CHRISTMAS IN BLUE DOG VALLEY by Annie England Noblin

September 23, 2022

From the publisher:

For anyone who ever loved All Creatures Great and Small, Annie England Noblin’s newest novel—about a big city vet transplanted to a small Wisconsin town—is pure delight as we meet aging alpacas, stump-tailed cats, goats in tutus, a vagabond border collie named Kevin, and the people who think they own them. And through it all, Goldie McKenzie, DVM, navigating the small town of Blue Dog, Wisconsin.

Welcome to Blue Dog Valley. Home of the Fighting Elk. Population 3,411. 

When Goldie McKenzie, DVM, vet to the L.A. pet stars, arrives from Los Angeles to Blue Dog Valley she realizes three things.

  1. Never agree to upend your life when you’re hungover
  2. Pot-belly pigs are not true farm animals
  3. She’s going to need a warmer coat

At first Goldie is nothing more than a fish out of water, with few clients and few friends. But after a less than pleasant encounter with a man whose dog is suffering from a possibly fatal case of bloat, she’s finally earning the trust and goodwill from her fellow Blue Dog Valley citizens. Her clientele grows to include the many farm animals in the town, including a horse named Large Marge, a cape-wearing therapy alpaca, and a yardful of sweater-wearing goats. Add in Kevin, the “worst sheepdog in Blue Dog Valley,” and a Sphinx cat named Airport, and Goldie is having the best time a vet can have. . . aside from the annoying attractive town grump, Cohen, who seems intent on making sure she always feels like an outsider.

With her newfound goodwill, Goldie comes up with an idea to reinvigorate the once flourishing Blue Dog Valley: a Christmas carnival. A petting zoo, pictures with Santa, a baking contest, what more could they want? After only some brief resistance from Cohen and his father, they begin the great plan to reinvigorate Blue Dog Valley.

Will Christmas be enough to salvage this dying town—and be enough to bring Goldie closer to a certain grumpy man?

https://amzn.to/3U79ycJ

This was my first Christmas book of 2022 and there are lots more to come – most holiday romances come out in September and October. I found it interesting (and sort of odd) that the two main characters have what I think of as Jewish names; Goldie was the mom in Fiddler on the Roof, and Cohen, while in this case a first name, is generally a Jewish last name. Or maybe that’s just me and no one else notices or cares. What matters is that I liked them both and wanted them to find their happily ever after.

Goldie and her long standing boyfriend have ended their relationship; she couldn’t take the cheating anymore and he just wasn’t worth it. But he owns the veterinary clinic where Goldie works, and now that their relationship has ended, so has her job. One of her online vet friends owns a clinic in a small town in Wisconsin, and he mentions to Goldie that he wants to retire and is going to be selling the clinic. Thinking this is just the opportunity she needs, they arrange for her to take over the clinic for a few months, through the end of the year, and if she likes it, she will buy it. If not, she’ll head back to Los Angeles and he’ll find another buyer.

Goldie moves to this small town in Wisconsin, and things are not off to a great start. There is an abandoned cat going round and round on the baggage carousel, and since no one else is left in the airport, she decides she better rescue the cat. Her ride is a grumpy but good-looking man, Cohen, who cannot believe this beautiful California girl is moving to his small Midwestern town. She doesn’t even have a coat!

When she gets to the cabin behind the vet clinic that she’s supposed to live in, she finds her friend, the retiring vet, has already left for Florida and her vet tech is not too thrilled to meet her. On the other hand, she has been adopted by Kevin, a very large sheepdog. People are not as friendly as one would assume, at least until she stops by Ruby’s diner. Ruby is welcoming and makes the best cinnamon rolls Goldie’s ever had.

Eventually, Goldie’s skill as a vet shines through and the people in this small town start to trust her with their animals. Plus she heard about how they used to have this Christmas Carnival but stopped when the highway was rerouted past the small town. She suggests they do it again and try and raise some much-needed funds for the town. Soon everyone is on board and Cohen is even coming around. Their attraction is there, but they’ve been butting heads and Goldie isn’t sure they will ever get past their bumpy start. Cohen obviously has some baggage, as does Goldie, and it takes a while before Goldie can get past his defenses.

