Spotlight Review: LOYALTY by Lisa Scottoline

April 18, 2023

From the publisher:

#1 bestselling author Lisa Scottoline presents Loyalty, an emotional, action-packed epic of love and justice, set during the rise of the Mafia in Sicily.

Loyalty can save a soul—or destroy one.

    Franco Fiorvanti is a handsome lemon grower toiling on the estate of a baron. He dreams of owning his own grove, but the rigid class system of Sicily thwarts his ambition. Determined to secure a better future, Franco will do anything to prove his loyalty to the baron. But when the baron asks him to kidnap a little boy named Dante, Franco makes a decision that will change his life—and even the history of Sicily—forever.

    Gaetano Catalano is an idealistic young lawyer whose devotion to justice is tantamount to a calling. He’s a member of the Beati Paoli, a real-life secret society of aristocrats who investigate crime in Palermo, a city riddled with graft. Gaetano sets out to find the boy and punish the kidnapper, but his mission leads him to a darker place than he had ever imagined.

    Meanwhile, Mafalda Pancari is a new mother rejoicing at the birth of her daughter, Lucia, when disaster strikes. And Alfredo D’Antonio is a reclusive goatherd under constant threat of being discovered as a Jew. How the lives of these unforgettable characters collide makes Loyalty an epic tale of good versus evil, as the story twists and turns to its monumental showdown.

    Readers will be transported to the dramatic and ruggedly beautiful island of Sicily, the jewel of the Mediterranean, where lush lemon groves and mouth-watering cuisine contrast with a turbulent history of colonization and corruption. Scottoline brings her decades of thriller writing to historical fiction, creating in Loyalty a singular novel that no reader will be able to put down.

“Scottoline brings nineteenth-century Sicily alive in this historical thriller…Every scene is a full sensory experience, as Scottoline weaves lemon-scented breezes, the ocean’s sounds, and sun-baked piazza stones into a timeless, tragedy-strewn story of love, power, and redemption. History fans will appreciate the novel’s well-researched foundation, especially concerning the origins of the Sicilian Mafia and early mental-health institutions.” —Booklist (starred)

“Scottoline brings her characters to life, instilling them with wit and intellect as they navigate the corruption of Sicily’s law enforcement. Historical crime fiction fans will be riveted.” —Publishers Weekly

I love Lisa Scottoline – she is an incredible writer and a truly special human being. Many years ago, I was assigned her book Killer Smile for review at Library Journal. I loved that book and gave it a starred review. I was working for the Palm Beach County Library System at the time when one of my co-workers came running up to me to say I had a phone call, and it was Lisa Scottoline. Everyone was jumping up and down with excitement! We’d never had a New York Times bestselling author call our library, and everyone followed me to the back so I could take the call. Lisa called to thank me for my review, which had never happened before (or since!) I had never met her, but I did several years later at a library convention. And she remembered me! It was just the most surreal experience. I’ve met her several times since then, and she did a standing-room-only book talk for my library. A truly remarkable human being I am proud to call a friend.

With that out of the way, yes I can still do an unbiased review of her books, mostly because as I pointed out when I started this review, she is an incredible writer. She takes complicated stories like this one and makes them not only engrossing reading, but seriously unputdownable. I dreamt about these characters during the two nights I spent reading this book.

The publisher provided a good synopsis, and I don’t want to muddy the waters except to say that these characters propel the story and will be staying with me for a long time. Sicily is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and Scottoline brings that beauty to the page in addition to all the drama – but it’s the drama that is at the heart of this story. Book groups will find a lot to discuss here as well.

I hope you’ll read it and love it as much as I did.

4/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LOYALTY by Lisa Scottoline.‎ G.P. Putnam’s Sons (March 28, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0525539803. 432 p.



MY HEART WILL FIND YOU by Jude Deveraux 

April 14, 2023

From the publisher:

Their love refused to stay quiet, echoing across time…

When the world is brought to a standstill in the early days of a global pandemic, Etta Wilmont finds herself suddenly stranded in Kansas City. Desperate to secure a roof over her head, Etta crosses paths with Henry Logan, a lonely older man in need of a caretaker. His invitation for Etta to stay with him seems to be the solution to both their problems—and maybe the spontaneous adventure Etta’s life has been missing.

