JUST THIS ONCE by Mira Lynn Kelly

October 20, 2018

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The Wedding Date Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

He can’t have her.
So he moves in with her…
What could possibly go wrong?

As heir to a chain of luxury hotels, Sean Wyse III always gets what he wants. So when he sees a freeloading roommate taking advantage of his spunky best friend, Molly Brandt, he doesn’t hesitate to step in. He kicks out the roommate…and moves himself in.

Molly loves quality time with Sean, but spending nights with him one wall away threatens to wake the crush she thought she’d gotten over. A crush Sean knows nothing about, which might be a problem…considering how hard Sean’s been working never to think of Molly that way.

The Wedding Date series:
May the Best Man Win (Book 1)
The Wedding Date Bargain (Book 2)
Just this Once (Book 3)
The Decoy Date (Book 4)


This is my first read by Mira Lynn Kelly, and I will definitely be back for more. I loved these characters and couldn’t help rooting for them. There was enough twists and hurdles to keep the pages turning, and some laughs, too.  I didn’t feel like I missed a thing by having started this series with the third book but I am looking for the previous books in the series, just because I think I will enjoy them.

If you want a fast escape and some lighthearted fare with a happy ending, look no further.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

JUST THIS ONCE by Mira Lynn Kelly. Avon; Reissue edition (September 25, 2018). ISBN 978-0062741837. 384p.

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GRIN AND BEARD IT by Penny Reid

October 19, 2018

Winston Brothers Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!

Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.

But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston.

Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often.

Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?


This was the first book I’ve read from this author. It was recommended to me by one of my library patrons, we often share books that we enjoy and I was very happy she told me about this one.

The celebrity being appreciated for herself (or himself) is not that uncommon a ploy in romances, and Reid does a really good job of it here. I liked all the characters and their relationships, from Sienna’s sister-manager and co-star/ex-boyfriend to Jethro’s brothers and co-workers. Their chemistry was off the charts and even though this book was written before the current #MeToo movement and the obvious, strongly written consent in current romances, it was there (copyright 2016). And it was Jethro who was putting on the brakes, which usually makes for an unbelievable storyline, but not here. I bought it all.

This was somehow still a hot romance, even though there were few sex scenes, but I enjoyed the humor the most, there were a lot of laughs here. If you like funny, contemporary romances, check out this book.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

GRIN AND BEARD IT by Penny Reid. EverAfter Romance (March 23, 2018). ISBN 978-1635764871. 404p.

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MR. NICE GUY by Jennifer Miller & Jason Feifer

October 18, 2018

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A writing duo writing about dueling writers brings a singular perspective to this charming New York City–centric novel.

Lucas Callahan is the eponymous “nice guy” who is new to the city and thrilled when he has his first one-night stand. Unbeknownst to him, his partner, Carmen Kelly, is a coworker at Empire magazine, where he toils as a fact checker and she is the uberpopular sex columnist. Lucas learns this when he reads about their encounter in the magazine.

Mortified, he pens a scathing response and signs it “Mr. Nice Guy.” To his surprise, the magazine publishes it, and he and Carmen continue to date and write about their encounters. The column breathes new life into the magazine, and Lucas and Carmen forge a relationship of sorts that transforms as they both change and grow. Political intrigue at the magazine adds to the drama, but there are plenty of laughs as well.

VERDICT This first-time effort from author and journalist Miller (The Year of the Gadfly) and spouse Feifer, a journalist and blogger, offers a fun read that is sure to satisfy admirers of Sophie Kinsella and Meg Cabot.

©Library Journal, 2018.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MR. NICE GUY by Jennifer Miller & Jason Feifer. St. Martin’s Griffin (October 16, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250189882.  400p.

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WINTER IN PARADISE by Elin Hilderbrand

October 17, 2018

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Paradise, Book 1 with a meaningli

Hilderbrand leaves her beloved Nantucket and moves to another beach community, this time in the Virgin Islands on St. John. It is a seamless transition, and this is a terrific start to a new trilogy.