The official holiday season has begun – the Christmas decorations are out, alongside the Halloween ones already. This book was a sweet, enemies-to-lovers, small-town Christmas romance and I just loved it – the animals were a fun bonus for me. If you’re not quite ready for the holidays, this is a terrific book to get you started!

9/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

CHRISTMAS IN BLUE DOG VALLEY by Annie England Noblin. Avon (September 20, 2022). ISBN:‎  978-0063040199. 384p.

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ONE PERFECT SUMMER by Brenda Novak

September 16, 2022

From the publisher:

Some families we’re born into
Some we find for ourselves

When Serenity Alston swabbed her cheek for a genetic test, she joked about uncovering some dark ancestral scandal. The last thing she expected was to discover two half sisters she didn’t know existed. Suddenly, everything about her loving family is drawn into question. And meeting these newfound sisters might be the only way to get answers.

The women decide to dig into the mystery together at Serenity’s family cabin in Lake Tahoe. With Reagan navigating romantic politics at work and Lorelei staring down the collapse of her marriage, all three women are converging at a crossroads in their lives. Before the summer is over, they’ll have to confront the past and determine how to move forward when everything they previously thought to be true was a lie. But any future is easier to face with family by your side.

“This heartwarming story of sisters who bond as adults is sure to please…those who enjoy books by Susan Mallery and Debbie Macomber.”—Library Journal

https://amzn.to/3U79ycJ

I love Brenda Novak, and somehow I missed this book! But better late than never! Plus it’s a new book if you haven’t read it yet. I stumbled across this on my Kindle and figured it would be my last “summer” read this year. I live in Florida so we don’t do seasons beyond hot, hotter, ridiculously hot and humid, and back to hot again. We do usually get a few days here and there of cool or sometimes even cold weather, and I have the boots and sweaters to prove it. But I digress…

This was such a good read. I loved these characters and they each have their own troubles to deal with. But finding each other through a DNA test proves to be an irresistible mystery. Serenity grew up in a loving home in California with two parents, Reagan grew up in New York City with a single mom who explained her father died when she was two years old, and Lorelei grew up in foster care after being found wandering the streets of Orlando when she was two years old. Once they find each other, they decide to spend a week together at Serenity’s family’s vacation home in Lake Tahoe.

It’s not easy finding out you have half-sisters when you are an adult, and don’t have any idea of how you are related. Serenity writes true crime novels, so she did the test as research for her book. Now that they found each other, they want to figure out how they are related. They each are dealing with some serious stress in their lives, but I don’t want to give anything away here. They decide that a week isn’t enough, and they end up spending three months in Tahoe and really get to know one another.

This was such an interesting story that is fully realized by these characters. It’s an engrossing story with a touch of romance here and there and just a wonderful read. If you haven’t read Novak, this is as good a place to start as any; if you’re a fan, you’ll love this book as much as I did. Enjoy!

9/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ONE PERFECT SUMMER by Brenda Novak. MIRA; Original edition (April 7, 2020). ISBN:‎  978-0778309468. 464p.

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Spotlight Review: LUCY ON THE WILD SIDE by Kerry Rea

September 13, 2022

From the publisher:

A zookeeper always on the fringe learns to go after her wildest dreams—including a certain television star—in this charming and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy by Kerry Rea, author of The Wedding Ringer.

Lucy Rourke has two great loves in her life: the gorilla troop she cares for as a primatologist and the laundry list of reality TV shows she watches to escape the fact that her actual love life doesn’t exist. And like a reality contestant gunning for the final rose, Lucy’s laser-focused on one thing: getting promoted to head keeper. So when a wildlife docuseries hosted by hotshot TV personality Kai Bridges chooses her zoo as its summer filming location, she sees an opportunity to showcase her beloved gorillas to the world and land a starring role in her department. 

When Kai and his film crew arrive, however, it’s obvious to Lucy that Kai cares more about sky-high ratings than the gorillas, and he considers her a camera-averse know-it-all whose wardrobe consists entirely of khaki. But she’s surprised to discover there’s more to him than his rugged good looks and cheesy catchphrases…and that maybe a promotion isn’t the only thing she wants. But when secrets from their pasts threaten to complicate everything, Lucy discovers that happiness and success aren’t the same thing—and that finding joy just might mean getting a little wild.

