KNOCKED UP IN ALASKA by Samanthe Beck

May 20, 2022

Captivity, Alaska: Book 3

From the publisher:

Everyone in Captivity, Alaska now knows Lilah Iquat’s big (and getting bigger) secret. She’s knocked up. Pregnant. All it took was a foolish decision with lasting consequences. Now Lilah’s going it alone—with the help of the town. But with one particular craving getting stronger, Lilah has her eyes on just one thing: too-sexy Ford Langley.

Ford may be out of the army, but his Special Forces sense of honor and duty hasn’t disappeared. Which is exactly why Lilah is fully off-limits, hands-off, and don’t even think about it, Ford. She’s too young and too bright for a man who’s seen too much, too soon. He’ll hold to his code—even if it kills him. And it just might.

Now Lilah is showing Ford how much light and life and love he’s missing out on, testing every last shred of his resolve. But with a baby on the way and the whole town involved, Ford and Lilah are about to learn the hard way that life never goes according to plan…especially when it comes to love.

https://amzn.to/3lITBK5

It’s amazing to me how an author can create characters in a location that somehow stays with me for months and months. The second book in this series, Playing Dirty in Alaska, came out in January, yet when I took a dive into this new book, I felt right at home. It was great catching up with my not-so-long-lost friends from Alaska.

This time, the story centers around Lilah, who is best friends with Bridget and Izzy (from the first two books in the series.) Lilah grew up at the Inn that is the center of this tourist supported town. Her mother, Rose, worked her way up from housekeeping to hotel manager, and it seems Lilah is following in her footsteps in more ways than one.

Rose was a single mother, and she drummed it into Lilah’s head not to follow that same path. She was a very strict mother, and Lilah is a very good girl and almost always obedient. Except for that one night in the hot tub with Shay…

That was Lilah’s only sexual experience. When she found out she was pregnant, she immediately told Shay. The next day Shay was in a fatal plane crash, leaving the very scared and pregnant Lilah on her own. She hides the pregnancy as best as she can, but eventually she gets too big to hide it. When her mother finds out, she is incensed, and throws Lilah out. She ends up bouncing around between Bridget’s house and Ford’s. She is strongly attracted to Ford, and he to her, but he realizes how young she is, only 21, and inexperienced, especially compared to a Special Forces veteran. He puts her on a pedestal, but she really would rather be in his bed.

There are lots of ups and downs before the relationship heats up, including another baby-turned-teenager showing up to turn Ford’s life upside down. This is a sweet, sexy romance that really took me on an emotional ride. I couldn’t help but empathize with both Lilah and Ford. And one of my favorite four-legged characters makes an appearance as well.  

I mentioned this in my review of Wild in Captivity, the first book in this series. A giant Husky/Malamute mixed dog named K’eyush, or Key for short, is one of the more memorable characters. The dog is brilliant and talks – he somehow says his favorite peoples’ names. Anyone who has spent any time poking around my website knows that I am a cat person, but I also love dogs. Well, animals, in general, although I am afraid of birds. My husband has gotten me a tiny bit obsessed with this dog: K’eyush the Stunt Dog and I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the dog in the book and the dog in the video. So I reached out to the author, who confirmed she is also a K’eyush fan and was inspired to use a dog with similar traits in the book. I love when my worlds collide like that!

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

KNOCKED UP IN ALASKA by Samanthe Beck. Entangled: Amara (May 16, 2022). ASIN: B09Y479G6V. 360p.

Paperback

 

 

 


Spotlight Review: THE GOOD LEFT UNDONE by Adriana Trigiani

May 17, 2022

From the publisher:

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From “a master of visual and palpable detail” (The Washington Post), comes a lush, immersive novel about three generations of Tuscan artisans with one remarkable secret. Epic in scope and resplendent with the glorious themes of identity and belonging, The Good Left Undone unfolds in breathtaking turns.

Matelda, the Cabrelli family’s matriarch, has always been brusque and opinionated. Now, as she faces the end of her life, she is determined to share a long-held secret with her family about her own mother’s great love story: with her childhood friend, Silvio, and with dashing Scottish sea captain John Lawrie McVicars, the father Matelda never knew. . . .

In the halcyon past, Domenica Cabrelli thrives in the coastal town of Viareggio until her beloved home becomes unsafe when Italy teeters on the brink of World War II. Her journey takes her from the rocky shores of Marseille to the mystical beauty of Scotland to the dangers of wartime Liverpool—where Italian Scots are imprisoned without cause—as Domenica experiences love, loss, and grief while she longs for home. A hundred years later, her daughter, Matelda, and her granddaughter, Anina, face the same big questions about life and their family’s legacy, while Matelda contemplates what is worth fighting for. But Matelda is running out of time, and the two timelines intersect and weave together in unexpected and heartbreaking ways that lead the family to shocking revelations and, ultimately, redemption. 

