BEAUTIFUL SINNER by Sophie Jordan

November 14, 2018

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Devil’s Rock, Book 5

From the publisher:

Locked in with the town bad boy . . .

Most women would be scared, but Gabriella’s only worried about resisting Cruz Walsh, who’s even hotter than he was back in high school. Cruz was wrongly accused of the high-profile crime for which he was imprisoned; Gabriella’s desperate for the scoop that will get her career off the ground and get her out of Sweet Hill, where everyone still remembers her as “Flabby Gabby.” Being stuck in a supply closet with Cruz is the perfect opportunity to land an interview. What Bri doesn’t count on is Cruz taking “up-close and personal” to a whole new level.

If there’s a silver lining to the hell Cruz went through, it’s that losing his freedom put everything in perspective. Maybe starting over someplace new would be easier, but after years locked up, Cruz values his family—and his true friends—more than ever. So he’s back home, facing the gossip, dodging reporters . . . and face-to-face with Gabriella Rossi. They’ve both changed: Bri wants a story and Cruz just wants her. Another thing he’s learned? Don’t let a good thing slip away.


Hot, hot, hot! Sophie Jordan brings the heat in the latest erotic romance in the Devil’s Rock series. Devil’s Rock is a prison, so you know this is not going to be all hearts and flowers.

Cruz is definitely tall, dark and mysterious and Gabby’s boss wants the mystery solved. She’s not sure she does. Turns out Cruz was her high school crush and they have a bit of history that he is not exactly aware of. And Cruz had a massive, unrequited crush on Gabriella, too. Cruz is completely non-responsive to any and all questions about his mistaken incarceration, and frankly, Gabby is more interested in her physical reaction to him rather than the story.

I loved their back story which brought additional depth to the romance. A terrific read with plenty of sex which just added to the fun. I haven’t read all the books in this series but I’m working on it.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BEAUTIFUL SINNER by Sophie Jordan. Avon (October 30, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062666598.  368p.

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ALL CHAINED UP by Sophie Jordan

November 13, 2018

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Devil’s Rock, Book 1

From the publisher:

There are bad boys and then there are the men of Devil’s Rock . . .

Some men come with a built-in warning label. Knox Callaghan is one of them. Danger radiates from every lean, muscled inch of him, and his deep blue eyes seem to see right through to Briar Davis’s most secret fantasies. But there’s one major problem: Briar is a nurse volunteering at the local prison, and Knox is an inmate who should be off-limits in every way.

Knox feels it too—a shocking animal magnetism that drives him to risk his own life to protect Briar’s. Paroled at last, he tries to resist her. She’s too innocent, too sweet, and she has no idea what Knox is capable of. But a single touch can lead to a kiss—and a taste . . . until the only crime is denying what feels so right . . .


This is the first book in the Devil’s Rock series – of course, I’ve already read a few of the newer books but no matter, they do not need to be read in order. This is a terrific romance with Jordan’s legendary smokin’ hot love scenes. But more than just the sex, there is a lot of heart here, and plenty of emotion. It is inescapable when a man gets out of prison for saving lives in a prison riot.

Devil’s Rock is a prison, not your typical romance setting but Jordan makes it work. The woman has mad skills.

In light of all the consent issues going on in romances today, Jordan was fairly prescient in her handling of it in this earlier title. These characters are drawn to one another despite their differences which frankly, seem insurmountable, yet true love wins out as it always does. Thank goodness.

11/18  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

ALL CHAINED UP by Sophie Jordan. Avon (March 29, 2016). ISBN 978-0062423689. 384p.

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THE PROPOSAL by Jasmine Guillory

November 11, 2018

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From the publisher:

“There is so much to relate to and throughout the novel, there is a sharp feminist edge. Loved this one, and you will too.”–New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay

The author of The Wedding Date serves up a novel about what happens when a public proposal doesn’t turn into a happy ending, thanks to a woman who knows exactly how to make one on her own…

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn’t come as a surprise–or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…


Another terrific read from Guillory, who is quickly becoming a must read author for me. This is ostensibly the sequel to The Wedding Date, but in the way that romances tend to have sequels. The main character, Carlos, was friends with the main character in The Wedding Date. So if you haven’t read that one, no biggie other than why didn’t you read that one, it was so good! And so is this one.

