TREMAINE’S TRUE LOVE by Grace Burrowes

May 26, 2017

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True Gentlemen, Book 1

Not sure how I missed this, but this book was a 2016 RITA Finalist for Historical Romanace and now that I’ve read it, I know why. And look at me, starting a series with book 1! This book is from 2015, and there are two more out already. I found it on a list from Overdrive, the company from which my library (most libraries) gets most of their ebooks. Luckily I found the next two in my library on the shelf (thanks, Barbara!) especially since the ebooks have a waiting list. The fourth book in the series, His Lordship’s True Lady, comes out in June – at least on Kindle. I should be all caught up by then.

Tremaine St. Michael is of mixed heritage, Scottish on his mother’s side and a French comte on his father’s. But mostly he is a man of commerce, always wheeling and dealing and making himself a fortune in the process, mostly in the sheep/wool business. He’s visiting the Haddonfield’s in hopes of buying their rare Merino sheep. But it is the eldest daughter, Nita, who is distracting him from his business.

Nita has decided she’s never going to marry. She inherited her mother’s gift of healing, and much prefers taking care of her neighbors than staying at home. But Tremaine is unlike any of the men she has met before. Their chemistry is interesting to watch ignite.

The usual drama ensues, including a duel which doesn’t come up as often as you would think in these historical romances, so that was a nice touch. I also like that the setting was in the country, not in London like a lot of historical romances. A bit of sex, nothing too graphic, but enough to make it interesting. It was a fun, fast read and I can understand why it was nominated for the RITA award.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TREMAINE’S TRUE LOVE by Grace Burrowes. Sourcebooks Casablanca (August 4, 2015) ISBN: 978-1492621027. 416p.

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SINCE WE FELL by Dennis Lehane

May 24, 2017

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It’s been about two years since the last Lehane book, World Gone By, but it is always worth the wait and this book is no exception.

Since We Fell starts out as a character study of sorts. The first third of the book examines Rachel’s life in an attempt to help the reader understand what comes next. I thought the mystery of the book was put forth here – Rachel doesn’t know who her father is. Her mother always refused to tell her and when her mother finally agreed to tell her when she became of age, her mother died.

Next is the Rachel who is a successful, globe trotting TV journalist. But that career ends abruptly when she has a breakdown on live television during a trip to Haiti. The destruction and despair are palpable, but it is the personal that finally does her in. We don’t learn exactly what happened until later on, but we learn about the life of an agoraphobe.

Rachel is married to a news manager who can’t deal with her failure. Eventually she realizes he was not the perfect husband and marries again. Her second husband, Brian, is the love of her life. He travels quite a bit for work, but always communicates with her. The second third of the book is about their life together, his willingness to be shut away with her and how well he seems to know and understand her.

The last third of the book is the thriller some readers may be expecting. By this point I was beginning to think everything I’d read up to this point was the point, but I was wrong. The tension starts ratcheting up when Rachel ventures out on her own to meet a friend, then thinks she sees her husband going into a building around the corner. Brian is supposed to be on a plane out of the country, and this sparks the inner reporter in Rachel and off she goes.

There are many twists in this crazy roller coaster ride that positively hurtles to the finish line, and the pacing invariably speeds up towards the end. This was a terrific read for both literary readers and thriller readers, something that is not easy to accomplish. Hats off to Lehane, one of our most gifted writers. This is a cinematic read for sure, and I can see another fine film in Lehane’s future.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SINCE WE FELL by Dennis Lehane. Ecco (May 9, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062129383. 432p.

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New Jewish Fiction Jan-June 2017

May 22, 2017

I recently did a presentation on new Jewish fiction at my library and thought I’d share the list here as well. These are books by Jewish authors or about Jewish subjects that have been published from January through June, 2017.

