Tar Speaks by Laurien Berenson

The Bark Before ChristmasHey, how you doin’?

My name is Champion Cedar Crest Scimitar, but most people just call me Tar. I’m a black Standard Poodle, which you probably already know if you’ve ever met my family because their house is filled with big black Poodles. Like six. Which outnumber the people around here. Not that that’s a problem, mind you. I get the impression they like it that way. “They” being Melanie Travis, her husband Sam Driver, and their two sons, Davey and Kevin. And then there’s Aunt Peg. Don’t even get me started on her. She goes to dog shows and judges Poodles, but really I think her main job is showing up and causing trouble.

I guess I would know about that because I’ve had occasion to cause some trouble myself. The thing is, I never mean to do it. Things just seem to go wrong when I’m around. Car keys disappear, water bowls go flying, couch cushions explode. That kind of stuff. I’ve heard people say that I’m dumb but I’m pretty sure they mean that as an endearment. Besides, Faith—she’s the matriarch of this Poodle family—says there’s no such thing as a dumb Standard Poodle. And she should know, because she knows everything.

Anyway, back to Melanie Travis. What she’s really good at is fixing trouble. (Lucky for me, right?) Take the Howard Academy Christmas Bazaar. In case you’re wondering why I even know about that, trust me, it’s all anybody has been talking about for the last two weeks. That was when Melanie got the last minute assignment to take over running the event after the previous chairwoman eloped to Mexico. I guess somebody figured that Melanie was too level-headed to ever pull a stunt like that. Which only goes to show that they don’t know her like I do. You want to find out what a person is really like? Talk to their dog. That’s who will give you the dirt. Now don’t get me wrong, Melanie’s a great person, but level-headed? No way. Most days she’s like a hamster on a wheel, running as fast as she can just to keep up.

The end result of all that running around was a pretty great Christmas bazaar. (That’s what Davey and Kevin said.) Except for one thing. The Santa Claus Melanie hired to have his pictures taken with people’s pets, made off with one of them. Kiltie is a West Highland White Terrier. In dog show circles he’s known as Champion Westglen Braveheart. If I was still showing with Sam, Kiltie and I would be butting heads because he’s a Best in Show winner too.

Turns out that Kiltie belongs to one of Howard Academy’s biggest benefactors. And that she blames Melanie for the fact that he disappeared because she was in charge when it happened. Oh, and that Santa? He turned up dead shortly thereafter. So that’s another fine mess, as they say. I figure Melanie will find a way to get things sorted out. She usually does. She’d better hurry up though. Christmas is coming fast and I know she’s got some last minute shopping and tree-trimming to do. Because as it happens, I might have accidently brushed against the Christmas tree a few minutes ago. Who knew it was that easy to make a tree fall over? The ones outside are a lot sturdier. So the fact that this fancy tree is on the ground isn’t my fault. Really. You can take my word for that.

You can read more about Tar in The Bark Before Christmas, the 18th book in the “Melanie Travis” mystery series, published by Kensington and available on September 29, 2015. The first book in the series is A Pedigree to Die For.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on Wednesday, September 30 for the chance to win a print copy of The Bark Before Christmas. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

About the author
Laurien Berenson is the author of thirty novels that have sold more than two million copies worldwide. Her cozy mystery series revolves around the world of dog shows, a milieu she knows well as her family has been involved in the sport of dogs for three generations. There are currently eighteen Melanie Travis canine mysteries, including the newest book, The Bark Before Christmas. The new e-book novella, A Christmas Howl, will be published in October.

Berenson is a four time winner of the Maxwell Award for Fiction from the Dog Writers Assoc. of America and a winner of the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. She is also an Agatha and Macavity nominee. Her work has appeared in The New York Times as well as numerous magazines. She is a graduate of Vassar College, and she and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky, surrounded by horses and dogs.

You can find Laurien at www.laurienberenson.com and on Facebook

80 responses to “Tar Speaks by Laurien Berenson

  1. Barbara Landrum

    Love the title of this book!

  2. Barbara Hackel

    Going to be another great book! With the adorable Westie on the cover it can’t help but be a hit! 😉 Thanks Dru and Laurien for the chance to win a copy!

