IN HER SIGHTS by Katie Ruggle

October 15, 2019

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Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters, Book 1

From the publisher:

Five bounty-hunting sisters
Deep in the heart of the Rockies
Fighting to save each other
…and the men who steal their hearts

Bounty hunter Molly Pax fought hard for everything she has, turning the bail recovery business she shares with her sisters into an unqualified success. So when their sticky-fingered mother jumps bail and puts the childhood home up as collateral, Molly’s horrified. To make matters worse, every two-bit criminal in the Rockies now sees her family’s misfortune as their next big break.

She needs help, stat.

Enter rival bounty hunter John Carmondy: six feet of pure trouble, with a cocky grin to match. John’s the most cheerfully, annoyingly gorgeous frenemy Molly’s ever had the pleasure of defeating…and he may be her only hope of making it out of this mess alive.


Ruggle writes good romantic suspense, which I don’t always love because it often feels like the mystery was an afterthought. Not the case here, however. This introduction to a new series revolves around four sisters who all live together and run a bounty hunting business together. The romance in this story revolves around the eldest sister, Molly, and one of their competitors, John.

Molly’s sisters all realize that John has a major crush on Molly, but she is oblivious. Molly is working hard to keep the business going and their lives afloat, after their mother almost lost their house. That mother is quite an unusual character; I’ve seen cats that are better mothers. In fact, most cats are better mothers. She’s been in and out of jail and marriages, is completely self serving, and uninterested and uncaring about her daughters. It would be sad except the girls are doing fine despite their mother. Until she steals a very valuable necklace and puts them all in danger.

There were a few minor plot points that didn’t make sense to me but why quibble when a story is as fast moving and well written as this one. One of the mysteries is solved by the end, but the other is a cliff hanger, leaving me waiting impatiently for the next book in the series. Risk it All comes out 12/31/19. Guess what I’ll be doing this New Year’s Eve!

10/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

IN HER SIGHTS by Katie Ruggle. Sourcebooks Casablanca (March 26, 2019). ISBN 978-1492662495. 384p.

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MET HER MATCH by Jude Deveraux

October 14, 2019

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From the publisher:

In small towns, no one lets the facts get in the way of juicy gossip…

Terri Rayburn is a girl with a reputation. She doesn’t deserve it, but having grown up on the outskirts of Summer Hill, Virginia, she knows how small towns work. The only way to deal with vicious gossip is to ignore it. So she keeps to herself as she runs the summer resort on Lake Kissel.

When she returns home from a short trip to find a handsome stranger living in her house, she smells a rat. Someone is trying to fix her up, and she has to admit that Nate Taggert is just her type. However, Nate is engaged to the daughter of the mayor and strictly off-limits.

Nate and Terri form an unlikely friendship while he throws himself into life at the lake. As Nate starts to hear rumors about Terri he’s confused. Knowing how smart, beautiful and strong she is, he’s determined to discover the source of the gossip. Terri doesn’t want to revisit the past, but Nate won’t stop until he discovers the truth—even if the truth might be more than either of them can handle.

Set in the beloved fictional town of Summer Hill, Virginia, Met Her Match examines the tensions between the wealthy townspeople, the summer vacationers and the working-class people who keep the town and resort running. Told with humor and heart, Met Her Match is the perfect summer escape.


I’ve only read a few of Jude Deveraux’s books because I don’t love her writing style. Reading this book reminded me of that. It’s a good story, but honestly it feels like it could be a young adult book if only the characters fit that profile. That said, this was a good story and a very quick read, so redeeming qualities for sure.

The secret from Terri’s past takes too long to get out, but it helps ramp up the tension. Nate also has baggage, but we know more about his as the story unfolds. Nate’s fiancee is named Stacy, which made it hard for me to hate her, but she is the antagonist of the story. Sort of. The characters were interesting and fairly well developed, and the small town setting showed the darker side of what I tend to think of as idyllic small town life. All in all, it was an entertaining read.

10/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MET HER MATCH by Jude Deveraux. MIRA; Original edition (September 17, 2019). ISBN 978-0778351245. 336p.