“Rea elevates the enemies-to-lovers trope with crackling chemistry, light humor, and genuine emotional nuance. Rom-com lovers should snap this up.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Rea’s second novel, following The Wedding Ringer (2021), is a compelling romantic comedy with a refreshingly unique storyline..Rea’s heartfelt, well-paced novel with realistic and well-developed characters is elevated by the parallel storyline of the gorilla troupe.”—Booklist

https://amzn.to/3U8O3bC

If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a zoo, this is the book for you! Lucy fell in love with gorillas when she was a little girl, and was thrilled to get the job as a gorilla keeper now that she’s all grown up. She has her sights set on moving up to senior keeper, but her stage fright might be holding her back.

Kai hosts a program on the Animal Planet and is a huge success. His mother is the world’s premier expert on gorillas, and is Lucy’s idol. Kai shows up at the zoo, and he and Lucy get into it over a nickname his mother claims the natives gave her. It’s in her book, which Lucy wants to smack over Kai’s head, but instead he grabs it and takes it away with him. Part of the problem is this guy with the bushy beard is unrecognizable as the TV star, but this is their meet cute and we now know we are in enemies-to-lovers territory.

Both Kai and Lucy have a lot of issues stemming from their childhoods and their famous mothers. When Lucy turned ten years old, her mother landed a starring role on a TV drama, and dropped Lucy off with her grandmother to raise her. Her mother’s show is long over and she’s remarried and has another kid, Mia, who worships her big sister. But Lucy doesn’t have time for either of them.

Kai grew up in the wild with his mother, but it turns out they don’t have the relationship the world thinks they do. We can see how much they have in common, but it takes Lucy and Kai a while to figure that out. There is a lot of arguing before they reach their happy ending.

This was a really interesting book, especially if you like animals. The characters are believable and I couldn’t help rooting for them to finally wake up and realize what they had. There are a lot of laughs and some angst before they get there. A thoroughly enjoyable read!

9/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LUCY ON THE WILD SIDE by Kerry Rea.  Berkley (September 13, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593201862. 352p.

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MAGGIE MOVES ON by Lucy Score

September 9, 2022

From the publisher:

Can these opposites turn up the heat… without burning down the house?

House-flipping sensation and YouTube star Maggie Nichols can’t wait to dig into her next challenge. Arriving in tiny Kinship, Idaho, with only a cot and a coffeemaker, Maggie is prepared to restore a crumbling Victorian mansion in four months or less. She has her to-do lists, her blueprints, and her team. What she doesn’t have is time for sexy, laid-back landscaper Silas Wright.

The man takes flirtation to a whole new level. And he does it shirtless…sometimes pants-less. He and his service school-dropout dog are impressively persistent. But she’s not interested in putting down roots. Not when fans tune in to watch her travel the country turning dilapidated houses into dream homes. A short-term fling on the other hand could fit nicely into her calendar. After all, Maggie remembers what fun is like. Vaguely.

As their summer gets downright steamy, Silas manages to demolish the emotional walls she’s spent years building, sending Maggie into a panic. He’s the wrench in her carefully constructed plans. With the end of the project looming, she has a decision to make. But how can she stay when her entire career is built on moving on?

“Come for the romance, stay for the mysteries and scene-stealing side characters.”  ―USA Today

“This steamy, opposites-attract contemporary romance is fast-paced and engaging. The book is well written, with exceptional dialogue and witty banter among the characters. Silas and Maggie are likable and relatable, and readers will fall in love with them and their found family. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Nora Roberts and Tessa Bailey.”  ―Library Journal (starred review)

https://amzn.to/3RJ7dU1

I love a tough female main character who excels in a man’s world – in this case, Maggie has a YouTube show where she renovates old houses. She’s basically homeless, living in her projects then moving on to the next once completed. Her latest project is an old Victorian mansion in the tiny town of Kinsdale, Idaho. The house hasn’t been lived in for years and is barely habitable, but Maggie moves in and starts hiring the crews necessary to complete the reno.

Silas is the landscaper she finds and not only is his work good, but Maggie is sure he will also be a sensation on camera with his good looks and hot body. What she isn’t counting on is falling in love, and she fights it every step of the way.

