August 8, 2018

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A Collection of Outlander Fiction

As regular readers know, Diana Gabaldon is on the shortlist of my favorite writers. SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR TO FALL is a collection of the novellas that have previously been published as Kindle Singles and such, now collected in this anthology and now out in paperback. I have not read the Lord John Grey stories as I read the first of that mystery series and it wasn’t for me. But I have read the Outlander novellas and they are fabulous!

SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL begins with “The Custom of the Army,” and Lord John Grey being shocked by an electric eel and ends at the Battle of Quebec. Then comes “The Space Between,” where it is revealed that the Comte St. Germain is not dead, Master Raymond appears, and a widowed young wine dealer escorts a would-be novice to a convent in Paris. In “A Plague of Zombies,” Lord John unexpectedly becomes military governor of Jamaica when the original governor is gnawed by what probably wasn’t a giant rat.

A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows” is the moving story of Roger MacKenzie’s parents during World War II. In “Virgins,” Jamie Fraser, aged nineteen, and Ian Murray, aged twenty, become mercenaries in France, no matter that neither has yet bedded a lass or killed a man. But they’re trying… “A Fugitive Green” is the story of Lord John’s elder brother, Hal, and a seventeen-year-old rare book dealer with a sideline in theft, forgery, and blackmail. And finally, in “Besieged,” Lord John learns that his mother is in Havana—and that the British Navy is on their way to lay siege to the city.

Filling in mesmerizing chapters in the lives of characters that readers have followed over the course of thousands of pages, Gabaldon’s genius is on full display throughout this must-have collection.

Diana Gabaldon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular Outlander novels—Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (for which she won a Quill Award and the Corine International Book Prize), An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood—as well as the related Lord John Grey books Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, and The Scottish Prisoner; two works of nonfiction, The Outlandish Companion, Volumes 1 and 2; the Outlander graphic novel The Exile; and The Official Outlander Coloring Book. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband.

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT by Kristan Higgins

August 7, 2018

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I love Kristan Higgins, but I didn’t love this book. It is a bit of a departure for her, tackling a pretty serious subject, the plight and discrimination that fat women face in this country.  I admire her for tackling such a tough subject, but I missed her usual humor for sure. Or maybe I didn’t like it that much because it hits a bit close to home for me.

Emerson is one of those women who is so obese that she can barely get out of bed. She has a cousin who is her caretaker, and a boyfriend who brings her food. When she dies, she leaves a letter for her two best friends, Georgia and Marley.

They all met in fat camp as teenagers and remained friends over the years. Georgia and Marley share a house in New York and haven’t seen Emerson in years, so they are shocked at how large she had become and at her death. She leaves them a list that they all made together when they were in fat camp, and asks her friends to complete the list. This is a “when we are thin” list – tuck in a shirt, get a piggy back ride, eat dessert in public, and so forth.

The women tackle the list and learn a lot about themselves in the process. We are never told Georgia and Marley’s actual weight, just the body issues each of them faces. There is romance, too, but that wasn’t enough to save this book for me. I’m really curious as to what other people think of it.

3/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT by Kristan Higgins.  Berkley (August 7, 2018).  ISBN 978-0451489395. 480p.



August 6, 2018

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From the publisher:

Calla Fletcher was two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when her father reaches out to inform her that his days are numbered, Calla knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this new subarctic environment, Jonah—the quiet, brooding, and proud Alaskan pilot who keeps her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. As time passes, she unexpectedly finds herself forming a bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago.

It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

I am a sucker any book set in Alaska and this was a good one. Set in the fictional town of Bangor in Western Alaska, this is a good look at the life in a small, rural town. The characters are only there for summer so we don’t learn much about winter but we do learn about $10 boxes of cereal and the importance of relying on your neighbors and friends. They all lean on one another to get through life. And I liked learning about the business of owning a business in rural Alaska, it was different for sure.

It is, perhaps, a somewhat idyllic view of what is undoubtedly a very hard life, but this is a love story so why not. The characters are interesting and brought to life really well. The relationships between Calla and her family members, Calla and Jonah, and Jonah and her father all ring true. Watching Calla follow in her mother’s footsteps was heart-wrenching at times but the happily ever after does make it all worthwhile.  All in all, a most enjoyable read.


