Spotlight Review: LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus

August 30, 2022

From the publisher:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • A must-read debut! Meet Elizabeth Zott: a “formidable, unapologetic and inspiring” (PARADE) scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show in this novel that is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel. It reminds you that change takes time and always requires heat” (The New York Times Book Review).

“A unique heroine … you’ll find yourself wishing she wasn’t fictional.” —Seattle Times

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo. 

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

“Indefatigable and formidable, Elizabeth pushes the bounds of how women and their work are perceived in this thoroughly engaging debut novel.” —Booklist

“[An] energetic debut…A more adorable plea for rationalism and gender equality would be hard to find.” —Kirkus (starred review)

https://amzn.to/3AwuFw8

This is a fantastic debut novel that got lost on my Kindle (it came out in April), so thanks, Judy, for reminding me about it!

Elizabeth Zott is a feminist icon – or should be, if fictional characters could be. She is a chemist in the late 1950s-early 1960s when a woman’s place was in the home – in the kitchen and the bedroom, really, but she has no interest in that sort of life. She is studying for her master’s degree when she is attacked by her professor. She manages to elude the rapist, but again, this time period allows for women who are raped to get victimized all over again by the police and the judicial system. She is forced to leave school and lands a job at a research facility.

Zott’s boss is a misogynistic slime ball who steals her research and constantly degrades her. But he needs her because her specific research is being funded and no one else can do it. The lab has its star chemist, Calvin, who has the reputation of being brilliant and aloof. Calvin and Elizabeth meet when she steals some of his beakers, as her lab is bereft of necessary supplies. They meet again when he vomits on her, a first for a “meet cute” for me. Calvin has had a tragic life that rivals even Elizabeth’s tragic life, and they fall in love. But she has no interest in marrying. Instead, they live together and are very happy. They adopt a rescue dog that turns out to be about as brilliant as his owners and is a marvelous character in his own right. Six-thirty is his name, and there are snippets of his thoughts throughout the book, reminding me a bit of one of my favorite books, Garth Stein’s Racing in the Rain.

Tragedy befalls the happy couple, and Elizabeth’s life takes a turn when she finds out she is pregnant. She has the baby and is learning to parent when a neighbor helps her out. Harriet becomes her closest friend and ally. Needing a job, Elizabeth agrees to host an afternoon TV show, a cooking show that she is turning into Chemistry 101. Her fanbase grows but the old lech who runs the station wants her to dress sexy and make cocktails. She sticks to her guns and her show is a huge success. Eventually, she finds her way back to chemistry, her first love.

Elizabeth is a quirky, strong character and her story is both hilarious and heartbreaking, yet ultimately inspiring. She truly is unforgettable, as is this novel, which will appear on my best books of the year list. Book groups will have much to discuss here. Don’t miss it!

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus. Doubleday; First Edition (April 5, 2022). ISBN: 978-0385547345. 400p.

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TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW by Gabrielle Zevin

August 26, 2022

From the publisher:

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A JIMMY FALLON BOOK CLUB PICK • In this exhilarating novel by the best-selling author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry two friends—often in love, but never lovers—come together as creative partners in the world of video game design, where success brings them fame, joy, tragedy, duplicity, and, ultimately, a kind of immortality.

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.

“Riveting… Zevin has written the book she was born to write, a love letter to every aspect of gaming…Zevin’s delight in her characters, their qualities, and their projects sprinkles a layer of fairy dust over the whole enterprise…Sure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their lives, with instant cult status for those who have.” —Kirkus, starred

“Zevin creates beautifully flawed characters often caught between the real and gaming worlds, which are cleverly juxtaposed to highlight their similarities and differences. Both readers of love stories and gamers will enjoy. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal, starred

“Zevin… returns with an exhilarating epic of friendship, grief, and computer game development…. Zevin layers the narrative with her characters’ wrenching emotional wounds as their relationships wax and wane… Even more impressive are the visionary and transgressive games… This is a one-of-a-kind achievement.” —Publishers Weekly, starred

https://amzn.to/3cnF05v

Zevin’s book, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, was one of my favorite books, so I was happy to pick up this new one, even though it didn’t sound like something that would interest me. The book is about three friends who create video games. The closest I get to video games are Wordle, the NYT Spelling Bee & Crosswords, and Candy Crush. The video games serve as a backdrop to these characters, and at times, the games are front and center. Somehow I was drawn into their world and I didn’t want to leave.

