WHEN I FOUND YOU by Brenda Novak

July 7, 2021

The Silver Springs Series, Book 8

From the publisher:

Sometimes the biggest emotional risk can reap the best romantic reward…

After everything she worked for is destroyed, pediatrician Natasha Gray is determined to build a new life. Divorced, bankrupt and suddenly a single mom, she’s ready to start over in Silver Springs—on her own. She certainly doesn’t need help from Mack Amos, the man who’s already broken her heart twice.

Although Mack has had feelings for Tash since they first met, too many things have stood in the way. He’s always given her the support she needs, though, and he’ll do the same now. Even if the desire he wrestles with threatens to undermine his intentions…

But her heart is not the only reason Natasha wants to keep Mack at bay. More time in her life means getting closer to her son, which could lead to a revelation neither of them is ready to face.

I loved this latest entry into the Silver Springs series. Novak writes heartwarming romances, most reminiscent of Debbie Macomber but maybe not quite as sweet. I really enjoy this series but I forget about it. I’ve read about half the books so they definitely stand alone and do not need to be read in order. But if you want to:

  1. Finding our forever
  2. No one but you
  3. Until you loved me
  4. Right where we belong
  5. Unforgettable you
  6. Christmas in Silver Springs
  7. A California Christmas
  8. When I found you

Natasha Gray is a remarkable young woman who has had a spate of bad luck, to say the least. The child of a single mother who is also a drug addict, Tasha had a huge chip on her shoulder when her mom married J.T., making the Amos brothers her stepbrothers. Except that the youngest, Mack, didn’t feel like a brother to Tasha, she fell head over heels in love with him. Unfortunately, she was only 16 when they met, and he was 25 and too smart to commit a felony, no matter how hard Tasha tried to seduce him. A few years later, she finally gets her way but Mack leaves and breaks her heart.

Tasha was able to get through high school and into college because of the Amos brothers, especially Mack, looking out for her and giving her the money she needed to get there. Eventually she puts herself through medical school and becomes a pediatrician. She works hard and opens her own practice, only to lose it all a short while later when it turns out the nurse she hired had some serious psychological issues. Meanwhile, she got pregnant, married the baby daddy and when her pediatric practice fell apart, so did her marriage. She finds herself basically broke and homeless, with a young son.

Mack helps her move and get her settled and the old feelings start up again. There is some drama with her ex-husband that sends things spinning out of control. Things only get worse when Tasha’s mom, long divorced from J.T., appears to have shot him. He is in critical condition in the hospital and Tasha is a wreck, as are the Amos brothers.

Mack and Tasha have so much history between them that it is not surprising she wants to go slow, real slow. Mack is now old enough and mature enough to realize what he had done to her, and how much she means to him still. There is a bit of suspense throughout the story, and a lot of characters. Probably if you’ve read the other books in the series you would be more familiar with them, but my memory sucks and I didn’t remember them especially well. But I still couldn’t help but hope that Mack and Tasha were able to work through their troubled past and find a bright future. And they did. Another excellent addition to the series.

7/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WHEN I FOUND YOU by Brenda Novak. MIRA; Original edition (June 29, 2021). ISBN: 978-0778331940. 352 pages.







FREED by E. L. James

July 6, 2021

Fifty Shades of Grey Series, Book 6

Fifty Shades as Told by Christian, Book 3

From the publisher:

An instant #1 New York TimesUSA TodayWall Street Journal, and international bestseller!

Relive the sensuality, the romance, and the drama of Fifty Shades Freed through the thoughts, reflections, and dreams of Christian Grey.

E L James revisits the world of Fifty Shades with a deeper and darker take on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the globe.

You are cordially invited to the wedding of the decade, when Christian Grey will make Anastasia Steele his wife. But is he really husband material? His dad is unsure, his brother wants to organize one helluva bachelor party, and his fiancée won’t vow to obey…

And marriage brings its own challenges. Their passion for each other burns hotter and deeper than ever, but Ana’s defiant spirit continues to stir Christian’s darkest fears and tests his need for control. As old rivalries and resentments endanger them both, one misjudgment threatens to tear them apart.

Can Christian overcome the nightmares of his childhood and the torments of his youth, and save himself? And once he’s discovered the truth of his origins, can he find forgiveness and accept Ana’s unconditional love?

