December 6, 2021

From the publisher:

One type-A data analyst discovers her free-spirited side on an impulsive journey from bustling Mumbai to the gorgeous beaches of Goa and finds love waiting for her on Christmas morning.

Twenty-nine-year-old Niki Randhawa has always made practical decisions. Despite her love for music and art, she became an analyst for the stability. She’s always stuck close to home, in case her family needed her. And she’s always dated guys that seem good on paper, rather than the ones who give her butterflies. When she’s laid off, Niki realizes that practical hasn’t exactly paid off for her. So for the first time ever, she throws caution to the wind and books a last-minute flight for her friend Diya’s wedding.

Niki arrives in India just in time to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, where she meets London musician Sameer Mukherji. Maybe it’s the splendor of Mumbai or the magic of the holiday season, but Niki is immediately drawn to Sam. At the wedding, the champagne flows and their flirtatious banter makes it clear that the attraction is mutual.

When Niki and Sam join Diya, her husband and their friends on a group honeymoon, their connection grows deeper. Free-spirited Sam helps Niki get in touch with her passionate and creative side, and with her Indian roots. When she gets a new job offer back home, Niki must decide what she wants out of the next chapter of her life—to cling to the straight and narrow like always, or to take a leap of faith and live the kind of bold life the old Niki never would have dreamed of.


Nikki has always been the good daughter. Her older sister, Jasmine, is a bit of a rebel, and Nikki has never wanted to upset her parents like her sister does. So when her parents offer to do a little matchmaking for her, she agrees. The young Indian doctor is a nephew of a friend, is good looking and successful, so they decide to meet for lunch.

But a few minutes before they are to meet, Nikki gets laid off from her tech job. They go out for lunch and get very drunk, and the good doctor invites her back to his apartment. Thinking he’s kidding, she declines and goes home. Then she decides to attend her college roommate’s wedding in India – two days before she has to leave. Nikki is not the impulsive, spontaneous type, so this is completely out of character for her. But she decides the time is now. Her parents were born in Punjab, and while the wedding is in Mumbai, she can stay in India for a few weeks and meet her relatives for the first time.

The wedding is more than just a one day affair; there are a week’s worth of events leading up to it, and the bride has invited all her wedding party to join her and her new husband on their honeymoon in Goa, a beach resort area. At her first event, Nikki encounters a racist old auntie who upsets her. leading her to meet another auntie, a kind and good person. She wants to set up Nikki with her son, but she declines. Then at the event, she can’t help but notice the gorgeous bass player in the band, and he appears to notice her as well. Turns out Sam is the kind auntie’s son.

Sam and Nikki start spending time together at the wedding events, and she is invited to Goa to stay in his family’s apartment there. His mother will be there as well, so she decides to put off visiting her relatives in Punjab for a few days.

As Sam and Nikki grow closer, they both start to realize that this is way more than a holiday fling. But Sam lives in London, and she lives in Seattle. There are other hurdles as well; besides Nikki’s job loss, Sam is struggling with his career as well. When she offers to move to London to be with him, he tells her he isn’t sure he is going back but doesn’t offer any alternative. Convinced that whatever they were building towards is now over, Nikki goes on to Punjab and meets her family for the first time. When she returns home, she is determined to get over Sam.

Set during the Diwali holiday around Christmas, the holiday cheer is a part of the story. I knew as little about Diwali as Nikki does, so it was fun learning about this important holiday. Sam and Nikki seem to be over, but this is a romance so a holiday miracle is expected and occurs. This was an interesting and fast moving story, and a good read. This holiday romance is filled with charm, pathos, love, and laughter. Enjoy!

12/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A HOLLY JOLLY DIWALI by Sonya Lalli. Berkley (October 5, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593100950. 336 pages.








