JUST THIS ONCE by Mira Lynn Kelly

October 20, 2018

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The Wedding Date Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

He can’t have her.
So he moves in with her…
What could possibly go wrong?

As heir to a chain of luxury hotels, Sean Wyse III always gets what he wants. So when he sees a freeloading roommate taking advantage of his spunky best friend, Molly Brandt, he doesn’t hesitate to step in. He kicks out the roommate…and moves himself in.

Molly loves quality time with Sean, but spending nights with him one wall away threatens to wake the crush she thought she’d gotten over. A crush Sean knows nothing about, which might be a problem…considering how hard Sean’s been working never to think of Molly that way.

The Wedding Date series:
May the Best Man Win (Book 1)
The Wedding Date Bargain (Book 2)
Just this Once (Book 3)
The Decoy Date (Book 4)


This is my first read by Mira Lynn Kelly, and I will definitely be back for more. I loved these characters and couldn’t help rooting for them. There was enough twists and hurdles to keep the pages turning, and some laughs, too.  I didn’t feel like I missed a thing by having started this series with the third book but I am looking for the previous books in the series, just because I think I will enjoy them.

If you want a fast escape and some lighthearted fare with a happy ending, look no further.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

JUST THIS ONCE by Mira Lynn Kelly. Avon; Reissue edition (September 25, 2018). ISBN 978-0062741837. 384p.

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GRIN AND BEARD IT by Penny Reid

October 19, 2018

Winston Brothers Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!

Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.

But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston.

Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often.

Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?


This was the first book I’ve read from this author. It was recommended to me by one of my library patrons, we often share books that we enjoy and I was very happy she told me about this one.

The celebrity being appreciated for herself (or himself) is not that uncommon a ploy in romances, and Reid does a really good job of it here. I liked all the characters and their relationships, from Sienna’s sister-manager and co-star/ex-boyfriend to Jethro’s brothers and co-workers. Their chemistry was off the charts and even though this book was written before the current #MeToo movement and the obvious, strongly written consent in current romances, it was there (copyright 2016). And it was Jethro who was putting on the brakes, which usually makes for an unbelievable storyline, but not here. I bought it all.

This was somehow still a hot romance, even though there were few sex scenes, but I enjoyed the humor the most, there were a lot of laughs here. If you like funny, contemporary romances, check out this book.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

GRIN AND BEARD IT by Penny Reid. EverAfter Romance (March 23, 2018). ISBN 978-1635764871. 404p.

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MR. NICE GUY by Jennifer Miller & Jason Feifer

October 18, 2018

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A writing duo writing about dueling writers brings a singular perspective to this charming New York City–centric novel.

Lucas Callahan is the eponymous “nice guy” who is new to the city and thrilled when he has his first one-night stand. Unbeknownst to him, his partner, Carmen Kelly, is a coworker at Empire magazine, where he toils as a fact checker and she is the uberpopular sex columnist. Lucas learns this when he reads about their encounter in the magazine.

Mortified, he pens a scathing response and signs it “Mr. Nice Guy.” To his surprise, the magazine publishes it, and he and Carmen continue to date and write about their encounters. The column breathes new life into the magazine, and Lucas and Carmen forge a relationship of sorts that transforms as they both change and grow. Political intrigue at the magazine adds to the drama, but there are plenty of laughs as well.

VERDICT This first-time effort from author and journalist Miller (The Year of the Gadfly) and spouse Feifer, a journalist and blogger, offers a fun read that is sure to satisfy admirers of Sophie Kinsella and Meg Cabot.

©Library Journal, 2018.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MR. NICE GUY by Jennifer Miller & Jason Feifer. St. Martin’s Griffin (October 16, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250189882.  400p.

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AN EARL LIKE YOU by Caroline Linden

October 13, 2018

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Wagers of Sin Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

When you gamble at love . . .

When Hugh Deveraux discovers his newly inherited earldom is bankrupt, he sets about rebuilding the family fortune—in the gaming hells of London. But the most daring wager he takes isn’t at cards. A wealthy tradesman makes a tantalizing offer: marry the man’s spinster daughter and Hugh’s debts will be paid and his fortune made. The only catch is that she must never know about their agreement . . .