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ANYTHING BUT A DUKE by Christy Carlyle

October 11, 2019

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The Duke’s Den, Book 2

From the publisher:

Self-made man Aidan Iverson has seen more closed doors in his thirty years than he’s ever cared to count. As a member of the elite Duke’s Den, he has all the money he could possibly need but the one thing he can’t purchase is true power. If roguish Aidan can’t buy his way into society’s hallowed halls, he’ll resort to a more extreme measure: marriage.

Brought up to be a proper lady, the only thing Diana Ashby desires is to be left alone to the creation of her own devices. But when her dreams are crushed, she must find another way to secure the future of her invention. Knowing his desire to enter her world, Diana strikes a deal to arrange Aidan’s marriage to the perfect lady—as long as that lady isn’t her. She doesn’t need any distractions from her work, particularly of the sinfully handsome variety.

As Diana and Aidan set out to find him an aristocratic match, neither are prepared for the passion that ignites between them or the love they can’t ignore.

In the Duke’s Den, can happiness ever be a winning prospect?


I really liked the first book in this series, A Duke Changes Everything, but I don’t think they need to be read in order. This one stands on its own quite well.

Aidan has had a troubled upbringing, to say the least. But by sheer determination, hard work, and a bit of luck, he is now one of the wealthiest men in London. But he is not of the aristocracy, and soon that becomes his most ardent goal. He wants to be recognized by the peerage, and he figures the only way to do that is to marry royalty. Since so many title holders are broke, it seems like an easy feat. Until he meets Diana.

Diana lost the father she adored. He was an inventor, and she seems to have inherited that ability, and is bound and determined to make a success of at least one of her inventions. Her mother, on the other hand, only wants her to marry well. Well enough to support the family, as her father’s bad business decisions has left them not very well off. Diana strikes a deal with Aidan; she will introduce him to her friends in society, if he will finance one of her inventions. It seems like a really good plan, except for the chemistry between Aidan and Diana, which is throwing a major wrench into the project.

I thoroughly enjoyed the second book of this series, and I’m looking forward to the third. Carlyle is a good storyteller, she kept me turning the pages until I reached the happily every after.

10/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ANYTHING BUT A DUKE by Christy Carlyle.  Avon (April 30, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062853974. 368p.

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ROYAL HOLIDAY by Jasmine Guillory

October 9, 2019

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 Wedding Date Series, Book 4

From the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal and a “rising star in the romance genre” (Entertainment Weekly) comes a dazzling new novel about a spontaneous holiday vacation that turns into an unforgettable romance.

Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality.

Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling.

Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they?


Guillory has given us a holiday gift with her latest, especially for women of a certain age? The heroine is the mother of one of the characters featured in a previous romance, and I must admit, it really hits home with me seeing a man and woman find happiness, even after their children are grown. Everyone knows someone who married, or usually remarried, later in life, but those types of couples are woefully underrepresented in romance novels. Many years ago, Ann Patchett’s mother, Jeanne Ray, wrote a few books centered around middle age and older couples. My favorite was her first, Julie & Romeo, loosely based on Shakespeare but contemporary, with a middle aged romance at the heart of the story.

Vivian and Malcolm are wonderful characters, fully brought to life on the pages of this sweet book. I thought this story was going to be more of a mother-daughter story, but that was not the case. The romance was front and center, and I was delighted.

I love this time of year, when all the holiday romances start popping up, although I’m still waiting for a Chanukah romance! This is another terrific addition to Guillory’s series, one of my favorites.

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ROYAL HOLIDAY by Jasmine Guillory. Berkley (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-1984802217. 304p.

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MY PLAIN JANE by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows & Brodi Ashton

October 6, 2019

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From the publisher:

Move over, Charlotte Brontë. The authors of the New York Times bestselling My Lady Jane are back with an irreverent spin on Jane Eyre—a tale of mischief, romance, and supernatural mayhem perfect for fans of The Princess Bride or A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.


There are three main plot lines at work in this supernatural twist on the classic novel Jane Eyre: Charlotte Brontë who, longing for adventure, follows her best friend Jane to Thornfield Hall; Jane Eyre the orphaned governess who can also see ghosts; and Alexander Blackwood an agent of the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits.  Honestly it was all kind of a convoluted mess to me.

Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite books so venturing into a remix of that book was bound to be dangerous territory for me.  Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester’s characters are so unrecognizable that it seems a stretch to even call this a Jane Eyre retelling. The Jane in this book is depicted as boy crazy and lacks the strength and independence that is so integral to the character.  I know that this book is a comedy, but I never want to see Jane Eyre describe Mr. Rochester’s hair as “floppy” again.  There were also numerous cases where it felt like the authors had simply watched a television or movie adaptation of Jane Eyre instead of referring to the source material.

The writing style of My Plain Jane also took some time to adjust to. There are lots of asides from the authors and it is all liberally sprinkled with pop culture references to everything from the Princess Bride to the Lord of the Rings. With so many plot lines and humorous references competing for attention the novel seemed to ultimately lack focus.

To be fair, I seem to be in the minority in not enjoying this second installment of The Lady Janies series.  Both My Lady Jane and My Plain Jane have received lots of buzz and positive reviews in the Young Adult book world.  For me, however, the humor fell flat, the plot was convoluted, and the authors strayed so far from the spirit of Jane Eyre that I wondered why they made the choice to use it as source material at all.

MY PLAIN JANE by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows & Brodi Ashton. HarperTeen (June 26, 2018). ISBN 9780062652775. 464p.

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NATALIE TAN’S BOOK OF LUCK AND FORTUNE by Roselle Lim

September 27, 2019

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After her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home to San Francisco’s Chinatown for the first time in seven years.  Her neighborhood, however, is very different than it was when she left it to travel the world after her agoraphobic mother would not support her dream of becoming a chef. Gentrification is creeping in, and more of the shop owners are closing and selling to tech startups. When Natalie discovers she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant, and magical recipe book, she sees a chance to help her neighborhood by reopening the restaurant. Before her restaurant can succeed, however, a seer instructs her that she must cook three of her grandmother’s recipes to help her neighbors.

The best books are the ones that can transport you to a different time or place.  After reading Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune I feel like I have visited San Francisco’s Chinatown.  Lim makes Natalie’s neighborhood come alive with the rich history, current struggles, and culture of Chinatown and the members of the community.  I felt invested in each of Natalie’s neighbors that she was trying to help.  The real highlight of course is the food.  The descriptions of the food Natalie cooks using her grandmother’s recipes are positively mouthwatering.  You can almost hear the sizzle of the wok and smell the aromatic blends of spices, meats and vegetables cooking. Can you tell that this book made me hungry while reading it?  Lim also seamlessly incorporates elements of magical realism into the story.  Each recipe that Natalie creates has magical properties and emotions can create physical scars. As Natalie cooks and works to reopen the restaurant she comes to terms with her own family’s history, her complicated relationship with her community and finds her own path.

A lyrical story of food, family, and community with a touch of magic.  Readers who like family sagas, magical realism and food are sure to enjoy this book. Be prepared to be craving dumplings by the time you finish “Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune.”

9/19 Caitlin Brisson

NATALIE TAN’S BOOK OF LUCK AND FORTUNE by Roselle Lim. Berkley Books (June 11, 2019). ISBN 9781984803252. 320p.

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WRAPPED UP IN YOU by Jill Shalvis

September 25, 2019

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Heartbreaker Bay, Book 8

From the publisher:

It’s love. Trust me.

After a lifetime on the move, Ivy Snow is an expert in all things temporary—schools, friends, and way too many Mr. Wrongs. Now that she owns a successful taco truck in San Francisco and an apartment to call home, Ivy’s reinvented life is on solid ground. And she’s guarded against anything that can rock it. Like the realities of a past she’s worked hard to cover up. And especially Kel O’Donnell. Too hot not to set off alarms, he screams temporary. If only his whispers weren’t so delightfully naughty and irresistible.

Kel, an Idaho sheriff and ranch owner, is on vacay, but Ivy’s a spicy reason to give his short-term plans a second thought. Best of all, she’s a tonic for his untrusting heart, burned once and still in repair. But when Ivy’s past intrudes on a perfect romance, Kel fears that everything she’s told him has been a perfect lie. Now, if only Ivy’s willing to share, Kel will fight for a true love story.


