TREMAINE’S TRUE LOVE by Grace Burrowes

May 26, 2017

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True Gentlemen, Book 1

Not sure how I missed this, but this book was a 2016 RITA Finalist for Historical Romanace and now that I’ve read it, I know why. And look at me, starting a series with book 1! This book is from 2015, and there are two more out already. I found it on a list from Overdrive, the company from which my library (most libraries) gets most of their ebooks. Luckily I found the next two in my library on the shelf (thanks, Barbara!) especially since the ebooks have a waiting list. The fourth book in the series, His Lordship’s True Lady, comes out in June – at least on Kindle. I should be all caught up by then.

Tremaine St. Michael is of mixed heritage, Scottish on his mother’s side and a French comte on his father’s. But mostly he is a man of commerce, always wheeling and dealing and making himself a fortune in the process, mostly in the sheep/wool business. He’s visiting the Haddonfield’s in hopes of buying their rare Merino sheep. But it is the eldest daughter, Nita, who is distracting him from his business.

Nita has decided she’s never going to marry. She inherited her mother’s gift of healing, and much prefers taking care of her neighbors than staying at home. But Tremaine is unlike any of the men she has met before. Their chemistry is interesting to watch ignite.

The usual drama ensues, including a duel which doesn’t come up as often as you would think in these historical romances, so that was a nice touch. I also like that the setting was in the country, not in London like a lot of historical romances. A bit of sex, nothing too graphic, but enough to make it interesting. It was a fun, fast read and I can understand why it was nominated for the RITA award.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TREMAINE’S TRUE LOVE by Grace Burrowes. Sourcebooks Casablanca (August 4, 2015) ISBN: 978-1492621027. 416p.

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THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER by Amy E. Reichert

May 18, 2017

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Sanna Lund is the fifth generation to live and work on the family apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Once a thriving family business, now it is just Sanna and her aging father, and business is terrible. Sanna is obsessed with making cider, but doesn’t have the first idea about how to sell it.  Her father borrowed money to purchase all the expensive equipment necessary for making and bottling cider, but it is just collecting dust. She also has a gift – she can see colors in the apples that grow on their orchard. By mixing different colored apples she can achieve the flavors she wants. It’s the touch of magical realism that Reichert is known for.

Isaac Banks is a web designer whose ex-wife, a drug addict, has overdosed and died. Their young son, Bass, doesn’t know and Isaac can’t bear to tell him, so instead he takes him on a road trip for the summer. They wander aimlessly until they reach Door County, where he learns the Lund family could use some help in their orchard. Sanna is suspicious when her father hires Isaac, but they have a trailer out back where father and son can live. Then the senior Lund falls off a ladder and is seriously injured, and it’s Isaac and Bass that pick up the slack.

Sanna is surprised to find herself attracted to Isaac, and he to her, but he also realizes that he is going to have to move very slowly to win her over. Sanna has a brother who moved away from the orchard and is now trying to talk her father into selling to a big developer. There are other complications along the way before the happily ever after is reached.

Another enjoyable and delicious read – with recipes.

Enjoy this short video – Amy E. Reichert talks about her new book, THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER, and why Wisconsin is more romantic than you thought!

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER by Amy E. Reichert. Gallery Books (May 16, 2017). ISBN: 978-1501154928. 336p.

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LOST RIDER by Harper Sloan

May 11, 2017

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The Coming Home Series, Book 1

This was the first book I’ve read by this author but I will definitely be back for the next book in this new series.

I’ve been expanding my romance horizons into western territory and enjoying them. This is a contemporary western set in Texas featuring Maverick Davis, a champion rodeo star who has taken one tumble too many. His doctor tells him no more riding bulls or else, so he spends a couple of weeks drinking before heading home for his father’s funeral.

They never got a long, but his brother and sister need him and he has no where else to go. He had left town as soon as he was able, breaking his sister’s best friend’s heart in the process. Leighton James had grown up next door and had been in love with Maverick for as long as she could remember. But before he left town, he’d been unspeakably cruel to the young woman and she wore those scars for all the years he was gone.

Now that he’s back, he realizes he made a huge mistake in hurting her like that. He has a lot of fences to mend, with Leighton and with his family, and he is working hard at righting things. Leighton is scared to death of being hurt again, and isn’t making it easy on him.

There is great chemistry here, some explicit sex, and a really interesting back story. I’m really looking forward to more from this author.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

LOST RIDER by Harper Sloan. Pocket Books (April 25, 2017). ISBN: 978-1501155192. 400p.