There is a slight relationship to the Winter Street series; Irene Steele, our heroine, is a second cousin to Winter Street’s Mitzi Quinn. But that is neither here nor there because we are quickly drawn into Irene’s life. She’s 57 and just been “promoted” at work to a pointless position with a meaningless title, no real responsibility or decision making ability, probably in hopes that she will retire so the next generation can take over. Her husband, Russ, is away yet again on business, leaving Irene to take care of her ailing mother-in-law who is ensconced in a lovely, caring assisted living facility. Her two sons, Baker and Cash, are grown, don’t get along especially well, and are off living their own lives.

Irene is a woman at loose ends, that is until she receives a phone call telling her that her husband has been killed in a helicopter crash in the Virgin Islands. His secretary, with the unfortunate name of Marilyn Monroe, doesn’t have much information and what she has is sketchy. Then she disappears.

Irene is shocked to discover that Russ’s boss has claimed his body and had him cremated. Not to be put off, she flies to the island with her sons, determined to find out what happened. Why was her husband even in the Virgin Islands? She’s been told he has “interests” there, whatever that means.

As Churchill once said, this is “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” and it makes for compelling reading. We quickly learn that Russ owns a home – a multi-million dollar home – on the beach in St. John’s, where he is known as the “invisible man.” Irene is even more distraught when she learns he had a mistress there. His secrets are unraveling and so is Irene’s life.

This was a one night read for me, I couldn’t put it down. I loved these characters and can’t wait to see what happens next – the book leaves many loose ends. I’m just sad I’m going to have to wait a year to find out more!

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WINTER IN PARADISE by Elin Hilderbrand. Little, Brown and Company (October 9, 2018). ISBN 978-0316435512.  320p.

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UNSHELTERED by Barbara Kingsolver

October 16, 2018

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From the publisher:

The New York Times bestselling author of Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, and The Poisonwood Bible and recipient of numerous literary awards—including the National Humanities Medal, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Orange Prize—returns with a timely novel that interweaves past and present to explore the human capacity for resiliency and compassion in times of great upheaval.

How could two hardworking people do everything right in life, a woman asks, and end up destitute? Willa Knox and her husband followed all the rules as responsible parents and professionals, and have nothing to show for it but debts and an inherited brick house that is falling apart. The magazine where Willa worked has folded; the college where her husband had tenure has closed. Their dubious shelter is also the only option for a disabled father-in-law and an exasperating, free-spirited daughter. When the family’s one success story, an Ivy-educated son, is uprooted by tragedy he seems likely to join them, with dark complications of his own.

In another time, a troubled husband and public servant asks, How can a man tell the truth, and be reviled for it? A science teacher with a passion for honest investigation, Thatcher Greenwood finds himself under siege: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting work just published by Charles Darwin. His young bride and social-climbing mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his worries that their elegant house is unsound. In a village ostensibly founded as a benevolent Utopia, Thatcher wants only to honor his duties, but his friendships with a woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor threaten to draw him into a vendetta with the town’s powerful men.

Unsheltered is the compulsively readable story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey, navigating what seems to be the end of the world as they know it. With history as their tantalizing canvas, these characters paint a startlingly relevant portrait of life in precarious times when the foundations of the past have failed to prepare us for the future.


Anytime Kingsolver publishes a book, it is an event, especially a new novel, and this one was worth the wait. That said, it probably helps that my politics align with hers. If you are unfamiliar with Kingsolver, she gently weaves issues throughout her novels. She is adept at doing so without hitting the reader over the head with a sledgehammer; it’s more like a Nerf bat.

The book moves back and forth between centuries, and I loved the device she used of taking the last words of one chapter and making them the chapter name of the next. It was surprising easy to follow both storylines, which isn’t always the case. The characters lead both storylines and they all were well developed – I expect no less from this author and she does not disappoint.

Kingsolver looks at healthcare, the environment, climate change, racism and the politics of the day, the current administration included. Again, subtlety is the game here but her points are well made and well taken. This should be a terrific book for discussion, although they may be heated discussions – and there is nothing wrong with that. Highly recommended.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

UNSHELTERED by Barbara Kingsolver. Harper (October 16, 2018). ISBN 978-0062684561. 480p.

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DECK THE HOUNDS by David Rosenfelt

October 15, 2018

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An Andy Carpenter Novel, Book 18

Just in time for Christmas is another charming Andy Carpenter adventure . As his fans are acutely aware, Andy is a lawyer. He is a good one as all the novels written about him will attest. Minor problem is that he inherited a lot of money and has elected to live the good life as a gentleman scholar. That is to maintain a law office and never be in it, instead spending his time with his family; his gorgeous wife, one child and two dogs.