JANUARY

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Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan: Interweaves the experiences of a young Lithuanian emigrant in Ireland at the start of the twentieth century, the unlikely friendship between a
young Irish deaf boy and a lonely caretaker in 1958, and the identity crisis of an Irish journalist in the present day. “Gilligan makes a stellar U.S. debut with this wistful and lyrical multigenerational tale linking the struggles of two immigrant Jewish families in Dublin with an Irish Catholic woman’s complicated relationship with her Jewish lover.” Publisher’s Weekly

 

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The Patriots by Sana Krasikov: Three generations of a Jewish-American family endure the difficult challenges of the Depression and the Cold War while pursuing dreams of better lives and reflecting on painful experiences from their earlier lives in Moscow. “In a galvanizing tale of flawed and courageous protagonists, erotic and political passion, and harrowing struggles for survival, Krasikov masterfully and devastatingly exposes the “whole dark clockwork” of totalitarianism and asks what it means to be a hero, a patriot, a human being.” Booklist

 

FEBRUARY

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A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman: An Israeli comedian, a bit past his prime, conveys with semi-questionable humor anecdotes from his violence stricken youth during a night of standup. Meanwhile, while a judge in the audience wrestles with his own part in the comedian’s losses. “Grossman brings real humanity to this heart-wrenching and well-written novel, offering insight into one man’s psychological makeup and how society has damaged him. An excellent translation; highly recommended.” Library Journal

 

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We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter: A novel based on the true story of a Jewish-Polish family recounts how the Kurcs are scattered throughout the world by the horrors of World War II and fight respective hardships to survive, reach safety and find each other. “First-time novelist Hunter got the idea for this book in conversations with her grandmother after unearthing family history of which she’d been ignorant…engrossing read is best recommended for those who enjoy fiction set during World War II and sprawling family sagas.” Library Journal

 

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The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff: The Nightingale meets Water for Elephants in this powerful novel of friendship and sacrifice, set in a traveling circus during World War II. Sixteen-year-old Noa, forced to give up her baby fathered by a Nazi soldier, snatches a child from a boxcar containing Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp and takes refuge with a traveling circus, where Astrid, a Jewish aerialist, becomes her mentor. “Against the backdrop of circus life during the war, the author captures the very real terrors faced by both women as they navigate their working and personal relationships and their complicated love lives while striving for normalcy and keeping their secrets safe.” Publisher’s Weekly

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On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman: Living in her suburban hometown, while her fiance is off on a crowdfunded cross-country walk, Faith discovers mysterious artifacts in her home’s attic that
make her question a promising new relationship and everything she believes. “Lipman is known for her dialogue, so snappy, funny, and real that it cancels out any dubiousness about the kooky mystery plot. Warm, clever, a little silly, a lot of fun.” Kirkus Reviews

 

 

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The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan: “Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!” Letters and journals reveal the struggles, affairs, deceptions and triumphs of five members of a village choir during World War II as they band together to survive the upheavals of war and village intrigue on the English home front. ” Ryan’s novel, reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, captures the experience of the war from a woman’s perspective. Readers may have come across this kind of story before, but the letter/diary format works well and the plot elements satisfyingly come together.” Publisher’s Weekly

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The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky: One very special work of art—a Chaim Soutine painting —will connect the lives and fates of two different women, generations apart, in this enthralling and
transporting debut novel that moves from World War II Vienna to contemporary Los Angeles. “Umansky’s richly textured and peopled novel tells an emotionally and historically complicated story with so much skill and confidence it’s hard to believe it’s her first.” Kirkus Reviews

 

MARCH

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The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck: Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. At the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, three widows’ lives and fates become intertwined. “Haunting, a beautifully written and painfully vivid glimpse into one of the most horrific times in world history.” Bookpage

APRIL

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What To Do About The Solomons by Bethany Ball: Reminiscent of Nathan Englander’s For the Relief of Unbearable Urges and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, and told with razor-sharp humor and elegant acuity, What to Do About the Solomons is an exhilarating first book from a bright new star in fiction. A humorous multigenerational family saga set in Israel, New York, and Los Angeles explores the secrets and gossip-filled lives of a kibbutz near Jerusalem. “For all its humor, penetrating disillusionment underlies Ball’s memorable portrait of a family, once driven by pioneer spirit, now plagued by overextension and loss of direction, unsure what to do with its legacy, teetering between resentment, remorse, and resilience.” Publisher’s Weekly

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All the Rivers by Dorit Rabinyan: A controversial, award-winning story about the passionate but untenable affair between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, from one of Israel’s most acclaimed novelists. When an Israeli translator named Liat goes to New York for six months of study, she meets Hilmi, a charismatic and kind Palestinian born in Hebron, and their passionate affair grows into something more, forcing them to choose between love and duty. “Bernstein Prize winner Rabinyan’s modern take on forbidden love between young dreamers on opposite sides of a bitter cultural conflict enthralls and delights.” Publisher’s Weekly