This is one of my favorite series, so I was ready to love this latest installment – and I did! I didn’t remember either of these characters but it didn’t matter. The series revolves around this small neighborhood in San Francisco, and peripherally the fountain that promises true love if you wish for it. Most of the characters in the series fight believing in such nonsense, but all are bound by its success.

Ivy and Kel are no different. Ivy is a tough, cautious woman who has been burned so many times already. Kel has had his heartbroken, and is determined to guard it at all costs. He is suspicious and fearful, yet somehow Ivy worms her way into his heart. And he into hers, fight it as she does. But Ivy has family problems. Her brother is a troublemaker from way back, but Ivy loves him and has been protecting him her whole life, despite all his betrayals. This time, though, he may have gone too far.

Lots of struggles in this romance, but the happy ending is worth it all. I really enjoyed watching Ivy grow and come out of her shell.

This series does not need to be read in order, and this book especially stands on its own.

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WRAPPED UP IN YOU by Jill Shalvis. Avon (September 24, 2019). ISBN 978-0062897787. 384p.

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HEIRESS GONE WILD by Laura Lee Guhrke

September 24, 2019

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Dear Lady Truelove, Book 4

From the publisher:

Dear Lady Truelove,

My ward is driving me crazy. I have to marry her off and get her out of my life. There’s just one problem…

When Jonathan Deverill promised a dying friend he’d be guardian to the man’s daughter, he envisioned a girl in pigtails and pinafores, a child he could leave behind in some finishing school. Problem is, his ward is actually a fully-grown, defiant beauty whose longing for romance threatens to make his guardianship a living hell.

New York heiress Marjorie McGann wants a London season and a titled husband who can help her spend the Yankee millions she’s inherited, and she thinks her new British guardian is the perfect person to help her find him. But Jonathan has no intention of letting his friend’s fortune be squandered. Under his watchful, protective eye, Marjorie finds romance hard to come by . . . until one fateful night when her own guardian’s devastating kisses makes her wonder if the greatest romance of all might be right in front of her.


Lady Truelove is the name of a Dear Abby type column in a newspaper in London. Jonathan Deverill was supposed to run the paper, but after vehement disagreements with his father, his sister took it over. Jonathan was disowned and left for the New World.

Jonathan becomes a millionaire in America, along with his business partner. But when his partner dies, he returns to England to check up on his new ward. And a romance begins. However, Jonathan has no desire to ever get married. When his father disowned him, his fiancee dumped him as well, breaking his heart and souring him on marriage. But his ward, Marjorie, is stunning and their attraction is instantaneous and sizzling. On the other hand, Marjorie has led a very sheltered life. Being raised in a school since the age of seven, she knows nothing of the world outside its doors.

Marjorie is a great character, innocent and rebellious. I couldn’t help but root for her to find her happy ending, and in Jonathan’s arms, she did. I loved this lasted entry into a terrific series.

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HEIRESS GONE WILD by Laura Lee Guhrke.  Avon (September 24, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062853714. 384p.

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BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE by Evie Dunmore

September 20, 2019

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 A League of Extraordinary Women, Book 1

Annabelle Archer is one of the first female students to attend Oxford University. Her education is being funded by the National Society for Women’s Suffrage and in exchange for her scholarship Annabelle must campaign for the women’s suffrage movement.  When she is assigned to recruit Sebastian Devereux, the Duke of Montgomery, to the cause it seems like an impossible task.  After all, Sebastian has been tasked by Queen Victoria to lead the Tory Party’s campaign during the upcoming election.  When Annabelle and her suffragette friends get snowed in at the Duke’s home following a holiday party, she and Sebastian naturally clash.  Yet their chemistry and attraction are undeniable, despite being separated by political and class differences.

