Book Review & Excerpt: Snowbound in Montana by C.J. CARMICHAEL


The Carrigan’s of the Circle C (book 4)

Publisher:  Tule Publishing Group (October 23, 2014)

Contemporary Romance/Holiday


MY REVIEW: (originally published review 2014)

Eliza Bramble has successfully turned her Great Aunt Mable’s family home into a Bed and Breakfast. She has worked hard decorating for the holidays, baking, and promoting the B&B. Through one of her promotions, her now famous ex-boyfriend tracks her down and reserves a room in the B&B for the holidays.  She’s desperate to avoid him and runs off to spend Christmas on a cross-country ski vacation. Feeling she is still in love with him and not strong enough to resist him even after he has hurt her she leaves her cherished B&B in the hands of her sister for the holiday.  Marshall McKenzie is the tour leader for the holiday ski trip. Marshall & Eliza are both drawn to each other but he doesn’t feel he can compete with her famous ex. Eliza thinks she is still in love her ex and pushes Marshall away. The well planned ski vacation suddenly becomes intense when the group is snowed in during a blizzard.  Marshall and Eliza lend a hand with the owners of the lodge to savage Christmas for the irritated and bad-tempered group. C.J. Carmichael writes so that you feel the cold, the snow, and experience the magic of Christmas while snowbound in a beautiful Montana lodge.  This is a wonderful addition to the Carrigans of Circle C as Eliza is a cousin of the Carrigan sisters and has been working on her family history. A sweet holiday romance story. I first read this when it was released in 2014 and it has become a regular holiday reread for me.



When Eliza Bramble signs up for the Christmas Mountain Ski package with Marshal McKenzie, owner of Grizzly Adventures in Marietta Montana, she’s looking to escape. Her Bramble B&B Christmas blog has just gone viral attracting the attention of a two-timing man who hurt her very badly. Getting out of town for Christmas is her only way to find peace. Instead she finds herself trapped on a vacation with a bickering couple and their two spoiled children, as well as a young married couple who barely speak to one another. The tension is almost unbearable—and then a blizzard hits, stranding them all in a remote ski lodge for the holidays.

 Christmas is looking like a write-off, until Marshall suggests they make the best of what they have, and work together. Eliza is surprised to find that the avid outdoorsman has a special touch with people…and with her in particular. Soon she realizes Marshall isn’t just fixing Christmas—but her broken heart, too.



Amazon Print:

Amazon Kindle:

BN Nook:




Carrigans of Circle C series

 Hawksley Carrigan, owner of the Circle C Ranch always wanted a son to carry on the family name—but, instead, he got four beautiful, spirited daughters. After his wife’s untimely death, he withdrew into his pain leaving the girls to raise themselves. And they did. Join Sage, Mattie, Dani and Callan as they deal with change, loss, new life, secrets–and love in this series of heartfelt novels.


Reading Order:

Book One: Promise Me, Cowboy

Book Two: Good Together

Book Three: Close to Her Heart

Book Four: Snowbound in Montana

Book Five: A Cowgirl’s Christmas

Book Six: A Bramble House Christmas



USA Today Bestselling author C. J. Carmichael has written over 45 novels in her favorite genres of romance and mystery. She has been nominated twice for the Romance Writers of America RITA Award, as well as RT Bookclub’s Career Achievement in Romantic Suspense award, and the Bookseller’s Best honor.

She gave up the thrills of income tax forms and double entry book-keeping in 1998 when she sold her first book to Harlequin Superromance. Since then she has published over 35 novels with Harlequin and is currently working on a series of western romances with Tule Publishing. In addition C. J. Carmichael has published several cozy mystery series as an Indie author.

When not writing C. J. enjoys family time with her grown daughters and her husband. Family dinners are great. Even better are the times they spend hiking in the Rocky Mountains around their home in Calgary, and relaxing at their cottage on Flathead Lake, Montana.

Visit C.J.’s website at


Adorned in Christmas finery, the Bramble House Bed and Breakfast had never looked better, while Eliza Bramble, manager and great-niece of the owner, had never felt worse. If she had guessed that her blog post on decorating for the holidays would go viral, she would never have hit the “Publish” button.

