THE DIME by Kathleen Kent

March 25, 2017

Click to purchase

It’s been just over two years since Betty and her girlfriend, Jackie, relocated from Brooklyn to Dallas. Betty, a narcotics officer with Dallas PD, has finally been given lead on a huge case: a local has been in contact with one of the big Mexican cartels and a drop has been scheduled. Betty and her team have spent hours staking out the location where it’s to take place, but an incident with a bystander throws everything off kilter. As bodies stack up, the case becomes more complicated – worse so when it becomes clear that Betty herself has become a target. But a target of exactly what is unclear.

While this is by no means Kathleen Kent’s first rodeo, it is her first crime novel. And I have to say it’s a resounding success.

Betty Rhyzyk is a tall redhead, born and bred in Brooklyn. And she’s just the latest of a string of cops in the family. Her Polish roots run deep and the narrative is peppered with pieces of translated family wisdom. By the time the meat of the story begins, however, Betty is the only surviving member of the Rhyzyk clan.

Not that she’s alone in the world by any means. Her girlfriend, Jackie, a nurse who spends much of her time worrying over Betty’s diet, is steadfast and supportive even when the story begins to take a nasty turn. And Betty is supported by her fellow police officers as well, more or less. Kent does a fantastic job portraying the difficulties of being a female cop in what is still a very male centric career.

She also does a wonderful job bringing Dallas and Texas to life in this tale, so much so that the city becomes more than just a setting. The sense of place is true to its inspiration, as I’m sure anyone in the DFW area can attest (which makes sense because it’s the place Kent calls home.), imbuing the story with a distinct flavor and characteristic.

The Dime is the kind of book that begins with a bang and still manages to become increasingly intense. And the pacing and plot never falter. It is a dark one, so do be warned, but definitely one that’s joining the ranks of my own personal favorites. No word yet on whether Betty will be a new series lead, but I for one certainly hope that will be the case.

3/17 Becky LeJeune

THE DIME by Kathleen Kent. Mulholland Books; First Edition/First Printing edition (February 14, 2017).  ISBN 978-0316311038. 352p.

Kindle


IF NOT FOR YOU by Debbie Macomber

March 22, 2017

Click to purchase

Beth Prudhomme recently moved to Portland, Oregon from Chicago and landed a job as a high school music teacher. Her favorite Aunt Sunshine, a famous artist and old hippie, lives nearby. Beth’s mother is super controlling, but she’s back in Chicago and has promised not to visit for one year.

Beth makes a good friend at school, another teacher named Nichole. Nichole is married and has a baby. She invites Beth over for dinner, wanting to fix her up with her husband’s best friend, Sam.

The two clash almost immediately. Sam is a tattooed, bearded auto mechanic and thinks Beth is a stuck up priss. Sam just makes her uncomfortable, she’s never met anyone like him and can’t understand why her friend would fix them up. They both decide to duck out early, and are driving away when Sam witnesses Beth get into a terrible accident. He jumps from his car and rushes to her, holding her hand and telling her she is going to be all right, but he is really scared that this woman he just met is going to die.

He ends up visiting her at the hospital, and feels compelled to keep going back and they fall into an easy friendship as she starts down the long road to recovery. He brings his guitar and plays for her, and they realize their shared love of music and that maybe they have more in common than they thought.

Eventually, they fall in love but neither of them wants to admit it or have that sort of relationship. He’s been burned before, and burned badly, and she’s in a panic about what her parents might think – her father’s a scholar and her mother’s a snob.

Eventually they work through all the early hurdles only to find even bigger ones down the road. Nevertheless, they get their happily ever after.

It is a truly compelling read – I read it in one night. The story has real depth but still moves fast. It’s the characters that really drew me in, and I’m sure they’ll stay with me for some time to come.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

IF NOT FOR YOU by Debbie Macomber. Ballantine Books (March 21, 2017).  ISBN 978-0553391961.  384p.