You risk losing your heart . . .

Heiress Eliza Cross has given up hope of marriage until she meets the impossibly handsome Earl of Hastings, her father’s new business partner. The earl is everything a gentleman should be, and is boldly attentive to her. It doesn’t take long for Eliza to lose her heart and marry him.

But when Eliza discovers that there is more to the man she loves—and to her marriage—her trust is shattered. And it will take all of Hugh’s power to prove that now his words of love are real . . .


The marriage of convenience, one of the most frequently used plot devices in historical fiction, is at the center of this story. But usually there is more involved than the rich girl marrying a peer, or vice versa, because of financial need. There needs to be some drama to help move the story along, and while their circumstances, both the hero and the heroine, were fraught, it still felt like something was missing.

That said, I really liked these characters and was invested in their outcome.  I liked the secondary characters as well, especially Eliza’s father. He was the heavy here and added the real drama to the story.

This was my first time reading this author, and I would definitely read another of her books. Maybe I’ll look for the first book in this series next.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

AN EARL LIKE YOU by Caroline Linden. Avon (August 28, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062672940. 384p.

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A NICE DAY FOR A COWBOY WEDDING by Nicole Helm

October 12, 2018

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A Mile High Romance, Book 4

From the publisher:

From Nicole Helm, the bestselling author of the Big Sky Cowboys, Navy Seal Cowboys, and Stone Cold series, comes this breathtaking new romance set in the middle of Big Sky country—Colorado’s gorgeous Rocky Mountains . . .

As the oldest of three brothers, Shane Tyler takes his responsibility to the family ranch seriously—and it’s clear to him that the younger man who wants to marry his widowed mother is only looking for a meal ticket. He’s determined to stop the nuptials whatever it takes, but the shy wedding planner his mom hired is harder to intimidate than he expected.

When Cora Preston worked up the nerve to leave her abusive ex and move with her young son to Gracely, it was a huge step. Accepting the position as wedding planner at brand-new Mile High Weddings took even more courage. But Cora’s biggest challenge is turning out to be the bride’s handsome—and stubborn—oldest son, Shane, and the way the strong-willed cowboy makes her feel.

Can the heat crackling between them warm two hearts suspicious of love?


I read my first Nicole Helm book a few weeks ago, it was a Christmas story in a different series, and I really liked it. Then this book sort of fell into my lap (it helps that my lap was in the library) and I thought, serendipity!

I must admit to some confusion with some of the characters because, as usual, I didn’t read the earlier books in this series. I have a feeling things would have made a lot more sense to me if I had. But even though I wasn’t quite clear on everything going on in the background, there was enough of a story to keep me intrigued and turning pages. I’ll be looking for more of this author.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A NICE DAY FOR A COWBOY WEDDING by Nicole Helm. Zebra (August 28, 2018). ISBN 978-1420146943. 320p.

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THE LADY IS DARING by Megan Frampton

October 11, 2018

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The Duke’s Daughters Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

Five well-bred sisters, one sensational scandal. Now the Duke of Marymount’s daughter Ida is about to find love in the most unconventional way . . .

It was easy for society to overlook Lady Ida Howlett; they found her bookish, opinionated, and off the marriage mart. But little did they know that behind a calm exterior beats the heart of an adventuress, one who, determined to discover her runaway sister’s whereabouts, steals a carriage and sets off on a daring mission. Then she discovers she’s not alone! Bennett, Lord Carson, is inside, and he refuses to leave.

Lord Carson’s plans had always been to find a soft, gentle wife who would run his home and raise his children. Still, he makes a bargain with Ida—he won’t desert her during her mad adventure. He’ll make sure she’s safe, and then find a suitable lady to fall in love with. But when rules (and garments) become discarded during this long, intimate journey, it’s soon clear that this surprisingly daring lady is the woman he’s needed all along.


Another excellent addition to Megan Frampton’s body of work. The characters are brought to life and I found Lady Ida to be a real kick. She is feisty and independent but determined (dare I say it?) to live her best life. Bennett at first appears to be the usual royal stick in the mud, but he is surprised to find hidden depths within himself.

