BREATHING ROOM by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

September 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

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


FINDING OUR FOREVER by Brenda Novak

September 18, 2017

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Silver Springs, Book 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

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

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DANCING IN THE RAIN by Kelly Jamieson

September 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

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

 


THE BEAUTY OF US by Kristen Proby

September 9, 2017

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Fusion, Book 4

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

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

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

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

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

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

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NO ONE BUT YOU by Brenda Novak

September 7, 2017

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Silver Springs, Book 2

I haven’t read Novak for a while and I’m not sure why, I really like her books. Strictly speaking, this is a romance with its happily ever after, but it’s really more romantic suspense, with a heavy emphasis on suspense –  a real page turner. This is truly a case of “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Sadie Harris is trying to finalize her divorce from Sly, but he wants her back and will stop at nothing to get her back. But the only reason he is after her is because she doesn’t want him, and his pride can’t handle that. They have a five-year-old son who is not the rough and tumble boy Sly would prefer, so he pretty much ignores him or insults him. Luckily, he doesn’t want to spend much time with the boy.

Sadie is struggling to make it on her own. She’s waitressing part-time and renting a tiny one bedroom guest house from a friend. She needs a full-time job to truly be able to provide for her son and she finds one as a housekeeper/caregiver for Dalton Reed. Dalton is the town pariah, acquitted of murdering his adoptive parents but the small town of Silver Springs still believes he did it. He spent a year in jail before his acquittal, and his house was vandalized and his mentally challenged sister put into government care. He wants to bring her home but has to get the house livable and the farm it sits on fully functioning before the state will allow that.

Sadie is scared of Dalton, but needs the job. She quickly realizes that this quiet, very good looking young man is a kind and good person. But Sly – a cop – is infuriated that she is working for a murderer, and starts creating trouble for both of them. When her small cottage is set on fire, Sadie suspects Sly but can’t prove it. Instead of moving back home with Sly, Dalton invites her to stay with him, adding more trouble to the Harris divorce.

Sly is apparently on steroids, which is not helping his situation, and while the brothers in blue stick up for him, his captain is slowly realizing that something is really off. Meanwhile, Sadie and Dalton are falling in love, and he loves her little boy, too. But Sly is a major hindrance to this romance until almost the very last page.

I really enjoyed this read, and the next Silver Springs book is already out: Until You Loved Me. The first book in the series was a Harlequin Special Edition paperback, Finding Our Forever, which is available as an e-book and already on my Kindle.

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

NO ONE BUT YOU by Brenda Novak. MIRA (May 30, 2017).  ISBN 978-0778330615. 384p.

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YOUNGER by Pamela Redmond Satran

September 2, 2017

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Pamela Redmond Satran was most well known for her baby name books, written with Linda Rosenkrantz and are “acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming.” Which I think is true, but Satran also wrote several chick-lit books back in the day and I loved them, but somehow I missed this one.

I only read this because of the TV show, which I found because I love the Gilmore Girls and watched the re-boot on Netflix. One of the episodes, “Summer,” featured a musical play starring Sutton Foster, who was fabulous. This led me to watching “Bunheads”, a cult favorite from the same creative team as the Gilmore Girls that only lasted one season. I loved that, so when I heard that Sutton Foster was currently starring in “Younger,” I binge watched the first three seasons of that on Hulu, and I’m now caught up in the fourth. During that binge, I noticed it was based on a book and after this very long (probably too long, sorry!) explanation, here I am.

So if you are familiar with the TV show, here’s what you need to know. There have been many name changes, starting with Liza, who is Alice in the book, Kelsey was Lindsey, Diana was Teri, and well, you get the idea. Charles is a woman in the book so no romance there. Josh is still Josh, only he’s a video game designer instead of a tattoo artist. And the book ends way sooner and without half as much drama or fun as the TV series. All that said, it was still fun to read the inspiration behind the series.

If you are not familiar, here’s the plot. Alice has been a stay at home mom whose daughter has now left college for the Peace Corps and her husband, a dentist, has left her for his much younger dental hygienist. Trying to find a job in publishing, where she worked for a few months before a difficult pregnancy, proves much harder than expected. Alice’s best friend Maggie lives in New York City and offers some advice and a place to stay while she’s looking for a job in publishing. Her advice is to do a makeover on Alice, buy her new clothes and prove to her that she can pass for a twenty-something instead of a middle aged housewife.  She does this by taking her to a bar on New Year’s Eve, where she meets and kisses Josh. He is much younger than her, but thinks she is only a few years older than he is, maybe 29? She’s really 44 but by leaving off the past decade or so from her resume, she lands a job with the same publisher she worked for before her pregnancy.