I loved these characters, they had their faults which only made them seem more real. It is very important in a romance to have characters that you feel invested in, otherwise, who cares. These characters were very well developed and I couldn’t wait to see how their story turned out. Happily ever after, of course, this is a romance, but with a lot of fun, food and sex along the way. And laughs. Lots of laughs.

Another hat tip to diversity here, Carlos is Latino and Niki is black so that’s there, but it is just the way it is and not a commentary on racism. This was just a great story and I highly recommend it. So do librarians – it topped the LibraryReads.org list for October.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE PROPOSAL by Jasmine Guillory. Berkley (October 30, 2018).  ISBN 978-0399587689.  336p.

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THE WEDDING DATE by Jasmine Guillory

November 9, 2018

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From the publisher:

THE USA TODAY BESTSELLER
#5 LibraryReads Pick

One of…
Entertainment Weekly’s “12 Romances for V-Day”
Cosmopolitan’s “2018 Anticipated Reads”
Elle’s “2018 Must Reads”
Harpers Bazaar’s “New January Must Reads”
The Fug Girls’ “Best Books of the Year”
Elle UK’s “Books to Get You Through 2018”
Nylon’s “January Must Reads”
Hello Giggles’ “New Release Recs”
Electric Lit’s “Books by WoC to Read in 2018”
Bitch Media’s “2018 Must Reads”
BookBub’s “2018 Romance Must Reads”
Bookriot’s “Must Read 2018 January Releases”
RetailMeNot’s “2018 Must Reads”

“A swoony rom-com brimming with humor and charm.”–Entertainment Weekly (The Must List)

“What a charming, warm, sexy gem of a novel….One of the best books I’ve read in a while.”–Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Hunger

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in this fun and flirty multicultural romance debut.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other…

They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…


Even when I include the publisher’s synopsis, I don’t usually include all the blurbs and self promotion. In this case, I think they are so well deserved that I did include it all.

I loved this book. It is fresh, original, and diverse. The wedding date theme is not unusual, it is the major meet-cute plot of many a romance and rom-com. It is one that I enjoy, but Guillory really takes it to the next level. There is a lot of hot sex, which always works for me, and great characters that you just can’t help but care about. I loved the way she touches on racism without being in your face but rather more in the way of that’s the way it is and this is how we deal with it.

This is a terrific, fun read that I highly recommend. Now I’m off to read her newest, The Proposal. Stay tuned…

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE WEDDING DATE by Jasmine Guillory. Berkley (January 30, 2018).  ISBN 978-0399587665.  336p.

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THE NOEL STRANGER by Richard Paul Evans

November 7, 2018

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The Noel Collection, Book 2

From the publisher:

From “The King of Christmas,” Richard Paul Evans, the next exciting holiday-themed novel in his New York Times bestselling The Noel Collection.

Maggie Walther feels like her world is imploding. Publicly humiliated after her husband, a local councilman, is arrested for bigamy, and her subsequent divorce, she has isolated herself from the world. When her only friend insists that Maggie climb out of her hole, and embrace the season to get her out of her funk, Maggie decides to put up a Christmas tree and heads off to buy one—albeit reluctantly. She is immediately taken by Andrew, the kind, handsome man who owns the Christmas tree lot and delivers her tree. She soon learns that Andrew is single and new to her city and, like her, is also starting his life anew.

As their friendship develops, Maggie slowly begins to trust again—something she never thought possible. Then, just when she thinks she has finally found happiness, she discovers a dark secret from Andrew’s past. Is there more to this stranger’s truth than meets the eye? This powerful new holiday novel from Richard Paul Evans, the “King of Christmas fiction” (The New York Times), explores the true power of the season, redemption, and the freedom that comes from forgiveness.


I didn’t read the first book in this series but I read the Christmas book before that, Mistletoe Secret, and loved it. This one, not so much.

I know he writes short books, but it didn’t feel like the characters were developed enough. Despite that, there was plenty of angst. There was an air of foreboding that ran through the story that I didn’t really care for in a romance. I also didn’t necessarily believe that these characters fell in love so quickly, especially considering what Maggie had gone through. It didn’t feel like she was mentally stable enough to make these kinds of decisions. Maybe I’m turning into a cynic? I hope not.

