BREATHING ROOM by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

September 21, 2017

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Susan Elizabeth Phillips is one of my favorite contemporary romance writers, and I thought I had read all of her books. I was wrong, somehow I missed this one.

This is a standalone, set mostly in Tuscany so I was all over that. Isabel Favor is a world famous psychologist with a huge following. She has bestselling books, TV deals, and a perfect life, including her fiancé. Perfect, that is, until he dumps her for another woman and her accountant embezzles all her money and flees the country, leaving her with a whopping multi-million dollar IRS debt, and those boys don’t play. She sells everything she owns to pay her back taxes, and then she flees the country, going to Italy to lick her wounds and reinvent herself.

While in Rome, she is at a cafe and sees a very good looking man who seems to be watching her. He makes his way over to her and she decides to try something she’s never done before; have a one night stand with a stranger. Isabel is more of a fall-in-love-then-have-sex kind of woman, so this is way outside her comfort zone. The sex isn’t great, and in the process, she convinces herself that this man must be a gigolo. She throws some money on the bed and takes off.

Isabel got a two month rental of a Tuscan farm house through a friend, but when she gets there they try and tell her she can’t stay, she needs to move into town. But this is the calming paradise she has been seeking and she refuses to move. She marches herself up to the villa at the top of the hill where the owner resides. Much to her surprise, the owner is a famous actor – and the man she had the one night stand with while he was in disguise.

She stays, he thinks she is a stalker, and something weird is going on with the farm help. Eventually, they form a friendship and then decide to become lovers, but to keep it to a physical relationship only. As any romance reader knows, that idea never works out and they fall in love, but both are too hell bent on keeping it casual that they almost lose each other – almost being the key word here.

This was another wonderful read from Phillips. It’s only $5 if you buy the Kindle version so if you are looking for a sure bet, this one is highly recommended..

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BREATHING ROOM by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Avon; Reprint edition (April 29, 2003).  ISBN 978-0061032097.  400p.


FINAL STOP, ALGIERS by Mishka Ben David

September 20, 2017

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Any course or instruction on how to write successfully will indicate that the author should write about what he knows and/or has experienced. Mishka Ben David certainly does just that. His background includes 12 years in the Mossad (the Israeli Secret Service organization.) Ben David rose to the level of a high ranking officer during his time with the group.

Mickey Simhoni, an Israeli citizen, had served in the army and after discharge took a vacation which included a stop in Japan. He met Niki, a beautiful Japanese Canadian girl then working in Tokyo and had a short but torrid romance with her. Before anything could happen Mickey leaves for Tel Aviv to take up his normal life. There he falls in love with a girl only to see her killed in a suicide bombing. Faced with this horrific loss he becomes very open to an invitation to join the Mossad.

The training and guiding of an agent described in the novel is obviously the way it is due to Mishka Ben David’s experience with the group. Mickey is also sent on increasingly complex missions until the point where quite by accident he meets up with Niki for the second time. The romance is rekindled with Niki becoming a part of Mickey’s Mossad team in order to be with him again. Mickey faces the challenges of his job with the problem of what is more important to him; his love or succeeding as a Mossad agent with the necessity of possibly taking lives to complete an assignment.

The dark world of international espionage becomes alive for the reader with the horrible necessities of Mickey’s job becoming reality for him and for those reading the book. It is very well done and concentrating on the action described does take the reader into a world very far from the one most of us live in. Certainly, other similar novels will appeal to the reader that enjoyed this book.

9/17 Paul Lane

FINAL STOP, ALGIERS by Mishka Ben David. Peter Halban Publishers (January 26, 2017).  ISBN 978-1905559848. 429p.

Kindle


THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE by Zoe Whittall

September 19, 2017

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Avalon Hills is a small, wealthy enclave in Connecticut and home to the Woodbury family, one of the founding families of the community. George Woodbury is a much-beloved teacher at the local private school who became a hero several years earlier when he took down a gunman in the school hallway. But now George is in trouble – he’s been accused of sexual misconduct and attempted rape on some of his students. Bail is denied and George insists that he is being framed.

George’s wife Joan is the head nurse in the emergency room at the local hospital. She feels their marriage is strong, and she wants to stand by her husband. Their children, Andrew, a lawyer in New York and 17-year-old Sadie, who is at the top of her class at the same school, are devastated. Andrew starts spending quite a bit of time at home, and Sadie hides out at her boyfriend’s house. There, his mother’s live-in boyfriend, a writer, is inspired to write a novelization of the sex scandal that has rocked the town – but doesn’t tell anyone what he is up to.

The family each have to deal with this in their own way, but these characters are not given a whole lot of information and neither is the reader. We get to see the after-effects of such a devastating claim on the family, but it isn’t until almost the end that we learn what probably happened.

I don’t know that there is ever a right or wrong answer to how a family deals with something like this, but by the end, there should be, at least in my mind, and I was not happy with the ending of this book. Maybe it is just too much like real life for my taste. Either way, this book will be terrific for discussion.

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE by Zoe Whittall. Ballantine Books (September 19, 2017). ISBN 978-0399182211.  448p.