Can Christian finally be freed?

Is this the end of one of the most successful franchises in publishing history? I think James is finally finished with this series (unless she & her “new publisher”* figure out a way to milk it for more.) She did write another book before this one, The Mister, which is not part of the 50 Shades world, which I started but couldn’t get through. I think it did well, sales wise, as her fans are diehard and legion. Even the reviews were kinder than for the Fifty Shades books so I’m not sure why I couldn’t get into it. But this book, Freed, drew me in from the start.

It’s the retelling of the final book in the Fifty Shades series, but you may have noticed that this book seems to belong to two series; the Fifty Shades series and Fifty Shades as Told by Christian series. The last three books were just a rehash of the first three. This was brilliant marketing and the sales proved it. The same story but told from Christian’s perspective, so interesting. Plus it’s been years since I read the earlier books and didn’t remember all the details so who knows how different it really is. I will say if you read Fifty Shades Freed then you know the plot and how it ends, so I’m not even going to go there. This book is a couple hundred pages longer than Fifty Shades Freed, but I’m not sure what the extra is. Oh, and there are rumors that all three of the Christian books were “written” by a computer program but what the hell do I know.

I almost fell off my chair laughing when I saw this:

It reminded me of an experience a co-worker had when the first of the “as Told by Christian” books came out. A library patron came to the desk and wanted to reserve the “Christian Fifty Shades” book. The librarian thought that perhaps someone came out with a cleaned up version or something, partly due to the fact that there was NO NOTICE that this book was even coming out until like a day before it did. It was crazy! Most books are turned in a year or so in advance to get on the publishing calendar, but James had a turnaround in a matter of days. Or so the story goes. It’s not “Christian fiction”, also called Inspirational fiction and is usually a sweet romance with absolutely no sex whatsoever beyond a chaste kiss at the altar; it’s Christian Grey fiction, a huge difference!

What I did like about this book in particular was that we see how strong Ana really is. She may enjoy being controlled in the bedroom, but she is definitely her own woman in real life. Even in the Red Room, she safe-words and stops Christian when she’s had enough. Christian wants to include “obey” in the marriage vows; Ana is not having it. She drives his sportscar with as much finesse as he does, and gets her own for her birthday. She gets pregnant and he doesn’t want the baby; guess whose baby is sleeping in their bed?

I will say this: if you liked the other books in this series, and I did, then you will probably like this one. If you read the first book and thought there is no way you can put up with another smirk or Ana biting her lip, then pass on it. The same repetitiveness that plagues all the books continues here. The writing is still not brilliant; I’m guessing James does what she wants because IT WORKS. Screw the editors and have a good time reading this last chapter.

*Originally, James self published the Fifty Shades books as they were Twilight fan fiction. They were purchased by a small Australian publisher, then Vintage (an imprint of Penguin Random House, the largest publisher in the world) bought the rights and reissued the books with slightly better covers and the tiniest bits of editing they could get away with – not nearly enough. These last 3 “as told by Christian” books are published by Bloom Books, which appears to be James’ own publishing company. So self published again. She probably makes more money that way.

7/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FREED by E. L. James. Bloom Books (June 1, 2021). ISBN: 978-1728251035. 768 pages.

Kindle on sale for $3.99; not sure for how long but your library should have it as well. That’s where I got it.




TO SIR, WITH LOVE by Lauren Layne

July 3, 2021

From the publisher:

Love Is Blind meets You’ve Got Mail in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy following two thirty-somethings who meet on a blind dating app—only to realize that their online chemistry is nothing compared to their offline rivalry.

Perpetually cheerful and eager to please, Gracie Cooper strives to make the best out of every situation. So when her father dies just months after a lung cancer diagnosis, she sets aside her dreams of pursuing her passion for art to take over his Midtown Manhattan champagne shop. She soon finds out that the store’s profit margins are being squeezed perilously tight, and complicating matters further, a giant corporation headed by the impossibly handsome, but irritatingly arrogant Sebastian Andrews is proposing a buyout. But Gracie can’t bear the thought of throwing away her father’s dream like she did her own.

Overwhelmed and not wanting to admit to her friends or family that she’s having second thoughts about the shop, Gracie seeks advice and solace from someone she’s never met—the faceless “Sir”, with whom she connected on a blind dating app where matches get to know each other through messages and common interests before exchanging real names or photos.

