THE SUMMER JOB by Lizzy Dent

June 21, 2021

From the publisher:

Named a Best Beach Read by CosmopolitanEntertainment WeeklyNew York PostBustleCountry LivingParadeFortune, and more.

Beach Read meets Sweetbitter in this laugh-out-loud and ultimately heartwarming debut of a good friend’s very bad decision and the summer job that stands to ruin or make her life.

What if you could be someone else? Just for the summer…

Birdy has made a mistake. Everyone imagines running away from their life at some point. But Birdy has actually done it. And the life she’s run into is her best friend Heather’s. The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather.

The summer job at the highland Scottish hotel that her world class wine-expert friend ditched turns out to be a lot more than Birdy bargained for. Can she survive a summer pretending to be her best friend? And can Birdy stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked, but who thinks she’s someone else?

One good friend’s very bad decision is at the heart of this laugh-out-loud love story and unexpected tale of a woman finally finding herself in the strangest of places.

Birdy offers to help out her best friend Heather by cancelling her summer job as the sommelier at Loch Dorn for her. Heather is chasing some guy across Europe, and Birdy likes free drinks so she attends a party in Heather’s stead by using her name.

The lies start there but really get out of control when Birdy doesn’t cancel Heather’s job, but shows up in her place. Free room and board for the summer seems like the best deal she’s going to get, but with one small hitch; Birdy knows nothing about wine.

James is the sous chef and is kind to the newcomer. Birdy finds him very attractive and before you know it, a romance is born in a bed of lies. No good can come of that, at least not without a lot of trouble and that is half the fun of this story.

I couldn’t help but like Birdy, despite all her lies, and wanted her to get her happy ending. James is a good guy, and their romance starts off slowly but builds as the summer flies by. I loved the Scottish setting and the characters, and there is a lot of humor, too. This was a really fun read, especially for a debut, and I look forward to more from this new author. Rumor has it that a TV adaptation is in the works!

THE SUMMER JOB by Lizzy Dent. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (May 18, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593328118. 384 pages.








June 20, 2021

From the publisher:

A woman desperate to turn a new page heads to the Scottish coast and finds herself locked in a battle of wills with an infuriatingly aloof bookseller in this utterly heartwarming debut, perfect for readers of Evvie Drake Starts Over.

Thea Mottram is having a bad month. She’s been let go from her office job with no notice—and to make matters even worse, her husband of nearly twenty years has decided to leave her for one of her friends.

Bewildered and completely lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But when she learns that a distant great uncle in Scotland has passed away, leaving her his home and a hefty antique book collection, she decides to leave Sussex for a few weeks. Escaping to a small coastal town where no one knows her seems to be exactly what she needs.

Almost instantly, Thea becomes enamored with the quaint cottage, comforted by its cozy rooms and lovely but neglected garden. The locals in nearby Baldochrie are just as warm, quirky, and inviting.

The only person she can’t seem to win over is bookshop owner Edward Maltravers, to whom she hopes to sell her uncle’s book collection. His gruff attitude—fueled by an infamous, long-standing feud with his brother, a local lord—tests Thea’s patience. But bickering with Edward proves oddly refreshing and exciting, leading Thea to develop feelings she hasn’t experienced in a long time.

As she follows a thrilling yet terrifying impulse to stay in Scotland indefinitely, Thea realizes that her new life may quickly become just as complicated as the one she was running from.

I have never been to Scotland, but ever since I read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, I’ve wanted to go. Reading books set in Scotland is as close as I’ve gotten. While this book is set in Scotland, it feels more like Any Small Town Anywhere. I’m not complaining exactly, I like books set in small towns. A little more definitive Scotland would have added to the story for me.

This is a very slow moving romance. Thea meets Edward when she applies for a job in his bookshop. He has never hired a woman because he is afraid of relationships basically. They butt heads a lot but slowly become friends. Thea would like something more but neither of them are in any kind of hurry.

I didn’t really understand Thea. Her marriage falls apart because her husband decides he’s in love with her friend, yet she seems very calm about the whole thing. Stiff upper lip and all that. Edward is another cipher. I didn’t really understand either of them and just wasn’t invested in their happiness.

This was just too slow for me. While there is some charm here, there is not much humor. I did enjoy the book aspects of the story but that just wasn’t enough. The “will he or won’t he” takes pretty much the entire book before they very rapidly decide they are in love and finally get their happily ever after.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE BOOKSHOP OF SECOND CHANCES by Jackie Fraser. Ballantine Books (May 4, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593355657. 448 pages.