MAY

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The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal: “They’ve chosen the one thing that will make our family life impossible. It’s genius really, when you think about it. It’s the perfect sabotage.” After her daughter, Gwen, has trouble adjusting to her new beau, James, Julia Alden must do her best to unite two households, but when Gwen turns for comfort to James’ 17-year-old son, Nathan, the consequences will test her mother’s loyalty and threaten their fragile new happiness. ” In finely wrought prose, with characters who seem to walk beside us and speak aloud, Segal’s latest novel is a sympathetic portrait of the difficulties in finding love and raising teenagers.” Kirkus Reviews

 

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Shtum by Jem Lester: After strategically faking a separation with his wife to influence a tribunal’s decision about the future of his severely autistic son’s education, Ben Jewell moves in with his elderly and cantankerous father and learns harsh lessons about accountability. Funny and heartbreaking in equal measure, Shtum is the impassioned debut novel about fathers and sons and autism with all the heart and verve of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. “Lester’s debut, based on his experience of raising a child with autism, is an emotional and uplifting tale of love and sacrifice.” Publisher’s Weekly

 

JUNE

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The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish: A mysterious collection of papers hidden in a historic London home sends two scholars of Jewish history on an unforgettable quest….”Kadish’s characters are memorable…Kadish leaves no stone unturned in this moving historical epic. Chock-full of rich detail and literary intrigue.” Kirkus Reviews

 

 

 

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The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor: A historical novel of love and survival inspired by real resistance workers during World War II Austria, and the mysterious love letter that connects generations of Jewish families. A heart-breaking, heart-warming read for fans of The NightingaleLilac Girls, and Sarah’s Key. “Excellent writing, unusual storytelling, and sympathetic characters make a winning combination.” Kirkus Reviews

 

 

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The Songs by Charles Elton: Iz Herzl, famed political activist and protest singer, has always told his children that it is the future not the past they should concentrate on. Now, at 80, an almost forgotten figure, estranged from everyone who has ever loved him, his refusal to look back on his extraordinary life leaves his teenage children, the brilliant Rose and her ailing younger brother, Huddie, adrift in myths and uncertainty that cause them to retreat into a secret
world of their own. “A heartbreaking read. Recommended for fans of literary fiction.” Library Journal


Win THE BITTER SEASON by Tami Hoag!

May 20, 2017

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Kovac and Liska take on multiple twisted cases as #1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag explores a murder from the past, a murder from the present, and a life that was never meant to be. 

Win a copy of the new paperback of THE BITTER SEASON by Tami Hoag!

I loved this book when it came out in hardcover last year. My review:

The Kovac-Liska Series

This is the latest entry in the popular Kovac-Liksa series, but they are no longer working together for the Minneapolis police homicide unit. Detective Nikki Liska is now working the new cold case squad in hopes of spending more time with her teenage sons.

Detective Kovac is lost without her but learning to deal with a young, green partner on a new case; a brutal home invasion. An Asian studies professor and his wife were killed by a Samurai sword from the professor’s collection.

Liska is assigned a twenty-five year old murder of a highly honored sex crimes detective, and for some reason, his family does not want the case reopened and Liska doesn’t even want it. There is no DNA, which is the primary resource to help solve cold cases, but she is determined to do the best she can anyway, even while envying her old partner his new case.

This is a dark, gritty thriller but Hoag manages to lighten it up now and then with some black humor. A real page turner that is sure to please her legion of fans.

Copyright ©2016 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

1/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE BITTER SEASON by Tami Hoag. Dutton; Reprint edition (May 2, 2017).  ISBN 978-0451470072. 512p.

To win a copy of the new paperback of THE BITTER SEASON by Tami Hoagplease send an email to contest@gmail.com with “BITTER SEASON” as the subject.

You must include your U.S. street address in your email.

All entries must be received by May 31 2017. One (1) name will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age in the United States only. Your books will be sent by the publicist.

One entry per email address. Subscribers to the monthly newsletter earn an extra entry into every contest. Follow this blog to earn another entry into every contest. Winners may win only one time per year (365 days) for contests with prizes of more than one book. Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone.


SAME BEACH, NEXT YEAR by Dorothea Benton Frank

May 19, 2017

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This is Frank’s annual tribute to South Carolina’s Lowcountry in her latest beach read. I generally enjoy her books, especially because I’m now at the same age as her protagonists.