Maggie has a lot of issues, but Silas is charging full steam ahead in his mission to make Maggie his. I loved the witty banter and their chemistry is apparent to everyone who sees them – except Maggie is fighting it. Can Silas win her over? Of course! This is a romance and a really fun read, sure to please HGTV fans as well.

9/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MAGGIE MOVES ON by Lucy Score. Forever (June 21, 2022). ISBN:‎  978-1538707081. 416p.

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THE CHARMER IN CHAPS by Julia London 

September 9, 2022

The Princes of Texas, Book 1

From the publisher:

A Texas Prince Meets His Match…

Cimarron County knows the youngest son of the fabled Prince family as a womanizing hell-raiser, but Luca has changed and he intends to prove it. There’s just one problem—a woman with sparkling eyes and more fight than a barnyard cat.

After a childhood of living in foster homes, Ella Kendall has exactly three things to her name: A dog, a pig, and the rundown house she just inherited. Luca may not remember her from high school, but she definitely remembers him. He is as seductive as he was then, but Ella isn’t about to fall for his flirtingShe recognizes a playboy cowboy when she sees one.

Luca knows Ella has learned the hard way to trust no one but herself. Yet the closer he gets to Ella, the more he wants to be the only one she leans on. Because Ella is the only woman for him, and he wants to be the man who finally gives her the home she truly deserves.

https://amzn.to/3L5Qpnt

I do love cowboy romances, and this was a good one that I missed – it came out in 2019. Luca Prince is the second son of a family that owns one of the largest ranches in Texas, near San Antonio. Ella had a big crush on him in high school, but they ran in completely different circles. But at the high school dance, they danced together and he kissed her, and she never forgot. But he did.

Luca has been living the rich playboy life, partying all over the world, and dating supermodels, but never more than twice. His dyslexia causes his mother great disappointment, and instead of getting him help, he was shuffled from school to school with family donations getting him through school. He graduates pretty much illiterate, and very much embarrassed about it himself.

Ella has been in foster care for most of her life, and all she’s ever wanted is a home. When the grandmother she barely knew dies, she leaves her broken-down farmhouse to Ella. It comes with a few wild horses, a pig, and a dog, all of whom adopt Ella. She can barely feed herself but she shares what she can with her menagerie. She’s working part-time as a hostess in a restaurant in this small town and is trying to start up her own accounting business. She has a couple of clients but desperately needs more.

When Luca sees Ella, he is really drawn to her. She’s no supermodel hidden under a ton of makeup and hair extensions; instead, she is naturally pretty and that is very appealing. Ella knows she isn’t good enough for Luca, and she keeps her heart walled off for sure. But they start dating, even if she won’t call it that, and she falls really hard for him. Determined to keep her distance, she pushes him away as much as she can.

Luca inherited a couple of thousand acres of land that is all used up. His best friend is an environmental lawyer, and together they form a foundation to try and bring the land back to the way it was. Luca and Ella keep non-dating and sleeping together until her best friend (Stacy, of all the names in the world) gets into some trouble and Ella feels like she needs to help her.

This is a small-town romance with interesting characters who have a lot of baggage. It seems almost impossible for them to reach their happily ever after, but they do. This was a quick read with a few steamy scenes and lots of swoony romance, but with some emotional depth, too. Now I’m trying to find the next two books in this trilogy.

9/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE CHARMER IN CHAPS by Julia London. Berkley (May 7, 2019). ISBN:‎ 978-0451492357. 368p.

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Spotlight Review: DO YOU TAKE THIS MAN by Denise Williams

September 8, 2022

From the publisher:

After butting heads, an event planner and a wedding officiant begin an enemies with benefits arrangement as wedding bells chime around them in the newest rom-com from acclaimed author Denise Williams.

Divorce attorney RJ would never describe herself as romantic. But when she ends up officiating an unplanned wedding for a newly engaged couple in a park, her life is turned upside down. The video of the ceremony goes viral, and she finds herself in the unlikely position of being a sought-after local wedding officiant. Spending her free time overseeing “I dos” isn’t her most strategic career move, but she enjoys it, except for the type A dude-bro wedding planner she’s forced to work with.

