THE WAY YOU LOVE ME by Miranda Liasson

February 17, 2019

I read the first book in this series, Then There Was You, and really liked it so I was excited to read this one. I liked this one too, but not quite as much as the first one. The series is set in the small town of Angel Falls, and it’s a good little town and the setting works for these types of stories. The people in the first book are briefly mentioned but this story revolves around other characters in the town.

Gabby and Caden have their difficulties, there would be no plot otherwise. Caden went through a horrible divorce, and is now a single dad raising his daughter mostly on his own. Gabby is a woman who is constantly searching for something. She’s taken all types of classes over the years, to the point where her family teases her about it. Losing her mother at a fairly young age left her with more questions than answers, especially when she finds out her mother was writing a book. Gabby’s always wanted to write and finding that out gives her the impetus she needs to take a step in that direction, especially when a renowned author is teaching the course. It’s a sticky situation when a professor gets involved with a student, no matter the age, and Caden is about as ethical as they come.

This story is sweet and meanders along with an occasional hiccup along the way. I enjoyed the escape to Angel Falls.

2/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE WAY YOU LOVE ME by Miranda Liasson. Forever (January 29, 2019). ISBN 978-1455541829. 496p.

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I OWE YOU ONE by Sophie Kinsella

February 16, 2019

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From the publisher:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella comes an irresistible story of love and empowerment about a young woman with a complicated family, a handsome man who might be “the one,” and an IOU that changes everything.

Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” And since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will?

It’s simply not in Fixie’s nature to say no to people. So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, she not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, an investment manager, scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

But then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life, and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. As always, she wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. No sooner has Seb agreed than the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?


It took me a little while to warm up to this book. The main character, Fixie, grew on me eventually but I found her sort of stupid and irritating for the first 15 chapters. But I stuck with it and I’m glad I did. Once I got there, the rest of the book just flew for me and I ended up loving her. I guess I liked watching as she grew as a person, got smarter about herself and her world. The romance aspect was one of those back and forth, back and forth things but it worked. The secondary characters were fairly well developed but I never quite got a handle on Fixie’s sister for some reason, but maybe that’s just me.

I enjoy Kinsella’s humor and there were many laughs to be found among the necessary angst. I ended up really liking this book and if you are a Kinsella fan, don’t miss it. If not, give it a try anyway!

02/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

I OWE YOU ONE by Sophie Kinsella. The Dial Press (February 5, 2019).  ISBN 978-1524799014.  448p.

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WHEN YOU READ THIS by Mary Adkins

February 15, 2019

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From the publisher:

A comedy-drama for the digital age: an epistolary debut novel about the ties that bind and break our hearts, for fans of Maria Semple and Rainbow Rowell.

Iris Massey is gone.
But she’s left something behind.

For four years, Iris Massey worked side by side with PR maven Smith Simonyi, helping clients perfect their brands. But Iris has died, taken by terminal illness at only thirty-three. Adrift without his friend and colleague, Smith is surprised to discover that in her last six months, Iris created a blog filled with sharp and often funny musings on the end of a life not quite fulfilled. She also made one final request: for Smith to get her posts published as a book. With the help of his charmingly eager, if overbearingly forthright, new intern Carl, Smith tackles the task of fulfilling Iris’s last wish.

Before he can do so, though, he must get the approval of Iris’ big sister Jade, an haute cuisine chef who’s been knocked sideways by her loss. Each carrying their own baggage, Smith and Jade end up on a collision course with their own unresolved pasts and with each other.

Told in a series of e-mails, blog posts, online therapy submissions, text messages, legal correspondence, home-rental bookings, and other snippets of our virtual lives, When You Read This is a deft, captivating romantic comedy—funny, tragic, surprising, and bittersweet—that candidly reveals how we find new beginnings after loss.

 


I was hooked as soon as I saw “for fans of Maria Semple (love!) and Rainbow Rowell (LOVE!) So I had high expectations that were just barely met. I liked this book a lot but I didn’t love it.

I do love epistolary novels. My all time favorite is Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. If you haven’t read it, click through, buy this book and thank me later.