Once again my opinion isn’t mainstream, this book has 4.5 stars on Goodreads but there aren’t many reviews. Yet. Amazon didn’t have any so I’m guessing it wasn’t part of their Vine (early review) program. It was okay, but I would recommend Mistletoe Secret over this new one. The best thing I can say about it is that it is a quick read.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE NOEL STRANGER by Richard Paul Evans. Simon & Schuster (November 6, 2018). ISBN 978-1501172052.  352p.

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THE REAL DEAL by Lauren Blakely

November 4, 2018

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April Hamilton is heading home to the wealthy enclave in Connecticut for her family reunion. She loves her family, she really does, but they don’t understand why she moved to New York City. They don’t understand how she is making a living doing face painting, and they really don’t understand why she isn’t married and moving home.

Several relatives have already warned her they are fixing her up on blind dates while she’s home, so she asks her best friend to accompany her as her “date.” He’s gay, but they won’t know. But at the last minute, he can’t make it and he suggests a bartender he knows who is also an actor on the side and an escort. Not that kind of escort, but the kind who looks good as a date but is strictly platonic. April reads his ad and loves it and arranges to meet him.

Theo Banks is gorgeous, smart and funny and boy, is he in trouble. He has never been attracted to a professional assignment before and he is not sure how this is going to work. But he really needs the money, she is willing and able to pay, so off they go to Connecticut. Where her family falls in love with him, and they fall in love with each other.

There are a lot of laughs and a lot of drama to get through before they reach their happily ever after. I loved these characters and every page of this super fun, sexy romance.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE REAL DEAL by Lauren Blakely. St. Martin’s Griffin (July 10, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250165930.  368p.

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BIG BAD COWBOY by Carly Bloom

November 2, 2018

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Once Upon a Time in Texas, Book 1

From the publisher:

One of Publishers Weekly’s Best Romances of 2018!
After one too many heartbreaks, Travis Blake hung up his cowboy hat and put Big Verde, Texas, behind him. But when he gets the call that his young nephew needs him, he knows he has to return home. His plan is to sell the family ranch and hightail it back to Austin, but there’s a small problem: the one person who stands in his way is the one person he can’t resist.

Maggie is pretty sure she hates Travis Blake. He’s irritating, he’s destroying her business, and . . . and he’s just so frickin’ attractive. But when they’re forced to work together, Maggie discovers that the Most Annoying Man in the World is more than he seems. He’s sweet with his nephew, he helps out in the community, and he makes her heart flutter. Maggie doesn’t want to risk everything on a man who wants to leave, but what if she can convince this wayward cowboy to stay?


My love affair with cowboy romances continues with this terrific entry into a new series. The setting was a small town in Texas. Maggie is a strong, independent woman, and you can’t help rooting for her to succeed. Travis is respectful yet playful, and their chemistry is so electric that it is palpable. He has a whole host of problems, but manages to overcome them. I loved them together, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BIG BAD COWBOY by Carly Bloom. Forever (October 30, 2018). ISBN 978-1538763438. 368p.

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DARK SACRED NIGHT by Michael Connelly

October 30, 2018

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A Ballard and Bosch Novel, Book 1

From the publisher:

Harry Bosch teams up with LAPD detective Renée Ballard to solve the murder of a young girl in the new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly.

Detective Renée Ballard is working the night beat — known in LAPD slang as “the late show” — and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is retired detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin.

Ballard can’t let him go through department records, but when he leaves, she looks into the case herself and feels a deep tug of empathy and anger. She has never been the kind of cop who leaves the job behind at the end of her shift — and she wants in.
The murder, unsolved, was of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally killed, her body left in a dumpster like so much trash. Now Ballard joins forces with Bosch to find out what happened to Daisy, and to finally bring her killer to justice. Along the way, the two detectives forge a fragile trust, but this new partnership is put to the test when the case takes an unexpected and dangerous turn.
Dark Sacred Night for the first time brings together these two powerhouse detectives in a riveting story that unfolds with furious momentum. And it shows once more why “there’s no doubt Connelly is a master of crime fiction” (Associated Press).

I celebrate new Michael Connelly books by pouring myself a nice big glass of wine, curling up on my favorite couch and settling in for the night. I have yet to put down one of his books and yes, sometimes I feel guilty. I know it takes him months to write but I can’t help but read it in a few hours. A few wonderful, magical, at times almost transformational hours. I’ve said it before (I probably say it in every Connelly review) but I truly believe that Michael Connelly is the best crime fiction writer working today (with Lee Child and Karin Slaughter coming up close.)