Former pro-football event manager Lear is a people person, but after his longtime girlfriend betrayed him, he isn’t looking for love. He knows how to execute events and likes being in control, so working with an opinionated and inflexible officiant who can’t stand him is not high on his list. He’s never had trouble winning people over, but RJ seems immune to his charms.

Surrounded by love at every turn, their physical attraction pulls them together despite their best efforts to stay an arm’s length apart. Lear refuses to get hurt again. RJ refuses to let herself be vulnerable to anyone. But when it comes to happily ever after, their clients might not be the only ones saying “I do.”

“RJ and Lear are instantly likable: Each has a lovely sense of humor, and their personal struggles ring true and demand empathy…Williams has a talent for weaving moments of genuine warmth and tenderness with sizzling sexual chemistry in ways that are consistently engaging.”Kirkus

https://amzn.to/3q3FHEj

Lear has hit rock bottom. He lost the woman he loved and his dream job event planning job for an NFL team. He’s moved into his cousin’s basement and is helping her with her wedding planning business. His cousin is going to be out of town for a while, and Lear basically has to run things. Easy peasy. Until he meets RJ.

RJ is a divorce attorney who sort of fell into the wedding officiant business after a viral video. She is a workaholic who enjoys the extra wedding work. Until she meets Lear and their first interaction is when she runs headlong into him and he tells her she should smile more. Do men really still say that? He knows as soon as it comes out of his mouth he shouldn’t have.

That inauspicious beginning leads to an “enemies with benefits” situation and their chemistry is off the charts. RJ’s ex is getting married, and she’s determined to stay prickly enough to keep any man at a safe distance, especially Lear. But as they spend time together, well, you know what happens.

Both of these characters have back-breaking baggage so it takes a long time before they can move past all of it, but the journey is a fun and sometimes emotional ride. I wish RJ didn’t take forever to move past her issues, but maybe that is more realistic anyway. All in all, this was an enjoyable read with a satisfying ending.

9/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

DO YOU TAKE THIS MAN by Denise Williams. Berkley (September 6, 2022). ISBN:‎  978-0593437193. 352p.

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THE HOOKUP PLAN by Farrah Rochon

September 2, 2022

Boyfriend Project, Book 3

From the publisher:

Strong female friendships and a snappy enemies-to-lovers theme take center stage in this highly anticipated romantic comedy from the USA Today bestselling author of The Dating Playbook.

Successful pediatric surgeon London Kelley just needs to find some balance and de-stress. According to her friends Samiah and Taylor, what London really needs is a casual hookup. A night of fun with no strings. But no one—least of all London—expected it to go down at her high school reunion with Drew Sullivan, millionaire, owner of delicious abs, and oh yes, her archnemesis.

Now London is certain the road to hell is paved with good sex. Because she’s found out the real reason Drew’s back in Austin: to decide whether her beloved hospital remains open. Worse, Drew is doing everything he can to show her that he’s a decent guy who actually cares. But London’s not falling for it. Because while sleeping with the enemy is one thing, falling for him is definitely not part of the plan.

“Masterful…a winning romance.”―Kirkus, starred review

“Rochon’s skillful handling of her lead couple’s sexual fast-burn and emotional slow-burn, coupled with her well-rounded characters, make it impossible not to fall in love with this smart story.”―Publishers Weekly

https://amzn.to/3ekqFrj

High school rivals London and Drew haven’t seen each other since they were co-valedictorians in high school. She became a pediatric surgeon, and he became a hedge fund manager and all the money that implies. They meet up at their 15 year high school reunion that London has organized in her spare time (ha!) The attraction startles London, but she’s hated Drew for so long that she can’t give in to her feelings.

On the other hand, Drew has had a crush on London since they met in high school when he decided the way to impress her was to best her grades; hence the co-valedictorians. But was he wrong about that!

Fifteen years later and their mutual attraction is so hot neither of them can ignore it, but London manages to convince herself she can have sex without any feelings getting involved. But it turns out Drew’s career has taken a bit of a turn.

With more than enough money to never have to work another day again, Drew’s latest venture is to help hospitals get their financials in order. In this case, it’s the county (public) hospital where London works. His company will be there doing an audit for a few weeks, to determine whether or not they should sell the hospital to a private owner or keep it public. London wants it to be kept public, and really so does Drew but with him, it’s all about the numbers.