This is a hard book to quantify; it probably is best slotted into the literary fiction genre (and boy, do they hate when literary fiction is called a genre!) All I can tell you is this is a tour de force and a mesmerizing read. I don’t want to give away anything, so if you like character-driven stories that are fast-paced and emotionally engaging, then this is your book. I loved it, and so did just about all the critics. Too much hype can sometimes backfire, but it is well deserved here.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW by Gabrielle Zevin. Knopf (July 5, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593321201. 416p.

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LOVE ON THE BRAIN by Ali Hazelwood

August 26, 2022

From the publisher:

A #1 LibraryReads and Indie Next Pick!

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis—with explosive results.

Like an avenging, purple-haired Jedi bringing balance to the mansplained universe, Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project—a literal dream come true after years scraping by on the crumbs of academia—Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. And sure, he caught her in his powerfully corded arms like a romance novel hero when she accidentally damseled in distress on her first day in the lab. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school—archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

Now, her equipment is missing, the staff is ignoring her, and Bee finds her floundering career in somewhat of a pickle. Perhaps it’s her occipital cortex playing tricks on her, but Bee could swear she can see Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas…devouring her with those eyes. And the possibilities have all her neurons firing. But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?

“Snappy dialogue with witty zingers make this tender enemies-to-lovers story, set at NASA in Houston, an unforgettable follow-up to neuroscientist Hazelwood’s popular The Love Hypothesis…Light espionage, some derring-do, and an unexpected villain are just some of the delights in Hazelwood’s smart, unusual, and superbly enjoyable tale.”—Booklist, starred review

“The snappy prose, engaging and twisty plot, and utterly endearing characters combine to create pure romance gold.”—Publishers Weekly

https://amzn.to/3wwojeX

It is the strangest thing – when I read Hazelwood’s books, which are often rooted in the hard sciences, the rational part of my brain knows I couldn’t possibly understand half of what these characters are dealing with, yet somehow, she makes me feel as if I do. That is remarkable, especially in a romance!

Bee Königswasser is thrilled that she was picked to head up a new project for NASA, especially as it gets her out from under her misogynistic boss at the National Institute of Health. She is less thrilled to find out she is co-leading the project with Levi Ward, her long time nemesis from grad school. When strange things start happening – lost emails, lost files, etc. Bee assumes it is Levi trying to make her look bad. We all know what happens when you assume…

Lots of angst leads to lots of laughs, and eventually, a happy ending, but not before some serious drama goes down. This book was such a page turner that I stayed up way too late to finish it, and I was so sad when I did. I grew so attached to these characters that I didn’t want to leave them, which says a lot about this author and her writing style. I can’t wait for her next book, but I’m going to have to – she only writes one book a year.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LOVE ON THE BRAIN by Ali Hazelwood. Berkley (August 23, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593336847. 368p.

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Spotlight Review: SCANDALIZED by Ivy Owens

August 23, 2022

From the publisher:

A one-night stand between two old childhood friends turns into something more, but when a scandal threatens to tear them apart, they must decide how hard to fight for love—a steamy romance debut perfect for fans of Tessa Bailey and Kennedy Ryan​.

Exhausted and on deadline with a story that could make or break her career, investigative journalist Georgia Ross is on the verge of a meltdown when a cancelled flight leaves her stuck in the airport overnight. But when a familiar face appears—the older brother of her childhood friend—and offers help, Gigi seems to have caught a break.

Alec Kim is handsome, humble, and kind—exactly the sort of man that Gigi has forgotten existed after her own painful heartbreaks. An evening of reconnection followed by a night of no-strings-attached passion with Alec feels like a gift—that is, until Gigi finally realizes that their childhood connection isn’t the only reason he seems so familiar to her.

Alec is determined to prove to Gigi that he is truly the man she thinks he is, even if it means coming clean about his fame—and his family’s connection to the story Gigi’s been working so hard to break. But as their feelings for each other grow deeper, Gigi and Alec must navigate a new reality…one where both of their hard-won careers are put directly in the path of an international scandal.