But although Gracie finds herself slowly falling for Sir online, she has no idea she’s already met him in real life…and they can’t stand each other.

One of Cosmopolitan’s 20 Books You’re Going To Want To Read This Summer

Any story loosely based on You’ve Got Mail is getting my attention; it’s one of my favorite movies. If you are not familiar (and have been living under a rock for decades? Or just hate romcoms? Then why are you even reading this?) it is a movie based on another movie, The Shop Around the Corner, and both stories are about a couple who write each other (emails/letters) but haven’t met and don’t know each other’s names, etc. In real life, the couple has met and hates each other. So they basically fall in love over email, and eventually one of them learns who the other is and works hard to overcome the obstacles and get their happy ending.

This story is an updated version, moving to messaging through a dating app instead of email. This is an unusual dating app, the sort of antithesis of Tinder. Instead of swiping on pictures, there are no pictures at all. People “meet” and develop a written relationship, then choosing whether or not to meet.

The other part of the story that carries through all these iterations is the setting and cause for the hate is a retail shop; first is a general store, then a bookstore, now a champagne store. Gracie took over her parents’ shop when she lost her father. Her siblings weren’t interested and while Gracie secretly yearns to be an artist, she feels a responsibility to keep her parents’ dream alive. But then she starts getting letters from the landlord, requesting to buy out the remaining years of the lease. Gracie can’t deal with it, so she keeps tossing the letters into the trash.

Meanwhile, she is on this new blind dating app and messaging with a man she calls Sir – no names, no personal information. But his messages are the highlight of her day, and he feels the same way. They keep messaging but haven’t met.

When Sebastian, the landlord, shows up in the champagne store, Gracie knows she can’t put it off any longer. She lets him know in no uncertain terms that she is not giving up the lease, no matter what enticements he is offering. It doesn’t help that he is gorgeous, and there is a strong attraction between them. But she is determined to keep the store going, despite the fact that she is struggling to make ends meet. Sebastian keeps showing up at the different events Gracie is throwing in hopes of drumming up more business, and she can’t help but start falling for him, despite the problems he is causing her.

So while the online couple is growing closer, the real life couple is seriously butting heads. There are a lot of laughs here in this is a super fun read. If you don’t love You’ve Got Mail, there is a lot to love here. The main characters are well developed and grow as the story progresses, and the secondary characters play their supporting roles beautifully. As their virtual and real lives start to collide, you can’t help rooting for their happy ending. Don’t miss this entertaining and satisfying read.

7/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

TO SIR, WITH LOVE by Lauren Layne. Gallery Books (June 29, 2021). ISBN: 978-1982152819. 288 pages.







THE ROAD TRIP by Beth O’Leary

July 2, 2021

From the publisher:

Two exes reach a new level of awkward when forced to take a road trip together in this endearing and humorous novel by the author of the international bestseller The Flatshare.

What if the end of the road is just the beginning?

Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry’s enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven’t spoken since.

Today, Dylan’s and Addie’s lives collide again. It’s the day before Cherry’s wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland—he’ll never get there on time by public transport.

So, along with Dylan’s best friend, Addie’s sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart—and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.

I loved The Flatshare so I was very excited for this book. Until I started reading it. Then I found myself putting it down and reading another book. Went back to this one then put it down again and read something else. I did that a few times but eventually I finished it and I ended up liking it a lot, but it was slow going and hard to get into for me. Sometimes it’s my mood, but sometimes it’s the book. I think this time it was the book.

I liked the characters as I got to know them. It’s one of those books that is told from various viewpoints, usually the two main characters, and goes back and forth in time from before the breakup to two years later when they are stuck in a car for an 8 hour drive to a mutual friend’s wedding. The road trip itself has some hilarious moments for sure, and the backstory to the romance was good, but I felt the characters were difficult to know. If I don’t love the characters, it’s hard for me to become invested in their romance. That finally happened about halfway through the book.

The humor here is great and there are a lot of really funny, laugh out loud moments, but the romance is a very slow build. The second half of the book was a much faster read for me and after all my complaining, I ended up liking it a lot.

This is only O’Leary’s third book and I will definitely seek out her next.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE ROAD TRIP by Beth O’Leary. Berkley (June 1, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593335024. 400 pages.







