June 18, 2019

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Cupid, Texas Series, Book 7

From the publisher:

What would it take to tame a wild cowboy?

One minute, Rhett Lockhart is a love ‘em and leave ‘em bull rider with a slow, sexy smile, a swagger, and not a care in the world. The next, he learns his free-wheeling days are over: a baby has been abandoned in the hospital, and there’s no question: he’s the father. But from the first moment he gazes into his daughter’s eyes, he knows the moment has come to say ‘no’ to no-strings. It’s time to grow up.

Standing in his way is the baby’s foster mother, Tara Alzate, who doesn’t quite believe Rhett is ready to change his ways. Still, she’s not not immune to his considerable charms. So when he proposes a marriage of convenience and shared custody, against her better judgement, she says “I do.” Can Tara tame this wild cowboy and make her own, long-buried dreams come true?

This was a great read – made me wish I had read the six previous books in the series! Guess I’ll be hunting them down.

These characters were really brought to life and I couldn’t help but get caught up in their stories. Tara is a neonatal nurse who has taken this abandoned baby home with her. When she finds out who the father is, she knows there may be some issues as they have history. And Rhett suffers from Peter Pan syndrome. Having a baby forces him to grow up in a hurry, especially a baby with all the problems of an early premie.

If you like these contemporary cowboy romances, then pick this one up. If you haven’t read any, this is a terrific place to start!

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TO TAME A WILD COWBOY by Lori Wilde. Forever (May 28, 2019). ISBN 978-1538748718.  400p.



THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW by Tracey Garvis Graves

June 16, 2019

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From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author of On the Island, Tracey Garvis Graves, presents the compelling, hopelessly romantic novel of unconditional love.

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game―and his heart―to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

I had heard about this book a while back, and I’m sorry to say it got lost on my overstuffed Kindle bookshelves. Luckily, a friend read it and told me to, and I’m so happy she did.

When I started reading, my first thought was is autism in romance a new trend? Helen Hoang owns it (The Kiss Quotient, The Bride Test), but Graves does an admirable job with it here. Especially as the word autism isn’t mentioned until almost the end of the book. As I recently learned (at the Florida Library Association Annual conference,) many people who are on the ASD spectrum do not self-identify that way. Therefore they do not get the help they need and that is very much the case here.

While Annika is certainly high functioning, I think it is apparent to the reader that she is on the spectrum. On the other hand, she just thinks of herself as weird. But Jonathan makes her feel special and safe.

The story moves back and forth between both characters and two different timelines, ten years apart; when they first met in college, then ten years later. It is easy to follow and easy to differentiate between all that, and the story moves quickly and dramatically. I loved these characters, all of them, even the secondary characters, because they are all so well drawn and feel like people I could run into tomorrow. That says a lot about the mad writing skills Graves displays here. But I especially loved the story of how these people move through life and toward one another.

My only complaint about this book was the ending; it was rather abrupt. I needed another page or two with a more defined resolution. I usually hate it when books tie up every loose end in a bow, it never seems real that way but this ending was too far in the other direction for me. But that is a minor quibble. I loved this book and I truly hope it finds a lot of readers.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW by Tracey Garvis Graves. St. Martin’s Press (April 2, 2019).  ISBN  978-1250200358. 304p.



A ROGUE BY NIGHT by Kelly Bowen

June 15, 2019

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The Devils of Dover, Book 3

From the publisher:

2018 RITA award-winning author!
From the author who Sarah MacLean calls “a charming, clever, and engaging storyteller” comes the next regency romance in the witty and sexy Devils of Dover series!

Baron. Physician. SmugglerHarland Hayward is living a double life as an aristocrat by day and a criminal by night. As a doctor, Harland has the perfect cover to appear in odd places at all hours, a cover he uses to his advantage. He’s chosen this life to save his family from financial ruin, but he draws the line at taking advantage of the honest and trustworthy Katherine Wright.