“Ivy Owens’s debut brings the perfect amount of humor and heart to the story of childhood friends reunited under unusual circumstances. Scandalized imbues a fraught situation with more humor than angst, and readers will fall instantly for the charming, charismatic characters. The heated love scenes and intense emotional connection between the leads are sure to win Owens legions of fans.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Owens’s spectacular debut is beautifully written and a fun read. Fans of Suzanne Park’s So We Meet Again and Katie Delahanty’s “Brightside” series will have a hard time not consuming it in one sitting.” —Library Journal (starred review)

https://amzn.to/3TekEMz

I love finding a debut novel that is this good – it’s rare and wondrous, especially when it is also a super steamy romance! The chemistry between Gigi, a badass journalist, and Alec, a movie star, is so hot I’m surprised the book didn’t just incinerate in my hands.

Gigi is on her way back to Los Angeles from London, where she broke a story about an exclusive club where the owners/members drug women, rape them, and video the whole thing. Her connecting flight from Seattle to L.A. gets canceled. Gigi is so tired, and all she really wants is a shower and some clean clothes. Then she spots Alec, and with a flash of recognition, she realizes he is her middle school best friend’s older brother. She approaches him, and he remembers her as well. When the closest hotel to the airport is full, he offers her the use of his shower. Turns out Alex has the presidential suite and lots of room to share.

You can guess where it goes from here, but there is also a lot of intrigue about that London club. Turns out Alec may know something, but eventually, it all goes sideways despite the connection these two have. This book really does have it all; suspense, a sweet connection between these characters, not to mention some seriously steamy scenes. I loved it and if you can handle the sex, trust me when I say you will not regret reading this book. I couldn’t put it down and I hated turning that last page. Can’t wait to see what this debut author does next.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SCANDALIZED by Ivy Owens. Pocket Books (August 23, 2022). ISBN: 978-1982199852. 320p.

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TUCKED AWAY by Jennie Marts

August 19, 2022

The Hearts of Montana, Book 1

From the publisher:

Sometimes you find what you need in the most unlikely places…

Charlie Ryan’s cheating fiancé left her with a broken heart and even broker bank account. She’s hit rock bottom, but everything is about to change. Suddenly, she’s inherited a Montana farm named Tucked Away from a grandmother she never knew existed. A fresh start is just what she needs – and no men in her future this time, even if the local vet is as hot as a Montana summer.

Zack Cooper is content with his simple life. Running his veterinary practice and raising his daughter are enough to keep him busy, and he doesn’t need a high-maintenance city girl like his ex who plans to sell her grandma’s ranch and split faster than a setting sun. So why can’t he stop thinking about Charlie and her hot-pink cowboy boots…and the way her eyes say she wants to stay while her lips tease him with plans of leaving?

Just when both start to believe love might be worth the risk…one night will change everything.

https://amzn.to/3QVaUFb

My love affair with Jennie Marts continues with a new-to-me-but-older series, The Hearts of Montana. I found this on Hoopla through my library. Marts has written several series and I’m working my way through them. For a change, I’m starting this series with the first book!

Charlie was brought up by a single mother in New York City. When she catches her boyfriend cheating, she dumps him and crawls home to her mom. Then she finds out she has inherited a farm in Montana from a grandmother she never knew existed. Ready for a change, she rents a car and hits the road.

Her first inkling that she’s no longer in New York City is when her driveway is blocked by an enormous bull, intent on goring her car. Trapped, she is grateful when a cowboy stops and gets the bull out of the way. Her high heels and silk blouse give her away as a newcomer to Montana, but she quickly acclimates to the old farmhouse she’s inherited and the sexy cowboy who’s working there. Cash is a big flirt, but Charlie isn’t going for it. Instead, she runs into the town veterinarian (and single dad,) and finds a serious spark. Turns out every unattached woman in town has her eye on the hunky vet, but he only has eyes for Charlie.

This is a small town romance with a hot cowboy, always a good combination! Charlie acclimated much more quickly to the small town than I certainly would have expected, but I went along for the ride and it was sexy, funny, and heartwarming. (I would read the rest of this series, but it’s not available through my library or Kindle Unlimited.)

The Hearts of Montana series
This western romance series is about three tough but tender cowboys who find love under the big Montana sky. 
1 – Tucked Away (Zack & Charlie)
2 – Hidden Away (Taylor & Cherry)
3 – Stolen Away (Cash & Emma)

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

TUCKED AWAY by Jennie Marts. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 6, 2015). ISBN:‎ 978-1511435932. 320p.