  3. Oh what a cute, adorable little dog on the cover of this new book!!!! I have never read any books by this author, but am really looking forward to reading this one and then going back and reading all of the others in the series…I love, love, love to do that!!!! Sounds like a really awesome story!!! Thanks so much dearest Dru and Laurien for the chance to win this book!!! God bless you both!!!!

  4. Aww, I love the cover featuring the sweet little dog. This book sounds like one I will enjoy reading. Thank you for the giveaway.

  5. Ditto to the cute dog on the cover. I have not read anything by this author but I would like to. Thanks for the great offer.

  6. Good series, great cover and I love dog shows. Thanks for the giveaway.

  7. Never read any of this series. Actually anew author to me. Would love to have this in my collection so I can find the other books to read beforehand. Thank you for the chance. Love the cover too! ( Course love websites, poodles and yorkies 😉)


  9. Love the cover and book sounds wonderful! Thank you for introducing me to Laurien Berenson and The Bark Before Christmas.

  10. Love this series. Glad to see another one coming out.
    Would love to get this one now.

  11. I love hearing from Tar. As one who has owned one or more “less coordinated” dogs, I always laughed at how he was portrayed. Can’t wait for the new book to be released!

  12. Tar is a sweetheart, and everyone needs someone like him to lighten things up. Can’t wait for this book to come out. Thanks for the chance to win one. Annette Guerra

  13. Tar sounds like a misunderstood pup that has a well meaning heart. Thanks for posting the interview with him. I would love to be able to read this book. robeader53@yahoo.com

  14. Tar isn’t dumb he is just a typical male dog. That means all instinct and no sense but owning a heart of gold. Tar brings back memories of the very first black Standard I ever met many years ago. Happy memories.

  15. I love her books and can’t wait until this one comes out! I hope I win a copy!! Thanks for the opportunity.

  16. I love this series and have already pre-ordered the book, but would willingly take this one to pass along to a newbie and get them hooked. This one is very special to me because we just lost Dixie, my sweet Westie child, who was the most wonderful un-Westielike Westie ever. Love the cover!!

  17. I can’t wait to read this book! Thanks for the inside scoop, Tar! You are my kind of dog!

  18. Tar’s tale!

  19. I love Tar! He sounds like a sweetheart. I’ve read all the books in the series and have never been disappointed.

  20. Michelle Crean

    Tar, what the People don’t realize is, you are the really smart one of the pack and just choose not to let them see it!

  21. Jodi Hurd-Cavanagh

    I can’t wait for this one! Congratulations Laurien on what sounds like another great book

  22. Barbara Prichard

    So excited for another Melanie Travis adventure! I love these stories.

  23. Love, love, love this author. I have read and re-read the complete series. Olivia my boxer BFF and I are impatiantly waiting to read this next chapter. Keep them coming.

  24. Love Laurien’s books and I am sure this one will be just as good as the rest. Can’t wait to read it.

  25. Haha, love it! And I hope that, when my dogs are naughty, it is as unintentional as Tar’s “accidents”. I love all of the characters in this series and can’t wait to read this book!

  26. This looks like a real sweetheart of a book. Thanks.

  27. I’ve enjoyed this series since the very first book and always look forward to a new book.

  28. I have all your Melanie Travis books so far. I love them all.

  29. elainehroberson

    I’ve never tried this series, but it sounds like a great one. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

  30. I love this series! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  31. I love dogs.Would love to win a copy of this book!

  32. Thanks for giving Tar a chance to tell things from his side. As he states so clearly above, trouble just follows him around and none of it is his fault. I love the Melanie Travis mystery series and am eagerly awaiting the next book. I feel like I know Sam, Melanie, Aunt Peg, and all the other characters, although I have to say Aunt Peg would drive me crazy. I’m glad Melanie has to deal with her, not me.

  33. Even though I’m a cat person, I love this series, especially the relationship among the dogs, Melanie and Aunt Peg.

  34. I love Melanie Travis and I love Aunt Peg! She reminds me of my own grandmother. It’s a bonus to have standard poodles in the mix.