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THE THING ABOUT LOVE by Julie James

May 9, 2017

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FBI/US Attorney Series, Book 7

 FBI agent Jessica Harlowe finished at the top of her class from Quantico, at least in academics. As a petite woman, one of only two women in the class, she was physically outmanned by John Shepherd. They both graduated and went their separate ways. Until she moved back to Chicago from California, and her first undercover assignment is with her nemesis.

Shepherd remembers thing a little differently and had a major crush on Harlowe. But he’s just been through a bad breakup after walking in on his girlfriend in bed with one of his best friends. And Harlowe is a recent divorcee, and neither is in a very good mood about working with the other.

Tongue in cheek jabs at books featuring FBI agents, especially female ones, was a sly wink at the genre and one I enjoyed. There is a lot of heat between Shepherd and Harlowe – eventually. And I really enjoyed the humor, as did my cat!

Another terrific read in this series.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE THING ABOUT LOVE by Julie James. Berkley (April 18, 2017). ISBN: 978-0425273777. 384p.

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A WEDDING IN ITALY by Tilly Tennant

April 26, 2017

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From Italy with Love, Book 2

A feel good summer holiday romance

I don’t usually read series in order with romances because it generally doesn’t matter. But I was lost with this book. I finished it and went back to the beginning to see if I could find the part I somehow missed. It wasn’t until I went on Amazon and saw that this was book 2 of a series that I realized what I missed was the first book!

Setting aside my confusion, I didn’t love this book. I love Italy, would live there if I could, just like Kate, our protagonist. She’s moved to Rome from the UK after a divorce and meets and falls in love with Allessandro. They were talking about marriage from the very beginning of the book, which was baffling, but again most likely because I didn’t read the first book.

I don’t mean to be repetitious here. Here’s the synopsis from the publisher:

Sun, spaghetti and sparkling prosecco. When it comes to finding love, there’s no place like Rome…

Kate is living the dream with her gorgeous boyfriend Alessandro in his native city, but the reality is sometimes a little less romantic than she’d hoped. Every day in her new home is a fight against leaking pipes, her cantankerous landlord and her less-than-perfect grasp of the Italian lingo.

All around her there is talk of weddings, but when a secret from her past is thrust out into the open, Kate must fight to prove to Alessandro’s Mamma – and the rest of his formidable family – that she truly is Italian marriage material.

With the women in Alessandro’s life on a mission to break them apart, the cracks begin to show and Kate starts to question if Alessandro really is the man of her dreams. Can love and the city of romance conquer all, or is that just a fairy-tale?

Let Rome steal your heart this summer in this gorgeously romantic escapist read.

While Rome didn’t steal my heart (Sicily did 35 years ago) I could still appreciate the charm here. There wasn’t enough tension to qualify anything as a secret until the last part of the book. Allessandro and his big, crazy family were wonderful, but Kate was strongly in need of some assertiveness training so I found her a bit annoying.

All in all, I didn’t love this book enough to bother finding the first one to get the beginning of the story.  If you read the first one, have at this one. If not, don’t bother.

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A WEDDING IN ITALY by Tilly Tennant. Bookouture (March 22, 2017). ISBN: 978-1786811677. 328p.

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DEVIL IN SPRING by Lisa Kleypas

April 24, 2017

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The Ravenels, Book 3

This is the third book in the series and I was all excited, thinking I had read the first two but quickly realized I had not. So I put it down, and luckily found the second book on the shelf at my library. So finally I have read all the books in a series in order! Well, at least the first three.

Lady Pandora Ravenel is a twin to Cassandra, and this is their season. Cassandra would like to meet a titled gentleman and marry. Pandora is completely opposed to the idea, but loves her sister enough to go along with it all.

Pandora is an odd duck. She has some health issues regarding night vision, balance and hearing, but that is not all. She is an inventor of board games, and her brother-in-law, Winterbourne, has agreed to stock her new games in his large department store for Christmas. But if she marries, she won’t be able to work, won’t be able to sign a contract or do anything without her husband’s express permission and Pandora is simply not interested in giving up all her rights.

Pandora and Cassandra attend balls, with Pandora usually faking injuries to avoid dancing. Instead she sits in the corner, a happy wallflower, simply observing. Until a friend begs her to do a favor – go out to the summer house and find the earring she lost during a rendezvous. Pandora nervously agrees, but when she finds the earring behind an ornately carved settee, she gets herself stuck in the carvings.

Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, is passing by and hears her cries for help. As he tries to disentangle the girl, the host of the party appears, and Pandora and Gabriel are caught alone in a very compromising position in the summerhouse. The host demands that Gabriel marry the girl as her reputation is now ruined, but Pandora is not having it. He may be the catch of London, heir to a dukedom, but she is not interested. And he doesn’t know her, other than the fact she is a bit peculiar.

The families decide to spend a week together and Pandora’s guardian swears he will not force her into marriage. She feels guilty because is she refuses, it will hurt her sister’s chances of marrying well. And the Duke is concerned because he needs a more traditional wife. But you can’t always plan these things, sometimes fate steps in and works its magic, as is the case here.

I loved the subplot about the first woman doctor in England, that was a definite bonus for me. I read the second book in this series, then the next day read this one. I have to say that this is turning into one of my favorite series!

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DEVIL IN SPRING by Lisa Kleypas. Avon (February 21, 2017). ISBN 978-0062371874. 384p.

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MARRYING WINTERBORNE by Lisa Kleypas

April 22, 2017

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The Ravenels, Book 2

This book put me in mind of the PBS series, Mr. Selfridge, about the American who built the glamorous department store in Great Britain at the turn of the last century. Rhys Winterborne is a self made Welshman, son of a grocer, who has built the world’s largest department store in London.

Winterborne may be one of the richest men in England, but he is still considered working class. So when he meets Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to have her. As wealthy as he is, he knows the only way into the gentry is to marry into it.

The become betrothed, but when he kisses her she gets scared. Helen is shy, virginal and beyond naive, and she ends up crying in her room. Her sister-in-law goes to Winterborne and breaks off the engagement, but when Helen finds out she is determined to get him back. She sneaks out on her own and barges into his office, telling him she wants him back. But he knows her guardian will not be pleased with this turn of events, so he makes her a deal – if she’ll sleep with him, thoroughly ruining her reputation, that will force her guardian to allow them to marry and convince Rhys that she is serious. She agrees.

They make their plans but as we well know, the best laid plans often go awry, and they do here. Helen finds out there is a big family secret about her parentage, and she is convinced that Rhys will not want to marry her once he finds out.

As always, Kleypas creates engaging, well drawn characters and an interesting storyline, fraught with the great pitfalls of romance. But fear not, there is, of course, a happy ending. If only life could come with the same guarantees. Another terrific read from one of my favorite authors.

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MARRYING WINTERBORNE by Lisa Kleypas. Avon (May 31, 2016). ISBN 978-0062371850. 416p.

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THE ENGLISH DUKE by Karen Ranney

April 19, 2017

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The Dukes, Book 2

This was my first book from Karen Ranney, and I will be reading more. The first book in this new series is The Scottish Duke, the one following is The Texan Duke, and I’m not sure how many more there will be but this one was really good. These books are not related like most series with overlapping characters, the only thing they have in common are the titles. The Texan Duke was originally supposed to be called the American Duke, so maybe there will be more stories set in America? Just a guess.

The English Duke in question is Jordan Hamilton, the new Duke of Roth. He is an unusual duke as he is a second son so shouldn’t have inherited the title, except his older brother died. Jordan was in the Navy and then with the War Office, AKA British Intelligence, and is a scientist and an inventor who is working on torpedoes. He has been corresponding with Matthew York, an acclaimed inventor and they have enormous respect for one another.

When Matthew dies, he leaves all his notes and models from his inventions to Jordan. Matthew’s daughter Martha has been assisting her father for years, and they worked very closely together. So she is familiar with the correspondence between her father and Jordan, and is surprised that when her father asked for him to come, he ignored the letters. A year after Matthew’s death, Jordan still hasn’t responded to her letters regarding the bequest so Martha decides to deliver it to Jordan personally.

Martha, her half sister Josephine and their grandmother set off for Sedgewick, the Duke’s estate. Martha plans to deliver the materials, stay overnight at a nearby inn, and return home the next day. However her grandmother becomes quite ill, forcing the Duke to put them up in his home and when the doctor says she needs several days rest, they are all forced together. Josephine is a conniving little wretch, sure of her beauty and her ability to manipulate men. She decides she will be the next Duchess and plots and schemes to get her way.