“Trigiani conveys the beauty of Italy, the hardships of war, the taste of family recipes, and the enduring love of family.”—Library Journal (starred)

“[An] immersive saga. . . . A celebration of family and a paean to the power of storytelling.”—People, “Book of the Week”

https://amzn.to/37StqwZ

Trigiani gives us another gem; three generations of women, their stories interwoven from 1929 through World War II through present day, from a small village in Italy to Scotland and the expulsion of “Britalians”, history comes alive on the page, as does the food, the family, and the scenery.

Trigiani is one of my favorite writers and favorite people! She is so full of life, and her exuberance carries over on her pages. bringing every story she tells to life. Sadly, she is not on a book-a-year schedule; in fact, it’s been about four years since her last book, Tony’s Wife. In that review, I said “reading Trigiani is an immersive experience into Italian family life and food and love,” and that tradition continues here, with the Cabrelli family.

Matelda Cabrelli is nearing the end of her life, and wants to share her life and her mother’s life stories with the next generations. They are a family of jewelers, but they are working class – the sell the jewelry they make to the upper classes. Matelda’s mother, Domenica, starts the story with her life in a small village where she became a nurse, and met and married first a Scotsman, then her childhood best friend. she really wants to share her life stories with her granddaughter, Anina, and we all get drawn in.

This book has a slow start, but quickly becomes unputdownable. The descriptions of the locations, and especially the food, are exquisite. But it’s these women who invaded my life and my dreams and will be staying with me for a long time to come. I don’t want to give anything away – one of the treats of reading a Trigiani novel is watching events unfold and lives change. Don’t miss it.

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE GOOD LEFT UNDONE by Adriana Trigiani. Dutton (April 26, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593183328. 448p.

 Kindle

Audible

 

 

 


THE BAILEYS SERIES by Piper Rayne

May 13, 2022

Yes, I am still immersed in Piper Rayne’s world. I started this series last week and posted reviews of the first few books in the series, then I kept going, setting everything else aside. I tried reading a couple of other books but the Bailey’s kept calling me, so I succumbed.

From the author: This small town romance series set in the fictional town of Lake Starlight, Alaska follows the lives of nine orphaned Bailey siblings as they tumble into love. But between the anonymous town gossip blog and their matchmaker grandma, finding their happy ever after isn’t always a smooth or straight path.

Each book centers around one of the Bailey siblings, except for the “Operation” books. Those are novellas (available as eBooks or downloadable audio books) that give a little more detail to some of the storylines from previous books, and propel the story forward. There are also “bonus scenes” offered at the end of each ebook which compel you to subscribe to the Piper Rayne newsletters. Of course you can cancel, but I haven’t bothered because they are not overwhelming and I want all the bonus scenes! This option is not available in print books, as far as I know. If someone knows differently, please let me know in the comments.

All the books in the series are quick reads, humorous, with explicit sex scenes. It feels like this series covers most of the contemporary romance tropes; enemies to lovers, surprise baby, millionaire romance, boss/employee relationship, and so forth. I am fairly secure in saying you will find your favorite romance trope in this series, and maybe find some new ones! Some of the books deal with serious issues, like alcoholism and disability, yet they still manage to maintain the series feel of sweet, sexy romcoms.

And damn if Piper Rayne didn’t draw me in to the next series, the Greene Family. These books are like potato chips to me; I can’t just read one! But there are a bunch of new books that I have been waiting to read so I am setting aside the Greene Family, for at least a few days. Willpower!

The series in order:

1. Lessons from a One-Night Stand

If you’re a guy like me, and you find yourself having banged your sexy new boss—the school principal—in the back of your Jeep one drunken night, here’s a few takeaways based on my experience…

Lesson One: Always get her FULL name.

Lesson Two: Consider asking what she does for a living.

Lesson Three: Find out why she’s moved to town. Get details. Details are crucial.

Lesson Four: Don’t alter her bio in front of an auditorium of high school students unless you know she has a sense of humor for that sort of thing.

Lesson Five: If you ignore Lesson Four, apologize instead of flirt when you’re sent to the principal’s office.

Lesson Six: NEVER sleep with her again.

Lesson Seven: Pay attention to this one—it’s the most important of them all.

Don’t fall for your one-night stand.

Class dismissed.

https://amzn.to/35HKncD

This is Austin Bailey and Holly Radcliffe’s story. Austin is the eldest Bailey sibling. He returned home, giving up a promising career in baseball, when their parents were killed in a freak snowmobile accident. Austin got a job as a coach at the local high school, and the eldest girl, Savannah, took over their parents’ timber business. The two of them became pseudo-parents, guardians, for the rest of the kids.