Kindle

 


BLUSH FOR ME by Kristen Proby

March 21, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

A Fusion Novel, Book 3

Katrina Meyers manages Seattle’s hottest wine bar, Seduction. Deathly afraid of flying, nonetheless she finds herself on “a death trap with wings” with some scary turbulence to boot. Her seatmate is hot, hot, hot Ryan “Mac” MacKenzie, and he’s only too happy to help out the scared gorgeous woman in the next seat. And then he can’t stop thinking about her.

Mac runs an super-successful wine touring business and ends up at Seduction. Mac and Katrina are having quite the physical relationship but neither wants to admit there is more to it than that.

There is great chemistry here, and well developed characters that are believable, making this a terrific scorcher of a romance. Love this series!

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BLUSH FOR ME by Kristen Proby. William Morrow Paperbacks (March 21, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062434791. 304p.

Kindle


SAY NOTHING by Brad Parks

March 20, 2017

Click to purchase

When will I learn not to start a thriller at 11:00 at night when I have to be at work at 7:30 the next morning?! Using every ounce of self discipline I have (which isn’t very much, I’m sorry to say) I read a little more than half of this book by 2:00 a.m, when I forced myself to go to bed. Sleep was slow in coming and I found myself waking at 3:45 and again at 5 to check on my daughter. No, she’s not a young child, but she’s mine and apparently this plotline was weighing heavily on my mind.

This is a hybrid domestic/legal thriller, two of my favorites mashed up together. Judge Scott Sampson is the happily married father of young twins. Wednesday afternoons he picks up the kids and they go swimming, so he’s really disappointed when Allison, his wife, texts him and says she forgot they have a doctor’s appointment that afternoon so she would pick them up.

Except she didn’t. And he didn’t. But someone who resembles Allison and was driving a gray Honda minivan did and both kids are now missing.

The judge is told to say nothing and how to rule in a case coming before him the next day. They are both frightened and freaking out, to say the least. The judge’s first impulse is to call the courthouse cops, but Allison is adamant they follow instructions exactly. But that first instruction is only the beginning. It turns out a much bigger case is in play.

The tension is almost unbearable at times in this fast paced, emotionally riveting read. This is Park’s first standalone thriller. I loved his Carter Ross mystery series but this is a big departure and extremely well done.

Parks’ Say Nothing got the trifecta of starred reviews, an enviable feat, from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. And if I starred reviews, he’d get mine, too. Don’t miss it.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SAY NOTHING by Brad Parks. Dutton (March 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-1101985595. 448p.

Kindle


A LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT by Meredith Duran

March 11, 2017

Click to purchase

Rules for the Reckless, Book 5

Meredith Duran writes a smart and sexy book about a strong woman and politics in 1860’s Great Britain.

Jane Mason lost her parents and her father’s brother became her guardian. Her father was a maverick businessman who made a fortune and then turned to politics, trying to better lives in Great Britain. But he was also smart enough to leave the money in trust for his daughter. His brother takes over his seat in Parliament, but he is not the man his brother was. He is consumed by greed and is determined to get his hands on his niece’s fortune.

Jane was brought up educated and to speak her mind, but her uncle hides her away in the country and tries to will it out of her. Jane is smart enough to know that she is treading on thin ice, and pretends to become the “brown mouse” that her uncle wants. When she is informed that she will be marrying her cousin, she is determined to find a way out of that marriage and out on her own. She arranges a “marriage” but her uncle finds out and stops it. She learns this from Crispin Burke, a very good looking but evil politician in cahoots with her uncle. He offers her a way out if she will spy on her uncle for him and she agrees.

When Crispin is attacked and left for dead, Jane manages to “marry” him, finding her way out of the arranged marriage and into independence. Except Crispin doesn’t die. Instead he awakens with amnesia, believing Jane to be his wife and forgetting all the bad politics he’s been involved in. Together they form a strong alliance for good, but Jane is afraid once he gets his memory back he will get rid of her – and she has fallen in love with him.

Lots of political intrigue permeates this story but it is the romance that is the most intriguing. A very entertaining and enthralling read.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT by Meredith Duran. Pocket Books (February 28, 2017). ISBN 978-1501139024. 400p.