December 4, 2021

Wishing Tree, Book 1

From the publisher:

Susan Mallery, author of the Fool’s Gold romances, cheerfully invites you to Wishing Tree, where Christmas comes to life…

The Somerville sisters believe in love, but they’ve lost faith it will happen for them. Reggie hasn’t been home since the end of the world’s shortest engagement. When her parents decide to renew their vows, she buffs up her twinkle to help with the Christmas wedding. Unexpectedly, Toby, her first love, is back too, and the spark between them shines as brightly as ever. In the spirit of the season, will they let go of past hurts and greet the New Year together?

Done waiting for the one, Dena is pregnant and on her own—on purpose. But then a gorgeous, sad-eyed songwriter checks in to a room at her inn. Micah, unable to write since he lost his wife, finds inspiration in Dena’s determination to be a mom. One snowflake-speckled kiss and he’s a goner. But Dena is afraid to believe that a rock star could fall for a cookie-cutter small-town girl like her.

As the Christmas wedding draws closer, these two sisters just might unwrap the most treasured gift of all—love.

Don’t miss The Summer Getaway by Susan Mallery where one woman discovers the beauty in chaos in a poignant and heartwarming story about the threads that hold family together.


Susan Mallery has a new series and I am thrilled! This one is all Christmas, all the time, and that’s pretty wonderful, too. Set in the small town of Wishing Tree, a town that should exist if it doesn’t.

Dena and Reggie are sisters, and they are close even though Reggie moved an hour away. Dena has given up on love and decided she wants a family anyway. She gets pregnant through in vitro, and of course then she meets Micah Ruiz, a famous singer who’s best friend lives in town. He’s staying at Dena’s B&B, trying to get inspiration to write music again. There is a strong attraction there, but they don’t rush into anything. When Micah has to return to LaLaLand, Dena is sure she’s lost him.

Reggie is in town to help their parents prepare for a big wedding – their own. They never had a wedding, and her mom decided it was time to have the wedding she always wanted. She hasn’t been back in town since her infamous engagement; engaged one day, dumped the next. Literally. But she is surprised to see her old high school boyfriend is also back in town with his little boy. They start seeing each other everywhere (small town!) and decide to try again.

This is an emotional read, and a really good one. There are two romances going on, and everyone gets their happy ending. These are sweet romances, just perfect for the holidays and I highly recommend!

12/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE CHRISTMAS WEDDING GUEST by Susan Mallery. HQN; Original edition (September 28, 2021). ISBN: 978-1335522450. 432 pages.









December 3, 2021

A Twilight, Texas Novel: Book 15*

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde returns to Twilight, Texas, with a love story filled with the magic of the season, about a couple who discover an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve-Eve.

It’s Christmastime in Twilight, TX. The lights are twinkling, carols are being sung, and the cookies are baking. And this year, best friends Joel and Jana discover a shocking surprise: as they are organizing the living Nativity, they find a sweet little baby in the manger with a note saying the mother will return…soon.

Jana tucks the infant into her arms, and she and Joel make the impulsive decision to take the baby home. Jana is spontaneous, Joel is a planner, but they agree that it’s better to care for this precious bundle for the holidays, in hopes that the mother really will come back by New Year’s.

As the days pass, the pair begins to fall in love with the child and they’re also forced to face facts: their relationship goes far deeper than friendship. As the spirit of Christmas—and the magic of Twilight, TX—takes over, this unlikely couple must open up to the feelings they’ve been hiding from each other all along. 


Anytime I can return to Twilight, Texas, I do, and this was a wonderful Christmas story! The nativity scene at the church that featured live animals, suddenly becomes a living nativity when a teen mom puts her newborn baby in the manger. She sees this couple nearby, and is hopeful they will take the baby. She leaves a note saying she will return soon, and just as she hopes, they find the baby. A baby in a manger at Christmas – you gotta love it!

Jana has been working for Joel for a while, and really likes him. He’s a great boss so as much as she would like to pursue something more, she’s afraid to mess up her job. Little does she know that Joel is having the same thoughts and doubts. But they’ve both volunteered to put the animals away at night, so they do find the baby. They get the pastor involved, and as Twilight is a very small town, soon everyone is weighing in.