But she had. And since she couldn’t turn back time for a do-over, she was going to have to come up with a Plan B for the holidays. A plan that would get her out of Marietta, Montana until Christmas was over.

She had one figured out, already. The tricky part would be explaining her departure to her Great Aunt Mable. Mable was not the sort to embrace change at the best of times. And Christmas, for their family, was never the best of times.

They were seated in the breakfast room of Bramble House, at the large, linen-covered table that could accommodate twelve with comfort. When it was just the two of them, like today, Mable took the chair at the head of the table overlooking the east-facing windows, while Eliza sat to her right.

On the table was a pot of English Breakfast tea, the matching china creamer and sugar bowl, and a ramekin of strawberry preserves. At each place setting were two slices of crispy toast, a small dish of fruit salad, and a tea cup. Cutlery was laid out on linen napkins that had been in the Bramble family for over fifty years—purchased along with many other linens, two china sets, and the silver, by Mable’s parents on their wedding trip abroad to France and England in 1925. It was not the china they set out when they had paying guests. For that they used second-hand pieces Eliza had painstakingly located and purchased on e-Bay.

Aunt Mable had a disconcerting resemblance to the Dowager Countess on her favorite TV series, Downton Abbey: swept-up gray hair, prissy mouth, and laser-sharp blue eyes. Eyes that were currently focused on Eliza with distressing sharpness.

“What do you mean you want to go away for Christmas?” Mable’s gaze shifted briefly to the Christmas tree in the far corner of the room. This year Eliza had decorated trees for all the downstairs main rooms, each with a theme drawn from the Bramble family’s past. The tree in the breakfast room had ornaments made of copper, with gold and silver accents, representing their mining history.

“My reasons are personal, Aunt Mable. I’m afraid I can’t say more.”

“But we’re fully booked for the holidays, aren’t we?”

“Yes. I’ve asked my sister and her husband to stand in for me. They’ll prepare the breakfasts and afternoon teas.” Other meals were not included, guests were expected to make reservations in one of the many restaurants and cafes Marietta had to offer.

“Caroline and Frank?”

“Yes.” It had taken a lot to convince them. They’d been planning to go to Maui for the holidays—their usual method of escaping the holiday madness. Eliza’s two brothers likewise had booked tropical destinations for Christmas, as had her parents. They were not the sort of family who went for the traditional turkey, tree and gift exchange sort of thing.

“But you made such an effort this year. All your baking and decorating—” Mable waved a hand to indicate not only the tree in the corner, but the cedar boughs on the fireplace mantle, the cranberry candles at the center of the table, and the fairy lights sparkling like stars on the mullioned windows.

“I had to do something to attract bookings. We almost broke even this year. I’m hoping we’ll finally get the accounts in the black this December.”

“Yes. I understand all that. What puzzles me is why, after all your hard work, and knowing how important the next week will be for our bottom line, as you like to call it, you would just want to take off and go on a holiday. It doesn’t make sense.”

Eliza smeared a spoonful of preserves on her toast. “Do you remember when I first moved into Bramble House?”

It had been two years ago. She’d shown up on her aunt’s door with two suitcases and her purse, asking her aunt if she could turn the ancestral home into a bed and breakfast. She’d heard, through the family e-mail loop that Mable was thinking of selling—she could no longer afford the upkeep and property taxes on the big, old house.

But Mable had really wanted to leave her home and she’d leapt at Eliza’s offer.

“If you hadn’t shown up that day, I’d probably be living in one of those awful condos for seniors by now.”

“But do you remember what I looked like? The shape I was in?”

“You were dreadfully skinny, with that awful fake brown hair. And sad. Sometimes, at night I would hear you crying in your room.”

This was the first Eliza had heard of that, and the news made her smile ruefully. Some aunts might have tapped on her door and offered help—a pot of tea and a wee chat, perhaps?

But Mable was not that sort of aunt.

“Someone hurt me, badly. And I think he might be about to do it again. That’s why I have to go. I’m really sorry if you feel like I’m abandoning you and Bramble House for the holidays. But I simply don’t have any choice.”

* * *

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