K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge. She is the bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series and the novels He Will Be My RuinUntil It Fades, and Keep Her Safe. She currently resides in a quaint town outside Toronto with her husband and two beautiful girls.

THE SIMPLE WILD by K.A. Tucker. Atria Books Paperback, August 7, 2018. ISBN: 9781501133435. 400 pp.




Twitter: @kathleenatucker


Instagram: @katucker_


August 5, 2018

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This is the second series I’ve read by this author and she has become a favorite. These books – Deep in the Valley, Just Over the Mountain, and Down By the River combine to create a world that I loved spending time in.

Grace Valley is a small town filled with warm, likable characters, and the books center around the town doctor, June Hudson. June’s grandparents basically founded the town and her dad was the town doctor before he retired, leaving June to take over. Her Aunt Myrna, an eccentric but very successful novelist, built the clinic where June works.

Myrna raised her baby brother and didn’t marry until late in life. Her husband, a traveling salesman, disappeared and the townsfolk speculate that Myrna, whose novels usually center around a wife killing her cheating husband in myriad and gruesome ways, is writing what she knows. And she encourages those rumors.

A lecherous preacher, a gas station owner who’d rather fish than work, a cafe owner who gives away free meals on a regular basis, June’s best friend, the sheriff, and her godmother are the other major players in the story along with many more. Carr brings them to life, lovable quirks and all. Then there are the others, the poor, the abused, and the criminal that round out this tiny town. The way these characters interact and take care of each other is inspiring. Makes me want to live in a small town, although I suspect towns like Grace Valley are strictly fiction.

One night, two men come into June’s clinic, ordering her to remove a bullet from one of the men. The other man is holding a gun on her, but as she starts her work, he faints, sending the gun skittering across the room. June suspects that the faint was faked, and it turns out she was right. She’s also very attracted to the gunman, leaving her to think he is not at all what he seems and she is right about that as well. That’s where the story begins and it meanders beautifully through all three books and completely sucked me in. I read all three books in a weekend.

This is women’s fiction with a touch of romance and a lovely read. If you are looking for an escape, I highly recommend this trilogy. I loved it and I’m truly going to miss these characters.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

The Grace Valley Trilogy by Robyn Carr. MIRA (August 1, 2017). ASIN: B071YCRFTV. 662 p.


August 4, 2018

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Did you ever worry that one day you would write an email and accidentally send it to everyone in your address book? Essie Phillips didn’t, until she wrote a silly, scathing holiday letter to her best friend, complaining about her future mother-in-law and her job working for her. She leaves it on her computer and her brother shows up at her apartment, drunk, an acquaintance in tow. They spend the night and in the morning Essie finds out that her brother’s friend Lucas thought it would be funny to send out that email, and he did, to everyone she knows.

Essie’s boyfriend dumps her, leaving her homeless, and she loses her job. She also goes viral and a story about her debacle ends up in the local newspaper. This intrigues Zillah, a lonely widow with a large home where she rents out a couple of rooms. She offers Essie a place to stay for what she can afford to pay with the proviso that she run errands as needed. Essie is thrilled, she never thought she would live in such a posh neighborhood. Did I mention this is set in Great Britain?

Essie is happy to find a job as a waitress at the pub across the street, until she finds out that Lucas, the source of all the drama in her life, is the owner. But she is desperate, and she likes the job despite him. Eventually Essie finds a way to forgive him, and they find themselves with a strong attraction to one another but unable to act on it. Until they can.

Nothing unusual here but this was a fun read. I liked the characters very much, and the subplot about granting wishes to older folks in hospice was a nice touch. If you are looking for a quick read and you enjoy a good romance, you should like this book. I did.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THIS COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING by Jill Mansell. Sourcebooks Landmark (June 5, 2018).  ISBN 978-1492664222. 342p.


TRUE-BLUE COWBOY by Sara Richardson

August 3, 2018

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Rocky Mountain Riders, Book 4

From the publisher:

Everly Brooks is finally living her dream. Renting a farm in Topaz Falls, Colorado, is the perfect antidote to her high-stress life back in San Francisco. It’s the ideal place to raise chickens, grow veggies, and run her farm-to-table restaurant. There’s just one problem: her new landlord. Mateo Torres is a handsome-as-hell bronc rider who oozes charm, melts hearts-and plans to kick Everly off the
farm . . .
Mateo has dreams, too. He’d bought that land as an investment, so he could take care of his mom and sisters, which means Everly has to go. Unfortunately for him, this former big-city girl is just as stubborn as the broncs he rides. When his trailer floods and forces him to move into Everly’s farmhouse, things between them really start to heat up. Sure, living under the same roof might not be the best way to settle their dispute over the land. But when two rivals share everything-from heated words to scorching kisses-it’s definitely the hottest.