PERFECT FOR YOU by Candis Terry

March 9, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

A Sunshine Creek Vineyard Novel, Book 2

 

I loved the first book in this new series so I was very happy to get the second. Set in a vineyard in the small town of Sunshine Creek, (near Vancouver, I think?) this book focuses on another of the gorgeous Kinkaide brothers, Declan.

Jordan was the focus of the first book in the series, A Better Man, and his twin Declan is the focus here. The twins are fraternal and as different as night and day. Declan is the serious one. As a child he had learning disabilities which weren’t diagnosed for years, so he always struggled. That made him determined to excel at something, and that something became financial management.

His long time assistant, Brooke, works with him in his California office. After his parents death, things are upended at the family vineyard and Dec needs to get home, and that’s where this story starts.

With no flights available for a few days, Brooke suggests driving the 15 hours to Sunshine Creek and reluctantly Dec agrees. Little does he know how life-changing that drive will be. His super efficient assistant turns out to be a fearless, fun loving girl, and Dec is at a loss how to handle it. Slowly it dawns on him that he is enjoying himself, something his very serious self hasn’t experienced in a long time. And Brooke finally admits to herself that she is in love with her boss, but wonders how she will get through the wall he has built around himself.

Lots of ups and downs along the way, but the path leads directly to romance. This was a one nighter for me, I couldn’t put it down. Do read this series in order though, it will be more enjoyable to get all the back story before moving to this new book.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

PERFECT FOR YOU by Candis Terry. Avon (February 28, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062471840.  368p.

Kindle

 


COOKING FOR PICASSO by Camille Aubray

March 5, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

I admit I fell for the title of this book, thinking it would be a foodie book. It really isn’t, although food does play a part. But it is more a family saga, moving between small towns in France and New York, spanning almost a hundred years.

It starts just before World War II when Ondine helps her mother with the cooking and cleaning in the family’s cafe. She is just sixteen years old when an important artist rents the house down the road for the summer. The mysterious “patron” wants his lunch delivered every day, and Ondine rides her bike with her basket of food for Picasso.

He is laying low, caught in a mess – he’s married and has mistresses, all of whom are goading one another. Ondine eventually models for him, and he promises her the painting. But Picasso takes off without giving it to her.

Ondine’s parents try to marry her off to the town baker, thinking his influx of money will help the cafe. But Ondine is waiting for her boyfriend Luc, gone off to sea to make enough money to marry her. Eventually she ends up in New Rochelle, New York, with her own restaurant. Things go awry and she moves back to France with her daughter, in search of the painting that was promised her.

There are two story lines going on here. Ondine’s granddaughter returns to France to try and find the Picasso, so it moves back and forth between timelines, and the mystery makes for a very entertaining and interesting read. There is a bit of romance as well, but it feels more like a device to further the plot.

Historical novels based on someone famous have become quite popular. Fans of Paula McLain (The Paris Wife) or Nancy Horan (Loving Frank) will probably enjoy this book, although I don’t know how much of it is historically accurate. Perhaps the bits about Picasso and how he lived are the most authentic but it is all interesting. I found it a bit slow in the beginning but it picks up once the dual story line kicks in, ended up being a terrific read. Book groups will find much to discuss here.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

COOKING FOR PICASSO by Camille Aubray. Ballantine Books (August 9, 2016). ISBN: 978-0399177651. 400p.

Kindle

 


Reckless Read Giveaway!

March 3, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

To celebrate the publication of

A LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT by Meredith Duran

Fifth in the Rules for the Reckless Series

One lucky reader will win an autographed copy of

Click to purchase

Click to purchase

Fool Me Twice!

FROM THE USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF FOOL ME TWICE, THE 2015 RITA AWARD WINNER FOR HISTORICAL ROMANCE

AND LUCK BE A LADY, AN RT BOOK REVIEWS NOMINEE FOR BEST BOOK OF 2015 HISTORICAL NOVEL

I am really delighted to be a stop on the blog tour for Meredith’s latest!