The family of nine siblings include two sets of identical twins, one girls, one boys, along with other brothers and sisters. All the children are named for the cities in which they were conceived. Their mom was a travel writer, and their dad often accompanied her on trips. Grandma Dorie is the only grandparent they have, and she is a trip! Very much into her grandchildren, to say the least, she is a matchmaker at heart and determined to see all the kids settled.


2. Advice From A Jilted Bride

What’s a girl to do after being ditched at the altar by text message? That’s right. Text. Message.

How does she pick up the pieces and move on? I’m no Dear Abby but here’s a little free advice…

Advice #1 – First, purge your apartment of all things him—by tossing his belongings off the balcony.

Advice #2 – Do not, I repeat do not, throw anything out into the hallway because you’ll injure your hot new neighbor.

Advice #3 – When said neighbor brings over Chinese Food do not let him stay and keep you company. It’s awkward when you realize he’s your boss.

Advice #4 – Accept his offer to help you with your side business but think twice before using a date to his sister’s wedding as collateral.

Advice #5 – Investigate who your mystery neighbor really is. Don’t trust his word even if he’s the world’s best kisser.

If you listen to nothing else, pay attention to that last one. It’s the most important and will save you a lot of heartache.

Xo,

LOVESICK IN LAKE STARLIGHT

https://amzn.to/3MjZwks

3. Birth of a Baby Daddy

If you’re having fun living your bachelor life in your Alaskan hometown and out of nowhere a woman shows up holding a baby she insists is yours, you need a plan-a birth plan.

BP Step #1 – Lift your jaw off the floor.

BP Step #2 – Figure out the baby’s age-do the math.

BP Step #3 – Try to remember the woman and with any luck, her name.

BP Step #4 – Double check that she’s not confusing you with your twin brother.

BP Step #5 – Ignore your five sister’s scowls as your entire family watches the drama unfold.There’s only one thing you shouldn’t do.

BP Step #6 – Don’t assume she’s there because she wants your daughter to call you Daddy. You’ll only end up disappointed.

Time to figure out a new plan-one that changes her mind.

https://amzn.to/3l95GI4

3.5 Operation Bailey Wedding

No one could have guessed a marriage could sprout from a one-night stand, but Holly Radcliffe and Austin Bailey appear to be written in the stars.

From the backseat of Austin’s Jeep to the altar they come.

The town of Lake Starlight along with the Bailey’s are prepping for the event of the year, but as usual things never go smoothly with these nine siblings and let’s not forget Grandma Dori!

This is a novella in the Bailey series!

https://amzn.to/3LbUAMQ

4. Falling for my Brother’s Best Friend

Let’s say you’re an independent, self-sufficient woman who runs the family company and you find yourself falling for your little brother’s best friend. Now, more than ever, you need to count all the reasons why you need to abandon falling.

Abandon Falling #1 – He’s a womanizer. Hasn’t had a serious relationship a day in his life and changes women more often than he changes his sheets.

Abandon Falling #2 – He’s never serious. He cracks one-liners, mostly at your expense.

Abandon Falling #3 – When things go wrong, he seems unfazed and always remains in control. It’s so annoying.

Abandon Falling #4 – He has tattoos. Lots of them. Everywhere. Not to mention, he owns a tattoo parlor. (Damn it! Why doesn’t that sound like a bad thing anymore?)

Abandon Falling #5 – There’s a growing list of how different you two are. You can’t get along for fifteen minutes—a lifetime together would land one of you in prison.

Keep repeating those reasons and drown yourself in work. Pretend you don’t notice his good qualities or how enticing he looks without a shirt, and do not, I repeat, do not agree to live with the man while your place is being repaired from flood damage.

Trust me, even the strongest of us can only forego temptation for so long.

https://amzn.to/3lapw5y

5. Demise of a Self-Centered Playboy

You might be wondering how you’ll know when your playboy ways are coming to an end. For some it might be an unexpected pregnancy (ahem… you know who), for others it might be finally landing the one woman you’ve always wanted (cough… I won’t mention any names).

For me, it was the death of my mentor and the subsequent reading of his will.The signs were there, they always are. But I didn’t notice them until it was too late, and my demise was complete.

Demise Sign #1 – You find yourself thrust into the land of responsibility and you don’t immediately hightail it out of town.

Demise Sign #2 – Despite being stuck with the world’s biggest Jekyll & Hyde, some sadistic part of you actually enjoys spending time with her.

Demise Sign #3 – Your family suddenly stops wanting to weigh in on every decision in your life.

Demise Sign #4 – Somehow you end up being the voice of reason in your tumultuous partnership.