Katherine thought she was done smuggling. Having finally convinced her ailing father and injured brother to abandon their criminal pursuits, she’s returned to England to help them escape to a new life–once she helps them fulfill their last contract. And that means working with Hayward, even when her instincts tell her that becoming his ally may be a risk to her heart – as well as her life.

Bowen is an award winning romance writer and this is only the second book of hers that I’ve read, and the first in this series. It’s a very good, very suspenseful read.

Our heroine is a surgeon, although the protocol of the day states that there is no such thing as a lady doctor. Nonetheless, Katherine is a doctor, trained by her mother and by war. She followed her heart, going off to war with a man who promised to marry her. Instead, he abandoned her, leaving her bitter and suspicious. But she learned a lot, she stayed abroad and took care of many soldiers who weren’t wealthy enough for a real, AKA, male doctor.

Once again we have to truly suspend our disbelief and I don’t mind at all. I like these strong, smart, completely fictional women who should have been able to kick butt instead of being relegated to looking pretty and capturing a husband. The hero is also an anomaly; a member of the peerage who is a practicing doctor instead of just practicing gambling and hunting as befits his station. Oh, and both of them are smugglers. This is a complex story with a lot of suspense due to all the illegal activity going on, not to mention a power hungry zealot as the town lawman.

A comment on the cover, because I do, at times, judge a book by its cover. If I saw this on the shelf in a bookstore or library, I would not realize that it is historical based on the picture on the cover. The title certainly hints at it, not a lot of contemporary romances use “rogue” in the title. But it looks like a pretty modern guy, maybe wearing a puffy shirt (remember that Seinfeld episode?)



6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A ROGUE BY NIGHT by Kelly Bowen. Forever (May 28, 2019).  ISBN 978-1478918622. 368p.




June 14, 2019

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Silver Springs, Book 4

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak returns to Silver Springs with a moving story about rebuilding your life when you’ve got nothing left to lose

Savanna Gray needs a do-over. Her “perfect” life unraveled when, to her absolute shock, her husband was arrested for attacking three women. With her divorce settled, she takes her two children to Silver Springs to seek refuge between the walls of a farmhouse her late father had planned to renovate. It needs a little TLC, but she’s eager to take control of something.

Gavin Turner understands the struggle of starting over. Abandoned at a gas station when he was five, it wasn’t until he landed at New Horizons Boys Ranch as a teen that he finally found some peace. He steps up when Savanna needs help fixing things—even when those things go beyond the farmhouse.

Despite an escalating attraction to Gavin, Savanna resolves to keep her distance. She trusted her ex, who had a similarly tragic background, and is unwilling to repeat her past mistakes. But it’s hard to resist a man whose heart is as capable as his hands.

This is one of those series that definitely does not have to be read in order. I read the first two books in the series, but somehow managed to skip books 3 & 4, then read 5. I liked them all, and finally went and found the two books I somehow skipped over. And here we are.

The books all share a setting, the small town of Silver Springs, California, and a school for troubled boys, but the characters don’t seem to overlap much. Which means you don’t really have to read them in order, but if you want to, great – just bear in mind that the first four books were published in 2017 so even if you already read them, you may be as fuzzy as I was on the details when you get to book 5, which just came out a couple of months ago.

This story revolves around Gavin Turner, one of the boys who went to the New Horizons school for troubled boys, and is one of eight boys adopted by the school’s founder, Aiyana. She is a remarkable character and appears in some way or another in all the books. Gavin was a troubled teen, abandoned as a young child and on the path to very destructive behavior until he was saved by the school and his adoptive mother.

Gavin’s love interest is Savanna, and it is her backstory that really drives this romance. Savanna was married to a man who had been accused of abducting and raping three women. Stories like hers hit the news every now and then, and personally I never really thought about the family members of the accused. But apparently Novak has and brings it home here. This was a very emotional and fascinating look at such a family and the repercussions to those who were on the periphery of criminal acts; in this case, the wife and children.

