THE NUGGET by P.T. Deutermann

October 16, 2019

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World War II Navy Series, Book 6

is a retired Captain of the U.S. Navy who has found a brilliant second career as an accomplished author. Many of the books he has had published concern action by the Navy in different areas and also various periods. He also has a set of equally well written novels that do not concern the military, which are just as engrossing as the military novels. All in all, a man with a superb background and obviously a gift for telling a story, keeping his readers pinned to the book, and assuring his place as a writer in constant demand.

The Nugget is a story set during a period beginning with the outbreak of World War II for the United States. Bobby Steele is a graduate of Annapolis, the U.S. naval academy.  He has had a two-year assignment, after which he is sent to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii where he is assigned to an aircraft carrier. We meet him as he is awakened from a sleep aboard a ship by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and with this is run full tilt into high action.

Deutermann describes the first days of the war in the Pacific against the Japanese and the first victory against them at Midway. Bobby Steele plays his role in much of the action that actually took place during the first several years of the war. He is shot down twice, rescued each time, but eventually ends up in the Philippines. It is there that Bobby and the copilot that flew with him unable to return to U.S. forces work with the Philippine resistance forces against their Japanese invaders.

The Nugget is a book that successfully keeps the reader glued to a plot involving plenty of hair raising action with the incredible dangers of war, making sure that the reader must finish the book before attempting to go to sleep. A definite five star novel for an author who has plenty of them to his credit, with the certainty that more will follow.


10/19 Paul Lane

THE NUGGET by P.T. Deutermann. St. Martin’s Press (October 8, 2019). ISBN 978-1250205889. 320p.



IN HER SIGHTS by Katie Ruggle

October 15, 2019

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Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters, Book 1

From the publisher:

Five bounty-hunting sisters
Deep in the heart of the Rockies
Fighting to save each other
…and the men who steal their hearts

Bounty hunter Molly Pax fought hard for everything she has, turning the bail recovery business she shares with her sisters into an unqualified success. So when their sticky-fingered mother jumps bail and puts the childhood home up as collateral, Molly’s horrified. To make matters worse, every two-bit criminal in the Rockies now sees her family’s misfortune as their next big break.

She needs help, stat.

Enter rival bounty hunter John Carmondy: six feet of pure trouble, with a cocky grin to match. John’s the most cheerfully, annoyingly gorgeous frenemy Molly’s ever had the pleasure of defeating…and he may be her only hope of making it out of this mess alive.

Ruggle writes good romantic suspense, which I don’t always love because it often feels like the mystery was an afterthought. Not the case here, however. This introduction to a new series revolves around four sisters who all live together and run a bounty hunting business together. The romance in this story revolves around the eldest sister, Molly, and one of their competitors, John.

Molly’s sisters all realize that John has a major crush on Molly, but she is oblivious. Molly is working hard to keep the business going and their lives afloat, after their mother almost lost their house. That mother is quite an unusual character; I’ve seen cats that are better mothers. In fact, most cats are better mothers. She’s been in and out of jail and marriages, is completely self serving, and uninterested and uncaring about her daughters. It would be sad except the girls are doing fine despite their mother. Until she steals a very valuable necklace and puts them all in danger.

There were a few minor plot points that didn’t make sense to me but why quibble when a story is as fast moving and well written as this one. One of the mysteries is solved by the end, but the other is a cliff hanger, leaving me waiting impatiently for the next book in the series. Risk it All comes out 12/31/19. Guess what I’ll be doing this New Year’s Eve!

10/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

IN HER SIGHTS by Katie Ruggle. Sourcebooks Casablanca (March 26, 2019). ISBN 978-1492662495. 384p.



MET HER MATCH by Jude Deveraux

October 14, 2019

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From the publisher:

In small towns, no one lets the facts get in the way of juicy gossip…

Terri Rayburn is a girl with a reputation. She doesn’t deserve it, but having grown up on the outskirts of Summer Hill, Virginia, she knows how small towns work. The only way to deal with vicious gossip is to ignore it. So she keeps to herself as she runs the summer resort on Lake Kissel.

When she returns home from a short trip to find a handsome stranger living in her house, she smells a rat. Someone is trying to fix her up, and she has to admit that Nate Taggert is just her type. However, Nate is engaged to the daughter of the mayor and strictly off-limits.