As Etta and Henry settle into a companionable living arrangement, Etta indulges in Henry’s library. The compelling historical accounts of life in the Midwest soon inspire vivid dreams of Kansas City in the 1870s, dreams in which she’s a mail-order bride, married to a handsome but guarded rancher named Maxwell Lawton.

Haunted by the story unfolding in her mind, Etta realizes her dreams of the past and the familiar faces featured within are starting to have an impact on the present, altering her current reality. Perhaps these dreams are Etta’s chance to finally claim something for herself after so much time spent caring for others. More than anything, Etta wonders if the captivating man she’s falling for while she sleeps might be real, might be out there—true love waiting to be found and which would change both their lives forever.

Time travel is the closest to sci-fi that I get anymore and this was interesting. It begins in March, 2020 when the whole world pretty much shut down due to Covid. Henrietta, AKA Etta, has a layover in Kansas City on her way to visit her sister. Then all flights are canceled, there are no more cars to rent, and no rooms at the airport hotel. Another passenger offers her a ride, and she thinks it will be easier to find a hotel away from the airport, so she accepts. But everything is booked, and when her ride unceremoniously dumps her on the streets of a Kansas City suburb, she starts walking, hoping to find a hotel nearby. Instead, she meets Henry.

Every house on the street is shuttered and quiet, but Henry is outside, ready to have some cookies and lemonade. He invites Etta to join him, and she does. Henry is an older gentleman with some health issues, and his children have hired someone to stay with him and take care of him, but due to the pandemic, she never shows up. He offers Etta the job, and out of options, she takes it.

The house is beautiful, but Henry stays in the pool house behind the main house as he can’t walk up and down the stairs. That leaves Etta alone in the house, so she feels safe. As they get to know one another, Etta learns that Henry is a historian and has a tremendous library, which Etta is enjoying. As they talk about their families and the history of the area, that leads Etta to dream about it – or is it a dream?

Etta finds herself getting married to Max in 1871 Kansas. He’s super good-looking, so she goes along with it until he says something about her being old and plain, and she mouths off to him. He gets angry and starts driving their wagon like a lunatic, causing her to get bruises all over her body. When they finally get to his home, she meets his sister, who has a deformed foot, and Max takes care of her. Turns out he is the second largest landowner in the area and was supposed to marry Cornelia, as her father wants his land. But they fight like cats and dogs, and he can’t abide the thought of marrying her, so a mail-order bride it is for him. He just didn’t expect anyone like Etta.

When Etta wakes up from her dream, she finds her body aching and bruised, and figures she must have been sleepwalking into walls or something. She tells Henry about her dream, he is completely fascinated and decides to write a novel based on it. But then another dream comes, this one much longer and more involved. When she awakens, Henry wants every detail, and Etta realizes that she is changing history with her actions in the dream. She and Max have made up and are now truly man and wife, and she is deeply in love and doesn’t want to leave him. But dreams don’t give us the option of staying in them…or do they?

As Etta moves back and forth between her two worlds, she meets the same people in both places. There are a lot of characters but as the story progresses, the characters become more recognizable in both worlds. I don’t want to give the ending away, so I’ll just say that there is a happy ending and it was a bit of a surprise. I would have liked a bit more at the end as it seemed sort of abrupt. The historical parts were fascinating, and the time during the pandemic felt familiar. All in all this was an enjoyable, engrossing read.

4/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MY HEART WILL FIND YOU by Jude Deveraux. MIRA; Original edition (April 11, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0778333487. 352p.






April 14, 2023

A short and steamy second-chance romcom that’s out of this world!

From the author:

They’ve got one night for a second chance at love

When chef Ben ‘Kenobi’ Walker gets the call to help save a VIP dinner at Foxbrooke Manor, he doesn’t expect to run into old flame Leia Perry. She’s all grown up and even more attractive than when they were teenagers – but she hasn’t forgotten what happened ten years ago, and she definitely hasn’t forgiven him.

Hard-working Leia may be named after a princess but she’s still waiting for her prince. Ben was her brother’s best friend, her first kiss and her first love. But he was also a liar — their kiss was nothing but a bet.

Now forced to work together under pressure, sparks fly. Will one night give Ben the second chance he needs to prove himself and win back Leia’s heart? Or will fate strike back and their love be lost in a galaxy far far away?