Jana wants to keep the baby until the mom comes back. Growing up in foster homes, she doesn’t want that life for this sweet child. She also has other secrets about her past, but she’s not sharing. Joel understands how she feels and offers to help. They decide the best way is for Jana to move into Joel’s guest room so they both can care for the baby. Of course, half the people in town want to help, too.

Eventually, Jana and Joel realize they can no longer fight their attraction and their relationship progresses to a new level of intimacy. This is a beautiful story with all the Christmas feels. This series is mostly Christmas books, and Wilde really excels at them. I loved it.

*NOTE: Amazon says this is book 13; Goodreads says this is book 12; Lori Wilde says this is book 15!

12/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SECOND CHANCE CHRISTMAS by Lori Wilde. Avon (October 26, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062953230. 400 pages.









December 2, 2021

I couldn’t resist putting these books together for a review. If only there were ten more, an even dozen donut books! Wouldn’t that be fun?! And FYI, Amazon is having a sale – buy one of these books, get the other for half off! Happy Holidays!

So, The Donut Trap. A brief synopsis from the publisher:

Julie Tieu sparkles in this debut romantic comedy, which is charmingly reminiscent of the TV show Kim’s Convenience and Frankly in Love by David Yoon, about a young woman who feels caught in the life her parents have made for her until she falls in love and finds a way out of the donut trap.

Jasmine Tran has landed herself behind bars—maple bars that is. With no boyfriend or job prospects, Jasmine returns home to work at her parents’ donut shop. Jasmine quickly loses herself in a cyclical routine of donuts, Netflix, and sleep. She wants to break free from her daily grind, but when a hike in rent threatens the survival of their shop, her parents rely on her more than ever.

Help comes in the form of an old college crush, Alex Lai. Not only is he successful and easy on the eyes, to her parents’ delight, he’s also Chinese. He’s everything she should wish for, until a disastrous dinner reveals Alex isn’t as perfect as she thinks. Worse, he doesn’t think she’s perfect either.

With both sets of parents against their relationship, a family legacy about to shut down, and the reappearance of an old high school flame, Jasmine must scheme to find a solution that satisfies her family’s expectations and can get her out of the donut trap once and for all.


I loved “Kim’s Convenience” (it is streaming on Netflix) so I had high hopes for this book. I can definitely see the similarities. Oh, and just FYI, one of the stars of that TV series is Simu Liu, now the star of the new Marvel movie, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” and recent host of SNL. But I digress.

This book read a little young for me, it is more “New Adult” or even Young Adult, but no matter. It is completely adorable! I liked these characters and loved the family dynamic. This donut-sweet romance is fast paced with a lot of laughs. A wonderful debut, and I can’t wait to see what Julie Tieu does next.

NOTE: Circling Back to You comes out next summer!

Onto Donut Fall in Love – a brief synopsis from the publisher:

A baker provides the sweetest escape for an actor in this charming romantic comedy.

Actor Ryan Kwok is back in Toronto after the promotional tour for his latest film, a rom-com that is getting less-than-stellar reviews. After years of constant work and the sudden death of his mother, Ryan is taking some much-needed time off. But as he tries to be supportive to his family, he struggles with his loss and doesn’t know how to talk to his dad—who now trolls him on Twitter instead of meeting him for dim sum. 

Innovative baker Lindsay McLeod meets Ryan when he knocks over two dozen specialty donuts at her bakery. Their relationship is off to a messy start, but there’s no denying their immediate attraction. When Ryan signs up for a celebrity episode of Baking Fail, he asks Lindsay to teach him how to bake and she agrees.

As Lindsay and Ryan spend time together, bonding over grief and bubble tea, it starts to feel like they’re cooking up something sweeter than cupcakes in the kitchen.