Great characters make for a great story, and Novak has done an outstanding job here. I love this series and this may be my favorite book in it.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RIGHT WHERE WE BELONG by Brenda Novak.  MIRA; Original edition (October 31, 2017).  ISBN  978-0778330387. 400p.



COWBOY REBEL by Carolyn Brown

June 11, 2019

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Longhorn Canyon Series, Book 4

From the publisher:

A wild Texas cowboy is about to meet his match in an ER nurse in this heartwarming romance from a USA Today bestseller, which includes a bonus novella from Annie Rains.

Ever since losing his best friend in a motorcycle accident, Taggart Baker wants to make every moment count. No dare is too dangerous, no adventure too crazy for this cowboy. But after one bad brush with the law, he realizes it’s time to ditch his hooligan friends and grow up. Now he’s running his own ranch next to the Longhorn Canyon spread in Texas. Still, no one would ever call him tame.
Nikki Grady has worked too hard for her RN license just to throw it away for some reckless cowboy who shows up in her emergency room after a barroom brawl. But she can’t help being drawn to Tag’s sense of humor and those crystal blue eyes. The more time they spend together, the more she sees his good heart. But just as Tag seems ready to settle down for good, his troubled past comes calling-and this time he won’t be able to walk away so easily.

I liked these characters and I liked the story. What I didn’t like was the writing. It felt very stilted to me, especially the dialogue. I had trouble getting through the book because of that, but I liked the characters enough, and was invested enough in their story, to stick with it.

Another big disconnect for me was all the references to country music songs throughout the book. The characters motivations were often (and annoyingly) credited to some country song or another. They often communicated by talking about a song. Several times. I am sorry to say that I am not a fan of country music, so I was not familiar with any of the songs mentioned in the book. For what it’s worth, I have heard of most of the singers mentioned. But that aspect of the book was just lost on me. I have read many cowboy romances, and have run across an occasional mention of a song. I have even looked up a song or two to see why it was referenced and I was fine with that. But this was just too much for me.

I haven’t read the other books in this series so maybe that was another part of my disconnect here. In fact, I’ve only read one other of her books, The Magnolia Inn, and I liked that one a lot – but it wasn’t a cowboy romance. Although I’m not sure why that would matter. If you love country music, you may very well love this book. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

COWBOY REBEL by Carolyn Brown. Forever (May 28, 2019). ISBN 978-1538748718.  400p.



UNTIL YOU LOVED ME by Brenda Novak

June 10, 2019

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Silver Springs, Book 3

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak returns to Silver Springs

Sometimes starting over means finding everything you’ve been missing…

After catching her fiancé cheating—with another man—usually straitlaced, workaholic scientist Ellie Fisher liberates her wild side just long enough to indulge in a passionate one-night stand with a tall, dark stranger she meets at a trendy Miami bar. Embarrassed by her recklessness, she ducks out the following morning without learning the guy’s full name, something that shouldn’t have been a problem…until a pregnancy test turns positive.

Being a professional football player, Hudson King has always been cautious around women. But this one had been different—so disinterested in his celebrity, so convincingly into him. When Ellie tracks him down, claiming she’s carrying his baby, he’s stunned. And more than a little betrayed.

But after growing up as an orphan, he’ll do anything to stay involved in his child’s life, so he urges Ellie to move to Silver Springs, where they can co-parent. Hudson has a lot of love to give, certainly enough for his child, and when their initial spark reignites, perhaps for Ellie, too…

This is one of those series that definitely does not have to read in order. The books all share a setting, the small town of Silver Springs, California, and a school for troubled boys, but the characters don’t seem to overlap much. Which means you don’t really have to read them in order, but if you want to, great – just bear in mind that the first four books were published in 2017 so even if you already read them, you may be as fuzzy as I was on the details when you get to book 5, which just came out a couple of months ago.

This time out the story starts elsewhere, in my backyard, in fact – Miami. Ellie is a nerdy scientist who knows tons about science but pop culture just isn’t her jam. So when she meets a professional football player, she has no idea who he is. And he really likes that. Instead they connect on an intellectual and emotional level.