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MAD ABOUT YOU by Mhairi McFarlane

August 19, 2022

From the publisher:

International bestseller Mhairi McFarlane delivers a sharp, emotional new novel about a woman who calls off her engagement to “the perfect man” and moves in with a charming stranger who makes her question everything about her life, her past, and the secrets she’s kept for far too long…

Harriet Hatley is the most in-demand wedding photographer in town, but she doesn’t believe in romance, loathes the idea of marriage, and thinks chocolate fountains are an abomination. Which is why, when her long-time partner proposes, she panics. Suddenly Harriet is single… and living down the hall from her ex. She needs a new apartment, like, yesterday.

Enter Cal Clarke, a hopeless romantic who just experienced his own wedding-related disaster. Harriet and Cal are like chalk and cheese, but as they go from strangers to roommates to friends, it becomes clear they’re both running from something. When Harriet’s most heavily guarded secret comes to light, her world implodes. And Cal, with his witty humor and gentle advice, is a surprising source of calm at the center of the storm.

With her career, friendships, and reputation on the line, Harriet must finally face her past in order to take control of her future. Because if she’s willing to stop playing it safe and risk everything to share her truth, real love and happiness may be waiting on the other side…

“McFarlane’s gift is writing romantic comedy that depicts a recognizable world… without dimming the luster of shining moments of humor, love, and connection.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Despite its heavy themes of coping with past abuse and loss, McFarlane’s latest, following Just Last Night (2021), is a mostly lighthearted romp through friendship, love, and starting over. Readers of Marian Keyes will be drawn to this British charmer.” — Booklist

https://amzn.to/3PBznyi

This is more women’s fiction than romance or rom-com. Harriet has been through a lot; first, several years with an emotional abuser, then a couple of years with basically a rebound, although it takes her a while to figure that out. She meets Cal when she needs to find a new place to live. One of her closest friends is in real estate and tips her off to this room for rent before it gets posted online. A brief phone call later, and Harriet is moving in.

Harriet is a wedding photographer. She has her own business and it has grown pretty much by word of mouth, helped along by social media. She is shocked to find her abusive ex is the best man at a wedding she is shooting and is even more shocked when it turns out the ex is engaged. Feeling a responsibility to perhaps warn his fiancée about him, she sends the young woman a letter, and unfortunately, she shares it with the ex. Payback is brutal and it costs her a lot of business, and eventually a friendship.

Meanwhile, Harriet finds out that her new landlord is actually the runaway groom from a wedding she was supposed to shoot. She’s harbored bad feelings about him ever since, but it’s getting harder to reconcile that behavior with the landlord she has come to know. Harriet and Cal have a spark for sure, but it is very slow burning.

This story is more about abuse and revenge and friendship, but eventually, it leads to a romance with the requisite happy ending. There are some very funny moments as well as a bit of sex. The characters feel real on the page, and I was completely engrossed in their story. This is another winner from McFarlane!

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MAD ABOUT YOU by Mhairi McFarlane. Avon (August 9, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0063117945. 416p.

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YOU HAD ME AT COWBOY by Jennie Marts

August 12, 2022

Cowboys of Creedence, Book 2

From the publisher:

This cowboy is falling hard

Mason James is the responsible one who stayed behind to run the ranch while his brother, Rock, took off to play professional hockey. Women have used him before to get to his brother―and Mason intends never to get burned again. But after he meets quirky Tessa Kane at his brother’s wedding, Mason discovers he’s ready to take a chance on love.

Tessa Kane is a reporter on the verge of losing a job she desperately needs―unless she’s clever enough to snag a story on the famous Rockford James. But when she falls for her subject’s brother, she’s caught between a rock and a hard-muscled cowboy. What will happen when Mason finds out who she really is?

Cowboys of Creedence Series:
Caught Up in a Cowboy (Book 1)
You Had Me at Cowboy (Book 2)
It Started With a Cowboy (Book 3)

https://amzn.to/3Ak8A5f

This is such an enjoyable series, especially if you like cowboy romance as much as I do. These books are set in Creedence, Colorado, outside of Denver. Creedence is a small, ranching town and I like small town romances, too, so these books are a win-win for me.

Mason is the middle brother and the one that stepped up to run the ranch when his older brother, Rock, followed his love of hockey to the NHL. Rock is home now and getting ready to marry his childhood sweetheart, Quinn, and their romance was in the first book of this series. Even though these books do stand alone, I think this series may be best read in order.