One Night in Foxbrooke is a short and sizzling second-chance romantic comedy with no cheating, no cliffhanger and a guaranteed happy-ever-after that’s out of this world!

I’m so happy that Alexander is starting another series, and this looks like it’s going to be a good one! This is an ebook only introduction to the series, a very short novella at 56 pages, but let me tell you, this author has the chops to pull it off. My regular readers know that I am not a fan of the novella, mostly because there generally just isn’t enough time for me to care about the characters and what happens to them. That is not the case here. At this point, I’ll read anything Alexander writes, from her full-length novels to novellas to her grocery list!

If you have any fondness at all for Star Wars, you will appreciate that the main character’s name is Leia. Her brother’s best friend, Ben Walker, calls her Princess, while his nickname is Kenobi. But that’s as much sci-fi as is in this story – this is a straight up, second chance, sexy romcom with British humor (humour?) that I love – and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

If you are looking for a super fast, fun, sexy read, this is your book! I loved it.

4/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ONE NIGHT IN FOXBROOKE by Evie Alexander. Emlin Press (April 14, 2023). ASIN:‎ B0BXJTW7D1. 56p.



Spotlight Review: ROMANTIC COMEDY by Curtis Sittenfeld

April 11, 2023

From the publisher:

Sally Milz is a sketch writer for The Night Owls, a late-night live comedy show that airs every SaturdayWith a couple of heartbreaks under her belt, she’s long abandoned the search for love, settling instead for the occasional hook-up, career success, and a close relationship with her stepfather to round out a satisfying life.

But when Sally’s friend and fellow writer Danny Horst begins dating Annabel, a glamorous actress who guest-hosted the show, he joins the not-so-exclusive group of talented but average-looking and even dorky men at the show—and in society at large—who’ve gotten romantically involved with incredibly beautiful and accomplished women. Sally channels her annoyance into a sketch called the Danny Horst Rule, poking fun at this phenomenon while underscoring how unlikely it is that the reverse would ever happen for a woman.

Enter Noah Brewster, a pop music sensation with a reputation for dating models, who signed on as both host and musical guest for this week’s show. Dazzled by his charms, Sally hits it off with Noah instantly, and as they collaborate on one sketch after another, she begins to wonder if there might actually be sparks flying. But this isn’t a romantic comedy—it’s real life. And in real life, someone like him would never date someone like her . . . right?

With her keen observations and trademark ability to bring complex women to life on the page, Curtis Sittenfeld explores the neurosis-inducing and heart-fluttering wonder of love, while slyly dissecting the social rituals of romance and gender relations in the modern age.

REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK • A comedy writer thinks she’s sworn off love, until a dreamy pop star flips the script on all her assumptions—a “smart, sophisticated, and fun” (Oprah Daily) novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Eligible, Rodham, and Prep.

“Delightful . . . The woman narrating Romantic Comedy is hyper-aware of the conventions of romantic comedy, and she knows full well that real life is no fairy tale. But could it be this time?”—The Washington Post

“A love letter to the prototypical rom-com . . . Sittenfeld’s work exists in the dissection and comprehension of female desire: what we want, what we absolutely don’t and, maybe paramount, what we’re even allowed to have. . . . A fizzy ride.”The New York Times Book Review

“Sittenfeld’s meta-romance is an utterly perfect version of itself, a self-aware and pandemic-informed love story that’s no less romantic for being either. . . . Fans will flock to this pure-fun, feminist romp.”Booklist (starred review)

If you’ve never read Sittenfeld, it’s high time you started, and this is as good a place as any to begin. She writes smart, literary but always engaging stories that are interesting, worthwhile, and discussion worthy. So let’s discuss this book.

If you aren’t familiar with the publishing industry, let me just say that there is a thick dividing line, more like a solid brick wall, between literary fiction and genre fiction (romance, mystery, sci-fi, etc.) For instance, most of the romances that I read that are published by Penguin Random House are published under the Berkley imprint. This book is not; it’s under the Random House imprint, an unusual place to find romance. But because this is Sittenfeld, it’s entirely appropriate – despite the title. But enough about that. On to the book!