Evie Dunmore’s debut novel has earned many rave reviews, and with good reason.  She takes common tropes in romance, enemies to lovers and lovers separated by class differences, and makes them feel fresh.  Most historical romances are set in the Regency period (or Jane Austen times), but Dumore sets her story in 1879 and makes the Victorian period come alive. The author really delves into the history of the women’s suffrage movement, and women’s rights in general, during the Victorian era.  This social history gives the novel added depth sometimes lacking in historical romances.  In addition to a vivid historical setting, Bringing Down the Duke also features well-drawn characters.  Annabelle is an intelligent, witty and strong- willed heroine.  She values her education and has high aspirations, yet Dunmore does not shy away from the difficult realities of life for women in the Victorian time, or the social consequences of Annabelle engaging in a romantic affair with a Duke while lobbying for women’s suffrage.  Sebastian’s character is similarly complex and the banter between him and Annabelle was fun to read.  Annabelle and Sebastian’s struggle to be together despite his noble title and her status as a commoner may not be a unique conflict in a historical romance, but the journey to their eventual happy ending is well worth it.

A solid debut filled with history, likable characters, and a grounded romance. For those who enjoy “Bringing Down the Duke,” it is the first book in the League of Extraordinary Women series and a second novel is scheduled to be released in 2020.

9/19 Caitlin Brisson

BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE by Evie Dunmore. Berkley (September 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1984805683. 368p.

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AFTER by Anna Todd

September 19, 2019

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The After Series, Book 1

From the publisher:

Experience the internet’s most talked-about book, now a major motion picture, from Anna Todd, the writer Cosmopolitan called “the biggest literary phenomenon of her generation.” Now with new exclusive material!

There was the time before Tessa met Hardin, and then there’s everything AFTER Life will never be the same. #Hessa

Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She’s got direction, ambition, and a mother who’s intent on keeping her that way.

But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, and tattoos, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to.

But he’s also rude—to the point of cruelty, even. For all his attitude, Tessa should hate Hardin. And she does—until she finds herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion she’s never known before.

He’ll call her beautiful, then insist he isn’t the one for her and disappear again and again. Despite the reckless way he treats her, Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.

Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin’s prejudice about nice girls like her?

Unless…could this be love?

Age Range: Adult


Where to start? Okay, I’ll just say it. I hated this book. The writing is awful. The story is incredibly repetitive.  And boring. These characters are in college, and Tessa is a virgin. Not just a virgin, she’s barely been kissed by her boyfriend of many, many years. They were saving themselves for marriage. An appealing goal to some, to be sure. But in this story, it’s just a challenge. Literally. Like these short, choppy sentences? Then this may be your book.

Despite the length of this book, the main character, Tessa, is not very well developed. She is a one-dimensional caricature of a naive 18-year-old who has never had a drink or seen anyone with a tattoo. Oh, stereotypes run hard here. Tattoos and/or piercings and/or Kool-Aid colored hair equals bad. Clean cut equals good, just like in real life. Because you can always judge a person based on their haircut, and everyone knows only good people wear preppy clothes. Like Robert Chambers, for example.

Hardin, a year or so older, is the male protagonist. He is slightly more developed, although it takes an inordinate amount of time (and pages) to get his story out. We know he has wildly shifting mood swings, and Tessa constantly refers to his probably bipolarity or other mental illnesses (see sentence above about stereotypes.) The way he is portrayed, and talked about, in my humble opinion, does grave disservice to those who suffer from mental illness. On the bright side, Tessa is an English major and a huge Jane Austen fan. If this book makes young people read Austen, then it may all be worth it.

This is a couple whose time is spent veering between sexual fumbling and screaming matches. It was painful to read, over and over and over and over and over again. It doesn’t help that proper grammar was tossed out the window, and a good editor, or any kind of editor, was nowhere in sight. I understand that “new adults” like to read about characters like themselves. The “new adult” designation means these are older teens who have a lot of sex, versus “young adult” who are younger teens who also have a lot of sex.

I picked up this book because I was curious. It was made into a movie that has a really bad 17% Rotten Tomato score, while the audience rating is 72%. It has over a 1000 reviews on Amazon and tops out at four stars. A friend told me this was originally published on Wattpad, a self-publishing platform, and was fan fiction based on Harry Styles of One Direction. I’m a few generations removed from that, so it didn’t mean much to me, and I did a little digging. I found this article at The Atlantic (spoilers galore) that tells the whole story of this publishing phenom. The After series seems to be at the cusp of a major shift in publishing, and frankly, it does not bode well for the future.

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

AFTER by Anna Todd. Gallery Books; Media Tie-In edition (March 12, 2019). ISBN 978-1982111007. 608p.

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