I’ll be honest; I cannot resist a punny title! Of the two donut books, I preferred this one as it delves into reality food TV, a personal favorite. This is also a more adult read, and I don’t mean sex – the characters are a bit older and more mature, that’s all.

Lindsay really wants a new job, but is sort of stuck career-wise, and is back home helping out her parents in their donut shop. This is a small, family business and a traditional donut/coffee shop. In Florida, like elsewhere in America, we have these types of donut shops that are barely hanging on as Dunkin’ spreads like, well, a virus. We have The Dandee Donut Factory, a small, family owned chain (soon opening in Massachusetts!) But we also have trendy donut shops, like Duck Donuts and Voodoo Donuts (at Universal Studios in Orlando.) And famously, we used to have not one, but two topless donut shops!

Moving on. Lindsay’s trying to help her parents take their donut shop toward the trendy side, so they can raise their prices and make more money. They are resistant, of course, but when they go off and leave her in charge one day, she cooks up some interesting new flavors, like matcha tea donuts. But as she’s bringing them out, a man literally runs into her.

That man turns out to be a movie star, but Lindsey doesn’t recognize him. Instead, she tears into him for the damage. Ryan recently lost his mother, but one of his favorite memories is of the time they baked cupcakes. They were pretty much inedible, but it is a fond memory. When Ryan is invited to participate in a celebrity baking competition, he realizes he needs some help. He doesn’t want to make a complete fool of himself on national TV.

Ryan hires Lindsey to teach him to bake, and they spend several afternoons together. Lindsay knows who he is, finally, and is a bit smitten. To her surprise, so is Ryan. There are some definite bumps on their road to happily ever after, but the ride is so much fun! This is a delicious romance, sure to please fans of the Food Network and romcoms. More mashups like this, please!

12/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE DONUT TRAP by Julie Tieu. Avon (November 9, 2021). ISBN: 978-0063069800. 368 pages.

Kindle Audible

DONUT FALL IN LOVE by Jackie Lau. Berkley (October 26, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593334300. 368 pages.

Kindle Audible




MAMA’S BOY by Avery Flynn

November 20, 2021

Last Man Standing, Book 1

From the author:

Do you hate dogs? Only want to talk about yourself? Is having a sense of humor something you’ve never been accused of? Think eating for pleasure is a complete waste of time? Agree that tipping is for suckers? Then you’re the date for me.

Dixon Beckett is the kind of guy who loves his mama, treats women right, and never ever wants to fall in love again. That’s why he’ll do anything to win a bet to be the last single man standing by Christmas.

He’s got a plan, too. Create the most no-good, horrible, very bad dating profile in existence. Only someone actually responds to his ad…

The rules say he has to go on six dates with the first (or in his case, only) person who answers—even if that person is Fiona Hartigan: Hater of dogs, non-lover of any delicious food, and zero sense of humor.

But something feels off about this pariah. In fact, Dixon is almost positive Fiona is just pretending to be awful. Pretending to be the most horrible date in existence. And she’s most definitely pretending to not be as interested in him as he is in her.

The more Dixon Beckett starts to unravel the mystery of why Fiona answered his ad in the first place, the more he starts considering the most vile, awful, terrible idea ever…falling in love.

Each book in the Last Man Standing series is STANDALONE:
* Mama’s Boy
* Neanderthal
* Mansplainer

Once again I started a series with the second book, but I liked it so much I immediately went looking for the first book, which I found on Hoopla (yay public library!) The third book comes out in December, a birthday treat for me, and I can’t wait. I have a funny feeling no one is winning this bet.

This series centers around a bet between three cousins. Their beloved grandmother has passed away, leaving behind a wrapped Christmas gift but no name on the gift. They decide that the last man who hasn’t fallen in love will get the gift. But there are rules – they have to post a profile on a specific dating app, and they have to go out on six dates, selected by the other cousins, with the first woman who responds.