Back to this one. I enjoyed the email aspect of the book, but it took a while for me to warm up to the characters. But eventually I did, and even the secondary characters were good. I admit it took me a little while before I realized that Smith was a man. Guess I should have continued reading the synopsis, I stopped after the Rainbow Rowell comment. Carl, Smith’s assistant, lent comic relief and many funny yet cringe worthy moments to a book that is essentially about life, death, and how we deal with it all. Heavy topics that needed that relief.

Kudos to the illustrator and to Amazon; Iris’s blog has many drawings and I loved that I could tap on them on my Kindle and blow them up to see the fine details. They added another layer to the blog and the book.

Taking a difficult topic and turning into a romance is no easy feat, and Adkins achieved her goal. I would have liked a bit more ending in the book, it barely made it to where it needed to be. Maybe an epilogue? All in all, like most epistolary novels, this is a very fast read and I think it is one that will stay with me for a while.

02/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WHEN YOU READ THIS by Mary Adkins. Harper (February 5, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062834676.  384p.

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COWBOY ON MY MIND by R.C. Ryan

February 10, 2019

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Montana Strong, Book 1

From the publisher:

A heartwarming western romance about a cowboy who gets a second chance with his first love in the rugged beauty of the Montana mountains. . .
Ben Monroe was the ultimate bad boy – and everyone in Haller Creek knew it. But now as a sheriff’s deputy, Ben spends his time breaking up bar fights rather than starting them, and staying away from trouble…until Becca Henderson comes back into town. She’s just as beautiful as Ben remembers – and just as far out of his reach.
Coming home is exactly what Becca Henderson needed. A place of her own, a successful new business, and a chance to reconnect with the sexy cowboy she had a crush on in school. Ben has always blazed his own path and never let anyone stand in his way. It excites-and scares-her. But when an unexpected threat surfaces, Becca will see just how far Ben will go to protect the woman he loves-and fight for their chance at forever.

 


This book started out very dark in the prologue, but quickly moved into the light and a wonderful story. I loved these characters, the back story, and the setting. As a Floridian, I love reading about the seasons, just not living through them! Snow on the pages is beautiful though and Ryan does a really good job of bringing the small Montana ranching community to life. But it’s the characters that really make this story. Even the secondary characters are well developed and have interesting lives indeed.

This is a variation of the childhood sweethearts romance. Ben and Becca grew up in this same small town, but never really dated. But they both harbored secret crushes and are scared to move forward now that they are adults. All that insecurity, on both sides, increases the tension and keeps the pages turning.

There is a also a bit of suspense. There is someone driving through town taking potshots at pedestrians and it happens a few times, with no deaths thank goodness. But who is being targeted and why slowly unfurls and there is quite the dramatic denouement.

I highly recommend this series to fans of contemporary cowboy romances. If you haven’t tried one of these, this is a terrific series to try. I ripped through the first two books in this series in a day and a half. The second book, The Cowboy Next Door, comes out Feb. 26. The review will be posted then.

2/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

COWBOY ON MY MIND by R.C. Ryan. Forever (June 26, 2018). ISBN 978-1538711156. .964p.

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GOVERNESS GONE ROGUE by Laura Lee Guhrke

February 6, 2019

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Dear Lady Truelove, Book 3

From the publisher:

Dear Lady Truelove . . .

My twin brother and I need a new mother, though Papa insists he’ll never marry again. Must be nice, brainy, and fond of cats . . .

Lady Truelove may be London’s most famous advice columnist, but James St. Clair, the Earl of Kenyon, knows his wild young sons need a tutor, not a new mother. They need a man tough enough to make his hellions tow the line, and James is determined to find one.

Miss Amanda Leighton, former schoolteacher and governess, knows she has all the qualifications to be a tutor. And while female tutors are unheard of, Amanda isn’t about to lose the chance at her dream job because of pesky details like that. If Lord Kenyon insists on hiring a man, then she has only one option . . .

Jamie isn’t sure what to make of his new employee, until he realizes the shocking truth—beneath the ill-fitting suits, his boys’ tutor is a woman. An unconventional, outspoken, thoroughly intriguing woman. Despite Amanda’s deception, he can’t dismiss her when his boys are learning so much. Yet Jamie, too, is learning surprising lessons—about desire, seduction, and passionate second chances . . .


Somehow I missed the first book in this series, but I read the last one and liked it a lot. This new one has same charm and humor.