Demise Sign #5 – You start thinking of other people before yourself.

Demise Sign #6 – You agree to put yourself in the middle of an Alaskan reality TV show that has both of you sleeping in the same tent.

Demise Complete.

https://amzn.to/3szJv1E

6. Confessions of a Naughty Nanny

When a famous music producer moves to Lake Starlight it can’t just be a coincidence. It’s the universe helping to move things along in the right direction so that Griffin Thorne can discover me.

I have to confess—I’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Confession #1: I may have overhead that he was in search of a nanny. What can I say? My brother has a big mouth.

Confession #2: It’s possible I helped along the assumption that I had nanny experience. Hey, babysitting my nieces and nephew counts, right?

Confession #3: There’s a good chance I oversold my qualifications. But my Grandma Dori backed me up, so it’s not completely my fault.

And it worked. He hired me. Only for me to find out that he left the business. I guess it’s on to Plan B.

When he accidentally overhears me singing, I expect nothing from him. Then he asks to work with me on a song for our town’s Founder’s Day Parade and it feels like a dream come true. Until…

Confession #4: I’ve fallen for him.

https://amzn.to/39MAfkf


6.5 Operation Bailey Babies

BUZZ WHEEL PRESS RELEASE:

Don’t drink the Lake Starlight water!

Bailey babies are busy growing in their mommies tummies and the Baileys are having a triple baby shower to celebrate.

If you want in on the pool on who pops first and when contact me. 😉

This is a novella in the series.

https://amzn.to/3l5HRRx


7. Secrets of the World’s Worst Matchmaker

Imagine you’re a matchmaker and you realize too late you’re in love with your childhood best friend. You only have yourself to blame—you’re the one who matched him and now he’s engaged to be married. When you find yourself in this position there’s a few secrets you’re going to need to keep…

Secret #1 – Smile when he tells you the happy news, even if your heart cracks in half.

Secret #2 – Don’t compare yourself to his beautiful French fiancée. You’re just as beautiful.

Secret #3 – Don’t tag along to the tux fitting with him alone. Just no.

Secret #4 – Don’t help him learn to dance to his wedding song.

Secret #5 – Erase all memories of the two of you through the years when lines blurred for even the briefest of moments.

https://amzn.to/38kvtu9

8. Winning my Best Friend’s Girl

Imagine lying in a hospital bed and the doctor who pulls the curtain back to treat you is the one who got away. Even if you never really had her in the first place. She’s not only your high school crush, she’s the ex-girlfriend of your ex-best friend. The one girl you’ve always wanted.

Here’s a step-by-step list to finally win her over…

Key to win #1: Try not to take offense that she snuck back into town without telling you—six months ago.

Key to win #2: Rekindle the friendship to ease the awkwardness. But… DO NOT enter the friend zone.

Key to win #3: Ignore the fact that she went speed dating the night before. Take it as good a sign—maybe she’s looking for a relationship.

Key to win #4: Attempt to keep the two of you out of the town gossip blog and away from your large family. Make sure you don’t let this last one throw you off your mission.

Key to win #5: Don’t get deterred when you find out the past is about to repeat itself. Because the man she met at the speed dating night is your best buddy from work.

Just remember, you sat back and let her slip away once, you won’t do it a second time. Failure is not an option.

Author Note: This book does NOT contain cheating.

https://amzn.to/37HLji5

9. Rules for Dating Your Ex

If your ex arrives in your hometown eighteen months after you walked out on him while you were eight months pregnant, follow this short list of rules before you give him a second chance.

Rule #1 – Don’t stand in the way of your brothers who want to rough him up.

Rule #2 – Don’t meet him for coffee and agree to allow him to meet your daughter.

Rule #3 – Don’t drool when your daughter falls asleep on his chest for the first time. It’s just your ovaries talking.

Rule #4 – Don’t let him hold your hand. While we’re at it, no hugs, no kisses on the cheek… just no physical contact in general. That only leads to remembering better times.

The last one is the most important…

Rule #5 – When you find yourself needing someone’s help and you’re tired of always asking your family, don’t let him be the one who’s there for you.

Because all those good qualities of his will suck you right back in and you’ll have no chance of fighting your feelings, especially now that he’s ready to be a father to your daughter.

https://amzn.to/39kULrV

9.5 Operation Bailey Birthday

LAKE STARLIGHT BUZZ WHEEL

PRESS RELEASE: Rumor around town is a certain matriarch of the Bailey family is having a BIG BIRTHDAY! It’s even spurred a few of the Bailey kids to return home to celebrate with their beloved great-grandmother, Dori. In fact, now that there are twenty-six Bailey great-grandchildren the event is going to be overflowing with laughter and love.