The reason the Duke hadn’t answered any of the letters or visited the Yorks was that he suffered a horrific fall, shattering several bones. He walks with a severe limp and is often in terrible pain. Josephine thinks him “lame” and tells him so, but she is not interested in dancing with him, just in acquiring the title and the home.

Martha is a wonderful heroine. She’s smart and independent, and not looking to get married to anyone. She just wants to continue her father’s work. The Duke is a loner, happiest when tinkering in his workshop. Since they are stuck together, they end up working together and both soon realize they are meant for each other. But Josephine has other ideas.

This was a torturous read for me as the horrible Josephine almost gets away with her plot, and it isn’t resolved until the very end. I wanted to throttle Josephine, to use a term of the day, but the requisite happy ending was finally, finally reached. That said, I did end up enjoying the book, and found the torpedo plot line really interesting. One of the things I like best about historical romances, the really good ones anyway, is that I learn something about the time period and this was a good example. In fact, the author includes notes at the back of the book about her research. Highly recommended.

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE ENGLISH DUKE by Karen Ranney. Avon (March 28, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062466891. 384p.


HIS COWBOY HEART by Jennifer Ryan

April 12, 2017

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Montana Men series, Book 7

This is a modern day cowboy romance with a significant twist.

Ford Kendrick and Jamie Keller have been sweethearts forever, dreaming of moving away from their small Montana town and starting their own ranch somewhere. But when Ford’s family runs into some financial problems and his grandfather’s health is precarious, he knows all his savings have to go into the family business and that he’ll have to stick around to help out.

Ford pushes Jamie away, telling her she needs to go and make her own way somewhere else without telling her why. Heartbroken, she heads to Georgia and ends up enlisting in the army.

Jamie returns home to Montana with severe PTSD – and this was quite an unusual twist. I’ve read romances where the men have come home from war with issues but this was a first for me. Jamie is in a very bad way. She’s got serious physical issues and scars, but it’s her mental problems that are really crippling.

At lunch with her mother, a woman who is completely devoid of empathy, Jamie loses it and causes a scene. Ford is at the same restaurant, and sees her. Determined to help, he shows up at her house and she almost kills him, blasting gunfire through the front door in a drunken, drugged haze. This just makes him more determined to find their happy ending, but that’s only half the story.

The other half of the story is what happened to Jamie. She knows she was burned and shot, and that one of the men in her group saved her life. But they were the only two survivors and she lost the rest of her friends that day. Understandingly, she has completely blocked out her memories of that day. Getting psychiatric help from the Army via Skype, she is not making much progress with her memory of that fateful day.

I must admit this was not that big a mystery, even I figured out what had happened pretty early on. But this deep dive into PTSD and the repercussions after soldiers return home felt brutally honest – especially in light of this article I had read about it in the New York Times Magazine a while back. Well, that article just won the Pulitzer Prize and I highly recommend reading it, and this book.

For more information on PTSD, read this Pulitzer Prize winning piece from the New York Times: The Fighter

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HIS COWBOY HEART by Jennifer Ryan. Avon (February 21, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062435408. 416p.

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CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH by Colleen Oakley

April 5, 2017

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Colleen Oakley is being compared to JoJo Moyes and I have to say I agree. I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. Well developed characters made the story super compelling.

Jubilee Jenkins suffers from an exceedingly rare allergy – she’s allergic to human touch. It is so rare that twenty years earlier, when she was a young child, the New York Times did an in depth piece on her.

She’s had a lot of strife in her life, but things really took a turn for the worse when she turned 18. Her mother married and moved out, leaving Jubilee to fend for herself. She becomes a recluse, and eventually agoraphobic, and for nine years has no contact with anyone, including her mother, other than checks that regularly appear.

Jubilee’s mother passes away and the husband calls to tell her. He also tells her he is not going to be supporting her any longer, but he’s paid off the mortgage of the house she lives in and she also inherited the car. Jubilee finds a job at the library, and eventually meets Eric and Aja.

Aja is a super smart little boy who bonds with Jubilee, and Eric does too. Eric is divorced with a teenage daughter living with her mother in another town and she won’t speak to him. Eric adopted Aja after his parents, Eric’s best friends, died in a tragic accident. The little boy has some issues, to say the least, as does Eric.

All these damaged characters make for an engrossing read, and Oakley does a really fine job of not going the easy route. This book was unputdownable and these characters are going to stay with me for a long while. Highly recommended.

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH by Colleen Oakley. Gallery Books (March 7, 2017). ISBN: 978-1501139260. 336p.

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