This was a fun read, provided you can suspend your disbelief enough to buy into the story. Guhrke does a convincing job and it worked for me. I liked the character of Amanda, she was smart and feisty and a wonderful teacher. Jamie was a damaged protagonist, a widow who was convinced that his only true love had died and he has sworn off women forever. But his twin boys, tired of running off one nanny after another, decide they want a new mother.

The relationships between Jamie and his boys, and Amanda and Jamie are interesting and fraught, making this an enjoyable read. And a quick one, it’s a very short book.

2/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

GOVERNESS GONE ROGUE by Laura Lee Guhrke.  Avon (January 29, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062890689. 272p.

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99 PERCENT MINE by Sally Thorne

January 31, 2019

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From the publisher:

Readers and critics alike raved over USA Today bestselling author Sally Thorne’s smash hit debut, The Hating Game, which has sold in over 20 countries. Now she’s back with an unforgettable romantic comedy about a woman who finally has a shot at her long time crush—if she dares.

Crush (n.): a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

This next hilarious romance includes a special PS section with two Happily Ever Afters—one for this novel featuring Darcy and Tom and the other, an epilogue featuring fan favorites Lucy Hutton and Josh Templeman from The Hating Game!

 


I was one of the readers/critics who loved The Hating Game, but I did not love this new book.

Darcy was a difficult character for me to care about. I didn’t like her much so I couldn’t get invested in her relationship efforts – or lack thereof. She was so busy being tough, in the worst possibly way, that I just didn’t care whether or not she got the man. On the other hand, I loved her love interest. Tom was a great character that I really liked and cared about, so much so that I sort of felt sorry for him that he was so in love with this woman. I really thought he deserved someone better. Darcy has a brother, Tom’s best friend, and I found him to be a very one dimensional character. I didn’t feel like I knew him at all. So not great characters and a pretty pedestrian storyline.

I had really been looking forward to this book and unfortunately, it was a major disappointment. Other reviews have been much kinder, so I’d love to hear from anyone else who reads it.

01/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

99 PERCENT MINE by Sally Thorne. William Morrow Paperbacks (January 29, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062439611.  368p.

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HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER by Paula Quinn

January 27, 2019

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Highland Heirs, Book 9

From the publisher:

From New York Times bestselling author Paula Quinn comes a sweeping Scottish historical romance between a dashing MacGregor highlander and his English bride.
 
They tried to resist a marriage of convenience . . .
As the clan chief’s son, Adam MacGregor is duty-bound to marry a royal heir. Yet when he meets his bride—a beautiful but haughty young lass who thinks he is nothing more than a common savage—he realizes she’s more than he bargained for. But the more Adam gets to know his new wife, the more intent he is on proving her wrong about him.But can they resist each other?
Sina de Arenberg wants nothing to do with the unsavory MacGregors, especially the fierce Highlander she now calls husband. But the more time she spends with the man she married, the more she sees his honor and courage. Just when she thinks there might be a future for her and Adam, Sina is called back to court. England isn’t the place she remembers, though, and soon she’ll be forced to choose between the life she once knew, and the Highlander who has captured her heart.


I really enjoyed this historical romance, especially the time period. I love seeing how people lived and the culture, so different in the Highlands from London. All I know about the Isle of Skye is what I’ve learned reading the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon, so this was a treat – an up close and personal look at a small village set there.

I did have some issues with Sina, I found her very whiny, but eventually she grew on me. The constant battles between her and Adam really ratcheted up the tension, and I loved how she finally felt like she had a place there. Her innocence was sweet, and watching the passion grow between them was fun. Adam was a great character and everyone got the ending they deserved. A fun read that I couldn’t put down.

1/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER by Paula Quinn. Forever (December 18, 2018).  ISBN 978-1455535385. 400p.

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PLAYING FOR KEEPS by Jill Shalvis

January 23, 2019

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A Heartbreaker Bay Novel, Book 7

From the publisher:

If you’re planning on falling in love…

When it comes to the confident, charismatic Caleb Parker, Sadie Lane feels the spark—the kind that comes from rubbing each other the wrong way. She’s yoga pants, he’s a suit. She’s a tattoo artist, he’s a straight-laced mogul. But after they accidentally co-rescue an abandoned dog from a storm, Sadie sees a vulnerable side to the seemingly invincible hottie.

you’d better be sure…

Caleb doesn’t do emotions. Growing up the underdog, he’s learned the hard way to build up an impenetrable wall. Perfect for business. Disastrous for relationships. He’s never worried about it before—not until he finally gets behind Sadie’s armor and begins to fall.