Also… I heard that Piper & Rayne have been speaking to some of the kids (i.e. Calista, Maverick, Easton, Brinley and Palmer) and so we’re getting some special POV’s. I can’t wait to report my findings the day after the party!

https://amzn.to/39giWI8

This is the last book/novella of the series, and it was great spending a bit more time with the Bailey’s. It also introduces the next series, The Greene Family, and I am looking forward to reading those nine books soon!

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch


Spotlight Review: ACROSS THE AISLE by Stephanie Vance

May 10, 2022

From the publisher:

Tough as nails DC lobbyist Dallas McGrath can’t believe she’s being ordered to reach a legislative compromise with the opposition. And not just with anyone…with the most arrogant, obnoxious lobbyist in DC, Grant Pierce. He always finds a way to get under her skin, and it usually starts with that kissable mouth of his turning up into an annoying smirk. Well, this is one negotiation she plans to win at any cost.

Career lobbyist Grant Pierce knows he shouldn’t enjoy ruffling the feathers of the opposition this much, but he can’t help it. Almost no one leaves him without a witty comeback—except Dallas McGrath. Maybe it’s her sharp mind, or maybe it’s the sexy way she bulldozes his every argument. Either way, he’s got the perfect plan to put her off her game. He suggests they negotiate at baseball games, jazz clubs, and nap studios—but even he’s not prepared for what happens next…

https://amzn.to/3P8LpzV

I was very excited to read this as it is set in the political world of Washington D.C. It doesn’t feel like there are many romances in that setting for some reason, and I find it interesting. Maybe romance writers don’t want to dip their toes into politics because of how divided this country is today, but Vance really nailed it. There is no discord or references to all the division and, let’s call it what it really is, insanity that is going on in this country right now, so that alone made this a pleasurable read.

I didn’t know a whole lot about how lobbyists work (other than by throwing money at every person who could possibly help them achieve their ends) and now I feel a little better informed, albeit in an entertaining way. And isn’t that the best way to learn?

Dallas McGrath and Grant Pierce and two lobbyists on opposing sides of an agricultural issue. Naturally, they hate one another. Dallas has the additional stress of a father who is heavily invested in the outcome. So when they are forced to work together to reach a compromise (I did mention this is fiction, yes?) they also fall in love. Trust, on the other hand, remains an issue that ultimately can cripple the fledgling relationship.

The only downside to this novel is that it may be hard to follow how the American political structure works if you are not already familiar with it, as in all you international readers. I think Vance does a really good job with it, but I am very politically aware so take that under advisement. Vance works in that world so her point of view is from the inside. Need I say a happy ending is achieved?

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ACROSS THE AISLE by Stephanie Vance. Entangled: Amara (May 9, 2022). ASIN: B08X3DV4KY. 240p.

Paperback

 

 

 


FOUR WEDDINGS AND AN AUNTIE by Jesse Q. Sutanto

May 6, 2022

Aunties, Book 2

From the publisher:

The aunties are back, fiercer than ever and ready to handle any catastrophe—even the mafia—in this delightful and hilarious sequel by Jesse Q. Sutanto, author of Dial A for Aunties.

Meddy Chan has been to countless weddings, but she never imagined how her own would turn out. Now the day has arrived, and she can’t wait to marry her college sweetheart, Nathan. Instead of having Ma and the aunts cater to her wedding, Meddy wants them to enjoy the day as guests. As a compromise, they find the perfect wedding vendors: a Chinese-Indonesian family-run company just like theirs. Meddy is hesitant at first, but she hits it off right away with the wedding photographer, Staphanie, who reminds Meddy of herself, down to the unfortunately misspelled name.

Meddy realizes that is where their similarities end, however, when she overhears Staphanie talking about taking out a target. Horrified, Meddy can’t believe Staphanie and her family aren’t just like her own, they are The Family—actual mafia, and they’re using Meddy’s wedding as a chance to conduct shady business. Her aunties and mother won’t let Meddy’s wedding ceremony become a murder scene—over their dead bodies—and will do whatever it takes to save her special day, even if it means taking on the mafia.

“Sutanto deftly blends preposterous humor (British slang, mafia posers) with enduring devotion to prove ‘there is no right or wrong way to ‘being Asian.’”—Booklist

“Charming, chaotic, and sometimes ridiculous, this tale will appeal to anyone who both adores and is embarrassed by their family, which is just about everyone.”—Publishers Weekly

“You can’t help but get a kick out of the auntie’s outrageous stunts and their even bigger hearts. Keep your friends close and these four aunties closer.”—Kirkus

https://amzn.to/3KRHxjr

It was so much fun to spend some time with Meddy and her aunties again! This is the sequel to Dial A for Aunties, and Sutanto lived up to the hype and met (maybe even surpassed) expectations.