Kindle


FINDING OUR FOREVER by Brenda Novak

September 18, 2017

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Silver Springs, Book 1

This is the first book in the new Silver Springs series. As usual, I didn’t start here but rather with the second book, which I liked so much I hunted down this one.

This is a small paperback and a very fast read, but not a whole lot of intrigue. Cora knows she was adopted and has always been curious about her birth mother, but her parents don’t know anything since it was a closed adoption. And they are not comfortable with the idea of her looking for her birth mother, either, it makes them uncomfortable. But Cora is determined, and six years of research has finally turned up her mother.

Aiyana runs a school for troubled boys in the small California town of Silver Springs, two hours from Cora’s home in Los Angeles. As fate would have it, the school is looking for an art teacher and after several years of substitute teaching, Cora applies for the permanent position and gets it. Aiyana’s adopted eldest son, Elijah, is the one who interviews and hires her and Cora is strongly attracted to him but afraid of getting too close to her birth mother’s offspring, even if there is no blood relation between them.

But Eli is just as attracted to Cora and proposes a physical relationship. Eli has had a horrific childhood, and even though Aiyana is a wonderful mother to him, he has emotional scars that still haven’t healed, leaving him closed off emotionally. His previous relationships all ended because of it. Cora is so attracted to him she agrees, thinking this is the perfect solution – no emotional entanglement, just a physical one. Of course she falls in love with him and tries backing off, trying to protect her heart, but surprising himself, Eli can’t let her go.

Meanwhile, Cora loves teaching at the school and especially loves getting to know her mother. But the longer she is there and involved with Eli and his family, the harder it gets to tell them her real reason for being there.

This was good and I’m glad I read it, but I liked the second book better. It is longer, the characters more developed and lots more plot twists. Nonetheless, this was a very enjoyable read and a great introduction to the series.

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FINDING OUR FOREVER by Brenda Novak. Harlequin Special Edition (March 21, 2017).  ISBN 978-0373623389. 224p.

Kindle

 


THE DRIVER by Hart Hanson

September 17, 2017

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I haven’t found a thriller this dark and funny in a long time. Hanson is a TV writer who has developed many books into TV series, most notably “Bones,” based on the Kathy Reichs books. His skills with pacing are evident here as this is a real page turner.

Michael Skellig owns Oasis Limo, and he is the driver. A decorated veteran, he has hired extremely damaged vets and an illegal alien, an Afghani translator, to work for him. I haven’t seen characters this damaged in a very long time, but this is no pity party. Instead, it is a lightning fast, clever thriller interspersed with black humor that helps lighten the darkness.

Skellig is hired to drive Bismark Avilla, a skateboarding, rapping God in L.A. Skellig happens to hear voices, ghosts of the people he has killed and while waiting outside a club for Avilla, he hears a voice warning him of impending danger. He races through the club and foils a murder attempt on Avilla’s life that gets one of his bodyguards killed, and Skellig is injured.

That is just the beginning of a roller coaster ride of good cops, bad cops, gangs, torture, parrots, skateboarders and more. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and the laughter outweighed the violence more often than not. If you love the Dexter books by Jeff Lindsay, or are a fan of Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey, take a trip out to California with Hanson. I hope this is the first book of a series but haven’t heard anything further, yet…

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE DRIVER by Hart Hanson. Dutton (August 8, 2017).  ISBN 978-1101986363. 336p.

Kindle


WHEN YOU DISAPPEARED by John Marrs

September 15, 2017

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An explosive narrative about a long time married couple that experiences a rupture in their marriage lasting 25 years, then the agonizing starts when they finally get together again.

Catherine and Simon have been married for enough time to have three children and one more that didn’t make it past his first few months. They have the appearance of a very happily married couple looking forward to the rest of their lives sharing both good and bad times. Suddenly, out of the blue, Simon disappears with no trace. Searches are launched for him, police bulletins are posted and Catherine is positive that something bad has happened.

Time passes,twenty five years go by, and suddenly out of the blue Simon appears at the door of the house that they had shared and where Catherine still lives. The story of where he has been and why he left is presented in the most brilliant fashion that I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time.

The narrative of the 25 years apart is told in turn by each of them and in a manner that grabs the reader’s interest and keeps it. The manner that each has grown apart from the other is well delineated and assures that the actions and thoughts of the two become clear to the reader. An understanding of how each has acted and what has taken place in their lives is very clear in Marrs’s hands. To complete our understanding of what has motivated the two, the action swings effortlessly back and forth in time at the beginning and then at the twenty five year point.

An extremely well done novel; definitely an all-nighter in every sense of the word.

9/17 Paul Lane

WHEN YOU DISAPPEARED by John Marrs. Thomas & Mercer; Reprint edition (September 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-1611097511. 348p.

Kindle


INTO A DARK FRONTIER by John Mangan

September 13, 2017

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Like your action fast and furious? Like it even more when it is authored by a veteran of action packed combat in real conflict zones. The setting of this novel is in the near future when the African continent has collapsed collectively into a near failed state loosely supervised by the U. N. We meet Slade Crawford, a veteran of nearly 20 years of front line combat, who has been falsely accused of terrorism and is fleeing to Africa to escape his captors. Slade has contracted to lead a group of settlers from the United States looking to make a new life in Africa.