Praise for A Lady’s Code of Misconduct:

“Political intrigue and conspiracies abound in Duran’s engrossing fifth Rules for the Reckless Victorian romance (after Luck Be a Lady), which boasts plot twists galore…Duran is at the pinnacle of her craft as she weaves together humor, forgiveness, and love in a flawlessly executed plot. Jane, Crispin, and the rest of the characters are all well drawn, and the love scenes strike the perfect balance of steamy and sweet. Each layer in the story is suspenseful and delightful, making this the best installment so far.” Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW

“A sham marriage, political intrigue, and a case of amnesia provide a backdrop for this absorbing Victorian romance. Although Duran (Luck Be a Lady, 2015, etc.) has written a novel as layered as an onion, the characters are well-drawn and the plot flawlessly executed. Add in some very steamy sex, and the fifth installment of Duran’s Rules for the Reckless series can’t help but delight. This book weaves its spell so thoroughly that the most fortunate reader will be the one who has time to read the entire thing in one sitting. A masterful tale of suspense, forgiveness, and love.” Kirkus STARRED REVIEW

About A LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT :

USA TODAY  bestselling author Meredith Duran’s A LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT is the fifth sizzling novel in the Rules for the Reckless series—a sexy and evocative Regency romance between a famous heiress and an infamous crime lord. 

A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL…
Trapped in the countryside, facing an unwanted marriage and the theft of her fortune, Jane Mason is done behaving nicely. To win her freedom, she’ll strike a deal with the most dangerous man she knows—a rising star in politics, whose dark good looks mask an even darker heart.
 

…NEVER GOES TO PLAN.
The bitter past has taught Crispin Burke to trust no one. He’ll gladly help a lovely young heiress, provided she pays a price. Yet when a single mistake shatters his life, it is Jane who holds the key to his salvation. And in a world that no longer makes sense, Crispin slowly realizes that she may be the only thing worth fighting for…
 

About Fool Me Twice:

In the vein of Sarah MacLean, a sexy and evocative Regency romance between a vengeful duke and a fiery redhead from an author who is a veritable tour de force in the genre. “Readers need to make room on their keeper shelf for Meredith Duran” (Fresh Fiction).

A LADY WITH A SECRET

Running for her life, exhausted and out of options, Olivia Holladay wants nothing more than the chance to make a home for herself. So when she realizes that the infamous Duke of Marwick might hold the key to her freedom, she boldly disguises herself as the newest and bravest in a long line of the duke’s notoriously temperamental housekeepers. Little does she know that the wickedly handsome Alastair de Grey has very different plans for her.

A MAN WITH A PASSION—FOR VENGEANCE

As his new employee, Olivia is a fearless upstart. As a woman, the daring redhead is just what Alastair needs to rouse him from darkness to the siren call of revenge. He has suffered a betrayal so deep that he will use whatever means necessary to destroy his enemies—even his brazen and beautiful domestic. But his vengeful plan fails to account for his single weakness: an irresistible and growing passion for the enigmatic Olivia.

meredith-duranAbout the author:

Meredith Duran is the author of ten previous novels, including The Duke of Shadows (winner of the Gather.com First Chapters Romance Writing Competition); Wicked Becomes You (included on the Woman’s World List of Best Beach Reads for Summer 2010), and the USA TODAY bestseller and RITA Award Winner Fool Me Twice. She blames Anne Boleyn for sparking her lifelong obsession with British history, and for convincing her that princely love is no prize if it doesn’t come with a happily-ever-after. She enjoys collecting old etiquette manuals, guidebooks to nineteenth-century London, and travelogues by intrepid Victorian women. Visit her at MeredithDuran.com, on Twitter @meredithduran and Facebook AuthorMeredithDuran.

To win an autographed copy of FOOL ME TWICE by Meredith Duran, please send an email to contest@gmail.com with “FOOL ME TWICE” as the subject.

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

All entries must be received by March 10, 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 prize will be sent by Simon & Schuster.