Butting heads by day and sleeping together at night brings them much closer than London could ever have imagined. There are a lot of laughs along the way, along with heated battles and some hot sex until they reach their happy ending. An excellent ending to a terrific trilogy!

9/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE HOOKUP PLAN by Farrah Rochon. Forever (August 2, 2022). ISBN:‎  978-1538716687. 400p.

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LOVE ON THE BRAIN by Ali Hazelwood

August 26, 2022

From the publisher:

A #1 LibraryReads and Indie Next Pick!

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis—with explosive results.

Like an avenging, purple-haired Jedi bringing balance to the mansplained universe, Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project—a literal dream come true after years scraping by on the crumbs of academia—Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. And sure, he caught her in his powerfully corded arms like a romance novel hero when she accidentally damseled in distress on her first day in the lab. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school—archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

Now, her equipment is missing, the staff is ignoring her, and Bee finds her floundering career in somewhat of a pickle. Perhaps it’s her occipital cortex playing tricks on her, but Bee could swear she can see Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas…devouring her with those eyes. And the possibilities have all her neurons firing. But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?

“Snappy dialogue with witty zingers make this tender enemies-to-lovers story, set at NASA in Houston, an unforgettable follow-up to neuroscientist Hazelwood’s popular The Love Hypothesis…Light espionage, some derring-do, and an unexpected villain are just some of the delights in Hazelwood’s smart, unusual, and superbly enjoyable tale.”—Booklist, starred review

“The snappy prose, engaging and twisty plot, and utterly endearing characters combine to create pure romance gold.”—Publishers Weekly

https://amzn.to/3wwojeX

It is the strangest thing – when I read Hazelwood’s books, which are often rooted in the hard sciences, the rational part of my brain knows I couldn’t possibly understand half of what these characters are dealing with, yet somehow, she makes me feel as if I do. That is remarkable, especially in a romance!

Bee Königswasser is thrilled that she was picked to head up a new project for NASA, especially as it gets her out from under her misogynistic boss at the National Institute of Health. She is less thrilled to find out she is co-leading the project with Levi Ward, her long time nemesis from grad school. When strange things start happening – lost emails, lost files, etc. Bee assumes it is Levi trying to make her look bad. We all know what happens when you assume…

Lots of angst leads to lots of laughs, and eventually, a happy ending, but not before some serious drama goes down. This book was such a page turner that I stayed up way too late to finish it, and I was so sad when I did. I grew so attached to these characters that I didn’t want to leave them, which says a lot about this author and her writing style. I can’t wait for her next book, but I’m going to have to – she only writes one book a year.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LOVE ON THE BRAIN by Ali Hazelwood. Berkley (August 23, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593336847. 368p.

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Spotlight Review: SCANDALIZED by Ivy Owens

August 23, 2022

From the publisher:

A one-night stand between two old childhood friends turns into something more, but when a scandal threatens to tear them apart, they must decide how hard to fight for love—a steamy romance debut perfect for fans of Tessa Bailey and Kennedy Ryan​.

Exhausted and on deadline with a story that could make or break her career, investigative journalist Georgia Ross is on the verge of a meltdown when a cancelled flight leaves her stuck in the airport overnight. But when a familiar face appears—the older brother of her childhood friend—and offers help, Gigi seems to have caught a break.

Alec Kim is handsome, humble, and kind—exactly the sort of man that Gigi has forgotten existed after her own painful heartbreaks. An evening of reconnection followed by a night of no-strings-attached passion with Alec feels like a gift—that is, until Gigi finally realizes that their childhood connection isn’t the only reason he seems so familiar to her.

Alec is determined to prove to Gigi that he is truly the man she thinks he is, even if it means coming clean about his fame—and his family’s connection to the story Gigi’s been working so hard to break. But as their feelings for each other grow deeper, Gigi and Alec must navigate a new reality…one where both of their hard-won careers are put directly in the path of an international scandal.

