Tuesday, September 20, 2022

#Giveaway of Christmas in Blue Dog Valley by Annie England Noblin

About the Book

Christmas in Blue Dog Valley
by Annie England Noblin 

Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 20th 2022 by Avon Books
Welcome to Blue Dog Valley. Home of the Fighting Elk. Population 3,411.

When Goldie McKenzie, DVM, vet to the L.A. pet stars, arrives from Los Angeles to Blue Dog Valley she realizes three things.

Never agree to upend your life when you're hungover. 
Pot-belly pigs are not true farm animals. 
She's going to need a warmer coat. 

At first Goldie is nothing more than a fish out of water, with few clients and few friends. But after a less than pleasant encounter with a man whose dog is suffering from a possibly fatal case of bloat, she's finally earning the trust and goodwill from her fellow Blue Dog Valley citizens. Her clientele grows to include the many farm animals in the town, including a horse named Large Marge, a cape-wearing therapy alpaca, and a yardful of sweater-wearing goats. Add in Kevin, the "worst sheepdog in Blue Dog Valley," and a Sphinx cat named Airport, and Goldie is having the best time a vet can have. . . aside from the annoying attractive town grump, Cohen, who seems intent on making sure she always feels like an outsider.

With her newfound goodwill, Goldie comes up with an idea to reinvigorate the once flourishing Blue Dog Valley: a Christmas carnival. A petting zoo, pictures with Santa, a baking contest, what more could they want? After only some brief resistance from Cohen and his father, they begin the great plan to reinvigorate Blue Dog Valley.

Will Christmas be enough to salvage this dying town--and be enough to bring Goldie closer to a certain grumpy man?


