlessly he thought she was someone who did not know any better and would not question him on the matter. Her chin went up and she lifted her voice over the increasing pound of rain. “You lie.”“I lie?”He snorted. “Yes. You’re lying  .  .  . a liar,”she added at the end as though she wanted there to be no confusion about it. “I do not know what game you are playing at, sirrah, but the Duke of Penning is down that hill, cozily ensconced in his drawing room.”The stranger took his mount’s reins in hand, and moved then, gingerly. Evidently his tumble had not been the easiest of falls and was not without physical cost to himself. He stopped in front of her and she had to crane her neck to look up at him. In the falling rain, she was granted a shadowy view of his features. Deep-set eyes. Thick, slashing eyebrows. A patrician nose. A wide mouth that now moved, over-enunciating his words as though to encourage her understanding, as though she were somehow slow to comprehend what he was telling her—or perhaps he wished to simply be heard over the storm. “I play no game. I am the Duke of Penning, and I am here to claim what is mine.”He nodded in the direction of the manor house, water streaming from the brim of his hat. “That man down there is a pretender. A fraud  .  .  . cozily ensconced in my drawing room.”She flinched at the echo of her own words hurled back at her, but she forced a mirthless laugh. Nervously. Awkwardly. Shaking her head, she spit out, “No  .  .  .”She could say nothing more than that. It was all she could manage as doubt took hold of her, creeping in and sinking deep. He countered with a simple: “Yes.”Lightning lit the sky, illuminating his face and she gasped. He was handsome. Young. And angry. Very angry. She saw that at once. Recognized it. He continued, “I am the legitimate heir to the dukedom with agents of the estate traveling in a carriage behind me to prove it. That man—”He nodded down the hill to the house. “—is an imposter.”Water glinted in his lashes as he looked her drenched person up and down like she was something unsavory, and in her present state, she was certain she looked it. “And who are you?”“I am  .  .  .”The duke’s housekeeper. Your housekeeper? She gave her head a hard shake. After this bit of awkwardness, she hoped she still was. The corners of his wide lips pulled down in a frown. “Are you unwell? Did you hit your head, lass?”She felt as though she had. She felt as though she had suffered a great blow and didn’t know what to think. For weeks now she had been serving two very nice men who claimed to be the duke and his son and now this rude, ill-tempered man was telling her she had been duped—that he was the true Penning, that he was her employer. With a grunt of disdain, he moved ahead of her, leading his horse back onto the path and in the direction of the hall. “You coming?”he called over his shoulder. Another flash of lightning lit the night sky. With little choice, she picked up her basket and followed him.


My Thoughts
Susanna and Lucian's story is less one of upstairs/downstairs.  With her being the housekeeper.  To his newly minted Duke of Penning.  More upstairs meets downstairs on a midway landing.
As both the maid and the master are trying their best to out live pasts that if discovered would see them each disgraced.

Making matters worse...
There is a very inconvenient attraction that try as they might, both find it hard to ignore.
And as  fate sets about doing its best to see that they spend as much time exploring said attraction as possible.
This book is a different take in plot expression.
Seeing as there is little to no sex for the majority of the story.
Giving both readers and each the other time to come to know the things that endear, entice, and enchant.
A most Herculean task indeed.
Seeing as most of the time.  The two main characters spend most of their time trying to out run their unfortunate pasts and each other.
Lucian coming off as a very lovable and lost lead in the process.
A great help to the legitimization of Susanna and Lucian's relationship comes unexpectedly by way of the discovery of Lucian's sister in the arms of his valet.
By book's end.  Readers are routing for the success of not one, but two romances.
Both built on love, respect, desire, and understanding.

Reviewer's Note
The Duke Starts A Scandal is the fourth and last book in the Duke Hunt series.  As such, it may be read either as a stand-alone or as part of its intended series.
Thanks to Netgalley and Avon Books for providing the review copy on which my honest critique is based.

About Sophie

Sophie JordanSophie Jordan took her adolescent daydreaming one step further and penned her first historical romance in the back of her high school Spanish class. This passion led her to pursue a degree in English and History.

A brief stint in law school taught her that case law was not nearly as interesting as literature - teaching English seemed the natural recourse. After several years teaching high school students to love Antigone, Sophie resigned with the birth of her first child and decided it was time to pursue the long-held dream of writing.

In less than three years, her first book, Once Upon A Wedding Night, a 2006 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Nominee for Best First Historical, hit book shelves. Her second novel, Too Wicked To Tame, released in March 2007 with a bang, landing on the USA Today Bestseller's List

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