June 19, 2021

A Single Dad, a Woman Grieving, and a Beautiful Contemporary Western Romance

Creedence Horse Rescue, Book 2

From the publisher:

“I don’t think I could stay away from you if I tried.”
He shook his head.
“And I have been trying. I told myself not to go to your house tonight.
I ordered my hand not to hold yours.
But apparently I can’t control myself when it comes to you, Elle Brooks.”

When a kitchen fire forces young widow Elle Brooks to move in with her friend Bryn and her motley collection of rescue animals, she doesn’t foresee ending up in the muscled arms of handsome cowboy and veterinarian Brody Tate. Spending time with the hunky cowboy and his adorable young daughter as they rehabilitate rescued horses reminds Elle of all she lost in a car crash years ago.

Brody is devoted to being a good dad for his spirited daughter. He hasn’t let romance even enter his head. But now he’s met Elle. Spending time with her is shaking up the calm he’s worked so hard to achieve, and he can’t seem to get this woman off his mind.

This author was new to me and as usual, I missed the first book in this series. But this book stood alone beautifully; I wouldn’t have known I missed anything.

Brody is a vet and a volunteer fireman, not to mention a widower for several years and the dad of a sweet young daughter. He’s visiting a friend when he spots a fire across the street. He saves Bryn from her kitchen fire, and their attraction is palpable. Bryn is a young widow, and neither of them are looking for a relationship, but the attraction is too big to deny.

In addition to being a vet, Brody also runs an animal rehab. (I think he may walk on water in his spare time.) I couldn’t help rooting for this couple to get past all their hurdles and get together. This is a sweet romance, not as sad as it may sound being they both lost their spouses. There is some humor as well. All in all, this book was a good read, good enough for me to go find the first book in the series, A Cowboy State of Mind. I found the ebook on Hoopla, courtesy of my library.

If you like cowboys and animals as much as I do, you will enjoy this romance!

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WHEN A COWBOY LOVES A WOMAN by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (March 30, 2021) Amara (March 9, 2021). ISBN: 978-1492689140. 336 pages.







Cerebration: June 18, 2021

June 18, 2021

40 Years and Counting…

First dance

Today is my 40th wedding anniversary. There was a time when I thought I would never get to say that, not because we weren’t getting along or anything, but because of my husband’s heart issues. So I am beyond grateful to have had all these years with the best man I know.

I thought I would challenge myself to come up with 40 reasons why my marriage has lasted. In no particular order…

Leaving Epcot, hand in hand
Enjoying a glass of wine
We love Broadway
My family
Our newest family member!

1. We love one another
2. We say “I love you” pretty much every day
3. We always kiss hello and goodbye
4. We communicate regularly throughout the day
5. We treat each other with respect
6. He has made me laugh pretty much every day since we’ve been together – over 46 years!
7. We share similar values & morals
8. We often hold hands
9. Our world revolves around one another and our children
10. He is a wonderful son (how a man treats his mother is a good yardstick)
11 He was an amazing son-in-law; my step-dad was his best friend
12. His thoughtfulness continues to amaze me and he is always considerate of my feelings
13. He is a wonderful father, which I can now see reflected in how our son is with his son
14. We have separate interests; he rarely reads a book anymore and I read a book a day; he loves hiking in the Everglades. I went once, it rained and the tent leaked. That was it for me
15. We both like car camping!
16. We both love the beach
17. We both love his Jeep, especially taking the top off and driving down A1A (next to the beach)
18. My mom used to say that we complement each other, and she was right
19. He has been incredibly supportive of whatever I want to do. I was a stay-at-home mom for 12 years, then I got a job at Borders with crazy hours, got a job at the library, went back to college then library school. He has supported me – financially, emotionally – through all of it
20. We like some of the same TV shows and movies, but I love rom-coms and he rarely watches those. He loves sci-fi and I rarely watch those. Doesn’t matter
21. We both watch a lot of MSNBC & read lots of news and discuss
22 We have similar political beliefs
23. I am a spender and he is a saver; it works for us
24. He’s calm and laidback; I am not
25. He is really good at helping me rein in my crazy and often does
26. When I’m upset, he can calm me down; I try to do the same for him
27. While we are not the same religion, he has always been incredibly supportive, even though it’s not what he believes
28. He can fix pretty much anything, and I am most appreciative of that
29. He eats whatever I cook and is always kind about it. If he doesn’t like something, he won’t criticize or say anything. I’ve learned to ask, “Do you want me to make that again?” if I want to know the truth
30. We both love good wine and finding new ones to enjoy
31. I used to joke that he married me so he wouldn’t have to answer the phone. Now that we have cell phones, that ship has sailed.
32. He used to joke that he married me because I talk enough for the both of us. He still doesn’t talk as much as I do, but he speaks up when it counts
33. We both love Disneyworld
34. We both dream of going back to Italy* (we went for our 3rd anniversary)
35. He carries around my first passport photo, circa 1987ish, in his wallet and swears I still look like that (I do not!)
36. We try very hard not to take each other for granted
37. He never forgets a birthday or anniversary (because I put them on his calendar!)
38. When we met I was 17 and he was 19 – we grew up together
39. He makes me feel cherished every single day
40. He is the love of my life!