The story goes back in time to when two couples, Adam and Eliza, and Carl and Eve, first met one summer when they rented condos next door to each other. Carl and Eve live in Raleigh, and Adam and Eliza live out in the country, a nice distance from Charleston, but they both rented on the Isle of Palms, one of the barrier islands off the coast. Eliza and Adam have twin boys, and Carl & Eve have a daughter the same age, and they all become friends.

Except it turns out that Adam and Eve were high school sweethearts. Their spouses don’t know and they don’t feel the need to inform them. The friendship between the couples grow over the years, sharing summer after summer together but for me, a lot of the relationship stuff felt forced and even awkward at times.

Eventually all good secrets come out and the effect on their marriages isn’t good. Will they all work it out? It takes more than a death in the family or a magical trip to Corfu to put it back together – and I have to say I really hated the ending of this book. It just felt completely contrived, as if the author had written herself into a corner and took the easy way out. I was drawn in for the first 300 pages, despite some reservations, but the ending truly was a disappointment.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SAME BEACH, NEXT YEAR by Dorothea Benton Frank. William Morrow (May 16, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062390783. 384p.

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THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER by Amy E. Reichert

May 18, 2017

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Sanna Lund is the fifth generation to live and work on the family apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Once a thriving family business, now it is just Sanna and her aging father, and business is terrible. Sanna is obsessed with making cider, but doesn’t have the first idea about how to sell it.  Her father borrowed money to purchase all the expensive equipment necessary for making and bottling cider, but it is just collecting dust. She also has a gift – she can see colors in the apples that grow on their orchard. By mixing different colored apples she can achieve the flavors she wants. It’s the touch of magical realism that Reichert is known for.

Isaac Banks is a web designer whose ex-wife, a drug addict, has overdosed and died. Their young son, Bass, doesn’t know and Isaac can’t bear to tell him, so instead he takes him on a road trip for the summer. They wander aimlessly until they reach Door County, where he learns the Lund family could use some help in their orchard. Sanna is suspicious when her father hires Isaac, but they have a trailer out back where father and son can live. Then the senior Lund falls off a ladder and is seriously injured, and it’s Isaac and Bass that pick up the slack.

Sanna is surprised to find herself attracted to Isaac, and he to her, but he also realizes that he is going to have to move very slowly to win her over. Sanna has a brother who moved away from the orchard and is now trying to talk her father into selling to a big developer. There are other complications along the way before the happily ever after is reached.

Another enjoyable and delicious read – with recipes.

Enjoy this short video – Amy E. Reichert talks about her new book, THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER, and why Wisconsin is more romantic than you thought!

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER by Amy E. Reichert. Gallery Books (May 16, 2017). ISBN: 978-1501154928. 336p.

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SECRETS IN SUMMER by Nancy Thayer

May 16, 2017

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Growing up on Long Island, New York, and now living in South Florida, I am familiar with the idea of seasonal residents and how the population can double, triple or more during “season.” In Boca Raton, many of our winter residents summer in the Hamptons in New York, and this book, set on Nantucket, was very reminiscent of the Hamptons and that experience.

Darcy Cotterill is a year round resident, but the homes surrounding her own are summer rentals. Darcy is divorced and basically without family, and doesn’t generally bother with the summer residents. She is a children’s librarian and her storytimes feel the strong influx of summer residents, and she does enjoy that.

But this summer brings a family renting the house behind hers that is a shocker. It is her ex-husband Boyz, his wife Autumn, (the woman he left Darcy for,) and her teenage daughter Willow. When Darcy overhears Willow with a boy who is trying to talk her into trying heroin and sex, she rushes over and scares him off, befriending the young teen in the process.

Darcy’s other neighbors include Susan, her husband Otto who may or may not be having an affair with Autumn, and their three rambunctious sons, and on the other side, Clive, a very good looking man who is taking care of his grandmother, Mimi, for the summer. Somehow Darcy becomes involved with all of them.

Meanwhile, Darcy has been seeing Nash Forrester, a carpenter in town, but things are not progressing the way she’d like. She’s tempted by Clive, but as the summer progresses, so does her relationship with Nash. At least until he sees her kissing Clive.