Meddy is finally getting married and her mom and the aunties are busy planning the wedding. Yes, Meddy is certainly old enough to plan her own wedding, but why deprive her family the pleasure. They meet up with a wedding planner, the grandmother of the family much like Meddy’s, only instead of aunties, there are uncles. The granddaughter is the photographer and makes Meddy feel like she found a new friend, and uncles doing hair and makeup and floral arrangements. Everything is in place and going smoothly until Meddy overhears her photographer on the phone talking about taking someone out at her wedding. Meddy confronts her, and the young woman basically blackmails Meddy and her aunties into letting them do the job and keeping quiet about the possible murder.

This leads to all sorts of shenanigans, along with the aunties taking British slang lessons with hilarious results. There is so much to love here; the humor, the family, and of course, the wedding. It all comes together in an over the top, laugh out loud crime spree of sorts. This series is most reminiscent of early Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books, with similar madcap humor and a touch of romance. I loved it.

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FOUR WEDDINGS AND AN AUNTIE by Jesse Q. Sutanto. Berkley (March 29, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593333051. 304p.

 Kindle

Audible

 Hardcover

 

 


CHASE WILDE COMES HOME by Jennifer Ryan

May 6, 2022

Wyoming Wilde, Book 1

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ryan begins a brand-new series with a western set romance between a former soldier and the mother of his child. Perfect for fans of Diana Palmer, Linda Lael Miller, and BJ Daniels.

They’re tough, tender, and sometimes tormented; they’re the Wildes of Wyoming, three brothers whose family ties are as strong as their wills.

Chase Wilde never expected to fall in love, especially with Shelby Payne. Years before, one passionate night had drawn these two lost souls together. Then Chase left on deployment with the Army, while Shelby raised their baby alone. Now he’s back, a wounded warrior determined to turn his life around. Shelby knows what it’s like to lose everything, including her own family. So she offers him a bargain: if he can prove himself to be the man he says he is, she will let him into their daughter’s life…and maybe even into hers.

Chase knows it will take a lot to prove to Shelby that there’s more between them than the single night they spent together. She’s everything he’s ever wanted, including the voice of reason he needs to reconcile his past and be the man he wants to be for them both. But just as their lives come together, she’s torn away from him by a dangerous person from her past, and saving her means saving himself . . . because he can’t live without her.

https://amzn.to/3ycmVjr

Ryan writes good romances with interesting characters, and this is no exception. This is the first book of a new series, and it looks to be a really good one. There are three Wilde brothers, and this story centers around the eldest, Chase.

Talk about a damaged character; PTSD from a stint in the armed services, and a painkiller addiction. Just to make matters even worse, right when Chase is about to be released from rehab, a friend ODs in front of him and he uses mouth-to-mouth to try and save her. Instead, he ends up with the drugs in his system from touching her, and extends his stay in rehab another week.

Chase’s family is mad at him to begin with because they feel like he helped their mother end her life when she was dying of cancer. There are a lot of hard feelings all the way around, so when he finally is released, he’s not even sure where he’ll stay. To his surprise, Shelby is waiting for him as he walks out.

Chase and Shelby had a life-changing one night stand before he left for the army. They met in the bar in town, and the next morning went their separate ways. But Shelby got pregnant, and Chase takes that responsibility to heart.

Shelby is another damaged character. She is the result of her mother’s being raped, and as an infant, her mother tried to drown her then committed suicide. Her grandparents raised her but Shelby knew that every time they looked at her, they saw what happened to their daughter. She grows up the talk of the town and very much alone.

Shelby and Chase have strong feelings for one another, but there are so many hurdles in the way of their happily every after. There is also quite a bit of suspense running through this romance because the man who raped her mother has been released from prison. He stalked her mother until he kidnapped her, and now he seems to be just as obsessed with his daughter and granddaughter.

Ryan touches on a lot of serious issues, making this much darker and deeper than many romance novels. She does a really good job building the suspense of the stalker/rapist and the romance, but rules are rules and a happy ending is reached. I am looking forward to the next book in this series – some breadcrumbs were laid so we can see where it is going and I can’t wait!

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

CHASE WILDE COMES HOME by Jennifer Ryan. Avon (March 29, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0063111400. 400p.

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HIGHLAND JUSTICE by Heather McCollum

May 6, 2022

Sons of Sinclair, Book 3

From the publisher:

As the new chief of Clan Mackay, Gideon Sinclair knows the importance of maintaining order at any cost. To keep the conquered clan in line, Gideon must mete out ruthless justice or risk losing their precious new peace. But from the moment he meets Cait Mackay―aye, from the moment the sweetness of her lips captures his―all of Gideon’s careful objectivity is well and thoroughly compromised.