Living a lie causes all sorts of tension and working for a bitch isn’t any more fun for a pretend 29-year-old than it would be for a 44-year-old. Eventually, the truth comes out and Alice dumps Josh before he can dump her. But that wouldn’t make for a happily ever after so at the last possible second, they work it out.

I enjoyed the book and considering it was published twelve years ago, it holds up pretty well. But I have to admit I enjoy the TV show more. There are just so many more complications and plot twists over four seasons than is possible in a book of a few hundred pages.

If you love the TV show, you’ll probably enjoy the book. If you haven’t seen it, read the book then watch it. Either way you’ll have fun – I did.

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

YOUNGER by Pamela Redmond Satran. Gallery Books; First Edition edition (July 5, 2005).  ISBN 978-1416505587.  284p.

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THE CHESAPEAKE BRIDE by Mariah Stewart

August 30, 2017

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The Chesapeake Diaries, Book 11

UPDATE: I read this over the weekend and it was a really good read! The characters are well developed, the locale is almost another character and the story is engaging. Highly recommended.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart returns to the cherished Maryland shores of St. Dennis with THE CHESAPEAKE BRIDE (Pocket Books; August 29, 2017; $7.99), the charming story of a jaded architect who meets the one man who could finally melt her heart—if she’s willing to let him in.

Cassidy Logan has sworn off good-looking adventurers, having just divorced the one she’d married. Now working with her father’s construction company to build ecologically friendly, historically accurate homes on the Chesapeake Bay, she’s designing them for Cannonball Island. Knowing there’s been no new construction on the island in almost one hundred years, Cass is sensitive to the heritage and history of the sparsely populated island, and has come up with plans so perfect she’s determined to buy one for herself to live in. Even the fact that Owen Parker—whom she dismisses as a lightweight and a player— seems to be everywhere she goes isn’t enough to deter her from building her dream house.

Owen is and always has been sinfully handsome and wickedly clever, a magnet for mischief as well as the girls in St. Dennis. He’s also a rolling stone, going and doing whatever appeals to him, from flying a mail plane in Alaska to working on a cattle ranch in Australia and a shrimp boat in Louisiana, to surfing and diving in Costa Rica. When an old friend offers him a job salvaging a sunken ship in the Chesapeake, Owen gladly accepts. Something’s been telling him it’s about time to head home to Cannonball Island, and a job is as good an excuse as any. He’s totally smitten with the pretty architect, but it seems he’s finally met a woman who’s immune to his charms. Sooner or later, Owen will have to face the reason why he always runs, because this time, leaving just might be harder than staying.

8/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE CHESAPEAKE BRIDE by Mariah Stewart. Pocket Books (August 29, 2017). ISBN 978-1501154355. 384p.

Kindle

GIVEAWAY:

We’re celebrating The Chesapeake Bride and Summer 2017 with one giveaway for Driftwood Point, 10th  in The Chesapeake Diaries Series by Mariah Stewart!

To win a copy of Driftwood Point by Mariah Stewartplease send an email to contest@gmail.com with “Driftwood Point” as the subject.

You must include your U.S. street address in your email.

All entries must be received by September 22, 2017 (the official last day of summer!) One (1) name will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age in the United States only. Your books will be sent by SIMON & SCHUSTER|POCKET BOOKS.

One entry per email address. Subscribers to the monthly newsletter earn an extra entry into every contest. Follow this blog to earn another entry into every contest. Winners may win only one time per year (365 days) for contests with prizes of more than one book. Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone.

Praise for Driftwood Point, Book 10 in The Chesapeake Diaries:

“This second-chance-at-love romance is gentle and sweet…The colorful friendship between the family matriarchs…charms. Stewart seamlessly checks in with former series protagonists and introduces future romantic pairings without stealing attention from Lisbeth and Alec.”

—RT Book Reviews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories.  A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens.

Visit her website at mariahstewart.com, like her on Facebook at AuthorMariahStewart, and follow her on Instagram at mariah_stewart_books.


THE DUCHESS DEAL by Tessa Dare

August 23, 2017

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Girl Meets Duke, Book 1

Tessa Dare is one of my favorite romance writers, and this is the first book of a terrific new series. It’s already gotten a ton of publicity; it’s one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books of Romance for 2017 and an Amazon Best Romance of August 2017 – and I agree.