WHEN STARS COLLIDE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

June 30, 2021

Chicago Stars, Book 9

From the publisher:

#1 New York Times bestseller Susan Elizabeth Phillips returns to her beloved Chicago Stars series with a romance between a Chicago Stars quarterback and one of the world’s greatest opera singers—and a major diva.

“Re-entering the world of the Chicago Stars is like a beloved friend come to call.” — #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr

Thaddeus Walker Bowman Owens, the backup quarterback for the Chicago Stars, is a team player, talented sideline coach, occasional male underwear model, and a man with a low tolerance for Divas.

Olivia Shore, international opera superstar, is a driven diva with a passion for perfection, a craving for justice, too many secrets—and a monumental grudge against the egotistical, lowbrow jock she’s been stuck with.

It’s Mozart meets Monday Night Football as the temperamental soprano and stubborn jock embark on a nationwide tour promoting a luxury watch brand. Along the way, the combatants will engage in soul-searching and trash talk, backstage drama and, for sure, a quarterback pass. But they’ll also face trouble as threatening letters, haunting photographs, and a series of dangerous encounters complicate their lives. Is it the work of an overzealous fan or something more sinister?

This is the emotional journey of a brilliant woman whose career is everything and a talented man who’ll never be happy with second place.  Tender and funny, passionate and insightful, this irresistible romantic adventure proves that anything can happen…when two superstars collide.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SEP) is one of my favorite authors and I’ve read all her books. She does this series, which I love, and standalones, which are also excellent. SEP is a great storyteller, she reels in the reader, usually on page one, and doesn’t let go until the last page is turned. This was a one night read for me; I couldn’t put it down. Besides the romance aspect, there is also some suspense.

Thad is a backup quarterback for the Chicago Stars. He is a bit past his prime, but he is happy to mentor the newer, younger QB. Does he still want to start? Sure, but he is professional enough to understand his limitations. Let’s just say he’s no Tom Brady, but then again, no one is.

During the off season, Thad is recruited by a luxury watch company to go on tour promoting their watches. It seems like a good gig until he meets the woman he’ll be traveling with, a literal diva, an opera star. Olivia has no patience for dumb jocks, but turns out Thad is pretty smart. Thad doesn’t have much patience for divas, but Olivia is much more down to earth than Thad expected. Of course, protecting her voice is of the utmost importance, that is until she starts getting threats. Thad realizes she is being stalked and he can’t help but feel protective of her.

As they travel together, they get to know one another and fall in love. But logistics are definitely going to be a hindrance to their budding romance. Once the tour is over, Thad will be back to football and traveling with the team, while Olivia will be performing all over the world. Some big hurdles for sure, not to mention the stalker. It seems the threatening messages are coming from Olivia’s dead ex-fiancé, and Olivia is so frightened that is affecting her voice and she can’t sing, so that adds another layer to the story.

But this is a romance, so the happy ending is guaranteed. I’m just sad that now I have to wait another year (or more!) for another SEP book. If you haven’t read this series, this book stands alone just fine. But I highly recommend reading the entire series (because it’s one of my favorites.) You don’t have to be a football fan to love these books as long as you love a hot, sexy romance, as I do. If you are looking for a terrific summer read, look no further.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WHEN STARS COLLIDE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. William Morrow (June 29, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062973085. 384 pages.







A LOT LIKE LOVE by Jennifer Snow

June 29, 2021

Blue Moon Bay, Book 1

From the publisher:

They have different ideas about the fate of an old inn…until it brings them together.

When Sarah Lewis inherits a run-down B&B from her late grandmother in coastal Blue Moon Bay, the logical thing to do is sell it and focus on her life in L.A. But when she learns that interested buyers will only tear it down in its current state, she feels a sense of obligation to her grandmother to get it back to the landmark tourist destination it once was…even if that means hiring the best contractor for the job, who happens to be her old high school crush.

Wes Sharrun’s life has continued to unravel since the death of his wife three years before. Now with a struggling construction company and a nine-year-old daughter, he sees the B&B as an opportunity to get back on his feet. Unfortunately, despite trying to keep his distance, his daughter has taken a liking to Sarah, and his own feelings are tough to deny.