Nate and Terri form an unlikely friendship while he throws himself into life at the lake. As Nate starts to hear rumors about Terri he’s confused. Knowing how smart, beautiful and strong she is, he’s determined to discover the source of the gossip. Terri doesn’t want to revisit the past, but Nate won’t stop until he discovers the truth—even if the truth might be more than either of them can handle.

Set in the beloved fictional town of Summer Hill, Virginia, Met Her Match examines the tensions between the wealthy townspeople, the summer vacationers and the working-class people who keep the town and resort running. Told with humor and heart, Met Her Match is the perfect summer escape.

I’ve only read a few of Jude Deveraux’s books because I don’t love her writing style. Reading this book reminded me of that. It’s a good story, but honestly it feels like it could be a young adult book if only the characters fit that profile. That said, this was a good story and a very quick read, so redeeming qualities for sure.

The secret from Terri’s past takes too long to get out, but it helps ramp up the tension. Nate also has baggage, but we know more about his as the story unfolds. Nate’s fiancee is named Stacy, which made it hard for me to hate her, but she is the antagonist of the story. Sort of. The characters were interesting and fairly well developed, and the small town setting showed the darker side of what I tend to think of as idyllic small town life. All in all, it was an entertaining read.

10/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MET HER MATCH by Jude Deveraux. MIRA; Original edition (September 17, 2019). ISBN 978-0778351245. 336p.



PURSUIT by Joyce Carol Oates

October 13, 2019

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The author, in many of her novels, has demonstrated a capacity to project the innermost feelings of the people she writes about. The Pursuit is definitely a study in one woman’s grasp of reality and how this affects her mother, and later her husband.

Abby is a reclusive young woman coming from the most traumatic of childhoods. She keeps to herself, afraid that contact with others will showcase her faults and drive them away. She dreams of coming upon a field with skeletons and a large skull, and a smaller one that she thinks of as the daddy and mommy skulls. Her mother and father disappeared one day leaving Abby to feel that they didn’t care for her and left to go live alone without her.

Not seeking companionship, Abby is surprised when a young man, Willem, seeks her out and eventually asks her to marry him.  She does so with a good deal of trepidation. The day after the wedding, as Abby is on her way to the University she is attending, she gets off the bus she is riding on and into traffic. She is hit by the same bus she was on and sent to the hospital. Willem, in love with Abby, begins investigating whether the incident was an accident or done on purpose by his wife.

Oates sets up the rest of her novel as a completely mesmerizing look into what is the deep-seated trauma that engulfs Abby, how was it initiated, what caused it, and how to bring it to rest. The workings of her mind become bared for the reader, and it becomes impossible to set the book down before solutions are arrived at, or not arrived at. And, of course where her trauma began.


10/19 Paul Lane

PURSUIT by Joyce Carol Oates. Mysterious Press (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-0802147912. 144p.




October 12, 2019

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Isaacs presents her latest published novel, and it is certainly one that continues her practice of giving her readers an engrossing book, which instantly draws them into the action.

A native New Yorker, the author does center the action in that area of the U.S. Corie Geler is a woman who, at the beginning of her working life, became a member of the FBI. She had studied the Arabic language while in college, and became a very valuable agent due to that expertise.

Corie retired shortly before the novel begins, with the aim of having a personal life. She did meet a man that had lost his wife due to illness, fell in love, and the pair married. She adopted Josh Geller’s 14-year-old daughter a year after they married, and her current life is supervising the girl and tending to running her house. She also does an occasional job as a contractor for the FBI using her Arabic skills. And at the same time, she acts as an agent for several publishers of Arabic literature looking to have their books translated and sold in English into the English speaking world.

Corie has gotten into the custom of going for lunch with a group of people living in her hometown of Shorehaven, on Long Island, and who also have the advantage of being able to work a business from home. They meet, exchange ideas making the shared luncheons a social event. But Corie’s FBI instincts kick in when she begins to feel that one of the group is more than a little strange, and begins to examine him.

Pete Delaney indicates that he is a package designer doing a bit of traveling to customers in order to present his products to them. But his habits do cause alarm in Corie’s FBI trained mind, and this is reinforced by what she does uncover.

Isaac’s style is somewhat tongue in cheek and quite engaging to the reader. The book becomes one that cannot be put down, and when finished, makes her readers quite ready for her next novel. Well done and a good read.

10/19 Paul Lane

TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE by Susan Isaacs. Atlantic Monthly Press (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-0802147554. 288p.