When Ellie finds out she’s pregnant, she has to deal with an ex-fiance who doesn’t believe he’s not the father and wants to adopt and/or buy the baby. His biological clock is ticking and he wants to have kids and sees Ellie’s pregnancy as a shortcut for a gay couple to adopt. She knows for a fact that it isn’t his baby and she also knows for a fact whose it is. But that surprise is not a pleasant one for Hudson.

I enjoyed watching these characters grow together and find their happily ever after. Another terrific entry into a wonderful series.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

UNTIL YOU LOVED ME by Brenda Novak. MIRA; Original edition (July 25, 2017).  ISBN  978-0778330257. 400p.




June 7, 2019

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From the publisher:

What if your roommate is your soul mate? A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good novel about finding love in the most unexpected of ways.

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

So British! And a completely delicious debut.

Tiffy is still holding out hope that her on again, off again boyfriend will be on again. Until he gets engaged. Then she’s pretty sure that it’s truly over. But she can’t seem to move past him. Months later, she finally starts grappling with the dysfunctional relationship that she was in and never realized – but as she does, she starts learning a lot about herself.

Meanwhile, work is getting crazy and her flat mate is turning into a good friend, albeit one she’s never met. His girlfriend made sure of that. But when they do finally meet, it is not what either of them expected.

This is a very funny and often emotional read. I love the British wit. The story moves back and forth between Tiffy and Leon’s viewpoints, which makes for an intimate read. You really get to get inside their heads. There are also tons of back and forth notes, that is how they communicate for at least half the book so I would file this under epistolary novels for sure.

The characters are real and well drawn and the story moves quickly. All in all, an excellent debut – I can’t wait to see what comes next. Don’t miss it!

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE FLATSHARE by Beth O’Leary. Flatiron Books (May 28, 2019).  ISBN  978-1250295637. 336p.




June 5, 2019

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From the publisher:

Award-winning author Sonali Dev launches a new series about the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family descended from royalty, who have built their lives in San Francisco…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

·       Never trust an outsider

·       Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations

·       And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with…

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.

Another love story that takes its lead from Jane Austen, which is not a bad thing. Here we have a Mr. Darcy (the “D” in “DJ” is for Darcy) with Trisha standing in for Elizabeth Bennett. It works. For me, an added bonus is the food-centric story. DJ is a chef and Trisha is a scientist who forgets to eat. Really. But when she eats DJ’s food, she is transported.

The two of them are strongly, and strangely, attracted to one another. DJ is aware there are class differences between them, which makes him self conscious and overly sensitive. Trisha is such a workaholic that it is hard for her to move beyond that – except for her family obligations. And those she feels very strongly.

DJ and Trisha fight their way through this story until I started wondering how on earth they would ever get together. Well done, Ms. Dev, well done. This was a delicious read that harkens back nicely to its inspiration. A thoroughly enjoyable romance.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

PRIDE, PREJUDICE, AND OTHER FLAVORS by Sonali Dev. Berkley (May 7, 2019).  ISBN 978-0451490827. 320p.




May 31, 2019

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Silver Springs, Book 5

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak returns to Silver Springs, where no past mistake is so big the heart can’t find a way to fix it

Jada Brooks couldn’t have known how her life would change when she fell for bad boy Maddox Richardson back in high school. She couldn’t have known his troubled brother would leave hers forever crippled. Or that she’d be forced to shun Maddox completely—only to discover she was carrying his child.

Although Maddox was devastated by the events that transpired that fateful night, losing Jada was the worst of it. He’s back in Silver Springs, ready to make amends and provide the kind of youth outreach that once saved him. If only he’d known Jada was in town, too, he would never have come.

Jada has returned to Silver Springs to be with family after her father’s death. But when she sees Maddox, every tough decision she’s made concerning their now twelve-year-old daughter begins to haunt her. Falling for him again is so tempting, but she doesn’t just stand to alienate her family—if he finds out about Maya, she could lose what matters most.