Dixon has no desire for a relationship and he wants that last remembrance of his grandmother. Since he gets to write his own profile, he comes up with the most obnoxious, unappealing one that he can. So he is shocked when Fiona responds.

Their first date is a bit of a puzzle for Dixon; almost immediately he starts to suspect something is off about Fiona. He thinks she is only pretending to hate dogs and food and so forth, but he can’t understand why she would do that.

Dixon runs a large and very successful cosmetics company. Fiona’s grandmother has created a line of homeopathic skin care products for women of a certain age, shall we say. She has tried on several occasions to get in to see Dixon, but has been rebuffed at every effort. She decides this is the best way to get to him. Especially when he puts it out there that he knows she is full of it, and admits to why he posted that profile and the bet. They decide to help one another; she will complete the six dates with him but after that, he will owe her a favor of her choosing. He has no idea what she is up to but doesn’t care as long as he wins the bet.

Fake dating invariably leads to true love in romance novels, and this one is no exception. But Fiona is fighting it because of her grandmother, as is Dixon. Lots of drama but even more laughs and some very steamy sex make this a terrific read that I really loved. I can’t wait for the next book!

MAMA’S BOY by Avery Flynn. Entangled: Amara (September 27, 2021). ASIN: B091NQHSK8. 312 pages.



November 19, 2021

Well Met, Book 3

From the publisher:

A pretend relationship gives two friends more than they bargained for in a Renaissance Faire rom com filled with flower crowns, kilts, corsets, and sword fights.

Single mother April Parker has lived in Willow Creek for twelve years with a wall around her heart. On the verge of being an empty nester, she’s decided to move on from her quaint little town, and asks her friend Mitch for his help with some home improvement projects to get her house ready to sell. 

Mitch Malone is known for being the life of every party, but mostly for the attire he wears to the local Renaissance Faire—a kilt (and not much else) that shows off his muscled form to perfection. While he agrees to help April, he needs a favor too: she’ll pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming family dinner, so that he can avoid the lectures about settling down and having a more “serious” career than high school coach and gym teacher. April reluctantly agrees, but when dinner turns into a weekend trip, it becomes hard to tell what’s real and what’s been just for show. But when the weekend ends, so must their fake relationship. 

As summer begins, Faire returns to Willow Creek, and April volunteers for the first time. When Mitch’s family shows up unexpectedly, April pretends to be Mitch’s girlfriend again…and it doesn’t feel so fake anymore. Despite their obvious connection, April insists they’ve just been putting on an act. But when there’s the chance for something real, she has to decide whether to change her plans—and open her heart—for the kilt-wearing hunk who might just be the love of her life.

As someone who has never been to a Renaissance Faire, despite there being a huge one [http://www.ren-fest.com/] just a few miles from my home, I really love this series. I still have no desire to go, but I’ll read anything Jen DeLuca writes.

This book is less about the Ren Faire and more about this small town. The story centers around April, whose daughter is going off to college in a few months. April has been a single mom for a very long time, and she is determined to change her life once she becomes an empty nester. She wants to sell the house and move out of this small town into a city, and while she’ll always have a place for her daughter, she wants to start living her own life.

Mitch is quite a bit younger than April, and while he is a very good looking man, she can’t imagine him being interested in her. So when he offers to help her out with fixing up her house to sell it, she is grateful for the help. But he needs a favor in return; he wants her to come to a family dinner with him. His family are all high achievers and think being a teacher and coach is not much of a career. He figures if they see him in a relationship with a woman like April, all professional looking and older, they will back off. But the dinner turns into a weekend at a hotel, and one thing leads to another as it usually does with fake dating!

I loved the May-December romance, mostly because it is the woman who is older, yet it seems that Mitch is the more mature one in this relationship a lot of the time. April is dealing with some insecurities about her age and her body and simply cannot believe that this man could truly want a relationship with her. She pretty much dumps him because of that, but luckily, he’s not giving up.