The Duke of Ashbury has returned from the war badly damaged from a rocket blowing up near him. He almost died and has severe scarring on half of his body and face. The fiancée he returned to is repulsed by him and breaks their engagement. But he has a duty to produce an heir and needs to find a wife.

When the seamstress who made his fiancée’s wedding gown shows up at his home demanding payment for the dress – which she is wearing, and it’s hideous – he asks her a few questions about herself. Turns out Emma Gladstone is the daughter of a vicar and is unmarried, and the duke proposes on the spot. She thinks he’s playing games with her but quickly finds out he is serious, and they marry.

The Duke tells her all she has to do is get pregnant as quickly as possible, then he will give her a house in the country for her own. There she will raise their son and he won’t bother her again. Except she is strongly attracted to the Duke, but he is so damaged, both mentally and physically, he doesn’t believe it or even want to believe it.

They reach their happily ever after but only after some really hot love scenes – several of them, in fact. Dare is known for her explicit sex scenes and she really does a great job here, something lesser writers fumble with. These are fully realized characters as well, and you can’t help rooting for them along with their household staff who are plotting to get them to fall in love.

If you’re a Tessa Dare fan, you will be happy with this new series opener and if you’re unfamiliar with this writer, you might want to become better acquainted. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

8/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE DUCHESS DEAL by Tessa Dare. Pamela Dorman Books (August 15, 2017).  ISBN 978-0735223493. 352p.

Kindle


HOW TO FIND LOVE IN A BOOKSHOP by Veronica Henry

August 19, 2017

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Julius Nightingale met the love of his life in Paris. She was an American, he was English, theirs was a quick, intense relationship. And then she got pregnant. Her family disowned her, and when she died in childbirth, they wanted nothing to do with her daughter. So Julius became a single father.

Julius opened a bookshop in a small, quiet town and lived above it with his daughter, Emilia. H truly loved books and helping people find books, and was soon beloved in the town. Emilia grew up in the bookstore, an avid reader, and when her father died, much too young, she decided to keep the bookstore going in his honor.

This small town had several interesting characters, and there were several subplots revolving around them, with the bookstore at their center. Sarah, who owned the largest estate in town and was unhappily married. Her daughter, who was planning her wedding. Their gardener, who was secretly in love with the daughter. Marlowe, a violinist who played in a quartet with her father, and his girlfriend. The cheesemonger, who has a bit of a crush on the high school cooking teacher. And more, all charming, all with their own stories.

Unfortunately, Julius was a wonderful bookseller but not a wonderful businessman. In another subplot, the business was in financial jeopardy, the building in need of serious repairs and updating. A slimy businessman in town who wants to buy the bookshop for its parking lot offers a solution, but Emilia’s father had repeatedly turned him down. A young mother offers marketing and design help.

This story weaves many threads into a beautiful and strong fabric. I loved these characters but I think there were too many to do them all justice. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this book. Yes, I’m a sucker for any story revolving around a bookstore (or library) – occupational hazard, mea culpa. Enjoy it anyway. Once again Pamela Dorman comes through – I love her imprint.

8/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HOW TO FIND LOVE IN A BOOKSHOP by Veronica Henry. Pamela Dorman Books (August 15, 2017).  ISBN 978-0735223493. 352p.

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THE DARE AND THE DOCTOR by Kate Noble

August 17, 2017

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Winner Takes All, Book 3

I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, so I was sorry to see I missed this one when it came out late last year, but I’m happy I found it now.

Margaret Babcock is an only child and heir to her father’s fortune, but she is not your typical young woman. She has no real interest in men or dating; rather she is a botanist and gardener, working day and night in her conservatory in her mother’s memory. She has an ongoing correspondence with Dr. Rhys Gray, a physician who understands and appreciates her work, as she does his.

When she reports to him that she has bred a new rose that can repeatedly bloom in England’s crazy climate, he contacts the Royal Horticultural Society on her behalf, and she is extended an invitation to bring her roses to London. Women are not allowed to join the society or attend their meetings, but they will come to her to see the roses.

Margaret stays with family friends and they turn over their conservatory for her use. While in London, a young woman befriends her, but it turns out that she is the intended for one Dr. Rhys Gray. Margaret insists they are just friends, but as they spend time together they both soon realize that they have much deeper feelings for one another than just friendship.

Rhys’s family situation dictates that he marry his intended, and it seems he has no way out of his familial obligation. But this is a romance and true love will win out. This is a fairly chaste romance but a very enjoyable read.

8/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE DARE AND THE DOCTOR by Kate Noble. Pocket Books (November 22, 2016). ISBN: 978-1476749402. 384p.

Kindle