*We had planned to spend two weeks in Sicily for our 40th anniversary, but the pandemic put the kibosh on that. Now we have our first grandchild who lives in Brooklyn, so I think all of our vacations are going to be visiting NY to see the baby!

THE STEPSISTERS by Susan Mallery

June 17, 2021

From the publisher:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery pens a love story of a different sort…a heartfelt tale of friendship between two women who used to be sisters.

Once upon a time, when her dad married Sage’s mom, Daisy was thrilled to get a bright and shiny new sister. But Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.

Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts—she had to go back a grade to enroll in the fancy rich-kid school. So she used her popularity as a weapon, putting Daisy down to elevate herself. After the divorce, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final, improbable straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled California.

Eighteen years, two kids and one troubled marriage later, Daisy never expects—or wants—to see Sage again. But when the little sister they have in common needs them both, they put aside their differences to care for Cassidy. As long-buried truths are revealed, no one is more surprised than they when friendship blossoms.

Their fragile truce is threatened by one careless act that could have devastating consequences. They could turn their backs on each other again…or they could learn to forgive once and for all and finally become true sisters of the heart.

I love Susan Mallery books, and this is a really good one. I feel like she usually writes romances, and while this does have a bit of romance, it is really more about a family and women and friendship. It is the kind of story that sucks you in and I couldn’t put it down.

Daisy is the main character and like all these characters, they really come to life on the page. A little background – when her widowed father remarries, she gets a stepsister, Sage. Daisy is thrilled to have a new sister but quickly learns that Sage isn’t. But Sage is beautiful and quickly becomes popular, helping to ostracize Daisy and making her high school years miserable. Her father and stepmother have a baby, Cassidy. Again Daisy wants to be a big sister to the new baby, but her stepmother is not having it. Cassidy and Sage team up against Daisy, and make her life difficult. Eventually, Daisy’s father divorces her stepmother and the girls are permanently estranged.

They are all adults in this story, and Daisy has been married for a dozen years to Sage’s ex-high school boyfriend, and they have two kids. Daisy thinks everything is fine so she is shocked when her husband suddenly moves out with no explanation. Then she gets a phone call from her father; Cassidy has been in a mountain climbing accident, and needs a place to recover. Since Daisy inherited the big mansion from her parents, she definitely has the room and can’t say no to her father.

With Cassidy firmly ensconced in the family home, Sage becomes a regular visitor and the girls start talking. There is still a lot of resentment but with time, they form new bonds. But then just when you think the happy ending is coming, there’s a twist. Actually, a few twists, making this book completely unputdownable. It’s a heartwarming read sure to appeal to fans of Elin Hilderbrand or Jennifer Weiner.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE STEPSISTERS by Susan Mallery. MIRA; Original edition (May 25, 2021). ISBN: 978-0778331803. 416 pages.








June 16, 2021


Welcome to Thorndale, Book 3

From the publisher:

An uplifting and feel-good romance to fall in love with

Sparks and tempers fly when Ben comes to stay in Daisy’s holiday cottage

Daisy likes routine. She goes to work, makes dinner for her son, then loses herself for an hour or two in her sewing. She’s not looking for change, until Ben crashes – literally – into her life.

Ben is training for a triathlon, working himself to the limit in an attempt to forget a recent trauma. Daisy wants to help, but even as they draw closer with every week that passes, he pushes her away whenever things threaten to get serious.

Can Ben open himself up to love again? And with Daisy’s life in the Yorkshire Dales and Ben’s in New York, can they have a future together even if he does?

I haven’t read this author before so I didn’t read the first two books in the series. I never felt like I was missing anything, and in fact, didn’t even realize it was part of a series until I starting working on this review. To me, that says a lot about the author’s skill of creating a book that is part of a series, but can be read as a standalone.

That said, this book was slow going. Ben has some serious issues, and try as she will, Daisy can’t seem to break through his walls. For every step forward it felt like there were at least two steps back. Most romances follow a basic formula; boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back again. Or vice versa. But this boy did not get the girl until the end. I did love the ending of the book, and I liked how Ben and Daisy both helped one another to overcome their own personal obstacles. FYI, there is no sex, only a few kisses if that matters to you.

I liked the characters, I loved the small English village setting, and the ending was perfect. If you like slower paced narratives with a happy ending, then this is your book.

NOTE: Library users, I found this ebook on Hoopla!