I’ve been reading Connelly since he began writing, and I have enjoyed watching him stretch himself in new directions over the years. When he introduced Mickey Haller, the “Lincoln Lawyer”, and slipped in a quiet relationship with Bosch, I knew it was only a matter of time before they met up. Now Mickey is off somewhere, and Connelly’s last book was supposedly the launch of a new series featuring a female detective, Renée Ballard. But apparently he is not yet ready to leave Harry Bosch behind so here they are together, sharing pages. And I, for one, am glad.

They cover a lot of ground in this joint endeavor, all the while closing in on Harry’s cold case. Harry’s interactions with Ballard are pure Bosch, and as a team they are unbeatable. There are some definite similarities between these characters. To me it feels like they have as much in common as they differ, making for a terrific team.

I love the way Connelly lays out the detective work, the methodical mixed with the action makes for a fabulous, unputdownable read. I am looking forward to seeing what comes next – maybe the Lincoln Lawyer will be joining them?

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DARK SACRED NIGHT by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown and Company (October 30, 2018). ISBN 978-0316484800.  448p..

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KISS ME AT CHRISTMAS by Valerie Bowman

October 29, 2018

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Playful Brides, Book 10

I think I may have read a couple of the books in this series, some of the minor characters seemed somewhat familiar. Bowman takes a very typical plotline in historical romances, the commoner and the royal who can’t possibly marry, and does a terrific job with it.

In this case, Lady Regina has been orphaned at a young age and raised by her uncle. She is firmly “on the shelf” having rejected many suitors as she approaches her thirtieth birthday. Her uncle is dying and it is his final wish to see her married. To that end, she is affianced to a neighboring peer. He is moderately good looking at least, but a snob and a bore and Regina can’t imagine spending her life with this man. But she is a dutiful young woman and makes peace with the decision.

The book opens with Regina visiting a Bow Street Runner whom she met when he was hired to solve the murder of a relative. She was strongly attracted to him, and she decides if she is going to spend her life with a bore, she wants her first time with a man to be her decision. To that end, she visits Daffin Oakleaf, the runner, in his office and propositions him. Badly. She bungles it, he rejects her offer, and she is beyond embarrassed.

But when someone tries to run her carriage off the road, Oakleaf is hired to protect her. Spending all that time together forces them to learn about one another and eventually fall in love. But Oakleaf knows he can’t marry her because of the difference in their stations – or can he?

A delightful romance with some humor, witty dialogue and well developed characters I couldn’t help but care about. Regina was smart and sassy and Oakleaf was dark and damaged. The combination was explosive and made this a really fun read.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

KISS ME AT CHRISTMAS by Valerie Bowman. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (October 30, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250147523. 320p.

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THE LOOK OF LOVE by Sarah Jio

October 27, 2018

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This was a recommendation from one of my library members who knows I enjoy a touch of magical realism now and then. I do, but this book really pushed my limits. Allow me to explain.

The main character is Jane Williams. She has been under the care of a neurologist since she was a young child, making monthly treks to the doctor who had become a second mother to her after she lost her actual mother. Jane’s birthday is on Christmas, and she is turning 29. She receives a mysterious card via her doorman, inviting her to meet a woman she has never heard of, at her home, for tea, so she may explain the gift that Jane has been given.

Jane is nervous and takes her best friend along with her. Turns out that this woman was at the hospital on the day Jane was born, and gave her a gift. This gift is the ability to see true love, and has been passed down for generations from one green-eyed woman to another. She tells Jane that she has one year to identify the six kinds of love and record them in this old book that has been kept by all the women with this gift. If she fails, she will never find her own true love.

So far, so good. I did have a couple of issues then. First, there was no explanation for the six kinds of love, just some odd names. Maybe I was supposed to look those up? I don’t know, they aren’t explained until the end of the book when Jane is recording them. The bigger issue is that her six friends all neatly fall into one of the categories. I really had to suspend my disbelief here. That said, the story was compelling enough to keep me turning the pages.

For every drop of drama, there was a fairly immediate resolution. At the end, I did like the book but felt it could have been so much better had the characters not been so neatly categorized.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE LOOK OF LOVE by Sarah Jio. Plume (November 25, 2014). ISBN 978-0142180532. 304p.

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