  35. I have loved (and collected) this series since the very beginning! Can’t wait to read this one.

  36. Can’t wait for this book to come out!!

  37. Sounds like a very cute book and taking place at christmas makes it xtra special,

  38. Thanks for the inside scoop, Tar. Can’t wait to read the whole story. As George of the Jungle used to say, “Watch out for that tree!”

  39. Rosemary Bennett

    I know I’ll love this book because I love all of them. And Tar, you cannot really be dumb. You wrote a very nice article. Besides Faith knows everything. Maybe you just aren’t so graceful because you’re so handsome. We can’t have everything.

  40. With a background of my own in the dog show world, I always enjoy Laurien’s books. Dogs and Christmas are sometimes a devastating combination, so I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens in this new adventure.

  41. Thank you all so much for your lovely comments about the this book and its cover, and the series!

  42. Margaret Utsey

    Love this series

  43. Can’t wait for the newest book in this series.

  44. Loved hearing about life in the Travis/Driver household from Tar’s perspective! Have loved this series from the beginning & can’t wait to read this one!

  45. Love every book, can’t wait to read this one!

  46. I li8ke the poodle’s perspective

  47. I like the idea! But really, isn’t Tar Sam’s dog technically? 😉

  48. Tar is the best poodle ever! I love him! Cannot wait for the new book!

  49. Jeanie Dannheim

    Haven’t read one yet, but Tar sounds like my kind of pup…things just seem to happen when entering a room….Oopsie! Meeting Kiltie, then looking for him, sounds like a great tail…uh, tale…

  50. I really like Luarien’s books and will be adding this book to my tbr list.

  51. MaryAnn Forbes

    Thanks for the opportunity to win The Bark Before Christmas; dogs, Christmas and a good mystery–can’t go wrong.📖📚

  52. Tar needs to put on his top knot and tail so he can start cracking this latest case! Favorite series! My spoos will be curled up as reading buddies for this newest adventure!

  53. Is anyone else charmed by a blog written by a Poodle? Well done, Tar! I’ve been enjoying Melanie for years and I’m eager to read this latest installment. Great cover!

  54. A Poodleful Christmas book sounds fantastic. i miss my Syrena Standards but am now enjoying Minis.

  55. Another great book with an adorable Westie on the cover. I love Tar’s interview. We have a male Golden with similar traits. Can’t help but love him! Thanks Dru and Laurien for the chance to win a copy! servedogmom@yahoo.com

  56. You, Laurien are my most favorite author! I have read every book in the series, plus others that are not part of the series. I wish you could write faster as I can’t get enough of your books! Looking forward to the new book, as I have always loved Tar. Thanks for this chance to win a copy!

  57. I worked 10 hours today then came home to hurry to my cardio workout. In the minute I had to sit down I checked Facebook. Saw that there were over 700 words to read in my favorite series! Loved the teaser–could hardly wait to read this! I am really looking forward to the latest in the Melanie Travis and Peg Turnbull series! Thank you for all the pleasurable hours spent savoring your books.

  58. So just hand over the book so we can get to reading. Stop this torment of waiting!

  59. Sounds like a great Holiday Read. Thanks.

  60. Nancy Roessner

    I really think Aunt Peg should give Melanie a break, but she’ll always find a way to get her involved in one of her schemes. I guess that makes life interesting. Love the series!

  61. I have read all the books in the series. Can’t wait for the next one.

  62. Christmas and dogs—what more could I ask for in a cozy. Thanks for the contest.

  63. I have some mad-binge-ing to do on this series!!!!
    Thank you for the giveaway….

  64. Love Melanie and the crew!! And Tar, you’re an amazing pooch!! I could read about your adventures with Casey, Faith, Eve and the others all day_!!

  65. I love Christmas mysteries.

  66. Laurie Mueller

    This book will likely be another favorite in my collection! Tar sounds a bit like my standard, Paxton. Pax has been known to turn so quickly and mindlessly that he whacks his muzzle against a door jamb!

  67. Michelle Fidler

    Haven’t read any of these and I don’t own any books by this author. I enjoy animal cozies.

  68. This sounds like a good plot.

  69. Thanks Laurien for commenting and interacting with my readers

    Contest is closed.