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A SUMMER OF SECOND CHANCES by Suzanne Snow. Canelo Escape (June 10, 2020). ISBN:  978-1800324992. 221 pages.





THE DEVIL’S OWN by Liana LeFey

June 15, 2021

THE DEVIL’S OWN by Liana LeFey. Entangled: Amara (June 14, 2021). ASIN: B0893QHX7F. 228 pages.




HIGHLAND HERO by Cynthia Breeding

June 14, 2021

HIGHLAND HERO by Cynthia Breeding. Entangled: Amara (June 14, 2021). ASIN : B094GSXWNF. 264 pages.




ANNE OF MANHATTAN by Brina Starler

June 13, 2021

From the publisher:

L. M. Montgomery’s classic tale, Anne of Green Gables, gets a romantic, charming, and hilarious modern adaptation, set in New York City.

After an idyllic girlhood in Avonlea, Long Island, Anne has packed up her trunk, said goodbye to her foster parents, Marilla and Matthew, and moved to the isle of Manhattan for grad school. Together with her best friend, Diana Barry, she’s ready to take on the world and find her voice as a writer.

When her long-time archrival Gilbert Blythe shows up at Redmond College for their final year, Anne gets the shock of her life. Gil has been in California for the last five years—since he kissed her during a beach bonfire, and she ghosted him. Now the handsome brunette is flashing his dimples at her like he hasn’t a care in the world and she isn’t buying it.

Paired with the same professor for their thesis, the two former competitors come to a grudging peace that turns into something so much deeper…and sexier than either intended. But when Gil seemingly betrays her to get ahead, Anne realizes she was right all along—she should never have trusted Gilbert Blythe.

While Gil must prove to Anne that they’re meant to be together, she must come to terms with her old fears if she wants a happily-ever-after with the boy she’s always (secretly) loved.

Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite books, so I tend to like stories based on those characters. This was a pretty good update to the story.

Avonlea has been moved to the Hamptons from its rightful place on Prince Edward Island, Canada, which I was fine with. The thing I was most concerned with was the integrity of these characters, and Starler did them justice. I haven’t read the sequels to Anne of Green Gables since I was a child, so I don’t really remember them which probably stood me well now; the fewer details I remember means a better book for me. So I was happy. I liked seeing this 21st century Anne!

Anne and Gilbert are still at odds, but they are old enough now to realize their attraction to one another. But all that baggage has left Anne leery, no matter what her heart wants. They have obstacles to overcome to reach their happily every after, and there are many of them. The story is fast paced and for me, emotional, as I love these characters so much. I may have a few quibbles with minor details, but all in all, I really liked this book. If you haven’t read the Montgomery books, it won’t matter, this book certainly stands alone. But do yourself a favor and at least read the original.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ANNE OF MANHATTAN by Brina Starler. William Morrow Paperbacks (June 1, 2021). ISBN: 978-0063020740. 336 pages.







MAYBE ONE DAY by Debbie Johnson

June 12, 2021

From the publisher:

In the spirit of Ruth Hogan and Adriana Trigiani, bestselling British author Debbie Johnson brings us the ultimate in “happy tears”: a heartfelt story about a woman seizing the chance to reconnect with her lost love.

The truth changes everything.

For years Jess believed that Joe—the father of her child and the only man she ever loved—had abandoned her during her greatest time of need. That belief nearly destroyed her. Seventeen years later, when cleaning out her mother’s house, Jess unpacks a box of cards and letters hidden in the attic and makes a discovery that changes everything about life as she knows it.

Shaken but empowered, Jess—and her two stalwart best friends—set out on a remarkable journey to follow a set of faded postmarks around the world. Is Joe still alive? Does he know that Jess never forgot him? Maybe their love story isn’t over.

Maybe one day they’ll find each other again…

A comparison to Adriana Trigiani always grabs my attention (Note to Ade: babe, you are way overdue for your next book!)

This was such an emotional read. There is so much heart to this story and sorrow and even some laughs that it just feels completely captivating. I couldn’t help but get involved with these characters.

Having parents do something despicable is very much in my world view having lived that, so it was not at all far fetched for me to believe the basic premise of the story. The road trip to romance was appropriate and really well done. The characters come to life on the page and their story was terrific. This isn’t a light read, but a well thought out plot with believability, always a good combination, and a lot of heart. I loved it.

I didn’t recall reading this author before, so I dug around on my Kindle and found one of the books from an earlier series, The Comfort Food Cafe, but I need the earlier books. I think I’d like to read them in order. I love finding new authors, even if they are only new to me!

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MAYBE ONE DAY by Debbie Johnson. William Morrow Paperbacks (March 2, 2021). ISBN: 978-0063003651. 384 pages.