Goldie shook her head back and forth, even as she stood up. Everyone in the gymnasium, which had to be nearly everybody in Blue Dog Valley, was staring at her.
“Go on,” Ashley said. “Tell them.”
“Uh, well . . .” Goldie trailed off. She hadn’t had time to fully form an idea yet. All she’d done was have a thought and tell Ash- ley about it. She looked over at Ashley, who smiled at her encour- agingly. “I heard that Blue Dog Valley used to have a Christmas carnival every year.”
“Yeah, a hundred years ago!” Lois shouted.
“That would make you a hundred and fifty!” someone behind Goldie shouted.
Goldie cleared her throat. “I know it was a long time ago, but why couldn’t the community try it again? Instead of the city being in charge and bearing the burden of the cost, maybe the citizens of this town could come together.”
“How are we going to do that?” Lois asked.
“Everybody  has  something  they’re  good  at,”  Goldie  said. “Surely, you’ve got people who make arts and crafts who could have a booth set up. We’ve got people who are good with food and games. There are plenty of places to set up both inside and outside. Maybe even here in the gym?”
“I make popcorn balls,” Lois replied, chewing on Goldie’s suggestion. “Delores makes cat-hair Christmas ornaments.” She jabbed her thumb at Delores, who was sitting a row ahead of her.
“Well, that’s a start,” Goldie said. “Anyway, it’s just an idea.” “It’s a good idea,” Ashley said. “I think we could have the car-
nival during the day and end the night with the parade. I bet we could get some businesses from out of town to participate, too, if they thought they’d make money.”
“If we charged a booth fee, a small one, that might get the money for the float prize,” Goldie said. She was starting to feel a little buzz of excitement.
“I could rig up a hayride,” one man sitting in the front row said. “That old tractor is just takin’ up space, anyway, now that we ain’t farmin’ no more.”
“Don’t let Roger Dale drive it!” someone else hollered, and ev- eryone began to laugh.
“I like these ideas,” Mayor Rose said. “But it would be a lot of work to plan. It’s already November.”
“I’m sure Dr. McKenzie would help us, wouldn’t you?” Ashley asked.
“Of course!” Goldie said enthusiastically.
“Mayor  Rose  is  right.  There  isn’t  enough  time,”  said  a  voice behind Goldie.
She  didn’t  even  have  to  turn  around  to  know  who  it  was— Cohen Gable.
“Now hold on,” Mayor Rose said. “I didn’t say there wasn’t enough time. I said it wouldn’t be easy.”
“Having people in town for the parade is one thing,” Cohen continued. “But are we sure we want a whole bunch of people set- ting up shop in our town for a whole day? We shouldn’t have to compete with them for business.”
There was a murmur of agreement throughout the gym, and Goldie finally turned and fixed her gaze on Cohen.
“Why would it need to be a competition?” she asked. “If we advertise well enough, people might come from all over the state to the carnival—Milwaukee isn’t that far. People traveling could stop if they saw signage on the bypass.”
“This isn’t Los Angeles,” Cohen said. “People don’t just stop off here. Not anymore.”
“I don’t see why that couldn’t change,” Goldie replied.
“You haven’t been here long enough to see much,” Cohen said. “There’s a reason we stopped having the carnival, and most of us who are from here know that.”
Goldie put her hands on her hips. She couldn’t figure him out. He’d  been  so  pleasant  the  night  before,  and  now  here  he  was, standing up in front of the whole town and insulting her.
“You’re right, Mr. Gable,” Goldie said. “I haven’t been here very long. But it’s pretty obvious to me that this town is full of wonder- ful people who care about their town and want to see it thrive. My only real question is, why don’t you?”
Cohen’s jaw flexed, and his eyes darkened. Goldie realized she might’ve taken it a step too far, but she was too angry to apolo- gize. For the life of her, she couldn’t figure out why he seemed to dislike her. Her idea was good. He had to know it was good. Even Tiffany had given her a thumbs-up.
Before Cohen could reply, Mayor Rose spoke up. “Now, Dr. McKenzie, I think you’ve got yourself a fine idea here, and, Co- hen, we all know how much you love this town. We can all work together, don’t you think?”
“Of course,” Goldie said.
At the same time Cohen said, “I’ve said my piece.” He sat back down.
“Wonderful,” Mayor Rose replied. “The city council will have a chat about it tonight after the meeting, and we can put it to a town vote.”
“We don’t need a vote!” Lois said. She’d been standing up the whole time. “This carnival is a fine idea.”
“Even so,” Mayor Rose said, wiping his forehead again, “we’ll put it to a town vote.” He put the handkerchief back into his pocket and then pulled out a pocket watch. “It’s time to git, folks. They’re callin’ for sleet tonight.”
And with that, to Goldie’s surprise, the meeting was over. Ev- eryone began to get up and filter out of the gymnasium. Goldie followed Ashley and Cal into the gym lobby.
“Thanks for inviting me,” Goldie said to Ashley. “Do you really think the town will go for a Christmas carnival?”
“I don’t see why not,” Ashley said. “I think people are pretty much willing to try anything to get some traffic our way. Christ- mas used to be such a festive time for the valley, and over the last few years, it’s just been more sad than anything else.”
“It’s a good idea,” Cal said, herding his girls farther out of the gym while they tried to talk to a few of their friends. “I think nearly everyone will support it.”
“Cohen will come around,” Ashley continued. “He’s just a stick in the mud.”
“He doesn’t like me very much,” Goldie replied. “I’m not sure why. I haven’t put bees in his shower or anything.”
“Now, I wouldn’t say I don’t like you.” Cohen appeared in front of them. “I just disagree with you.”
“You could have disagreed with me in private,” Goldie replied. “I’m trying to run a business here, and I need any support I can get from the town.”
“This town isn’t responsible for making your business work,” Cohen  replied.  “And  it’s  not  your  business.  It’s  Doc’s  business. You’re just filling in.”
“Oh, is that what he told you?” “That’s what he told me.”
“Hey, Cohen,” Ashley said, cutting into the conversation. “What are you doing here? You never come to these things.”
“Dad asked me to come,” Cohen replied. “He couldn’t make it, because he’s got some business in Milwaukee, so I had to be here to report back to him.”
Cohen sighed. “You know what I mean.” Goldie, however, had no clue what he meant.
“How is your dad?” Ashley continued. “Staying out of trouble?” “He’s fine. You know, the usual amount of trouble. Same old Dad.”
Ashley smiled, and Cohen smiled back. For a second, Goldie saw something pass between the two of them that she recognized but couldn’t quite place, but it was familiar, whatever it was.
“We better get going,” Cal said. “Our driveway will be a night- mare if we don’t beat the sleet. It was nice to meet you, Dr. McK- enzie.” Then he turned to Cohen and nodded. “Cohen.”
“Bye!” Goldie said, waving to them. “Well.” She looked up at Cohen. “I guess I should be on my way, too.”
Cohen  didn’t  move  out  of  her  way  immediately,  and  Goldie stood there for a second, trying to decide if she should just go past him or attempt to make conversation.
“I see Ash got you looking like a local,” Cohen said. “I was wondering how long it would take.”
“You were wondering about my clothes?” Goldie asked. “That’s weird.”
One side of Cohen’s face ticked up, and he shoved his hands down into the pockets of his jeans. “I don’t think it’s that weird.” “Goodbye, Cohen,” Goldie said, stepping past him. “Watch out for potholes.”
“Hey, now, you’re not mad about that little debate in there, are you?” Cohen asked, following her out. “I just think you’re wrong about it, that’s all.”
“You made that pretty clear already,” Goldie replied. “And you looked pretty mad to me, especially while you were insulting me about not being from here.”
“I wasn’t trying to insult you,” Cohen said. “I was just telling the truth. You haven’t been here very long, and you aren’t from here, and you’re biting off more than you can chew.”
Goldie turned around so fast, Cohen nearly knocked into her. “You  don’t  know  how  much  I  can  chew,”  she  said.  “You  don’t know anything about me at all.”
“Can you come out to the farm and have a look at Alice for me in the morning?” Cohen asked, ignoring Goldie’s reply. “She cut herself this morning on a piece of downed fencing. I patched her  up,  but  I  don’t  want  it  to  get  infected,  especially  with  this weather.”
“You’re a farrier,” Goldie replied.
“And you’re a veterinarian,” Cohen replied. “Phew, glad we got that out of the way.”
Goldie eyed him. “Okay,” she said, finally. “What time?”
“I’ll be up by five thirty,” Cohen replied. “So any time after that is fine.”
“I will not be up by five thirty,” Goldie said. “I’ll be there by nine.”
“Not much of a morning person?”
“Right now,” Goldie said, “I’m not much of a person-person.
I’ve had about four hours of sleep.”
“That explains your ridiculous idea about turning this town into a Hallmark movie for Christmas,” Cohen said. “Lack of sleep.”
“This town could never be the setting of a Hallmark movie,” Goldie said, turning around to leave. “Not with you in it.”
“For the record, I live outside the city limits,” Cohen called after her.
“Great,” Goldie replied, as she walked toward the Jeep and the first droplets of sleet began to hit her face. “When the vote passes, and Blue Dog Valley hosts its new and improved Christmas car- nival, you can stay there.”

About the Author

I live in the Missouri Ozarks with my husband, son, Pug, 4 cats, and an axolotl named Cosmo. I have a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English, both from Missouri State University. My grandparents bought me my first journal when I was 8, and I proceeded to write VERY bad rhyming poetry. I can’t remember a time after that when I wasn’t writing and reading. Writing is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. Visit https://annienoblin.wordpress.com/


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