Sally Milz is a writer for a Saturday Night Live (SNL) clone called The Night Owls (TNO). If you follow pop culture at all then you are probably aware of the Colin Jost – Scarlett Johansson marriage and the short-lived romance of Pete Davidson & Ariana Grande. All those romances between, let’s say schlubby, not especially good-looking but funny men and beautiful, extremely talented, powerful women are at the heart of this story.

Noah Brewster is a ripped, extremely good-looking man who has been a pop music sensation for over twenty years. He is invited to both guest host the show as well as perform as the musical guest. He arrives on Monday to start working with the writers and cast, and surprisingly, he has his own idea for a sketch – and it’s good. He is told to ask Sally to help him with it, and they spend a very agreeable afternoon working together.

Sally has an idea for a sketch she calls the Danny Horst Rule. Danny is another writer on the show, and he anchors the “news” desk segment. He is not especially good-looking but is funny and smart. He is involved with a Scarlett Johansson-type actress, and theirs is an on-again, off-again romance that plays out in the tabloids. Sally’s idea is that while the male writers/actors on the show can hook up with beautiful, uber-successful women, it doesn’t work the opposite way. No average-looking female writer is going to date a gorgeous, successful celebrity. She suggests the sketch to Noah, but he isn’t comfortable with it.

The week they spend together on the show makes Sally feel like they have a connection, but she is leery of it (see the Danny Horst Rule.) At the after-party after the show, they spend some time together talking in a bar, but then Sally becomes her own worst enemy and says something about Noah’s reputation for dating supermodels, and he is truly offended. After she pisses off Noah, they don’t speak again for a couple of years.

Now we are in the pandemic, and everyone is home and bored and not knowing what is going to happen next. Sally gets an email from Noah, and the next thing you know, they are emailing back and forth several times a day for almost two weeks. They graduate to phone calls, and then Noah invites Sally to visit him at his California estate. She goes, but with a lot of trepidation. Is he feeling the same way she is? She scrutinizes every line he’s written, while she doesn’t know that he is doing exactly the same thing.

The book is written in three chapters; the first is the week of the show, the second is the email relationship, and the third is the in-person visit. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes type info in the first chapter, and since I have been watching SNL every Saturday night since its inception, I found it all fascinating. The diva hosts are not invited back, while the hosts that are fun and collegial make regular appearances (the 5 timers club). There were some interesting tidbits about Nigel (the Lorne Michaels of the book) and all that goes on in producing a live show week after week. I cannot say for certain that this is based on research or if she totally made it all up, but it felt real to me.

I love a good epistolary novel, so the email chapter really worked for me. It’s a tiny bit voyeuristic and very revealing of the characters’ motivations and personalities. We can easily see how Sally is always getting in her own way, and at times it was frustrating – I wanted to sit her down and say just stop it!

The visit during the pandemic felt like the shortest chapter in the book, and we definitely get the happy ending that is expected in a romantic comedy. That Sittenfeld chose to title her book this way felt like she was creating a significant crack in the divide between literary and genre fiction, and as someone who reads it all, that alone is a triumph. Put this on your must-read list and bring it to your book club; they will thank you for it. I do believe this is the first book I’ve read this year that I can say with certainty will be on my best books of 2023 list – I loved it.

PS: If you want more Sittenfeld recommendations, my favorites are Prep, Eligible, and American Wife.

4/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ROMANTIC COMEDY by Curtis Sittenfeld.‎ Random House (April 4, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0399590948. 320 p.



THE DO-OVER by Suzanne Park

April 7, 2023

From the publisher:

From the author of the “genuinely funny” and “delightful” Loathe at First Sight (NPR) and “cinematic, charming” So We Meet Again (Emily Henry), a fun rom-com about a young Korean-American woman having to return to college after discovering she’s a few credits shy of completing her degree—only to find one of her TAs is her old college boyfriend.

Bestselling author Lily Lee is on a short deadline to deliver her new career guide How to Land the Perfect Job, and she’s been interviewing at all the top companies around town. But when she’s offered a coveted position at her dream company, the employer’s background check reveals she never actually finished her college degree. Unbelievably, her worst nightmare has come true.

Lily returns to her alma mater to relive her senior year of college, after walking across the stage at graduation a decade earlier. Just as she starts getting used to the idea of being a student again, things get even more weird and chaotic when she discovers her computer science TA is her old college boyfriend, Jake Cho.