I love stories where characters change and grow, and they both do so here. This is a fast, fun romp and a delightful read.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE LADY IS DARING by Megan Frampton. Avon (September 25, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062666673. 352p.

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A NOTORIOUS VOW by Joanna Shupe

October 9, 2018

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The Four Hundred Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

Joanna Shupe returns to New York City’s Gilded Age, where fortunes and reputations are gained and lost with ease—and love can blossom from the most unlikely charade

With the fate of her disgraced family resting on her shoulders, Lady Christina Barclay has arrived in New York City from London to quickly secure a wealthy husband. But when her parents settle on an intolerable suitor, Christina turns to her reclusive neighbor, a darkly handsome and utterly compelling inventor, for help.

Oliver Hawkes reluctantly agrees to a platonic marriage . . . with his own condition: The marriage must end after one year. Not only does Oliver face challenges that are certain to make life as his wife difficult, but more importantly, he refuses to be distracted from his life’s work—the development of a revolutionary device that could transform thousands of lives, including his own.

Much to his surprise, his bride is more beguiling than he imagined. When temptation burns hot between them, they realize they must overcome their own secrets and doubts, and every effort to undermine their marriage, because one year can never be enough.


This is a terrific serie – I love the time period, 1890’s, and the setting, New York City. Shupe writes wonderfully damaged characters and Oliver Hawkes is no exception. Hawkes went deaf as a teenager, and has put up with derision, taunting and worse for most of his life. It has driven him to the point of becoming a recluse, and luckily, he is wealthy enough to be able to afford it. To see how deaf people were treated at that time was appalling, and I appreciated the historically accurate references.

Lady Christina is another messy character, the daughter of abusive parents. Her mother has been demeaning her for all of her life, leaving Christina with virtually no self esteem and the desire to make everyone around her happy. It would never occur to her that she deserves to be happy, too.

This is a marriage of inconvenience, if you will. Of course it leads to a very happy ending but there are dreadful trials along the way. It was a one night read for me, I couldn’t put it down. A wonderful escape that made me (almost) happy to be living in 21st century America.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A NOTORIOUS VOW by Joanna Shupe. Avon (September 25, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062678942. 384p.

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WHY NOT TONIGHT by Susan Mallery

October 8, 2018

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Happily Inc, Book 3

From the publisher:

Susan Mallery welcomes you to Happily Inc, where true love isn’t just for fairy tales…

Natalie Kaleta will do anything for the artists at her gallery, including risk life, limb and the effect of humidity on her naturally curly hair. Braving a downpour to check on reclusive Ronan Mitchell, Natalie gets stranded by a mudslide at his mountain home, where the brooding glass artist reveals his playful side, sending her inconvenient crush from under-the-radar to over-the-top.

After a secret tore apart his family and made him question his sense of self, Ronan fled his hometown for Happily Inc, but the sunny small town can’t fix his damaged heart. He won’t give in to his attraction for beautiful, perpetually cheerful Natalie. She’s untouched by darkness—or so he thinks.

Natalie knows that when a heart goes through the flame, it comes out stronger. Life may not be a fairy tale, but sometimes dreams do come true. Why not this one? Why not tonight?


This has become one of my favorite series and this book is one of the reasons. All the books have been wonderful and real escapist fiction, which frankly, I need right now.

The series centers around the Mitchell brothers, all famous artists. They had a difficult childhood, their father was unfaithful to their mother and that was the least of their problems. He is also a famous artist, and was very abusive towards his children. They have all responded to those problems differently, but Ronan is the most sensitive and brooding of the bunch.

Natalie is a ray of sunshine, and Ronan doesn’t know quite why he is finding that appealing. Being trapped together always moves a romance along nicely, and it does here but it’s the follow through that matters. Malley has it down, and the story just works. There are laughs and love and some sex, and all in all, another excellent read.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WHY NOT TONIGHT by Susan Mallery. HQN; Original edition (September 18, 2018). ISBN 978-1335474605. 384p.

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SEASON OF WONDER by RaeAnne Thayne

October 6, 2018

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From a nice Jewish girl, Christmas book reviews, day 4. 

Haven Point Series, Book 9

From the publisher:

It’s a long way from New York to Idaho…but could they have found a home at last?