At the risk of being redundant, he has a staff of very unique people to help him when he is forced by circumstances beyond his control to defend someone in court. His wife, Laurie, was at one point a police chief and acts as his detective as needed. He has another lawyer to help him and Marcus, the silent type – and very strong to handle the rough stuff. He also has access to the second in command of an FBI field office. She is always in the office and will do anything to help Laurie including supplying information needed by Andy (disguised as Laurie) to move forward with a case.

There is also Edna, Andy’s secretary and office manager who has developed an allergy towards working. She is sent checks for her salary, and cashing these seems to be her sole function at work. She also likes surveying the beach as much as possible and living and working in New Jersey this is always a possibility. His best friend Willy and his wife manage the dog rescue service that he and Andy founded after a case of capital murder with a death sentence was successfully turned over by Andy freeing Willy from death row.

So the field is set, the team in place and all we need is someone to defend in court. And this is done neatly when Andy gives a handout to a street person and then later sees that man fend off an attacker, with a dog seemingly belonging to him helping out. Laurie and Andy decide to take the man home and allow him to stay in rooms in their attic while letting him attempt to reenter the active world. Lo and behold it seems the man used to be a member of military special forces and has become skilled in killing his country’s enemies.

The newspapers sense a story in the Carpenters doing such a good deed and print the story with photos of the homeless man. And wouldn’t you know it there is a charge of murder against him which is now served. Okay, we have the background and the basis for another excellent read starring Andy and his crew. Don’t worry there are many things to discover, places to go and a trial to go through. Don’t even doubt that the book will be interesting, humorous, and another incentive to keep eyes peeled for the next Andy Carpenter novel.

10/18 Paul Lane

DECK THE HOUNDS by David Rosenfelt. Minotaur Books (October 16, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250198488. 368p.

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AN EARL LIKE YOU by Caroline Linden

October 13, 2018

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Wagers of Sin Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

When you gamble at love . . .

When Hugh Deveraux discovers his newly inherited earldom is bankrupt, he sets about rebuilding the family fortune—in the gaming hells of London. But the most daring wager he takes isn’t at cards. A wealthy tradesman makes a tantalizing offer: marry the man’s spinster daughter and Hugh’s debts will be paid and his fortune made. The only catch is that she must never know about their agreement . . .

You risk losing your heart . . .

Heiress Eliza Cross has given up hope of marriage until she meets the impossibly handsome Earl of Hastings, her father’s new business partner. The earl is everything a gentleman should be, and is boldly attentive to her. It doesn’t take long for Eliza to lose her heart and marry him.

But when Eliza discovers that there is more to the man she loves—and to her marriage—her trust is shattered. And it will take all of Hugh’s power to prove that now his words of love are real . . .


The marriage of convenience, one of the most frequently used plot devices in historical fiction, is at the center of this story. But usually there is more involved than the rich girl marrying a peer, or vice versa, because of financial need. There needs to be some drama to help move the story along, and while their circumstances, both the hero and the heroine, were fraught, it still felt like something was missing.

That said, I really liked these characters and was invested in their outcome.  I liked the secondary characters as well, especially Eliza’s father. He was the heavy here and added the real drama to the story.

This was my first time reading this author, and I would definitely read another of her books. Maybe I’ll look for the first book in this series next.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

AN EARL LIKE YOU by Caroline Linden. Avon (August 28, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062672940. 384p.

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A NICE DAY FOR A COWBOY WEDDING by Nicole Helm

October 12, 2018

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A Mile High Romance, Book 4

From the publisher:

From Nicole Helm, the bestselling author of the Big Sky Cowboys, Navy Seal Cowboys, and Stone Cold series, comes this breathtaking new romance set in the middle of Big Sky country—Colorado’s gorgeous Rocky Mountains . . .

As the oldest of three brothers, Shane Tyler takes his responsibility to the family ranch seriously—and it’s clear to him that the younger man who wants to marry his widowed mother is only looking for a meal ticket. He’s determined to stop the nuptials whatever it takes, but the shy wedding planner his mom hired is harder to intimidate than he expected.