As Lily and Jake reconnect, she sees that her late-blooming ex has done well for himself: the handsome, charming grad student appears to have his life together, while Lily’s on the brink of losing her reputation and her book deal.  

Told in present day with glimpses of the past, The Do-Over is a delightfully warm and hopeful story about second chances in life and love, and how the future might not be a straight line, but we still end up exactly where we’re supposed to be.

“Park’s (So We Meet Again) latest does an excellent job of navigating topics of anxiety, self-doubt, nepotism, and misogyny through an enjoyable second-chance romance with great characters. This book is an essential read and highly recommended.” — Library Journal (starred review)

“Park’s pitch-perfect comedic timing and knack for creating heartstrings-tugging moments make this thoughtful romance really shine. This is a winner.” — Publishers Weekly

“The story is rooted in complex, relatable issues that are sure to have readers rooting for Lily the whole way through. A story of second chances in life more than love.” — Kirkus Reviews

“It’s a fun and sexy book, as Park (So We Meet Again, 2021) ties in mental-health issues with a strong female protagonist and of course a little bit of love. A fast read full of funny moments among friends, tense moments between rivals, and romantic moments between old lovers.” — Booklist

This was such a fun read! As someone who took about 30 years to complete my bachelor’s degree, I could definitely relate to returning to college years after leaving. In this case, Lily walked the stage, was handed what she thought was her diploma, and moved on with her grown-up life. Until she found out that her advisor gave her some very bad advice her senior year, leaving her half a dozen credits short of actually graduating. Lily had a super successful business book published and how has a second book deal on the line. She sneaks back into college to finish up her remaining credits and earn that degree, not telling her publisher what’s happened. She would prefer her publisher, and everyone else, not know about this, but there is no hiding, as she is eventually found out.

Lily manages to secure off campus housing with a roommate who is an amazing baker and turns into a good friend. Meanwhile, her best friend since her original college days keeps popping up to hang out on campus. When Lily walks into one of her required courses, a computer programming class, she is shocked to find her old college boyfriend, Jake, is the teaching assistant in her class. And he has grown up into a fine specimen of a man.

As Lily works hard to complete her classes, she falls back into a relationship with Jake but much like the first time around, he ghosts her. Not sure if she is more mad at him or herself, Lily throws herself even more into her classwork. When she finds out she is up for a possible internship with one of the top tech companies in the world, she is thrilled, even though it would take her on a different career path. When it leaks that she has returned to college, the internet weighs in as they always do, and Lily is in big trouble.

Eventually, everything works out for the best, and Lily gets her happy ending. I loved spending time with these characters and watching Lily and Jake grow. I loved that ten years after college, Lily is still reinventing herself with a second chance at a different career as well as in love. Park has turned into a must read author for me – and I hope for you, as well.

4/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE DO-OVER by Suzanne Park. Avon (April 4, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0063216051. 368p.





WEDDING GAMES by Evie Alexander

April 7, 2023

The Kinloch Series, Book 5

From the publisher:

Enjoy this steamy Scottish romcom series by award-winning romantic comedy author Evie Alexander…

Say “I do” to Scotland’s wedding of the year!

Wedding bells are finally ringing for Rory and Zoe! But setting a date and saying yes to the dress is a lot more complicated when their mothers are mortal enemies and Rory’s stepfather is a Hollywood star with a death wish.

And if their families weren’t complicated enough, their friends are determined to make the bachelor and bachelorette parties ones they will remember forever – or desperately try to forget…

A castle, a cast of thousands, a superstar who’s lost the plot, and an unlikely stripper. Can Rory and Zoe unravel the tangles in time to tie the knot, or is eloping the only answer?

Get your glad rags on and hold onto your hats as it’s time to unleash matrimonial madness!

Wedding Games is a steamy, laugh-out-loud, grumpy sunshine, steamy, small town romantic comedy novella, with all your favorite characters from the Kinloch series and a guaranteed happily-ever-after! It can be read as a standalone but is best enjoyed after the other books in the Kinloch series.

This is one of the rare series that I’ve actually read in order, since the beginning. That’s mostly due to Evie Alexander being so proactive in getting her books reviewed. Other authors should take note!