… someone is there to catch you.

Both guarded and vulnerable, Sadie and Caleb are complete opposites. Or are they? Shocked at their undeniable connection, can they ever admit to wanting more? That all depends on what they’re each willing to risk.


This is one of my favorite series; I love the setting, the characters and the humor. The sex is good, too! Caleb and Sadie are both really mistrustful and damaged, so seeing them get together is especially sweet. Also loved the three legged dog!

One of my favorite quotes from the book that made me laugh out loud – file this under why I love Jill Shalvis:

“Fifty Shades of Grey is only romantic because the guy’s a billionaire. If he was living in a trailer, it’d be a Criminal Minds episode.”

A one night read for me that I just couldn’t put down. Loved it!

01/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

PLAYING FOR KEEPS by Jill Shalvis.  Avon (January 22, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062741851.  272p.

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DARE TO LOVE A DUKE by Eva Leigh

January 20, 2019

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The London Underground, Book 3

From the publisher:

Named one of Amazon’s Best Romances of December!

For a dashing duke and the proprietress of a secret, sensual club in the London Underground, passion could lead to love… if they dare

Thomas Powell, the new Duke of Northfield, knows he should be proper and principled, like his father. No more dueling, or carousing, or frequenting masked parties where Londoners indulge their wildest desires. But he’s not ready to give up his freedom just yet. The club is an escape, a place where he can forget about society and the weight of his title… and see her, the woman he’s wanted forever.

Lucia—known as Amina—manages the Orchid Club, a secret society where fantasies become reality. But for Lucia, it’s strictly business, profitable enough to finance her dream: a home for the lost girls of the streets. Surrounded by lovers, she only observes, unwilling to risk her future for any man. No member has ever intrigued her…until him, the masked stranger whose heated looks sear her skin. After months of suppressed longing, they dare to give in to temptation…

But the late duke’s legacy comes with a shocking secret, and the scandal threatens to destroy everything Tom loves… his family, the Orchid Club, and even Lucia.


Let me start by saying I really liked this book. That said, while it looks like a Regency romance, there is a lot of sex in this book. Not that long ago, Regencies did not have nearly as much sex as is more common today, and I’m only mentioning it because this book actually surprised me.

The Orchid Club is a sex club, where anyone from the gentry to the working class can go to partake of, well, anything that is freely given. Consensual sex only. Oddly, the price of admission is a donation, so money is not the point, leading to one of the inconsistencies in this story. I am starting to get used to the fact that history is being rewritten in historical romances lately.

Lucia was a prostitute before rising to manager of a sex club. And she’s not English, but is from Italy. That was a very big deal back in the day. Nonetheless, the newly minted duke is completely enamored of her, and she of him. While he knows he has to marry for political gain, he can’t help but fall in love with Lucia. Did I mention this couple has almost insurmountable obstacles to overcome? But that is the fun here. If you like a lot of explicit sex with your romance, this is the book for you. If you don’t, either skip those pages (and there are a bunch) or look elsewhere for your next read. I liked it and recommend it.

1/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DARE TO LOVE A DUKE by Eva Leigh. Avon (December 24, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062499455. 384p.

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WHAT IF IT’S US by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

January 13, 2019

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From the publisher:

Critically acclaimed and bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera combine their talents in this smart, funny, heartfelt collaboration about two very different boys who can’t decide if the universe is pushing them together—or pulling them apart.

ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What if it’s us?


Have you seen the movie “Love, Simon”? It’s streaming on Netflix and is based on the book, Simon and the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. So when a friend (thanks, Caitlin!) recommended this book and mentioned that, I was in. It’s a terrific movie and this book is terrific as well.

This is a young adult gay love story, but you certainly don’t have to be a young adult or gay to enjoy it. The characters are likable and real, and I loved the New York City setting. Ben is a native New Yorker, Arthur is visiting for the summer and you get to see the city from both their perspectives, which is really interesting. But it is the characters that drew me in and kept me turning the pages. The book is often funny, sometimes sad, but always charming. Highly recommended – I hope this is made into a movie as well.

1/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WHAT IF IT’S US by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera. HarperTeen (October 9, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062795250.  448p.

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