“Ivy Owens’s debut brings the perfect amount of humor and heart to the story of childhood friends reunited under unusual circumstances. Scandalized imbues a fraught situation with more humor than angst, and readers will fall instantly for the charming, charismatic characters. The heated love scenes and intense emotional connection between the leads are sure to win Owens legions of fans.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Owens’s spectacular debut is beautifully written and a fun read. Fans of Suzanne Park’s So We Meet Again and Katie Delahanty’s “Brightside” series will have a hard time not consuming it in one sitting.” —Library Journal (starred review)

https://amzn.to/3TekEMz

I love finding a debut novel that is this good – it’s rare and wondrous, especially when it is also a super steamy romance! The chemistry between Gigi, a badass journalist, and Alec, a movie star, is so hot I’m surprised the book didn’t just incinerate in my hands.

Gigi is on her way back to Los Angeles from London, where she broke a story about an exclusive club where the owners/members drug women, rape them, and video the whole thing. Her connecting flight from Seattle to L.A. gets canceled. Gigi is so tired, and all she really wants is a shower and some clean clothes. Then she spots Alec, and with a flash of recognition, she realizes he is her middle school best friend’s older brother. She approaches him, and he remembers her as well. When the closest hotel to the airport is full, he offers her the use of his shower. Turns out Alex has the presidential suite and lots of room to share.

You can guess where it goes from here, but there is also a lot of intrigue about that London club. Turns out Alec may know something, but eventually, it all goes sideways despite the connection these two have. This book really does have it all; suspense, a sweet connection between these characters, not to mention some seriously steamy scenes. I loved it and if you can handle the sex, trust me when I say you will not regret reading this book. I couldn’t put it down and I hated turning that last page. Can’t wait to see what this debut author does next.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SCANDALIZED by Ivy Owens. Pocket Books (August 23, 2022). ISBN: 978-1982199852. 320p.

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TUCKED AWAY by Jennie Marts

August 19, 2022

The Hearts of Montana, Book 1

From the publisher:

Sometimes you find what you need in the most unlikely places…

Charlie Ryan’s cheating fiancé left her with a broken heart and even broker bank account. She’s hit rock bottom, but everything is about to change. Suddenly, she’s inherited a Montana farm named Tucked Away from a grandmother she never knew existed. A fresh start is just what she needs – and no men in her future this time, even if the local vet is as hot as a Montana summer.

Zack Cooper is content with his simple life. Running his veterinary practice and raising his daughter are enough to keep him busy, and he doesn’t need a high-maintenance city girl like his ex who plans to sell her grandma’s ranch and split faster than a setting sun. So why can’t he stop thinking about Charlie and her hot-pink cowboy boots…and the way her eyes say she wants to stay while her lips tease him with plans of leaving?

Just when both start to believe love might be worth the risk…one night will change everything.

https://amzn.to/3QVaUFb

My love affair with Jennie Marts continues with a new-to-me-but-older series, The Hearts of Montana. I found this on Hoopla through my library. Marts has written several series and I’m working my way through them. For a change, I’m starting this series with the first book!

Charlie was brought up by a single mother in New York City. When she catches her boyfriend cheating, she dumps him and crawls home to her mom. Then she finds out she has inherited a farm in Montana from a grandmother she never knew existed. Ready for a change, she rents a car and hits the road.

Her first inkling that she’s no longer in New York City is when her driveway is blocked by an enormous bull, intent on goring her car. Trapped, she is grateful when a cowboy stops and gets the bull out of the way. Her high heels and silk blouse give her away as a newcomer to Montana, but she quickly acclimates to the old farmhouse she’s inherited and the sexy cowboy who’s working there. Cash is a big flirt, but Charlie isn’t going for it. Instead, she runs into the town veterinarian (and single dad,) and finds a serious spark. Turns out every unattached woman in town has her eye on the hunky vet, but he only has eyes for Charlie.

This is a small town romance with a hot cowboy, always a good combination! Charlie acclimated much more quickly to the small town than I certainly would have expected, but I went along for the ride and it was sexy, funny, and heartwarming. (I would read the rest of this series, but it’s not available through my library or Kindle Unlimited.)

The Hearts of Montana series
This western romance series is about three tough but tender cowboys who find love under the big Montana sky. 
1 – Tucked Away (Zack & Charlie)
2 – Hidden Away (Taylor & Cherry)
3 – Stolen Away (Cash & Emma)

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

TUCKED AWAY by Jennie Marts. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 6, 2015). ISBN:‎ 978-1511435932. 320p.

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