Mason has been burned more than once by women who pretended to be interested in him to get to his older, celebrity hockey player brother. But this whole week of wedding fun is becoming painful for him as he feels like everyone is pitying him for being alone, not to mention pointing it out to him. So not fun. So when he has to go to the supply closet at the welcome dinner, he gets quite an eyeful. Tessa is in there trying to button a clean shirt that isn’t quite fitting across her chest. Mason gets an eyeful and she is embarrassed, but being the nice guy he is, he gets her a shirt that will button. Their chemistry is palpable, and when she tells him she was invited to this dinner by a blind date who has stood her up, he asks her to be his date – for all the wedding festivities.

Tessa has had the day from hell. She just found out her grandmother who raised her after her parents were killed in an accident has fallen for the Nigerian prince scam and is flat broke. That prince hacked into her bank accounts and wiped her out, and now their home is in foreclosure. She’s a writer for a Denver magazine, and her boss just fired her unless she can get him all the dirt on the quickie wedding she’s now attending. She reluctantly agrees.

The more time they spend together, the more they fall in love. Tessa’s guilt is eating at her, and Mason can’t quite believe his feelings. But when he finds out she is a reporter, all hell breaks loose. No worries, they find their happy ending but so much angst before they get there! These were wonderful characters and I loved their story. Can’t wait to get into the next book!

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

YOU HAD ME AT COWBOY by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (November 27, 2018). ISBN:‎ 978-1492655725. 352p.

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CAUGHT UP IN A COWBOY by Jennie Marts

August 12, 2022

Cowboys of Creedence, Book 1

From the publisher:

This Cowboy Turned Hockey Player Needs to Bring His Game to Win Back the Heart of His High School Sweetheart

Welcome to Creedence, Colorado―where the gossip flows, the chicken is fried, and the cowboys are hotter than a Colorado chili pepper.How do you heal a broken heart?

I play to win…

Raised as a tried-and-true cowboy in a town obsessed with hockey, I’ve always been competitive, whether on a horse or on the ice. I thought my cowboy days were over when the NHL snapped me up, but now injuries have me heading home with a bruised ego to match the damage to my body.

One problem―when I joined the NHL, I left my high school sweetheart behind with a broken heart and not much else. Now, when I finally “cowboy up” and go to ask for a second chance, I’m shocked as hell to find her with a baby and no man around. She thinks she can forget about what we had together, but I’m bound and determined to get her caught up in us once again.

https://amzn.to/3SLe9AN

I loved the Creedence Horse Rescue series so much that I went looking for more books by this author and found this series that precedes the one I just finished. Luckily, all the books stand alone so I’m good with that.

I was assigned a book to review for Library Journal, and I’m really not enjoying it so I read a few chapters, then put it down to read something I like. Like Jennie Marts. She is getting me through the book I have to read by giving me a break from it. When I was reviewing for Booklist, I liked that they don’t publish negative book reviews (for the most part) so if I got halfway through a book and didn’t like it enough to finish it, I could tell my editor that and get a different book to review. Library Journal doesn’t work that way; they want all the books reviewed, good or bad. Happily, this book I am reviewing for my blog is a good one!

So cowboys and NHL players? Yes, please! Rock grew up on his family’s ranch with his two brothers. They lost their father when they were pretty young, but his mom is a strong woman and she kept the ranch and family going strong. But Rock’s true love is hockey. And Quinn. They grew up together as best friends, then fell in love and were high school sweethearts. But when Rock left home for the NHL, he also left Quinn and broke her heart. He became known as a playboy and life was great, until he got a serious injury.

Rock is sent home to recuperate, and while he’s at home he sees Quinn again. He quickly realizes that he is still in love with her, but she wants nothing to do with him. Unfortunately, their families live on adjoining ranches and do a lot of work together, so they are constantly thrown together.

Quinn had a one night stand with a real jerk after Rock left, and she ended up pregnant. Luckily, her dad and brother stepped up and she has been raising Max for eight years on her family’s ranch. When Rock meets Max, he falls in love with the little guy, too. But how to get Quinn on board is the real dilemma here.

This is a sweet and occasionally sexy romance, and I loved these characters. My only complaint about this author is her endings always feel rather abrupt. I guess the idea is to leave the reader wanting more, and it works for sure! If you like cowboy romance or sports romance, this is a winner. Moving on to the next book in the series!