This is obviously the last book of the series, and while it certainly can be enjoyed as a standalone, it is more meaningful when read in order. There is not a whole lot of plot here; it’s basically the days leading up to the last wedding in this series.

Rory and Zoe have been dancing around their romance almost since the beginning of the series – from what I can remember! The big day is fast approaching and they are both just over the moon happy. Until the small wedding Rory wanted balloons into the society wedding his mother – and his station as the Earl of Kinloch – demands. There is the requisite bachelor party, the hen do (bachelorette party,) and of course, the rehearsal dinner. Whatever can go awry does, but it is all over-the-top funny and everything I’ve come to expect in this series.

If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, then this probably isn’t the book for you. But if you’ve read at least one of the earlier books, go for it! But only if you want something with all the good feels – sweet, sexy, romantic. and hilarious. I’m sad to see this series end, but there is a novella, One Night in Foxbrooke, coming out next week that introduces a new series, so I’m happy. Watch for the review soon!

4/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WEDDING GAMES by Evie Alexander. Emlin Press (March 25, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-1914473197. 156p.




Spotlight Review: THE PROSPECTOR’S ONLY PROSPECT by Dani Collins 

April 4, 2023

From the publisher:

After eight days in a cramped stagecoach, divorcée Marigold Davis already regrets her decision to come to Denver City to marry. She certainly didn’t realize she’d signed up for mosquitoes, mud, and scores of rough men eyeing her like a hot meal on a cold day. But with her life in Kansas all but incinerated, Marigold needs a husband. Even if she’s not the bride that gold prospector Virgil Gardner is expecting…

Virgil Gardner has a reputation as a grumpy hard-ass, and he’s fine with it. He’s also no fool―this is not the woman he agreed to marry. It takes a tough-as-nails woman to survive the harshness of a Rocky Mountain gold claim, and this whiskey-eyed, gentle beauty is certainly not the type. Now it’s just a matter of how quickly she’ll quit so he can find a wife who will stick. Someone who can care for the only thing he values even more than gold–his children.

But Marigold isn’t about to give in. Cramped in a one-room shack. Berry picking turned into a bear escape. Or cooking for an entire crew of bottomless pits. She’s got more grit than most. And just when Virgil starts to realize his replacement bride might be the treasure he’s been looking for, an unannounced guest arrives…to change everything.

“Collins mines the setting for both danger and humor, providing the perfect backdrop to this sensuous romance. Readers won’t want to put this down.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

I love cowboy romances, and this historical story is a good one. Set in the Kansas territory long before statehood, Virgil Gardner runs a gold mining operation. His wife is gone, leaving him with three children – two of whom are his. He takes care of all of them as best as he can, but he needs a wife, so he advertises for one.

The woman who shows up, Marigold, is actually the sister of the woman he agreed to marry. Virgil is a good man, albeit short-tempered and suspicious of most people, especially women. He cannot abide liars or cheats and feels like he was taken advantage of by this woman. He agrees to allow her to be his housekeeper but takes marriage off the table. Marigold loves children and is educated, so she is happy to take on her new role. She has never lived under such rugged conditions, and there is a definite learning curve. But she enjoys the children and even becomes friendly with the men working for Virgil, much to his displeasure.

Virgil is also surprised to find that he is drawn to the sassy woman and isn’t quite sure what to do about it. Eventually, they realize they have a strong physical attraction, which surprises Marigold – she had a horrible marriage, yet something about Virgil is warming her heart. Virgil and Marigold’s relationship blows hot and cold, and the men are all seeing more to it than they are. Just when you think everything is finally going to work out, there is a wrench thrown in the works that causes a massive setback. But no worries, a happy ending is just around the corner.

The historical aspects of this book were really interesting, and seeing how people lived under such extreme conditions was also fascinating. I liked these characters a lot, and this was a really good story. If you like historical westerns, this is a good one. The romance is just the icing on the cake!

4/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE PROSPECTOR’S ONLY PROSPECT by Dani Collins.‎ Entangled: Amara (March 28, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-1649373410. 352 p.



March 31, 2023

Wyoming Wilde, Book 3

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ryan returns to the Wyoming Wilde series as the third Wilde brother finds himself entangled with his ex-girlfriend after she’s witness to a murder and the killer’s next target. Perfect for fans of authors like Maisey Yates, Joanne Kennedy and Carolyn Brown as well as Diana Palmer, Linda Lael Miller, and BJ Daniels.