This is a story of multigenerational friendships with a bit of romance, and the beach setting is charming of its own accord. I have to say there was something about the way this book was written that fell flat for me. I liked the characters but most of them, especially the main character Darcy, didn’t seem fully formed to me and the action felt forced a lot of the time. On the other hand, Thayer really nailed the setting and the atmosphere, I could practically smell the salt in the air. All that said, this was my first “beach read” of the summer, and for the most part, I enjoyed it.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SECRETS IN SUMMER by Nancy Thayer. Ballantine Books (May 16, 2017). ISBN: 978-1101967072. 336p.

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A TWIST OF THE KNIFE by Becky Masterman

May 14, 2017

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Brigid Quinn Series, Book 3

 

Brigid Quinn is a retired FBI agent that has turned into a bit of a rogue, to say the least. In this story she heads to Florida when her father ends up hospitalized. Brigid and her parents are not exactly close, none of the family is. Her father was a cop who shared completely inappropriate information and pictures from his cases with his very young children and all of them went into law enforcement. Brigid’s brother Todd is a Florida cop and their sister Ariel is in the CIA – and completely out of contact.

Brigid has another reason for heading to Florida. Her former protege/partner, Laura, asks for her help. She’s left the FBI and is working as an investigator with an appeals attorney on a death row case. The case has renewed urgency thanks to the governor signing a hurry up and die type law into effect and the clock is ticking.

Getting several law enforcement agencies to work together towards freeing a man on death row has as many hurdles as it sounds like, but makes for a really compelling read. I missed Brigid’s late in life relationship with her ex-priest husband  – he barely puts in an appearance here, but other than that I really enjoyed this latest entry in the series.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A TWIST OF THE KNIFE by Becky Masterman. Minotaur Books (March 21, 2017). ISBN 978-1250074515. 320p.

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THE SECOND MRS. HOCKADAY by Susan Rivers

May 12, 2017

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Placidia Fincher becomes the second Mrs. Hockaday when, at age 17, she marries Major Gryffith Hockaday. He is almost twice her age, recently widowed and left with a very young son. She agrees to marry him and the next day they return to his home, a 300 acre farm in South Carolina. The Civil War is raging, and after a couple of days of marriage, the Major returns to his post leaving his teenage bride in charge of his home, his baby, his farm and his slaves.

The Major doesn’t return home for two years, spending much of that time in a Union prison. Upon his return he learns that his wife has become pregnant and had a baby during his time away, the baby died and she is accused of murder and on her way to jail. There are a lot of plot lines threaded throughout, and a number of characters so I had to pay close attention to keep it all straight.

This is an epistolary novel, written in letters, journal entries, etc. which always gives a very intimate, voyeuristic feeling to the reader and this is no exception. There are some very dark chapters, as is to be expected during war time in the South, but it is restrained. The violence is there but is not gratuitous and is never over the top. The book is loosely based on a true incident, and the writing style is interesting and seems accurate to the time period although the lack of some punctuation is difficult at times.

One of the things I liked best about this book was that it’s a woman’s perspective of the Civil War, and the difficulties that women faced were very different from the men. A most compelling read and an excellent debut novel.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE SECOND MRS. HOCKADAY by Susan Rivers. Algonquin Books; First Edition edition (January 10, 2017).  ISBN 978-1616205812.  272p.

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LOST RIDER by Harper Sloan

May 11, 2017

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The Coming Home Series, Book 1

This was the first book I’ve read by this author but I will definitely be back for the next book in this new series.

I’ve been expanding my romance horizons into western territory and enjoying them. This is a contemporary western set in Texas featuring Maverick Davis, a champion rodeo star who has taken one tumble too many. His doctor tells him no more riding bulls or else, so he spends a couple of weeks drinking before heading home for his father’s funeral.

They never got a long, but his brother and sister need him and he has no where else to go. He had left town as soon as he was able, breaking his sister’s best friend’s heart in the process. Leighton James had grown up next door and had been in love with Maverick for as long as she could remember. But before he left town, he’d been unspeakably cruel to the young woman and she wore those scars for all the years he was gone.

Now that he’s back, he realizes he made a huge mistake in hurting her like that. He has a lot of fences to mend, with Leighton and with his family, and he is working hard at righting things. Leighton is scared to death of being hurt again, and isn’t making it easy on him.

There is great chemistry here, some explicit sex, and a really interesting back story. I’m really looking forward to more from this author.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

LOST RIDER by Harper Sloan. Pocket Books (April 25, 2017). ISBN: 978-1501155192. 400p.

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