As they spend more time together painting, exploring a forgotten treasure trove of wine in a basement cellar, and arguing over balcony placement, the more the spark between them ignites. But will saving the B&B be enough to convince them both to take a second chance at love?

This book is a charmer; Wes is a single dad, but he and his brilliant 9-year-old daughter are a package deal. That hasn’t worked out for him in the past, but Sarah may be different. For one thing, she is an old friend from high school. In fact, Wes wouldn’t have made it through without her tutoring him in math the final two years. But he graduated and went on to a short career in the NFL until an injury took him out. He married his high school sweetheart but a bout with cancer took her life.

Sarah hasn’t been back to her hometown for a while. She’s a successful coder in Los Angeles, but when her grandmother dies and leaves Sarah her bed & breakfast, Sarah is forced to come back to figure out why. Her first instinct is to just sell it, but it is in serious disrepair. Luckily, Wes is a contractor who already had given her grandmother a quote to fix up the place, and it will be worth a lot more than the dilapidated state it’s currently in.

Sarah knows she can do most of her work remotely, so she decides to fix it up before selling. Plus she has some of her own ideas to implement, and although Wes doesn’t approve, he needs the money. His football savings were spent on medical bills for his wife, so he agrees to all the updates Sarah wants.

Sarah had a major crush on Wes back in high school, but he didn’t know that. Now that they are working on the B&B together, those feelings come rushing back to Sarah and Wes is really drawn to her, especially when she offers his daughter an internship. Sarah needs help developing an app that will appeal to kids, and this kid is a coding genius who already has developed her own app.

There are stumbles along the way for sure, but Ethan and Sarah get their happy ending. I would have liked a bit more detail about the reno and that fabulous wine cellar, but that is a minor quibble. This was a heartwarming read with enough heat to make it interesting. Highly recommend!

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A LOT LIKE LOVE by Jennifer Snow. Entangled: Amara (June 29, 2021). ISBN:  978-1649370242. 320 pages.






FOREVER STARTS NOW by Stefanie London

June 28, 2021

From the publisher:

What happens when two people who’ve given up on forever find it in each other…?

Single men are as scarce in Forever Falls as a vegetarian at a barbecue. That is, until Ethan Hammersmith moves in. After his fiancée gave him an ultimatum, he left Australia and never looked back. He isn’t in America to find a new girlfriend, though. He’s searching for the father he never knew. But now it’s like he has a flashing sign above his head that says “available.” Thankfully, the manager of the local diner is willing to give him cover―if only she weren’t so distractingly adorable.

Monroe Roberts, town misanthrope and divorcée, knocked “forever” permanently off her wish list ever since the love of her life skipped town with the cliché yoga instructor. And good riddance. She’s got this struggling diner to keep her busy, trying anything to boost sales…until a hot Australian strolls in and changes everything. Monroe’s restaurant is packed full of women who aren’t there to order food, unless Ethan is on the menu. This could sink her business faster than ever. So―light bulb―what if they pretend to be together?

It sounds like the perfect plan. Until they realize there is some very real chemistry in this fake relationship. But is it enough to heal two hearts that have been so deeply wounded?

The fake relationship is always a fun trope in romance, and when the guy involved is a dead ringer for Chris Hemsworth, including the Australian accent, it adds another layer of fun. His real name is Ethan, but all the women in this small town are convinced he is the actor/superhero and they are stalking him. Monroe takes pity on him and feeds him breakfast in the back of the diner’s kitchen, and a friendship is forged.

Ethan has spent a year in America seeking out the father he never knew. As mother was dying, she confessed that the man who raised him was not his father. She gave him a name, Matthew Brewer, and said he had died, but that was all he had to go on. He had been crossing the country, investigating every dead Matthew Brewer until he landed in the tiny town of Forever Falls. This Brewer seems the most likely yet, but the townspeople are very close mouthed, and it turns out Brewer was not well liked, to say the least.

Monroe has her own troubles. She caught her fiancé sleeping with her cousin, and the whole family took sides, creating an irreparable rift. It’s been a while, and now her sisters are pushing her to start dating again but she is not in the mood. Ethan and Monroe decide to form a fake relationship; it will get her sisters off her back and the women of Forever Falls will back off of their stalking if they think Ethan is taken by one of their own. It’s a perfect plan, except of course they develop real feelings for one another.