ANYTHING BUT A DUKE by Christy Carlyle

October 11, 2019

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The Duke’s Den, Book 2

From the publisher:

Self-made man Aidan Iverson has seen more closed doors in his thirty years than he’s ever cared to count. As a member of the elite Duke’s Den, he has all the money he could possibly need but the one thing he can’t purchase is true power. If roguish Aidan can’t buy his way into society’s hallowed halls, he’ll resort to a more extreme measure: marriage.

Brought up to be a proper lady, the only thing Diana Ashby desires is to be left alone to the creation of her own devices. But when her dreams are crushed, she must find another way to secure the future of her invention. Knowing his desire to enter her world, Diana strikes a deal to arrange Aidan’s marriage to the perfect lady—as long as that lady isn’t her. She doesn’t need any distractions from her work, particularly of the sinfully handsome variety.

As Diana and Aidan set out to find him an aristocratic match, neither are prepared for the passion that ignites between them or the love they can’t ignore.

In the Duke’s Den, can happiness ever be a winning prospect?

I really liked the first book in this series, A Duke Changes Everything, but I don’t think they need to be read in order. This one stands on its own quite well.

Aidan has had a troubled upbringing, to say the least. But by sheer determination, hard work, and a bit of luck, he is now one of the wealthiest men in London. But he is not of the aristocracy, and soon that becomes his most ardent goal. He wants to be recognized by the peerage, and he figures the only way to do that is to marry royalty. Since so many title holders are broke, it seems like an easy feat. Until he meets Diana.

Diana lost the father she adored. He was an inventor, and she seems to have inherited that ability, and is bound and determined to make a success of at least one of her inventions. Her mother, on the other hand, only wants her to marry well. Well enough to support the family, as her father’s bad business decisions has left them not very well off. Diana strikes a deal with Aidan; she will introduce him to her friends in society, if he will finance one of her inventions. It seems like a really good plan, except for the chemistry between Aidan and Diana, which is throwing a major wrench into the project.

I thoroughly enjoyed the second book of this series, and I’m looking forward to the third. Carlyle is a good storyteller, she kept me turning the pages until I reached the happily every after.

10/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ANYTHING BUT A DUKE by Christy Carlyle.  Avon (April 30, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062853974. 368p.




October 10, 2019

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An Andy Carpenter Mystery, Book 20

In my recollection, there has never been a bad book featuring Andy Carpenter and his assorted team of assistants. This novel is certainly not an exception to the rule. It does, however, go a step further and delivers a story that connects in every which way, and if not his best, is certainly among David Rosenfelt’s top novels.

The basic idea is the same; Andy has inherited a large sum of money and really does not want to work. He is married to Laurie, his true love, they have a son, and of course two dogs that he walks while he thinks. He then is faced with a case to prove someone is not guilty of the murder of which they have been accused.

The present volume is released in time for Christmas, and the holiday spirit permeates the book. Laurie has developed the custom of filling the wishes of children that are undoubtedly poor. A pet store near the Carpenter’s home normally puts up a Christmas tree and allows children to place their wishes on it, instead of having ornaments. Laurie takes the wishes and gets the children what they wished for, delivering it confidentially.

One of the lists is from a boy named Danny, who would like a coat for his mother, a sweater for his dachshund, and to bring home his father, who has suddenly disappeared. The first two wishes are easy to fulfill when the answer to the third one becomes suddenly apparent. Danny’s father is arrested for murder.

The crime is 14 years old and never solved, but the DNA of the possible killer was located on the dead girl’s body and around the scene.  Noah, Danny’s father, has no criminal record so that his DNA, which was that found, has never been identified. Unfortunately, Noah’s brother sends a sample of his DNA to a website that matches DNA with possible groups, and of course, Noah is identified and arrested.

Andy has to take the case because it was part of Danny’s wishes. While the normal banter between Andy and others takes place, the handling of the case in court is a lesson in the scientific handling of DNA as evidence in police work. This sequence does take the novel to an area that is beyond the norm in Rosenfelt’s work. A very well done novel.

10/19 Paul Lane

DACHSHUND THROUGH THE SNOW by David Rosenfelt. Minotaur Books (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-1250237682. 352p.



ROYAL HOLIDAY by Jasmine Guillory

October 9, 2019

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 Wedding Date Series, Book 4

From the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal and a “rising star in the romance genre” (Entertainment Weekly) comes a dazzling new novel about a spontaneous holiday vacation that turns into an unforgettable romance.

Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality.

Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling.

Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they?