I read the first two books in the series, but managed to skip books 3 & 4. So when I started reading this, I knew it seemed familiar, especially the setting and the school for troubled boys, but I was still a little lost. It turns out this series is all set in Silver Springs, but the characters don’t seem to overlap much. Which means you don’t really have to read them in order, but if you want to, great – just bear in mind that the first four books were published in 2017 so even if you read them, you may be as fuzzy as I was on the details. I’ve enjoyed each book I’ve read, enough that I just went and borrowed books 3 & 4 and will read them soon.

Not sure but I think Novak has some issues with children who are adopted or given up or in this case, the father isn’t told he even has a child. That seems to be a theme running through all her books. I am not a huge fan of not telling the baby daddy but it is explained well enough here to get me past it. There are so many obstacles between Jada and Maddox that it takes pretty much the whole book to get them through it all.

The characters and story rang true and I was involved with these characters from the get go. Some interesting sex, too – or should I say sexting. That’s not something that comes up very often in books for whatever reason, and I appreciated it here, it seemed likely.

It’s a roller-coaster of a romance, and I couldn’t put it down. Another excellent addition to the series. Don’t miss it.

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

UNFORGETTABLE YOU by Brenda Novak.  MIRA; Original edition (February 26, 2019).  ISBN  978-0778369851. 384p.



SMITTEN BY THE BRIT by Melonie Johnson

May 28, 2019

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Sometimes in Love, Book 2

From the publisher:


English professor Bonnie Blythe expects her life to play out like her favorite novels, especially now that her long-term boyfriend has finally proposed. So when a shocking discovery leads Bonnie to end her engagement, she decides to close the book on love. But the plot thickens when a brand-new character enters the scene―and quickens Bonnie’s heart.

With his brilliant blue eyes, sexy accent, and irresistible charm, Theo Wharton is like a romantic hero straight out of a Jane Austen novel. When fate places Bonnie in England for a summer―conveniently close to Theo―she realizes a hot friends-with-benefits fling is exactly what she needs to start a fresh chapter. Just as Bonnie begins to believe she’s falling in love, an eye-opening revelation into Theo’s life makes Bonnie feel like she’s wandered into one of her favorite books. Will Bonnie have the courage to risk her heart and turn the page with the dashing Brit to find her true happy ending after all?

This second book of the series is maybe a bit better than the first, so let’s just say I loved them both. I loved Bonnie, we share a love of Anne of Green Gables, Jane Austen and Shakespeare – she’s my kind of people. She was introduced in the first book so I knew a bit of her backstory. She was engaged to the only man she ever was with, they met as young children and were together for most of their lives. Yet when Bonnie met Theo while on vacation in Great Britain, she was instantly attracted. She forced those feelings down and went about her vacation, trying hard to forget about the man they dubbed a Prince.

Turns out they weren’t far off. Theo is a Duke, and one with an estate that is in serious need of a cash infusion. And just like the historical romances I read, the best way to get that cash is to marry rich. Theo’s mother is on the job, matchmaking with a single-minded purpose and Theo feels obligated to do as she says. No, he’s not a little boy, he’s a man but a man who likes to play the hero, and takes his responsibilities, the upkeep of an estate in London and another in the Lake District, and all the people employed as serious business indeed.

But Bonnie goes back to merry old England after she dumps the fiance and accepts a summer teaching position at Cambridge. Her best friend, Cassie, heroine of the the first book in this series, is getting married at the end of the summer, in Scotland. So Bonnie finds herself thrust back into Theo’s circle. The attraction between them is strong and obvious, but there are hurdles galore. Despite all that, they get their happy ending.

This was a fun, sexy read and I highly recommend it. Can’t wait for the third book, and luckily I don’t have to wait long! Once Upon a Bad Boy arrives June 25. Pre-order now!

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SMITTEN BY THE BRIT by Melonie Johnson. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (May 28, 2019). ISBN 978-1250193056. 384p.