Ethan is not willing to commit. He’s been burned by his former ultimatum-wielding fiancée and his mother, and pretty much decided against forming any kind of relationship. When he finds the info he needs about his father, he’s heading back to Australia.

Monroe realizes that the fake relationship is no longer fake, but when she confesses her feelings to Ethan, he does not reciprocate; or rather, he is fighting off those feelings as well. This was such a compelling romance, the heat practically flies off the page and I couldn’t wait for Ethan to come to his senses. Everyone gets their happy ending here, especially the reader. A most enjoyable escape.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FOREVER STARTS NOW by Stefanie London. Entangled: Amara (June 29, 2021). ISBN: 978-1649370235. 352 pages.







June 27, 2021

A Single Dad, a Woman Grieving, and a Beautiful Contemporary Western Romance

Creedence Horse Rescue, Book 1

From the publisher:

A brand-new series of sweet, small town cowboy romance from USA Today bestselling author Jennie Marts. The Horse Whisperer meets Hope Floats when bubbly Bryn Callahan and brooding Zane Taylor protect an unwanted horse and end up with an animal rescue operation that they can only handle when they rely on each other.

Scarred and battered loner Zane Taylor has a gift with animals, particularly horses, but he’s at a total loss when it comes to knowing how to handle women. Even though he’s sworn off love, he can’t seem to stay away from Bryn Callahan. He’s known for being a horse whisperer, but can’t seem to find his voice at all where Bryn is concerned.

Bryn Callahan has a heart for strays, but she is through trying to save damaged men. She vows to only date nice guys, which is a category that does not include Zane Taylor. Too bad he’s the only one who sets her pulse racing every time she’s around him.

Starting a horse rescue ranch wasn’t in Bryn’s plan, but try telling that to the assembly of abandoned animals that have found their way to her doorstep. And when a chance encounter with a horse headed for slaughter brings Zane and Bryn together, they find themselves given a chance to save not just the horse, but maybe each other…

I recently read the second book in this series, (When A Cowboy Loves a Woman) and I liked it so much that I sought out this one, the first. And I think this was even better!

Zane is so damaged that Bryn is warned off him repeatedly, but she is a compassionate woman, and she sees the good in him, plus they have chemistry that burns. The heart wants what the heart wants, and even though on paper the local vet is a better choice for her, they have no spark at all.

Bryn is a waitress in this small town, but she lives on the ranch she inherited from her grandpa. So when she sees an obviously abused horse in a trailer outside the diner, she wants to rescue it from the cowboys who tell her the horse is headed for the glue factory (if there was such a place.) Zane comes to the rescue by leaving her a $100 tip so she can buy the animal, then he helps her get it home and take care of it. As soon as word gets out about the rescue, they are sent on a hunt for another abused, abandoned horse which they also bring back to the ranch. Pretty soon the menagerie includes a hog that was a household pet as it was sold to them as a potbellied pig. Then a pair of lovebirds make their way into the house, and an abandoned pregnant dog who soon gives birth to a bunch of puppies. Bryn can’t really afford to feed and care for all these animals, but she has friends in this small town. Soon there are collection jars all over town and a webpage with crowdsourcing funding and the money is pouring in.

Meanwhile Zane is pushing her away as she burrows under his skin. He knows he is wrong for her despite his heart telling him otherwise. He has been abused all his life by his father after being told he killed his mother during childbirth. The man has issues, not to mention some nasty scarring from the abuse he suffered. But Bryn is determined to get her man, despite all the roadblocks he is constantly putting up.

I really loved that this cowboy was a sort of “horse whisperer;” it seems like so many cowboy romances gloss over what cowboys do and I liked that there was some focus on that here. There are some really funny moments and I cried a time or two as well, so it is safe to say that this is a very emotional read, and really good romance. I can’t wait for the next book in this series, but while I’m waiting, Marts has a couple of other series I will be looking for.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A COWBOY STATE OF MIND by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (June 30, 2020). ISBN: 978-1492689119. 416 pages.








June 25, 2021

From the publisher:

A charming and heartwarming new romantic comedy by the acclaimed author of Waiting for Tom Hanks, Kerry Winfrey.