There are a lot of laughs here and witty dialogue, a hallmark of DeLuca’s writing, plus some steamy scenes. I’ve loved all three of these books and would be hard pressed to pick a favorite. But it’s probably this one. These do not need to be read in order, they each stand alone pretty well, so if you haven’t tried DeLuca yet, I urge you to do so now. I loved it.

11/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WELL MATCHED by Jen DeLuca. Berkley (October 19, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593200445. 336 pages.







BAD INFLUENCE by Stefanie London 

November 18, 2021

Bad Bachelors, Book 3

From the publisher:

Annie Maxwell had her whole life figured out . . . until her fiancé left her when his career took off. If that wasn’t bad enough, every society blog posted pictures of him escorting a woman wearing her engagement ring. To help the women of New York avoid guys like her ex, Annie created the Bad Bachelors app. But try as she might, Annie just can’t forget him . . .

For bank executive Joe Preston, his greatest mistake was leaving the love of his life when she needed him most. Now, all he wants is to make things right–and she won’t have him. But when Annie’s safety is threatened by a hacker determined to bring down her app, Joe is the only one she can turn to. He’ll have to lay himself on the line to prove to Annie that he’s a changed man.

But will their hard-won bond survive the revelation that Annie is the one pulling the strings behind Bad Bachelors?

We were introduced to the Bad Bachelors app in the first book in this series, and while it showed up in the second book, it is at the center of the last book of this trilogy. Annie, the creator, is being threatened. Since she started the app, there have been some negative comments, but this is beyond that – someone has hacked her app and knows who she is. He even grabbed a pic of her taken from the camera on her laptop. She knows she is in trouble, and when she runs into her ex, she realizes that he is the perfect person to help her. He is an internet security expert, recently returned to New York as the youngest vice president of his new company.

Joe is happy to help. He feels guilty about the way he left Annie, following his career path and listening to his father’s advice. He even gets engaged to a woman his father deems worthy, but that ends when they realize it is a mistake. To make things even worse, Annie recognizes that ring – she had seen it in Joe’s drawer, figuring he was going to propose to her. But that never happened.

Joe is still in love with Annie, so he is thrilled to be able to help her. Things get even dicier when the threats start hitting home – Annie’s home, so Joe asks her to move in with him until things can be resolved. Of course, that starts their romance all over again.

Joe and Annie find their happy ending, and Joe eventually figures out who the threat is and how to end it. Meanwhile, Annie has a mega offer on the table to buy the app, and she is trying to figure out what to do with it. She eventually makes the right choice for her, and for Joe.

I really enjoyed this series. Each book stands alone but they are better read as a series. These are very sexy romances, so if that isn’t your preference, look elsewhere. I thought these books were very well done and terrific reads.

11/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

BAD INFLUENCE by Stefanie London. Sourcebooks Casablanca (February 26, 2019). 978-1492655237. 384 pages.







BAD REPUTATION by Stefanie London 

November 17, 2021

Bad Bachelors, Book 2

From the publisher:

It’s true, I’m well-endowed.
But everything else is a huge misunderstanding…

My name is Wes Evans and saying I’m bad at love is a big understatement. I’m the son of Broadway royalty, and the only thing I’ve really ever wanted is to achieve something without having to ride on my family’s coattails. Unfortunately, being dubbed”The Anaconda” on the notorious Bad Bachelor app wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Now, I’ve got a reputation I can’t seem to shake, and a smash Broadway show I need to produce without the help of my family.

Enter Remi Drysdale―a sexy ballet dancer and the woman who could solve all my problems. She is a dream to watch on stage and will be the next best thing in American ballet. If I don’t mess it all up by seducing her.

Remi is a ballerina from Australia who moved to New York City for a shot at joining a major ballet company. But it didn’t work out the way she planned, and she ends up teaching kids how to dance. When one of her students brings her uncle with her, he is forced to participate. Little does she know that he is ballet and Broadway royalty. When he walks in on her practicing on her own, he realizes he found the ballerina he was looking for to star in the off-Broadway show he is trying to produce without his family’s help.