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.

3/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

 

 


SUNSET IN CENTRAL PARK by Sarah Morgan

February 26, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

From Manhattan With Love (Book 2)

Paige, Eva and Frankie have been best friends forever. The first book in this series, Sleepless in Manhattan, introduced all the characters but was really Paige’s romance. Somehow I missed this book and jumped to the third, Miracle on Fifth Avenue, which was Eva’s book, only to end up here with Frankie’s story.

My first thought was to read the books in order, especially since there are only three. But reading this second book last, I realized there is enough back story given that for a while I almost felt like I had read it already. Then it veered more into Frankie’s story and it stopped feeling that way.

Frankie hides behind baggy clothes and fake glasses, due to some poor romantic choices early on. So when Matt finds out the glasses are fake, she freaks out. And in a way, so does he. Matt’s sister is Paige, and they’ve all been friends their whole lives and Matt thought he really knew Frankie. And he’s been in love with her for years but knew he couldn’t rush her. But the glasses made him realize she was hiding more than he realized.

Gradually he worms his way into her heart, but her past keeps her from believing she could have a relationship that lasts. Her parents divorced when she was a teen due to infidelity and her mother essentially became  the town whore after that. Lots of baggage always makes for an interesting romance and it really does here.

I do wish the NYC setting was more prominently featured, it feels like it could be set in Any City, USA, which is a real missed opportunity. I love these characters though, and that makes all the difference. Can’t wait to see what Sarah Morgan has up next now that this series is done.

2/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SUNSET IN CENTRAL PARK by Sarah Morgan. HQN Books (August 30, 2016). ISBN: 978-0373789238. 384p.

Kindle

 


DARE YOU by Jennifer Brown

February 24, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

Nikki Kill Series, Book 2

Jennifer Brown’s synesthete heroine returns in this follow up to last year’s Shade Me.

In the months following her discoveries regarding Peyton Hollis and her murder, Nikki Kill has tried to live a fairly normal life But really, how normal can you get when you discover your mother had another child who was murdered by her own shady (but ridiculously rich) family. And considering said family then set their sights on Nikki, killing yet another Hollis child (Nikki’s boyfriend) instead… But crazy Luna Hollis is behind bars and the rest of the Hollises have fled the country, so Nikki is seemingly safe.

Safe enough to graduate, anyway.

When Nikki is arrested at a post-graduation bash, however, she finds out Luna is free once again. Not only that, but the DA’s office has now turned to Nikki as their number one suspect in Peyton’s murder. It’s clear Nikki’s being framed and it’s also clear Luna is the one responsible. But that doesn’t mean Nikki will have an easy time proving it.

Nikki’s story is a tangled web of secrets and lies, and she only barely scratched the surface in Shade Me. Considering her investigation seemed to be at a dead end, though, I was interested in seeing just how Brown would continue the tale.

Brown does a great job with this sequel. A witness allows Luna to be released, leaving Nikki once again the focus of crazy Hollis rage and obsession. And it turns out Peyton’s clues from before have more meaning than Nikki originally gleaned from them.

Nikki is a bit like a darker, more troubled Veronica Mars. No, Nikki doesn’t have a cop turned PI for a father. But Brown works the story in a way that it does make sense for Nikki to be investigating a murder and (as she has by now) to gain the trust of an actual cop in the official investigation. Her synesthesia isn’t a super power, but it does allow her to see things differently than those around her, giving her an added set of clues on top of anything the police might have at hand. And considering Peyton used it as their own secret language, it also makes sense that Nikki would uncover revelations the police aren’t clued into.

This is technically a teen series, but it absolutely has cross over appeal for adult mystery/thriller fans. Dare You does satisfactorily address some of the remaining questions left from Shade Me but also leaves the current duology open to continuation. And given how this second outing ends, I definitely hope to see more of Nikki Kill.

2/17 Becky LeJeune

DARE YOU by Jennifer Brown. Katherine Tegen Books (February 14, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062324467. 480p.

Kindle