Teddy Phillips never thought she would still be spending every day surrounded by toys at almost thirty years old. But working at a vintage toy store is pretty much all she has going on in her life after being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend. The one joy that she has kept is her not-so-guilty pleasure: Everett’s Place, a local children’s show hosted by Everett St. James, a man whom Teddy finds very soothing . . . and, okay, cute.

Teddy finds the courage to write to him, feeling slightly like one of the children who write to him on his show. He always gives sound advice and seems like he has everything figured out—and he pretty much does: Everett has a great support system, wonderful friends, and his dream job. But there is still that persistent feeling in the back of his mind that something is missing.

When a woman named Theodora starts writing to Everett, he is drawn to her honesty and vulnerability. They continue writing to each other, all the while living their lives without meeting. When their worlds collide, however, they must both let go of their fears and figure out what they truly want—and if the future they want includes each other.

Romances based on “You’ve Got Mail” are making a big comeback lately and I couldn’t be happier. This book has the email thing happening, but there is more to the story than just that.

Teddy has a bit of a crush on a young Mr. Rogers type named Everett who has a successful local children’s show. When her boyfriend dumps her, she finds out none of her friends liked him and he really did a number on her self esteem. She writes Everett for advice, and he is surprised to hear from an adult like that – he usually gets propositions from the moms who watch with their kids. He is touched, and writes her back, and they form an email relationship.

Meanwhile, they run into one another but don’t realize who each other is, a familiar plot line that works really well here. They have terrific chemistry, and one thing leads to another.

Teddy works in a vintage toy store. It’s not her dream job, but her boss treats her like a daughter, and she enjoys talking to the people that come into the store. She especially enjoys a precocious young girl who turns out to be a somewhat important character.

This is a really fun romcom. Kerry is a big Tom Hanks fan (the first book of hers that I read was Waiting for Tom Hanks) so obviously diving into his romcoms is a great source of material, and I think Winfrey really hit it out of the ballpark with this story. There is a sweetness to these characters that feels genuine, and I couldn’t wait for their happy ending. Don’t miss it!

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

VERY SINCERELY YOURS by Kerry Winfrey. Berkley (June 15, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593333419. 384 pages.








June 24, 2021

From the publisher:

Fans of Susan Mallery, Jill Shalvis, and the Netflix hit series Virgin River will love this unforgettable summer romance about family, friendship, and the magic of finding true love from the USA Today bestselling author of The Summer House! 

Hallie Flynn’s favorite place in the world is her aunt Clara’s beautiful beachside house, with its inviting wraparound porch and enchanting views across the sparkling turquoise ocean. For Hallie, going to Firefly Beach, filled with magical childhood memories, feels like coming home. But when her adored aunt passes away, Hallie is left brokenhearted—until she discovers Aunt Clara’s last letter and her final wish. 

Hallie is astonished to find the bucket list she wrote as a young teenager and reluctant to step away from her adult responsibilities to fulfill her youthful dreams. But to honor her beloved aunt, Hallie agrees to embrace Clara’s last words and abandon her predicable schedule for the summer.

As she spends sun-filled days at Firefly Beach, Hallie begins to remember the things that matter most to her. Best of all, her childhood friend Ben Murray is there, supporting her every step of the way. But when a run-in with wealthy newcomer Gavin leaves her questioning her future, Hallie is forced to face the truths buried deep in her heart. Can Hallie complete the bucket list and change her life? Or will the secret she’s been keeping destroy her new beginning—and her second chance at love?

I don’t know how I missed her, but I haven’t read Jenny Hale before and she has a lot of books! But better late than never, I suppose.

This is a sweet romance with interesting characters and the friends-to-lovers trope that I always enjoy. When Hallie’s favorite aunt passes away, she leaves letters and inheritances for each of her relatives, except Hallie. Instead, Hallie gets a note telling her to complete her “bucket list”, a list she wrote as a child. What does Hallie’s aunt know that Hallie doesn’t? Apparently quite a bit.

This is a family story as well as a romance, and love abounds. It has the feel of a Debbie Macomber book, so if that is your jam, enjoy.

This is a very emotional read; there are parts that made me cry, but more parts that made me laugh. Hale does a very good job with plot and characters, and that isn’t always easy to do. If you are looking for a good beach read, look no further.

SUMMER AT FIREFLY BEACH by Jenny Hale. Forever (May 25, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538718896 320 pages.