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

And when Max Wilde reunites with his lost love, he’ll do anything to keep her safe and in his arms…

Max Wilde lived up to his last name and then some. Years ago, he fell hard and fast for Kenna Baker, thinking they had a love that would last for all time. When a horrible misunderstanding drove them apart, Max thought his chance to find the kind of love his brothers have is gone forever. He changed his bad boy ways, but he never got over the one who got away.

Now, their lives have collided once again, as Kenna is the only witness to a murder and needs a place to hide while in protective custody. Max is determined to keep her safe on the ranch, and also maintain an emotional distance, but as they spend more time together, the lies and half-truths that once drove them apart are also uncovered, bringing them closer than ever.

Kenna has always laid claim to Max’s heart—and soul—but will he be able to save her…and their love…before it’s too late?

The first two books in his series were fast, fun, and suspenseful reads, and this one lives up to those.

The last Wilde brother to be single is also the youngest, and the one everyone thought would be married first. His high school sweetheart, Kenna, and he were bound for long-term, happily ever after, until she accused him of cheating on her. He was so hurt that she could even think that, he walked away without a fight. They were both young and hot-headed, and that was that. Until Kenna witnesses a murder and is now in protective custody. She needs a place to stay, and his ranch is offered up as a safe place for her. Max wants to protect her, but he is still angry with her.

Max has spent three years trying to forget Kenna by basically sleeping with every woman around. But he realized that wasn’t helping at all, and stopped. But now that Kenna is under his roof, his feelings are really mixed up. Of course, he wants her safe, but it is killing him to be so close to her yet not be with her.

The more time they spend together, the more Kenna and Max realize they still have those deep feelings for one another. Eventually, they figure out what happened to break them up and things start moving towards a happy ending – except for the little issue of someone trying to kill her.

Lots of action and suspense plus some sexy times make this a fast, fun read – especially since the happy ending is guaranteed. If you like second chance romances, cowboy romances, and romantic suspense, then this is your book, and it’s a terrific ending to the trilogy.

Wyoming Wilde Series:




3/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MAX WILDE’S COWBOY HEART by Jennifer Ryan. Avon (August 23, 2022). ISBN:‎  978-0063111424. 384p.






March 31, 2023

Wyoming Wilde, Book 2

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ryan returns to the Wyoming Wilde series as a by-the-book lawman tangles with a stubborn young woman. Perfect for fans of authors like Maisey Yates, Joanne Kennedy and Carolyn Brown as well as Diana Palmer, Linda Lael Miller, and BJ Daniels.

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

The last thing lawman Hunt Wilde ever dreamed he’d do was fall hard for a purple-haired troublemaker like Cyn Wilson. While Hunt believes in law and order, Cyn lives life fast and loose—with fast cars and wild nights. But when Cyn’s sister disappears, she surprisingly turns to him for help. Never let it be said that a Wilde man turned down a woman in distress—and on a mission.

It takes a lot for Cyn to swallow her pride and ask Hunt for anything. The man never gives her a break and is always staring at her with those perceptive eyes. But beneath Cyn’s tough exterior beats a heart as wide and beautiful as Wyoming itself—and soon she finds herself surrendering to the overpowering attraction simmering between them and partnering with him in the search for her missing sister.

She won’t rest until she learns the truth, even if that means putting herself in harm’s way. And when Hunt discovers how much danger Cyn is in because of him, he’s even more determined to take down the man who would take her out of Hunt’s life—forever.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and with the third now available, I realized I missed this one! No harm, no foul – I already had it on my Kindle (thanks, Netgalley!)

The three brothers Wilde are the connection between these books. This one focuses on Hunt, a cop who is always on the right side of the law. That’s why he keeps ticketing Cyn for speeding – he gave her a warning the first time, which she took to mean nothing at all. She is a wild woman, the anti-Hunt if you will, but he can’t help but be drawn to her. Especially as he gets to know her.

Cyn’s sister is in an abusive relationship. While it’s not all that graphic, it could be triggering to anyone who has lived with that. Ryan does a good job showing how women can get caught in a bad relationship, and how difficult it can be for them to get out. Cyn is a successful hairdresser with her own shop, and she’s even opening a second location in the next town over. She has a house big enough for her and her sister and her baby niece, if she can ever convince her sister to move out. She finally reaches that point but then her boyfriend loses his job and of course, blames her. When she disappears, Cyn is frantic and turns to Hunt for help.