I liked this book but I also had some issues with it that may have something to do with the fact that this is the first book I’ve read from this author, and it is the fourth book in the series.

I don’t think the characters were developed enough, and again maybe if I’d read the previous books that wouldn’t be the case. But on its own, I didn’t feel like I knew these people so it made it hard to understand all the problems with getting to their happily ever after. I liked them, I just didn’t feel like I knew them very well and it’s difficult for me to get invested in a romance when that happens.

The setting was terrific and there was a lot of humor in these pages. Mateo’s back story was really interesting as was his motivation so that definitely worked for me. Everly was more of an enigma though.

If you’ve read the previous books, you will probably love this one.

8/18  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

TRUE-BLUE COWBOY by Sara Richardson. Forever (July 31, 2018). ISBN: 978-1538712252. 448p.


A DUKE BY DEFAULT by Alyssa Cole

August 2, 2018

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Reluctant Royals, Book 2

I think this was a first for me – a royal, contemporary romance! You just don’t see a lot of Dukes wandering around so this was a real treat.

Portia Hobbs is having some trouble at home. She’s a wealthy NY socialite but can’t seem to keep a job or even find something that interests her. It helps to have rich parents but even they are running out of patience. Then she impulsively applies for an apprenticeship to a swordmaker in Scotland and lands the gig.

Tavish McKenzie is struggling to keep his business afloat and his cousin comes up with the idea for an apprentice. He isn’t thrilled and makes that very clear but Portia is undeterred. She loves the idea of swordmaking and Tavish’s good looks and Scottish burr are really making her crazy, but he’s standoffish and gives her scut work to do. But she is nothing if not persistent, and eventually figures out a way to make a place for herself in updating their website.

In the process, she stumbles across some information that is life changing. It seems the struggling swordmaker is, in fact, a Duke. That leads to all sorts of complications and trouble, and a lot of laughs, too. Finally, the Duke realizes he needs Portia for more than her mad web skills and she needs him, too.

This was a really fun read with great characters, some nice heat, and a terrific storyline. It also touches on some important issues like racism – Portia is a woman of color.

I loved it!

Note: Alyssa Cole is an award winning author. AN EXTRAORDINARY UNION was chosen as the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award’s Best Book of 2017 and the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018. She was also a RITA award finalist in 2017.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A DUKE BY DEFAULT by Alyssa Cole. Avon (July 31, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062685568. 384p.


BORN TO BE WILDE by Eloisa James

July 30, 2018

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The Wildes of Lindow Castle, Book 3

From the publisher:

The richest bachelor in England plays matchmaker…for an heiress he wants for himself!

For beautiful, witty Lavinia Gray, there’s only one thing worse than having to ask the appalling Parth Sterling to marry her: being turned down by him.

Now the richest bachelor in England, Parth is not about to marry a woman as reckless and fashion-obsessed as Lavinia; he’s chosen a far more suitable bride.

But when he learns of Lavinia’s desperate circumstances, he offers to find her a husband. Even better, he’ll find her a prince.

As usual, there’s no problem Parth can’t fix. But the more time he spends with the beguiling Lavinia, the more he finds himself wondering…

Why does the woman who’s completely wrong feel so right in his arms?

This is a series I’ve read in order. I loved the first book, Wilde in Love, but I didn’t love the second book, which was most unusual for me as Eloisa James is one of my favorites. So it was with some trepidation that I read this one, but I am happy to say I loved it! Thank you, Eloisa.

These characters were well developed and I liked that Parth was biracial, you don’t see that a lot in Regency romances. The chemistry felt real and the sex scenes were hot but scarce. It was more about the relationship than the sex, not a bad thing in my opinion. The witty banter was good, too.

This book had a very interesting subplot dealing with laudanum addition. In the late 1700’s, women were often prescribed “drops” to calm their nerves and some became addicted. In light of the opioid addiction going on today, it was definitely worth pointing out the historical connection.