There is strong attraction there but Remi has been burned by romance in a show before, and she isn’t going there. Until she can’t help herself. Wes understands her fears but he can’t help himself either. Of course, they try and keep it secret but once the cat’s out of the bag, all sorts of trouble follows.

This was a fast read set in the world of theater, which I loved. The characters are skillfully brought to life on the page, and while some of the drama seemed a bit over the top to me, it all works out in the end. I’m looking forward to the last book of this trilogy.

11/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

BAD REPUTATION by Stefanie London. Sourcebooks Casablanca (August 7, 2018). 978-1492655206. 384 pages.








November 16, 2021

Wyoming Rebels, Book 9

From the publisher:

A single mom returns to her family’s Wyoming Christmas tree farm for the holidays and runs into an injured cowboy from her past who just might be the Christmas miracle her little boy needs. A wonderful holiday romance that will melt your heart.

After a shattering divorce, Emma Rollins returns to Wyoming, hoping for a Christmas miracle for her son. When she accidentally runs into a truck driven by the cowboy who was her teenage partner-in-crime, Emma quickly discovers that he might be just the miracle she needs. Or did she already miss her chance with the rebel who used to make her laugh so long ago?

Sidelined from smokejumping with a devastating injury, Quintin Stockton is struggling to deal with the fact his career might be over. But when a family situation drags the former cowboy home for Christmas, he finds himself haunted by the shadows he’s never been able to escape.

When the woman he once called Nerd Girl needs his help hauling Christmas trees at her family farm, it’s the distraction Quintin needs. She makes him laugh, which he hasn’t done in a long, long time. But as the loner cowboy spends more time with Emma and her brave little boy, suddenly he has a chance for the Christmas love he didn’t even know he wanted.

Can Christmas magic bring love to two hearts that were once closed forever?

I wasn’t sure if I would be lost with this book as it is the 9th book of the series, and I haven’t read any of them. So while I knew I was missing information, it didn’t seem to matter all that much. This book can easily be read as a standalone, and I loved it.

Quintin is one of nine siblings in the Stockton family, and they have all had a horrible childhood. Instead of falling into where the badness could have lead them, Chase, the oldest, made sure they all ended up on the straight and narrow. Quintin is a smokejumper, one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. But on his last jump, he is severely injured, shattering his leg. Several operations later, he is still not healing all that well, at least not well enough to go back to his job – the only thing that sustains him. Without smokejumping, Quintin is depressed and unhappy, to say the least. But when Chase asks him to come home for Christmas, he shows up, planning on being there just for the day. Until Emma literally runs into his truck.

They were good friends in high school as Quintin worked at her family’s Christmas tree farm. Seeing her family was one of the good things in his young life, so he is happy to see Emma again. And when he finds out her father had been hurt and is having a hard time running the place, he offers to help out.

Emma has her own unhappiness. Her son was born with a birth defect, and as soon as it showed up on the ultrasound, her husband was out. They have a financial arrangement which precludes Emma from having any kind of relationship again, or from telling anyone about the arrangement. So as much as she is enjoying Quintin’s company, she can’t risk her son’s health and she refuses to take help from anyone.

But Quintin is falling in love, something he never thought would happen to him. He is especially drawn to her son, and to kids in general, like the rest of his family. They all have foster kids and adopted kids and just do whatever they can to help any child in need. While Quintin can tell Emma feels the same way, he doesn’t understand why she won’t let him help, so he figures out a way to do so.

This is a heartwarming holiday romance with characters that I just fell in love with – yes, it’s a bit of a fairytale, but isn’t Christmas the perfect time for that?

11/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A REAL COWBOY FOR THE HOLIDAYS by Stephanie Rowe. Authenticity Playground, LLC (November 16, 2021). ASIN: B097CK7JW6. 282 pages.