Guillory has given us a holiday gift with her latest, especially for women of a certain age? The heroine is the mother of one of the characters featured in a previous romance, and I must admit, it really hits home with me seeing a man and woman find happiness, even after their children are grown. Everyone knows someone who married, or usually remarried, later in life, but those types of couples are woefully underrepresented in romance novels. Many years ago, Ann Patchett’s mother, Jeanne Ray, wrote a few books centered around middle age and older couples. My favorite was her first, Julie & Romeo, loosely based on Shakespeare but contemporary, with a middle aged romance at the heart of the story.

Vivian and Malcolm are wonderful characters, fully brought to life on the pages of this sweet book. I thought this story was going to be more of a mother-daughter story, but that was not the case. The romance was front and center, and I was delighted.

I love this time of year, when all the holiday romances start popping up, although I’m still waiting for a Chanukah romance! This is another terrific addition to Guillory’s series, one of my favorites.

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ROYAL HOLIDAY by Jasmine Guillory. Berkley (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-1984802217. 304p.



CONCLUSION by Peter Robertson

October 8, 2019

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In his latest novel, Robertson has postulated an interesting variation on the science fiction theme of artificially extended human life. It is termed a “meld,” and involves a procedure that will allow the recipient to live 20 years from the date of planting in the body with the added benefit of contracting no diseases. Upon the final day of the allotted two decades, the individual will pass away quietly and with no real pain. The custom, as outlined in the author’s novel, is for most individuals to go for testing on their 55th birthday and if they have no mortal illnesses they will be “melded.”

Colin Tugdale has only one year to live under the terms of the Meld agreement and has already accompanied his wife Ruby to her death by suicide in order not to undergo the meld “conclusion.”  By coincidence, he then meets two people that throw his beliefs into chaos. The first is a man that “died” at the end of his 20 years, and another a woman that hacked her way via computer into taking the treatment when she is physically not qualified to have it. The man is seen calmly walking around in public, and the woman initiates contact with Colin with the two falling in love.

The novel touches on the feelings of people facing the end of their lives with the certain knowledge that it will come at a date known to them. The question of how one “dead” man and a sick woman are where they are touches on the real possibility of corruption existing in the selection process, and if this life and death activity is really subject to illegal maneuvering.

A very different novel, one that is beyond any doubt a book that cannot be put down until done, and of course, a story that will cause the reader to seek Robertson’s future works.

10/19 Paul Lane

CONCLUSION by Peter Robertson. Gibson House Press; None edition (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-1948721042. 256p.


MY PLAIN JANE by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows & Brodi Ashton

October 6, 2019

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From the publisher:

Move over, Charlotte Brontë. The authors of the New York Times bestselling My Lady Jane are back with an irreverent spin on Jane Eyre—a tale of mischief, romance, and supernatural mayhem perfect for fans of The Princess Bride or A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

There are three main plot lines at work in this supernatural twist on the classic novel Jane Eyre: Charlotte Brontë who, longing for adventure, follows her best friend Jane to Thornfield Hall; Jane Eyre the orphaned governess who can also see ghosts; and Alexander Blackwood an agent of the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits.  Honestly it was all kind of a convoluted mess to me.

Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite books so venturing into a remix of that book was bound to be dangerous territory for me.  Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester’s characters are so unrecognizable that it seems a stretch to even call this a Jane Eyre retelling. The Jane in this book is depicted as boy crazy and lacks the strength and independence that is so integral to the character.  I know that this book is a comedy, but I never want to see Jane Eyre describe Mr. Rochester’s hair as “floppy” again.  There were also numerous cases where it felt like the authors had simply watched a television or movie adaptation of Jane Eyre instead of referring to the source material.

The writing style of My Plain Jane also took some time to adjust to. There are lots of asides from the authors and it is all liberally sprinkled with pop culture references to everything from the Princess Bride to the Lord of the Rings. With so many plot lines and humorous references competing for attention the novel seemed to ultimately lack focus.

To be fair, I seem to be in the minority in not enjoying this second installment of The Lady Janies series.  Both My Lady Jane and My Plain Jane have received lots of buzz and positive reviews in the Young Adult book world.  For me, however, the humor fell flat, the plot was convoluted, and the authors strayed so far from the spirit of Jane Eyre that I wondered why they made the choice to use it as source material at all.

MY PLAIN JANE by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows & Brodi Ashton. HarperTeen (June 26, 2018). ISBN 9780062652775. 464p.