Another subplot dealt with the fashion of the day, how it was produced and the men and women in that industry. Parth owns a lace factory but his lace is not considered as fine as the handmade lace of Europe. The seamstresses are expected to work 18 hour days in poor lighting until Lavinia takes them on. There is a really touching scene where one of the maids explains to Lavinia how rare it is for a seamstress to be listened to and cared for, and that is rather extraordinary. James included some notes about these subplots at the end of the book. I really like when authors do that, especially in historicals. Those details make these types of book so much more interesting.

I am happy to say that I can highly recommend this as a fun, fast read that I couldn’t put down.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BORN TO BE WILDE by Eloisa James.  Avon (July 31, 2018). ISBN: 978-0062692474. 384p.



July 28, 2018

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Hellcat Canyon Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

Everyone knows the Greenleaf family puts the “Hell” in Hellcat Canyon—legend has it the only way they ever leave is in a cop car or a casket. But Glory Greenleaf has a different getaway vehicle in mind: her guitar. She has a Texas-sized talent and the ambition (and attitude) to match, but only two people have ever believed in her: her brother, who’s in jail, and his best friend . . . who put him there.

Sheriff Eli Barlow has secretly been in love with Glory since he was twelve years old. Which is how he knows her head is as hard as her heart is soft—and why she can’t forgive him for fracturing her family . . . or forget that night they surrendered to an explosive, long-simmering passion. But when a betrayal threatens Glory’s big break, Eli will risk everything to make it right . . . because the best way to love the girl from Whiskey Creek might mean setting her free forever.

Catching up on a terrific series with the second book, a terrific read. I really read these out of order, and while Long does a really good job making it easy to keep up, it’s been great putting everything I already knew into perspective. I really enjoyed this story and these characters. Glory is talented and smart enough to know that with her family’s bad reputation, she needs to be extra careful because people are always going to assume the worst. Luckily, she’s known Eli since they were children and that’s not an issue with him. But there are lots of other issues.

Glory is a truly gifted singer and songwriter who has spent her life dreaming of a music career and leaving Hellcat Canyon. But she lives with her mother and younger brother, and they are just one paycheck away from foreclosure. The women in Whiskey Creek aren’t especially nice or kind to Glory, and she has a major chip on her shoulder which is totally understandable. I like women who help one another, but this rang true for me so I’m not going to quibble about it, it works for the story.

Some hot sex scenes amp up the romance and all in all, this was a good read for me. I enjoyed the humor as well. Now I’m all caught up in this series and hoping there’s a fifth book coming soon.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WILD AT WHISKEY CREEK by Julie Anne Long. Avon (November 29, 2016). ISBN 978-0062397638.  384p.



July 27, 2018

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Stay Series, Book 1

When Ethan Bishop and Mia Thrush first meet, it is hate at first sight. Romance readers know that means that love is sure to follow, and it does but there are many obstacles to overcome first.

Mia has her own public relations firm, and she is finally on track to the big leagues with her client, a man running for Mayor of New York City. Mia knows first hand what can happen in a political campaign so when the candidate’s daughter, Chloe, gets in trouble and has to perform community service for the summer in upstate New York, he begs Mia to stay up there and keep an eye on her. Very reluctantly, Mia agrees and moves into the bed & breakfast attached to the horse rehabilitation center where Chloe has been assigned.

Mia is a city girl through and through. Ethan has moved back home after a severe injury in the Special Forces. The physical injuries were horrible, but it’s the PTSD that is really keeping him down. Mia and Ethan keep butting heads, but Chloe is learning a lot and the changes in her are all for the better. Eventually, Mia and Ethan realize they have more in common than they thought, and the sexual attraction between them is undeniable (and occasionally pretty steamy.) But can the country boy live in the city? Can the city girl live in the country? These problems seem almost insurmountable.

These are really well developed characters. Mia is a strong, successful woman and Ethan is a kind, albeit damaged man. This is a terrific start to a new series, and I can’t wait to read the rest. I’ve read a few of Probst’s books and she never disappoints. She is an excellent story teller who really knows how to keep the pages turning. Highly recommended.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD by Jennifer Probst. Montlake Romance (June 5, 2018). ISBN 978-1503901858.  316p.