PRIDE, PREJUDICE, AND OTHER FLAVORS by Sonali Dev

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.

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UNFORGETTABLE YOU by Brenda Novak

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.

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SMITTEN BY THE BRIT by Melonie Johnson

May 28, 2019

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Sometimes in Love, Book 2

From the publisher:

DEFINITELY, MAYBE…OR LOVE, ACTUALLY?

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.

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GETTING HOT WITH THE SCOT by Melonie Johnson

May 26, 2019

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Sometimes in Love, Book 1

From the publisher:

IT’S TIME TO FLIRT WITH A MAN IN A KILT

Cassie Crow, a pop-culture reporter for a TV talk show, is focused on becoming a “serious” journalist. But when she stumbles into a kilted Highlander with a killer accent, Cassie decides that taking one night off from work and spending it with a sexy Scot couldn’t hurt. . .

Logan Reid has built a career on his charm, hosting a series of off-the-wall hijinks on the Web. But when the Scottish prankster meets the all-American, equal parts intelligent and irresistible Cassie, Logan realizes that one night of fun won’t be enough. Could it be that this career-focused, commitment-phobic couple is finally ready to take a chance at true and lasting love?

 


This is a debut novel – look at me, reading not only the first book in a series, but the first book by this author! It was really good. The cover, not so good. Kind of icky, I think. I didn’t like it but we do not judge books by their covers (much.)

There are a lot of characters since this is the first book and at least two more books are coming in this series. That said, the main characters and the secondary characters were pretty well developed, enough so I can easily predict whose story is coming next. But that doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the characters were imperfect and appealing, and their story was so good that you can’t help but keep turning pages.

I loved the European locales, and stateside, Chicago. I visited there recently so was delighted to see mentions of places I’d been, like the Navy Pier. The descriptions were good but short and didn’t impede the flow of the story at all. This was a really fun read and I highly recommend it. Next up, book 2: Smitten by the Brit, which comes out May 28 followed quickly by book 3, Once Upon a Bad Boy on June 25. I love when they push out series like that so I don’t have to wait a year for the next book, at which time I will have forgotten the previous book. So thanks, St. Martin’s Paperbacks! 

Men in kilts, do I have to say anything else? Just read it.

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

GETTING HOT WITH THE SCOT by Melonie Johnson. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (April 30, 2019). ISBN 978-1250193094. 368p.

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THE UNHONEYMOONERS by Christina Lauren

May 23, 2019

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From the publisher:

For two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime—maybe even love—in this romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling authors of Roomies.

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.

Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.

Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.

With Christina Lauren’s “uniquely hilarious and touching voice” (Entertainment Weekly), The Unhoneymooners is a romance for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.


Christina Lauren has become one (two) of my favorites. The writing duo does fast paced stories with great characters, lots of heart, lots of laughs and lots of love. And usually some sex, as is the case here.

The trope of enemies becoming lovers is not new, but feels new here. They mine the comedy of a seafood buffet with a serious microbe on the loose and believably explain the two members of the wedding that avoid it. Twins are always fun, especially identical(ish) twins, and they sure are fun here. At least Olive is; Ami is too sick to be funny much. But I loved the idea of winning everything to make the wedding and honeymoon super easy on the budget and I bought into the no changes,  no refunds on the honeymoon prize and the big switcheroo so that Olive and Ethan end up taking the trip.

You can see what’s coming from a mile away, but who cares when getting there is so much fun. If you like a lot of laughs with your romance, then you won’t want to miss this book. I loved it.

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE UNHONEYMOONERS by Christina Lauren. Gallery Books (May 14, 2019). ISBN 978-1501128035. 416p.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE BY Casey McQuiston

May 16, 2019

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From the publisher:

A *MUST-READ BOOK* for US WEEKLY, OPRAHMAG.COM, POPSUGAR, BUSTLE, BUZZFEED, and more!

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius―his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.


To pigeonhole this book is to do it a great disservice. Yes, it is a gay romance. It is also very political, but in a sweet, fantasy sort of way that really appealed to me. In the world McQuiston has created, America moved on from Barack Obama to a Latina woman president, continuing those almost forgotten themes of hope and change instead of the torrent of hate and divisiveness that we are currently living through. That definitely worked for me. And she’s from Texas!