The more time they spend together, the more Hunt realizes that there is way more to this woman than her wild reputation. She is a deeply caring, compassionate and empathetic person and he truly admires her. She is drawn to the steadiness Hunt exudes as he helps her to find her sister and the baby. With such a tumultuous story, somehow Cyn and Hunt find their way to one another, even as they follow the leads to her missing sister. There is a lot of suspense here, some appropriate violence (it’s never gratuitous) and some steamy sex, too. This was a quick, unputdownable read and the perfect jumping off point to read the next book in the series.

3/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SURRENDERING TO HUNT by Jennifer Ryan. Avon (August 23, 2022). ISBN:‎  978-0063111424. 384p.





Spotlight Review: JANE & EDWARD by Melodie Edwards

March 28, 2023

A Modern Reimagining of Jane Eyre

From the publisher:

This powerful reimagining of Jane Eyre, set in a modern-day law firm, is full of romance and hope as it follows the echoing heartbeats of the classic story.

A former foster kid, Jane has led a solitary life as a waitress in the suburbs, working hard to get by. Tired of years of barely scraping together a living, Jane takes classes to become a legal assistant and shortly after graduating accepts a job offer at a distinguished law firm in downtown Toronto. Everyone at the firm thinks she is destined for failure because her boss is the notoriously difficult Edward Rosen, the majority stakeholder of Rosen, Haythe & Thornfield LLP. But Jane has known far worse trials and refuses to back down when economic freedom is so close at hand.

Edward has never been able to keep an assistant—he’s too loud, too messy, too ill-tempered. There’s something about the quietly competent, delightfully sharp-witted Jane that intrigues him though. As their orbits overlap, their feelings begin to develop—first comes fondness and then something more. But when Edward’s secrets put Jane’s independence in jeopardy, she must face long-ignored ghosts from her past and decide if opening her heart is a risk worth taking.

“Fans of Jane Eyre will enjoy spotting the Easter eggs…More importantly, the love story stays faithful to the original, with the addition of some spice… Edwards’s debut is a retelling that will please both diehard Brontë devotees and contemporary romance readers.” —Library Journal

As every English major knows, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is a classic for a good reason. While I don’t love it like I love the Austen books, it is a story worth modernizing for sure, and Edwards does a superb job. She keeps all the important plot points yet manages to transform them into a contemporary romance.

Jane lost her father, a renowned professor and author, when she was barely a teenager. Her mother died when she was a baby, and as far as she knows, there is no other family. Unfortunately, her father left no will, no provisions for her or his estate. Jane ends up in foster care until she ages out at 18. Her social worker helps her find a cheap apartment and she finds a job waitressing.

Jane has overheard some co-workers discussing this program to be a legal assistant at a nearby school, and she signs up. Much to her surprise, when she finished the program she is offered a job as assistant to the top partner at a downtown Toronto white-shoe law firm. Edward Rosen has not been able to keep an assistant for more than a few weeks – he is loud, messy, ill-tempered and a bit of a bully. Jane has dealt with worse – hello, foster child here – and to Rosen’s surprise, he doesn’t make her cry or walk out. He is intrigued with his super-organized, smart assistant. That intrigue turns to something more.

Jane eventually realizes she has feelings for her boss, a definite no-no in this corporate environment, and when she finally admits her feelings to him, he reciprocates, much to her surprise. They fall into a hot and heavy romance, but it turns out Edward has a secret that ends up destroying their relationship.

If you are familiar with Jane Eyre, you will guess the secret, but I’m not telling. I really enjoyed this book; the characters are very well developed, more so Jane than Edward, and I liked the way the story played out. My only criticism is that the ending seemed a bit rushed to me, but maybe that was me being sorry it ended! All in all, an excellent read (especially for Jane Eyre fans) and a terrific debut. I can’t wait to see what comes next from this author. Let me add that I loved the cover of this book, too – it’s a bit different than the usual contemporary romance covers and serves the story well.

3/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

JANE & EDWARD by Melodie Edwards.‎ Berkley (March 21, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0593440773. 352 p.