Cait knows that kissing the brawny Highlander is a dangerous game. It was bad enough she picked his pocket to feed the children in her care, but sometimes a desperate woman must disguise her crimes any way she can. Only her act of deception has made things worse… Because one kiss with the Highland’s most brutal chief leaves her breathless and out of her depth.

Now Gideon must choose between his duty and his heart when his lovely thief is accused of treason against the king himself.

Each book in the Sons of Sinclair series is STANDALONE:

* Highland Conquest

* Highland Warrior

* Highland Justice

https://amzn.to/3Fmj1Wx

I read the first book in this series, Highland Conquest, but somehow I never got the second book. So here I am, reviewing the third and I have to say it’s true, they definitely stand alone. And they are so good!

This series is set in Scotland during the 1500s, so a fascinating time period. This book begins each chapter with a rule of law that was used during that time and I found those so interesting, and each law explained ties into the story. The main characters are Cait, a beautiful young widow, and Gideon, one of the sons of Sinclair. They were raised as the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and Gideon is the Horseman of Justice. He makes the laws, and he enforces the laws, determining each suspect’s guilt or innocence. But when he meets Cait, everything changes.

Cait was married off when she was 15 years old by her father, to settle some debts. Her younger sister Willa was part of the package deal. But her husband was a cruel man, and told her she didn’t conceive because she’s a cold woman. She believes that until she meets Gideon.

Cait loves babies, and she takes in any children that need a home. Gideon is impressed with her good heart, and there is a strong attraction there. But when her oldest child, Jack, is accused of heinous crimes, Gideon must decide between helping Cait with her child, or the helping James, the King of Scotland, as ordered.

I really enjoyed this story and this time period. I haven’t read much set back then and I find it so interesting. These characters really touched me, and now I have to backtrack and try to find the second book in the series that I missed. If you like historical romances with some steamy sex, this is a good one.

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HIGHLAND JUSTICE by Heather McCollum. Entangled: Amara (April 26, 2022) ISBN:‎ 978-1649370761. 400p.

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BIRTH OF A BABY DADDY by Piper Rayne

May 6, 2022

The Baileys, Book 3

From the publisher:

If you’re having fun living your bachelor life in your Alaskan hometown and out of nowhere a woman shows up holding a baby she insists is yours, you need a plan-a birth plan.

BP Step #1 – Lift your jaw off the floor.

BP Step #2 – Figure out the baby’s age-do the math.

BP Step #3 – Try to remember the woman and with any luck, her name.

BP Step #4 – Double check that she’s not confusing you with your twin brother.

BP Step #5 – Ignore your five sister’s scowls as your entire family watches the drama unfold. There’s only one thing you shouldn’t do.

BP Step #6 – Don’t assume she’s there because she wants your daughter to call you Daddy. You’ll only end up disappointed.

Time to figure out a new plan-one that changes her mind.

https://amzn.to/3kMq1Tn

Piper Rayne and Hoopla – a marriage made in heaven! I found the third book in this series through my library and it looks like they have the rest.

I’m not usually that big a fan of oops babies creating a romance, but Rayne does it so well she’s changed my mind. Denver and Rome Bailey are twins. When Harley shows up with 2-year-old Calista in tow, she’s looking for the baby daddy, who told her his name was Denver. Denver was involved in a wilderness accident, where he saved his client, a famous music producer. The story goes viral and Harley is convinced she’s found her one night stand. Calista has a medical condition, so Harley wants the family medical history. She figures she’ll show up, get what she needs, and take off again. Little does she know that Denver wasn’t her one night stand – Rome was. And he wants to be a proper father to his daughter, not at all what Harley had planned for.

The Baileys are a large family and an important one in this small Alaskan town. Harley and Rome try to work things out, and one thing leads to another and they become a family – and it is a lot of fun until they get there! Looking forward to book four.

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

BIRTH OF A BABY DADDY by Piper Rayne. Piper Rayne (May 1, 2019). ISBN: ‎978-1987925524. 290p.

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Spotlight Review: THE HOMEWRECKERS by Mary Kay Andrews

May 3, 2022

From the publisher:

Summer begins with Mary Kay Andrews, in this delightful summer read about flipping houses, and finding true love.

Hattie Kavanaugh went to work restoring homes for Kavanaugh & Son Restorations at eighteen, married the boss’s son at twenty, and became a widow at twenty-five. Now, she’s passionate about her work, but that’s the only passion in her life. “Never love something that can’t love you back,” is advice her father-in-law gives her, but Hattie doesn’t follow it and falls head-over-heels for a money pit of a house. She’s determined to make it work, but disaster after disaster occurs, and Hattie’s dream might cost Kavanaugh & Son their livelihood. Hattie needs money, and fast.