The group lands in Cape Town and begins a journey to the site they intend to settle on which is to the north of South Africa with Slade in military command. The trip is filled with danger and the attacks of a group looking to prevent colonization that has already massacred other colonists looking to settle in Africa. Crawford finds a liking for the goals of the group and also attracts a pretty teenager; a girl half his age that appears to flirt with him. Slade was divorced by his wife and also lost a son just prior to being arrested for terrorism. The double whammy puts him on a path of not caring about anything but the goal of getting his settlers to their destination.

The final section of the novel puts Slade under the orders of the mysterious American Colonel Gary Kraven. The colonel feels free to issue orders to Crawford without telling him what the real situation is that Kraven is following militarily.  Slade ends up going to Nairobi in Kenya under orders from the colonel but also to rescue the pretty teenager that has been following him and was captured by the group involved in preventing African colonization. Slade is now placed in a situation of asking Col. Kraven to help him with the rescue at the price of agreeing to work for him on a full-time basis.

After spending several nights up reading Lt Col(his actual rank) Mangan’s book the reader can take a break and catch their breath while impatiently awaiting the next adventure of Slade Crawford.  A definite keeper and one to follow.

9/17 Paul Lane

INTO A DARK FRONTIER by John Mangan. Oceanview Publishing; Sew edition (September 5, 2017).  ISBN 978-1608092611. 323p.

Kindle


DANCING IN THE RAIN by Kelly Jamieson

September 11, 2017

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Peyton White’s sister Sara is dying. Her niece is hitting her teen years and the three of them are as close as could be, especially since both sisters have never married and Sara has been a single mom since her daughter was born. She got pregnant during a one night stand in college and didn’t even know the father’s last name, only that he was visiting to play in a hockey game.

Now her daughter is twelve years old and Sara sees a headline, recognizing her one night stand and finally learning his full name. He is Drew Sellers, and he’s in the headlines because his hockey career just ended with an injury. Sara meets with him to tell him he has a daughter, but he has seen that happen to a lot of professional athletes. Turns out Sara is telling the truth, about him being the father and the fact she is dying.

Peyton flies to Chicago from NYC, taking a leave of absence from work to care for her dying sister and supervise Drew’s visits. Drew falls in love with his daughter and with Peyton, but there are lots of complications.

This was a real tear jerker and I cried my way through this book to the (thank goodness) happily ever after ending. This was a riveting, emotional read and I loved it.

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DANCING IN THE RAIN by Kelly Jamieson. Loveswept (April 11, 2017).  ASIN B01M5I070G. eBook only.

 


EXECUTE AUTHORITY by Dalton Fury

September 10, 2017

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A Delta Force Novel, Book 5

This is the latest novel featuring Kolt Rayner and his Delta Force squadron. It features the constant action typical of the series. Kolt is in Greece to aid in defending the American president when the unthinkable happens.  A sniper’s bullet through his left eye kills the Greek Prime Minister. The shot itself serves to identify a foe that Raynor has faced previously. Rasim Miric is the deadly sniper whose trademark is the shot through the eyes of his victim. Miric has a personal grudge against Kolt due to the loss of one of Miric’s eyes in action against him during a previous engagement in Europe.

Raynor is up against the mystery of why Miric did not shoot the American president instead of the Greek Prime Minister. What are Miric’s aims in later traveling to the United States? Why has he singled out Kolt’s squadron for attack when it appears that he is hunting the president? Answers are sought through well-described action by Dalton Fury who served as Delta Force commander at Tora Bora and during the search for Osama Bin Laden.

The information contained in a forward to the book gives us the sad news that Dalton Fury passed away from pancreatic cancer and did not live to see this book published.  Certainly, the literary world has lost a great talent, but Fury’s legacy lives on in his novels as well as his real life deeds.

9/17 Paul Lane

EXECUTE AUTHORITY by Dalton Fury. St. Martin’s Press (September 5, 2017).  ISBN 978-1250120489. 304p.

Kindle


THE BEAUTY OF US by Kristen Proby

September 9, 2017

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Fusion, Book 4

I read the last book, Blush for Me, in this series and really enjoyed it, and this one is just as much fun and just as sexy!

Riley Gibson is one of the partners in Seduction, the restaurant/wine bar that is so popular for romantic dinners. She’s gotten them a TV deal but has to convince the chef, Mia, to go along with it and she reluctantly agrees. But when the producer, Trevor, shows up, the chemistry between him and Riley is off the charts. Trevor wants to keep it professional but that is going to be really difficult.

Trevor and Riley all too quickly fall into bed, and then in love. But he lives in Los Angeles, and she’s in Seattle, and how can they make a long distance relationship work? They try but Riley is miserable and pretty soon it all falls apart. Until Trevor realizes he can’t live without her.

This is a fun, fast, super sexy contemporary romance and a most enjoyable read.

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE BEAUTY OF US by Kristen Proby. William Morrow Paperbacks (August 22, 2017). ISBN 978-0062674876.  304p.

Kindle