DEAR SANTA by Debbie Macomber

November 15, 2021

From the publisher:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A special holiday wish list brings about hope, love, and second chances in this nostalgic novel from the queen of Christmas stories, Debbie Macomber.

Lindy Carmichael isn’t feeling particularly joyful when she returns home to Wenatchee, Washington, for Christmas. The man she thought was “the one” has cheated on her with her best friend, and she feels completely devoid of creativity in her graphic-design job. Not even carolers or Christmas cookies can cheer her up—but Lindy’s mother, Ellen, remembers an old tradition that might lift her daughter’s spirits.

Reading through a box of childhood letters to Santa and reminiscing about what she’d wished for as a young girl may be just the inspiration Lindy needs. With Ellen’s encouragement, she decides to write a new letter to Santa, one that will encourage her to have faith and believe just as she’d done all those years ago. Little does Lindy know that this exercise in gratitude will cause her wishes to unfold before her in miraculous ways. And, thanks to some fateful twists of Christmas magic—especially an unexpected connection with a handsome former classmate—Lindy ultimately realizes that there is truly no place like home for the holidays.

In Dear Santa, Debbie Macomber celebrates the joys of Christmas blessings, old and new.

I have run hot and cold with Macomber’s annual Christmas novel/novella, and I’m happy to say I enjoyed this one. As a Jewish woman who loves Christmas romances, I prefer them to be more inspirational and uplifting than religious, and Macomber always walks a fine line there but there weren’t enough Christ references to make this uncomfortable for me, so yay.

Lindy is finally in her dream job, or so she thinks. A web designer, she was hired by a major Seattle company over an in-house candidate, leaving her co-workers skeptical and unwelcoming, and Lindy feels the need to work late nights and weekends to prove herself. She has just submitted a major proposal; if the company wins the business, her reputation will be intact. Meanwhile, they’ve given her two weeks off over Christmas.

Lindy heads home, never needing home more. When her best friend moved to be closer to her job, Lindy showed up at her new apartment, planning on surprising her friend. Instead, she is shocked to find her boyfriend is living there. Her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend now, and she is more devastated about her friend than anything. She hasn’t told anyone what happened and is carrying around her heartache on her own.

But as soon as she gets home, her mom knows something is wrong and Lindy spills it all. Her mom comes up with the idea that doing a little reminiscing will help Lindy heal. She pulls out a box of letters to Santa that Lindy had written as a child. She doesn’t remember most of them, but she does remember the one where she asked Santa to bring Billy coal for Christmas. He’s been torturing her forever in the way that little boys do when they have a crush on a little girl, but she didn’t get that then. Then her mom suggests she write another letter to Santa. Lindy thinks that’s ridiculous, but she realizes that Santa always granted her wishes in one way or another, so she does it. She asks to meet a good man and to find a new best friend.

Turns out her best friend from elementary school is back in town and they rekindle that long ago friendship. At a girls night out at a new hot spot in town, Lindy is surprised to see that the proprietor is none other than her old nemesis, Billy, now called Will. But when Lindy finds out what happened that Christmas she wished him coal, guilt kicks in and she ends up bringing him homemade cookies to apologize. They start hanging out and realize there is a strong attraction there. But Billy is tied to this small town with his new business, and Lindy is going back to Seattle. Long distance won’t work, not with the hours they both work. So Lindy decides this will just be a holiday romance, but of course, that doesn’t quite work out.

It wouldn’t be a Debbie Macomber novel without a happily ever after, and Billy and Lindy find theirs. The magical Santa throughout the novel adds another dimension of holiday joy, making this a perfect Christmas read. If sweet romances built around the holiday are your jam, then don’t miss this one. Or wait for the Hallmark movie – it seems like most of Macomber’s Christmas novels end up there.

11/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

DEAR SANTA by Debbie Macomber. Ballantine Books (October 19, 2021). ISBN: 978-1984818812. 272 pages.