When a slick Hollywood producer shows up in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, she gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: star in a beach house renovation reality show called The Homewreckers, cast against a male lead who may be a love interest, or may be the ultimate antagonist. Soon, there’s more at stake than bad pipes and dry rot: during the demolition, evidence comes to light that points to the mysterious disappearance of a young wife and mother years before.

With a burned out detective investigating the case, an arsonist on the loose, two men playing with her emotions, and layers upon layers of vintage wallpaper causing havoc, it’s a question of who will flip, who will flop, and if Hattie will ever get her happily-ever-after.

https://amzn.to/3vZfeKK

I love that with her thirtieth book in thirty years, MKA has gone back to her mystery roots. Many years ago, I was a bookseller for Borders Books & Music, a large chain of bookstores (think Barnes & Noble, but with a better collection) when I discovered the Callahan Garrity mystery series by Kathy Hogan Trocheck and I loved them. When as Mary Kay Andrews, she turned towards romance/chick lit, I went along for the ride. So I can say with some certainty that I like her writing style, and the genre just doesn’t matter to me. I feel like my summer doesn’t begin until I get the new MKA book, so hello summer!

This book was an especially fun one, involving a reality TV show on a HGTV-type network. Since I spend half my weekend watching that channel, this book was right in my wheelhouse. Mo is a producer in search of his next hit when he stumbles across Hattie working on restoring an old Victorian house in Savannah. She’s a beautiful young woman running a job site, and Mo is hooked. To his surprise, Hattie has no interest in becoming a celebrity but he is determined to make her one anyway.

After a series of events leaves Hattie hurting for money, she acquiesces and “Saving Savannah” is born. However, Mo’s contact at the network hates the title and wants to create a home renovation/dating show called “The Homewreckers.” She sends a celebrity interior designer, Trae, to Savannah to “help” with the renovation of the 100 year old beach house on Tybee Island. And in the process, a romance between Hattie and Trae will help jumpstart the series.

Hattie is a young widow with quite the back story, and she works for her father-in-law, Tug, renovating these old Savannah houses. But as they start the demolition, a wallet is found in the wall. It belongs to a young woman and mother who had gone missing seventeen years earlier, a beloved teacher at the girls school where Hattie went. The police are brought in and get to work trying to figure out how it ended up in the walls of the home. A short time later there is a dumpster fire at the job site, pictures of Hattie & Trae having a romantic dinner go viral, and a body is found. This is not your typical reno!

The Homewreckers has a bit of mystery and a bit of romance, and the combination makes this an unputdownable read. I loved it!

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE HOMEWRECKERS by Mary Kay Andrews. St. Martin’s Press (May 3, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-1250278364. 448p.

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LESSONS FROM A ONE NIGHT STAND by Piper Rayne

April 29, 2022

The Baileys, Book 1

From the publisher:

If you’re a guy like me, and you find yourself having banged your sexy new boss—the school principal—in the back of your Jeep one drunken night, here’s a few takeaways based on my experience…

Lesson One: Always get her FULL name.

Lesson Two: Consider asking what she does for a living.

Lesson Three: Find out why she’s moved to town. Get details. Details are crucial.

Lesson Four: Don’t alter her bio in front of an auditorium of high school students unless you know she has a sense of humor for that sort of thing.

Lesson Five: If you ignore Lesson Four, apologize instead of flirt when you’re sent to the principal’s office.

Lesson Six: NEVER sleep with her again.

Lesson Seven: Pay attention to this one—it’s the most important of them all.

Don’t fall for your one-night stand.

Class dismissed.

https://amzn.to/35HKncD

I’m still enmeshed in Piper Rayne’s world. I read the second book of this series, Advice From a Jilted Bride, then went back to find the first. Her books are all one night reads for me and my guilty pleasure of late! I love books set in Alaska, and while the setting is fun, it’s the characters that make this series.

The plot is fairly straight forward; Holly is the new principal at the high school, filling in for the principal on maternity leave. Shortly after she arrives in town, she meets Austin Bailey, for all intents and purposes the male head of his household. The Bailey family lost their parents in a snowmobiling accident, and Austin stepped up to take care of everyone. He blows off steam by having one night stands with tourists, and Holly is just his type.

What he didn’t realize was that she isn’t a tourist, but a new resident. All sorts of problems arise, not the least of which is he a coach at the high school and she is his boss. Things go from bad to worse before they get better, and there is a lot of sexy fun along the way.

Looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

4/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LESSONS FROM A ONE NIGHT STAND by Piper Rayne. Piper Rayne Incorporated (February 6, 2019). ISBN: ‎978-1987925487. 340p.

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