I loved the family dynamics, both in the American first family and the British royal family. Alex and Henry both have siblings that are also their best friends, until they find each other. They also have Secret Service (and the British equivalent,) live in very large houses that actually belong to the people of their respective countries, and have been living a public life for years, especially Henry. Alex, at least, had his formative years in relative obscurity.

The royal family has been changed enough to make them unrecognizable yet thoroughly believable. Prince Henry is gay, and no one knows it or is allowed to know it. It is his responsibility to be the millennial face of the crown family, and, of course, to reproduce. Learning the machinations of the PR machines that drive both the royal family and the American presidency was fun and actually a little darker than I expected.

Alex and Henry’s story made me laugh and made me cry and especially made me wish for a better America. And if that surprises you, you must be new here. Feel free to comment.

This was a super fun summer read, and I can see why it made the LibraryReads list. It’s fantastical and idealistic and I loved it.

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston. Griffin (May 14, 2019).  ISBN  978-1250316776. 432p.

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THE BRIDE TEST by Helen Hoang

May 15, 2019

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From the publisher:

From the critically acclaimed author of The Kiss Quotient comes a romantic novel about love that crosses international borders and all boundaries of the heart…

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.


I loved Hoang’s first book, The Kiss Quotient, so much that it made my best books of 2018 list. It is entirely possible that this new one will end up on this year’s favorites list as well. It topped the LibraryReads list for May, and with very good reason.

Hoang has created a niche in the romance genre, or maybe even two; one of her protagonists is autistic, the other is of mixed race.

In this book, she switched things around so our hero is the one on the spectrum, and our heroine is half American, half Vietnamese. But Hoang takes it a step further and really delves into the immigrant experience in America.

Khai is a complex character, as is Esme and I love the character development, it definitely adds to the story and I couldn’t help but root for this couple. Even the secondary characters are interesting,  especially Khai’s mother and his brother. We don’t get to know much about Esme’s family as they are still in Vietnam, but we learn her backstory, about the poverty she grew up in and still lived in until this opportunity arose. Esme is no fool and she seizes every advantage to try and build a better life for her family, hopefully in America.

We know that Khai is very successful but I would have liked to learn a bit more about that. It is suggested that is very frugal which Esme takes for lack of funds, not understanding what is going on and frankly, neither did I. But that is just a minor quibble.

There are some really funny moments in this book, as well as some heartbreaking ones. It was an emotional read for me, and I know I won’t be forgetting these characters any time soon.

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE BRIDE TEST by Helen Hoang. Berkley (May 7, 2019).  ISBN 978-0451490827. 320p.

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SUNSET BEACH by Mary Kay Andrews

May 7, 2019

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From the publisher:

Pull up a lounge chair and have a cocktail at Sunset Beach – it comes with a twist.

Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

Sunset Beach is a compelling ride, full of Mary Kay Andrews’ signature wit, heart, and charm.


Andrews has gone back to her roots and given us a cozy mystery; actually two cozies for the price of one! It’s still as beachy a read as you could want, but the romance that was her hallmark has definitely taken a backseat. This also felt like it could be the first book of a series, so I’m curious to see how that plays out.

Drue is a terrific character, someone I enjoyed spending time with. Her curiosity drives the stories, and you can’t help but root for her to solve them. The family dynamics add another layer to the story as well. Having lost her mother, her career, her boyfriend and her home, Drue really can’t fall any lower so it’s up she will have to go. Her stepmother doesn’t help much with that and their relationship is tricky, to say the least, as is her relationship with the father that was absent for a good part of her life. But Drue is a tough cookie, able to pick herself up and move ahead, even when everyone around here is discouraging.

The two storylines, one present day and one set in the 1970’s, are intriguing for sure, and I thought they were going to come together at some point. I was wrong. But they both get resolved in very different yet interesting ways.

All in all, I enjoyed my first beach read of the summer!

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SUNSET BEACH by Mary Kay Andrews. St. Martin’s Press (May 7, 2019).  ISBN  978-1250126108. 432p.

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THIS IS NOT A LOVE SCENE by S. C. Megale

May 6, 2019

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From the publisher:

This Is Not A Love Scene rings brilliantly true from the first page to the last.” ―David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author 

Funny, emotional, and refreshingly honest, S.C. Megale’s This is Not a Love Scene is for anyone who can relate to feeling different while navigating the terrifying and thrilling waters of first love.