Dani Capelli has never truly belonged anywhere. And from her earliest days as a foster child in Queens, she would have been lost if it weren’t for her love of animals. Until high school, when she fell hard for the wrong boy, and found herself pregnant—and married—by graduation. Two daughters later, Dani realized her mistake and filed for divorce, and with the help of scholarships and loans—and a lot of macaroni and cheese dinners—she enrolled in vet school. Things were finally looking up…until her ex-husband became her late husband, in the most notorious way possible.

Now Dani and her daughters need an out-of-town pass more than ever. So when the retiring Haven Point veterinarian offers her a chance to settle in the small Idaho town and take over his practice, she jumps at it. But adjusting to the charming mountain community isn’t easy; thirteen-year-old Silver begins acting out while six-year-old Mia is growing too attached to Haven Point and everything in it, especially their next-door-neighbor, Deputy Sheriff Ruben Morales. And Dani can’t blame her. Ruben is everything she’s secretly wanted—and everything she can’t bear to risk loving…and losing.

As the holidays draw near, their shared concern for Dani’s daughters brings them closer together, giving Ruben the chance to show this big-city woman just how magical Christmas in Haven Point can be…and that the promise of a home at last is very real in the most wondrous season of the year…


Stores start putting out their Christmas stuff now (or even earlier) and the Christmas books start coming now, too. Wish someone would write a new Hanukkah romance. Hanukkah celebrates a miracle, too, so why not?

I started this series with book 8 and I’m moving right along. Guess they come fast when Christmas is right around the corner.

This is another warm, wonderful story with interesting characters who you can’t help but care about. I love the small town setting, too. Not sure why, if I had to live in a small town I’d probably lose my mind but I do love reading about them. Same with the winter – I’ve lived in Florida for over 40 years and don’t think I could handle cold weather and all that snow and ice. But I love watching it on TV!

Thayne is a good storyteller with the ability to draw the reader in right from the get go. I got so involved that I hated to put the book down until I got to the happy ending. Love those happy endings.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable holiday read with a sweet romance, look no further.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SEASON OF WONDER by RaeAnne Thayne. HQN; Original edition (September 25, 2018). ISBN 978-1335947932.  320p..

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THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN by David Baldacci

October 5, 2018

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From a nice Jewish girl, Christmas book reviews, day 3. 

From the publisher:

A HALLMARK CHANNEL ORIGINAL MOVIE

One of America’s most critically acclaimed storytellers, David Baldacci has enthralled millions with his popular novels. Showcasing his remarkable versatility, Baldacci gift-wraps a beloved holiday classic…

Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington, D.C., to L.A. in time for Christmas. Forced to travel by train, he begins a journey of rude awakenings, thrilling adventures, and holiday magic. He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, as he rediscovers people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost.

David Baldacci’s THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN is filled with memorable characters who have packed their bags with as much wisdom as mischief…and shows how we do get second chances to fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams, especially during this season of miracles.


So I was cleaning out a closet and found this book. (Yes, my closets have books in them, at least they did. I think I’ve gathered them all by now.) It is written by the thriller master, David Baldacci, and is so far out of his wheelhouse that he seems like he is channeling Debbie Macomber. But he’s not. I don’t think.

Anyway, I decided to read it and I’m very happy I finally did. This is a wonderful Christmas story and right after I read it, I found the Hallmark movie version. They did a good job, they’ve had lots of practice turning romance novels into romantic comedy movies. It is set on a train, and in a coincidence, some friends recently took a train trip across Canada, which sounded really nice. I was definitely in train mode for this book.

There is a bit of a mystery going on (I guess Baldacci just couldn’t help himself) in that several of the guests have lost something. Nothing too major, things like a favorite pen and a pair of sunglasses. But who is taking these things, and why?

If you think of this as a kinder, gentler Murder on the Orient Express, without the murder of course, you get the idea. Two of the passengers had a relationship several years earlier that ended badly, but being stuck together for days on a train leads to some soul searching and reconciliation.

If you, too, have this book laying around, I recommend picking it up and reading it. You could also buy it or borrow it from your library.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN by David Baldacci. Sourcebooks Casablanca (September 4, 2018)). ISBN 978-1492641599.  320p..

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