Wednesday, October 28, 2020

You Lucky Dog


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A fun love story where the mistaken identities of two very different basset hounds unite their even more different owners.

Julia London (Charmer in Chaps) has written more than 30 romance novels in various subgenres. In You Lucky Dog, she tackles her very first romantic comedy and packs it with fun, over-the-top complications. The story begins when a professional dog walker in Austin, Tex.--who is also a covert pot-dealer while on the job--mistakenly sells to an undercover cop. When he gets busted, the dog walker enlists a friend to return each dog to their rightful digs--accidentally mixing up two lovable basset hounds who couldn't be more different in personality and temperament.

Hazel--a friendly, skinny female who likes macaroni and cheese and basks on furniture--belongs to Dr. Tobias Maxwell Sheffington III. Max, in his early 30s, is a bookish professor of neuroscience, working toward tenure at the University of Texas. He's devoted to his widowed father, who cares for his brother, a talented visual artist plagued with limitations from Autism Spectrum Disorder. The other hound, Baxter, an overweight male, belongs to driven 20-something Carly Kennedy, who reluctantly inherits the rescued dog from her sister. Carly--exasperated by her divorced parents and struggling to launch her own PR firm after a layoff--toes a strict disciplinary line with the skittish, sullen Baxter. Setting right the mixed-up hounds brings Max and Carly together in a crafty, opposites-attract love story.


London's first novel in the projected Lucky Dog series is comedic and fast paced. It is filled with an offbeat cast, zany coincidences and romantic moments and mishaps that will leave readers giggling in amusement. 

You Lucky Dog by Julia London

Berkley, $16.00 Paperback, 9780593100387, 328 pages

Publication Date: August 25, 2020

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (August 28, 2020), link HERE

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Michelle Major: Discovering the Home of the Heart

The Writer’s Life

Michelle Major is the best-selling, RITA award winning author of over 20 contemporary romances. She loves second-chances love stories, smart heroines and strong heroes. A Midwesterner at heart, she's made the Rocky Mountains her home for over 25 years.

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing (for Shelf Awareness) The Magnolia Sisters, her first book in the series. You can read my review by linking HEREMichelle Major has since published two novellas in the series. The second, full-length novel, The Merriest Magnolia is now available. The story centers on a North Carolina home-town girl who is forced to come to grips with her first love, a real estate developer with designs on remaking the whole town. 


What motivated you to start writing romance novels?

I came to romance later than many avid readers I know. I didn’t pick up my first romance novel until I was 30-years-old (which seems young to me now!). I traveled each week for my job in Human Resources and developed a huge fear of flying. On a whim, I bought a Johanna Lindsey book in an airport bookstore, and the story captivated me so much I forgot to be scared. From there, I had a lot of catching up to do in the genre. The more I read, the more I realized that the stories I’d always told myself in my head were romance plots. I’d worked in journalism and always liked to write, so once I found my passion for romance, it was like coming home.

What’s the inspiration behind your creation of the Magnolia sisters?

There was a period of time where it felt like I was reading a number of similar stories of siblings coming together who didn’t realize they were related. I became fascinated with the idea of the “instant family” and how to navigate those sorts of relationships. One theme that’s an aspect in most of my writing is the idea of the heroine discovering the home of her heart—partially through falling in love, but also as a result of the friendships and connections she develops in the community where a book is set. I had so much fun creating the small town of Magnolia, North Carolina, and working through where each of the sisters fit into that world.

Is there a certain chapter or scene in The Merriest Magnolia that you particularly enjoyed writing?

The scene that was the most emotional for me was just a tiny snippet where the hero, Dylan Scott, is getting pressure from the teenager--for whom he’s become guardian--to adopt a puppy. It’s Thanksgiving, and he’s reluctantly agreed to celebrate the holiday with Carrie Reed, the heroine, and her sisters. Her younger sister, Meredith, runs an animal rescue, but instead of a puppy, Dylan ends up rescuing an older dog that’s been overlooked by potential adopters. I have a couple of rescue dogs and I also foster kittens for a local animal shelter near my home in Colorado so those “perfectly imperfect” fur babies mean a lot to me. And it was a scene that revealed so much about his heart—which he keeps closely guarded—to Carrie and was the start of her falling for him all over again.

Do you have a favorite character from the Magnolia Sisters series?

That’s like picking a favorite child! Each of the Magnolia Sisters’ books is a standalone story, but because it’s also a series, I really enjoy focusing on one couple for each book but then also getting to revisit them throughout other stories. Second chance stories are some of my favorites to write and I always love a holiday romance, so Carrie and Dylan are certainly special to me.

How do you research your novels—or do you?

The details of occupation, weather, and setting are important research. However, emotional motivations play a bigger role in my books, and I typically do a few deep dives on why a character makes the choices he or she does. This isn’t technically “research,” but music is important for me as far as accessing emotions while I write. I do a playlist or choose a few special songs for each story. If I get stuck, I’ll walk the dogs or drive up into the mountains near my house and let the music take me away to that space of feeling.

What was your playlist while writing The Merriest Magnolia?

A couple of songs I listened to on repeat -- “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran and “Come Over” by Sam Hunt.

Will there be a third book in the Magnolia Sisters series?

Yes! After The Merriest Magnolia, there is one more book in the sisters’ trilogy—The Last Carolina Sister will release in March 2021. I’m so excited that I’ll be expanding the world of Magnolia with three more books after these. We are spinning off the series and the new books will be called The Carolina Girls. I hope readers will love getting to spend more time in this world.

Connect with Michelle Major at or on Facebook and Twitter (@michelle_major1).

To Purchase THE MAGNOLIA SISTERS on Amazon link HERE

To Purchase THE MERRIEST MAGNOLIA on Amazon link HERE


The Magnolia Sisters

The first in a heartfelt romance series follows an emotionally wounded city gal as she discovers half-sisters--and a new love--in a small North Carolina town.


Michelle Major (Fortune's Fresh Start) begins a warmhearted series with The Magnolia Sisters. Avery Keller, 30 years old and living in San Francisco, has her life disrupted when she loses her high-powered job in risk analysis and learns the man she loves is already married, with a family. Avery receives another unexpected jolt when she gets word that her birth father, a man whom Avery always believed knew nothing about her existence, has died and left her an inheritance. In order to claim it, Avery sets off for Magnolia, N.C., where she learns about her father, Niall Reed--a once prominent artist and serial philanderer--whose lucrative paintings, in his heyday, captured enough acclaim for him to buy up a lot of property in town.


Avery's revelations don't end there. She learns she has two half-sisters--Magnolia natives who didn't know they shared the same father--who are also beneficiaries of Niall's patrimony. Wise-cracking 29-year-old animal-rescuer Meredith is drawn to fitted T-shirts, cargo pants and boots, while 28-year-old artistic Carrie--the only one of the sisters who was raised by their father--looks and acts like a "perfect Southern belle." The three vastly different women grapple with their new identities, each other and how best to handle Niall's fortune without disrupting the small-town dynamic. Along the way, Avery falls for a handsome, divorced firefighter embroiled in a messy custody battle for his precocious daughter.


A large cast of well-drawn characters and a host of intriguing story threads enlarge the hopeful, heartfelt charm of Major's engrossing new romance series.

The Magnolia Sisters: Book One in the Magnolia Sisters Series by Michelle Major

Harlequin HQN, $7.99 Mass Market Paperback, 9781335013286, 336 pages

Publication Date: March 31, 2020

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE


NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (July 7, 2020), link HERE