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

CAUGHT UP IN A COWBOY by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (May 1, 2018). ISBN:‎ 978-1492655695. 352p.

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HOW TO COWBOY by Jennie Marts

August 12, 2022

Creedence Horse Rescue, Book 3

From the publisher:

For fans of Carolyn Brown, Maisey Yates, and Jennifer Ryan, this steamy, emotional cowboy romance has all your favorites:

  • A hunky single dad showing his daughter the ropes
  • A heroine looking for a fresh start
  • Leaning on each other through hard times
  • Irresistible attraction
  • Rescue horses and ranch animals with lots of personality

How do you heal a broken heart?

After one injury too many, Cade Callahan gave up the rodeo for a simpler life working at his cousin’s horse rescue ranch. But his life turns upside down when his estranged daughter is placed in his custody after a tragic car accident. Wanting nothing to do with her father, thirteen-year-old Allie struggles to adjust to her new life.

Newly single and living out of her mother’s basement, physical therapist Nora Fisher doesn’t think twice about taking a job as a traveling therapist for Cade’s daughter. The trouble is, she doesn’t know anything about horses, or hunky cowboys. Now both in way over their heads, can Cade and Nora find a way to help Allie, and trust in the attraction building between them?

https://amzn.to/3bKEFtx

I’ve read three books in this series, but somehow missed this one. As soon as I realized that, I hustled over to the library (ok, to the library website!) and found this book on Hoopla. As I’ve pointed out in my reviews of the other books in the series, it is terrific and each book stands alone, so no worries if you can’t get them in order.

Cade chased his rodeo dreams for years until injuries finally forced him to retire. Meanwhile, he had a daughter. He was around for her first few years, but her mother pushed him away and they’ve been out of touch for years as Allie is now a teenager. When her mother dies, Cade is there for her but she doesn’t really want anything to do with him. Forced into the situation is a grieving teenager with a bad injury from the accident that killed her mother, and a whole lot of attitude.

Cade hires Nora Fisher, a physical therapist, to help his daughter. She recently quit her job and is available to move to the ranch to take care of Allie. The three of them grow close just by being in that proximity, but Cade quickly realizes his feelings for Nora go way beyond the professional relationship – and she feels the same. Meanwhile, Allie’s aunt is trying to get custody and of course, there is money involved from a life insurance policy.

This story was compelling between the budding romance and the father-daughter relationship. I liked it so much that I started looking at more Jennie Marts books and found another of her cowboy series that also features hockey players. It’s a win-win for me; reviews to follow.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HOW TO COWBOY by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (December 28, 2021). ISBN:‎ 978-1492689706. 336p.

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Spotlight Review: ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER by Amanda Usen

August 9, 2022

From the publisher:

Clara Duke lives to crochet wearable art. But right this second, she’s looking at the one guy who has the uncanny ability to unravel her in every possible way. Zane Brampton. He broke her heart in high school and now wants to make it up to her—in a single night. Just being in the same room as him feels dangerously volatile. A whole night with this delectable, gorgeous man would be nothing less than a total sexpocalypse. But oh, what a way to go.

The sight of Clara and her mouthwatering curves might actually kill restaurateur Zane. Ten years ago, their volcanic chemistry exploded… taking their social circle along with it. But Zane hasn’t forgotten the heat—and this feels almost like fate. He’ll be damned if he’ll let her run from their connection again. And he might just have found his chance to prove he deserves more than just one night…

Now Zane is driving Clara to California to meet her professional dreams. But between the road, the chocolate, and the ridiculously hot sex, Clara risks getting tangled up with her not-so-one-night-stand. And worse, Zane might just be the thread that snaps all of her perfectly crocheted plans.

https://amzn.to/3P8UWWP

This book is basically a bunch of sex scenes with a bit of story thrown in, so more erotica than romance, at least to my mind. There is not much depth here or even character development, but there is a happily ever after, which I liked. I also learned a bit about the “fiber industry,” which I knew nothing about, as the main character, Clara, is a crocheter of original designs. She also loves yarn, and I didn’t know that was a thing either. So maybe more story than my initial impression?! There is the romance requisite witty banter and a bit of angst before the happy ending.

If you like a very sexy romance, then this is your book!

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER by Amanda Usen. Entangled: Brazen (August 8, 2022). ASIN: ‎B0B66KTVRJ. 200p.

Paperback