Lights, camera―all Maeve needs is action. But at eighteen, a rare form of muscular dystrophy usually stands in the way of romance. She’s got her friends, her humor, and a passion for filmmaking to keep her focus off consistent rejection…and the hot older guy starring in her senior film project.

Tall, bearded, and always swaying, Cole Stone is everything Maeve can’t be. And she likes it. Between takes, their chemistry is shockingly electric.

Suddenly, Maeve gets a taste of typical teenage dating life, but girls in wheelchairs don’t get the hot guy―right? Cole’s attention challenges everything she once believed about her self-image and hopes for love. But figuring this out, both emotionally and physically, won’t be easy for either of them. Maeve must choose between what she needs and what she wants, while Cole has a tendency to avoid decisions altogether. And the future might not wait for either.

 


Let me start off by saying I LOVE THIS BOOK! I don’t read a whole lot of young adult fiction, but I heard about this book in a webinar with the publisher about books they were excited about. This book came up, so I requested a copy. At the time, Megale’s publicist didn’t even have galleys so she sent me hers, which I then lent out to librarians who do read/recommend YA. So far I’m batting 100%, everyone I know who has read it has also loved it. One of the reasons I started blogging about books is because I’m so opinionated, and when I find a book I love I want everyone to read it. So go read this book!

Maeve is a character that you can’t help but root for. She is in a wheelchair but that is no deterrent to this strong young woman. She is determined to live her best life and she truly succeeds. Of course she has plenty of teenage angst along the way. I liked her parents and her friends a lot, the characters are all well drawn and brought to life. The author shares some similar issues with the protagonist, and perhaps that’s why this story rings so true. I won’t be forgetting Maeve or her story for a very long time.

This is an intelligent love story filled with pathos, humor, and enough drama to keep things interesting. This is Not a Love Scene is an important and wonderful read, sure to make my best books of the year list. Don’t miss it!

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THIS IS NOT A LOVE SCENE by S. C. Megale. Wednesday Books (May 7, 2019).  ISBN 978-1250190499.  320p.

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FUMBLED by Alexa Martin

May 3, 2019

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The Playbook, Book 2

From the publisher:

One of Amazon’s Best Romances of the Month 
One of Apple’s Best Books of April

A second chance doesn’t guarantee a touchdown in this new contemporary romance from the author of Intercepted.Single-mother Poppy Patterson moved across the country when she was sixteen and pregnant to find a new normal. After years of hard work, she’s built a life she loves. It may include a job at a nightclub, weekend soccer games, and more stretch marks than she anticipated, but it’s all hers, and nobody can take that away. Well, except for one person.T.K. Moore, the starting wide receiver for the Denver Mustangs, dreamt his entire life about being in the NFL. His world is football, parties, and women. Maybe at one point he thought his future would play out with his high school sweetheart by his side, but Poppy is long gone and he’s moved on.When Poppy and TK cross paths in the most unlikely of places, emotions they’ve suppressed for years come rushing back. But with all the secrets they never told each other lying between them, they’ll need more than a dating playbook to help them navigate their relationship.

I love a good sports romance, and the reviews and buzz around this one drew me in. I haven’t read the first book in this series, Intercepted, yet – but after reading this one, I searched it out and it is now on my Kindle ready to go.

This has some real life behind it. The story revolves around an NFL player and Martin is married to one (now retired.) So she speaks with some authority here which really added to the story for me. Poppy is a terrific character, a great mom, and a good friend. I wouldn’t mind hanging out with her and when you can feel that comfortable with a character, that is a very good thing.

The football player in question, TK, is also a well developed character, not just a one dimensional athlete. I liked how his relationships with his mother and the other women in his life were explored; it all rang true for me. An important plot point centers around the concussion issue in the NFL. Martin tackles it head on, (if you’ll excuse the pun) which was a real plus for me. I love football, despite being a Dolphins fan (this is a rebuilding year, go Fins!) but CTE is a very serious issue so I was very glad she addressed it.

Martin is a good storyteller and her writing is crisp with lots of humor and pathos. She brought me to tears several times but also had me laughing out loud. A very enjoyable romance!

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FUMBLED by Alexa Martin. Berkley (April 23, 2019).  ISBN 978-0451491978. 336p.

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