When Cora Preston worked up the nerve to leave her abusive ex and move with her young son to Gracely, it was a huge step. Accepting the position as wedding planner at brand-new Mile High Weddings took even more courage. But Cora’s biggest challenge is turning out to be the bride’s handsome—and stubborn—oldest son, Shane, and the way the strong-willed cowboy makes her feel.

Can the heat crackling between them warm two hearts suspicious of love?


I read my first Nicole Helm book a few weeks ago, it was a Christmas story in a different series, and I really liked it. Then this book sort of fell into my lap (it helps that my lap was in the library) and I thought, serendipity!

I must admit to some confusion with some of the characters because, as usual, I didn’t read the earlier books in this series. I have a feeling things would have made a lot more sense to me if I had. But even though I wasn’t quite clear on everything going on in the background, there was enough of a story to keep me intrigued and turning pages. I’ll be looking for more of this author.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A NICE DAY FOR A COWBOY WEDDING by Nicole Helm. Zebra (August 28, 2018). ISBN 978-1420146943. 320p.

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THE LADY IS DARING by Megan Frampton

October 11, 2018

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The Duke’s Daughters Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

Five well-bred sisters, one sensational scandal. Now the Duke of Marymount’s daughter Ida is about to find love in the most unconventional way . . .

It was easy for society to overlook Lady Ida Howlett; they found her bookish, opinionated, and off the marriage mart. But little did they know that behind a calm exterior beats the heart of an adventuress, one who, determined to discover her runaway sister’s whereabouts, steals a carriage and sets off on a daring mission. Then she discovers she’s not alone! Bennett, Lord Carson, is inside, and he refuses to leave.

Lord Carson’s plans had always been to find a soft, gentle wife who would run his home and raise his children. Still, he makes a bargain with Ida—he won’t desert her during her mad adventure. He’ll make sure she’s safe, and then find a suitable lady to fall in love with. But when rules (and garments) become discarded during this long, intimate journey, it’s soon clear that this surprisingly daring lady is the woman he’s needed all along.


Another excellent addition to Megan Frampton’s body of work. The characters are brought to life and I found Lady Ida to be a real kick. She is feisty and independent but determined (dare I say it?) to live her best life. Bennett at first appears to be the usual royal stick in the mud, but he is surprised to find hidden depths within himself.

I love stories where characters change and grow, and they both do so here. This is a fast, fun romp and a delightful read.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE LADY IS DARING by Megan Frampton. Avon (September 25, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062666673. 352p.

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FIREFLY by Henry Porter

October 10, 2018

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One the most horrific problems affecting the world today is the migration of literally millions of people which provides the backdrop for this novel. This is the attempt by large segments of populations in the middle east and Africa to flee repressive regimes, starvation and mass murder in order to begin new lives in countries that are considered safe. Porter presents a no holds barred portrait of peoples caught up in the need to escape from the lands of their birth due to changing conditions that do not allow them to live there.

Naji is a thirteen year old boy born in Syria who is thrust into manhood when his father dies. It becomes necessary for his family to flee their home as situations arise that cause their lives to become untenable. It becomes Naji’s job to travel through the middle east, into Europe and eventually into Germany to arrange for his family to be accepted there by relatives. This is a journey that must be done by foot as Naji’s family does not have the funds to send him by plane or even train.

Naji has obtained pictorial evidence held on his cellphone of plans by a vicious ISIS cell who discover what he has and mount an organized attempt to catch and kill him and retrieve the evidence. When Britain’s MI6 gets wind of what Naji has they mount a search for him by contracting Luc Samson currently a private detective but previously an agent for MI6 to spearhead the operation.

Porter employs a back and forth system between Maji and Luc to tell the story. We see a young boy that is forced to grow up very fast while attempting to comply with his family’s needs and a professional that develops an attachment for this brave young man while chasing him. Luc finds a possible romance and Naji lifetime friends in the course of the action. The novel is, of course, a definite all nighter and keeps the reader glued to the book and aghast at the realities of what is happening in our time and affecting decisions made by all governments. There are no solutions offered by the author for the simple reason that none are probably possible in the face of the titanic stage the action is played out on. But, the book does provide some insight into what is happening to real people through no fault of their own and affecting so much of the world.

10/18 Paul Lane

FIREFLY by Henry Porter. Mysterious Press (October 2, 2018).  ISBN 978-0802128959. 480p.

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