THE MIDNIGHT LINE by Lee Child

November 7, 2017

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A Jack Reacher Novel, Book 22

Jack is back and all is right in my world. I just feel safe knowing he’s out there, fictional though he may be. I do find it necessary to block out the image of Tom Cruise as Reacher, it really doesn’t work in the books, not with descriptors like Bigfoot and the Incredible Hulk, with “fists like Thanksgiving turkeys.”

So a few books ago, I think in Make Me, Reacher had his usual brief affair with a woman, this time an Asian American named Chang, and this new book starts out with her leaving him because of his unusual, traveling man life choices. So he’s having a bad day when he gets on the first bus going anywhere, gets off and finds a pawn shop with a West Point class ring in the window. It’s a tiny ring, obviously from a tiny woman who must have gone through hell to get to graduation, so why would the ring be pawned? And that is the mystery at the heart of this latest story…that leads to the opioid crisis. Because that’s what’s happening in the world, and therefore in contemporary crime fiction. And Child does it very, very well.

Of course, that’s not all of it. Reacher decides to track down the owner and return the ring to her. The pawn shop owner is persuaded to let Reacher know that he bought the ring from Jimmy the Rat, and where to find him. Jimmy the Rat isn’t as forthcoming, seeing as he has seven of his motorcycle gang with him. But we all know that Jack can deal with seven on one fights, and he does. He keeps following the trail, which gets murkier but he gets a little help from a woman detective and a former FBI agent turned private investigator.

The writing is sparse as always, and there is enough action and suspense to keep the pages turning. Lee Child is probably the best thriller writer working today, and this book is an excellent example of his work. Don’t miss it.

11/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE MIDNIGHT LINE by Lee Child. Delacorte Press (November 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-0399593482. 384p.

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A DARING ARRANGEMENT by Joanna Shupe

November 5, 2017

daring arrangementThe Four Hundred Series, Book 1

 

Lady Honora Parker, Nora to her friends and family, has been banished to America from England by her father, the Earl. Nora was caught kissing her boyfriend, an undesirable, penniless artist. But Nora believes herself in love, so she hatches a plan to get herself sent back home. She finds the most notorious bachelor in New York City, Julius Hatcher, and convinces him to pretend to be her fiance for several weeks.

Julius is extremely wealthy and good looking, but is known for his playboy ways. He has his own reasons for agreeing to Nora’s scheme. His father was cheated out of the family money by some high society men, and committed suicide. Julius wants to find those men and ruin them, but needs the entree into society that the earl’s daughter can provide.

Determined to make the gossip sheets, Nora proposes one outrageous scheme after another, but Julius is protecting her reputation, despite herself. He’ll be thrown out of society fast if her reputation takes a tumble, so they are at odds. And fall in love, fighting it the whole way; she because she thinks she’s in love with the artist, and he because he is a resolute bachelor.

This is a cute premise for a romance, and there is a lot of action and fun throughout, not to mention some heat in these pages. I thoroughly enjoyed this and read it in one night. I’m looking forward to the next book, A Scandalous Deal, but will have to wait until April, 2018!

11/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A DARING ARRANGEMENT by Joanna Shupe. Avon (October 31, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062678898. 384p.

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HEADHUNTER by Nick Oldham

November 4, 2017

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A Steve Flynn Thriller

Headhunter is Nick Oldham’s third book featuring Steve Flynn, an ex-cop and ex-Marine, and beginning at the precise moment that he is in the process of killing one of the men that decapitated his girlfriend. This time he finds himself up against a powerful international crime family that had his girlfriend killed in order to get at Steve. And that is just the beginning.

Steve surrenders to the police after the murder and one of the officers set to guard him until he can be brought to jail is the prettiest cop on the force. Needless to say, a mutual attraction between Steve and her develops and takes root.

Like Oldham’s previous novels, we get action after action while Steve goes after the Bashkims crime family. Taking place in England, the Canary Islands, and Malta, the scenes move rapidly through the locales of Steve’s hunt. A hunt which also includes cooperation with the American government, Steve’s ex-supervisor, and the pretty girl.

There are no hidden meanings, but for those that like plenty of action and the ultimate triumph of justice, this is your book. Will the pretty girl appear in the next novel featuring Steve? Hmm, tune in later to find out, but we know in advance that there will be enough action to keep readers happy and coming back for more.

11/17 Paul Lane

HEADHUNTER by Nick Oldham. Severn House Publishers; First World Publication edition (November 1, 2017).  ISBN 978-0727887290. 224p.

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THE CHRISTMAS COWBOY HERO by Donna Grant

November 3, 2017

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Heart of Texas #1

Clayton East is an ex-Navy SEAL who doesn’t want to go home. He lost his brother years earlier and doesn’t like living on the family ranch without him. But his father is having some serious health issues, and it looks like their accountant has made off with the family fortune. His family is in trouble and Clayton has to go home and help his parents, he’s all they have left. And it’s Christmas time.

Then a big chunk of their cattle herd goes missing, along with their $100,000 bull. The sheriff manages to catch one of the perpetrators, a teenage boy named Brice Harper. Turns out Brice and his younger brother Caleb have a legal guardian, their sister Abby. After their mother walked out on the family, Abby was determined to do right by her brothers and she’s been more mother than sister to them. When she gets called about Brice, she is just heartsick.

Clayton is at the jail and she offers to pay him back for the missing cattle if he won’t press charges. But Abby has been living paycheck to paycheck, working for a CPA and taking night classes when she can. When she realizes that she’ll owe Clayton over $250,000, she is beside herself.

Clayton thinks she is beautiful, and he realizes that sometimes you have to give people a second chance. He makes Brice an offer; he can come to the ranch every day after school and every weekend and work off his debt. Clayton is hoping that he will earn Brice’s trust and find his missing cattle as well. Meanwhile, he is falling for Abby and she for him.

The Harpers start spending more and more time at the ranch, and Abby not only falls in love with Clayton but also with his parents, and they love her and her brothers. Clayton and Abby have to get past dangerous cattle rustlers, crooked accountants, have a few close calls, and finally find their Christmas miracle.

I loved this book. I felt like I really got to know these characters, was rooting for their relationship to work out, and there was a bit of heat. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

11/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

THE CHRISTMAS COWBOY HERO by Donna Grant. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (October 31, 2017). ISBN 978-1250165428. 320p.

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WILDE IN LOVE by Eloisa James

November 2, 2017

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The Wildes of Lindow Castle, Book 1

Lord Alaric Wilde is the second son of the Duke of Lindow, his older brother will inherit the title. Alaric has been wandering the world and writing travel books about his adventures. Much to his surprise, when he returns home for a visit, his ship is met at the docks by a horde of screaming fans – all women. His books are all bestsellers and a play has been written about his adventures. The books may be realistic, but the play is outrageous. No one seems to care about that and it doesn’t seem to stop the celebrity he is forced to endure.

Then he meets Willa Ffynche. Alaric has never thought of marrying, but something about Willa really gets under his skin – maybe because she hasn’t read his books. She is a very private person and has no desire to share the spotlight with the adventurer.

This new series is set in the Georgian period so that’s a little different and I enjoyed it. There are some I liked the humor and the overall sweetness of the romance, but there are also some steamy sex scenes. An excellent start to a terrific new series.

11/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WILDE IN LOVE by Eloisa James.  Avon (October 31, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062697288. 320p.

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TWO KINDS OF TRUTH by Michael Connelly

October 31, 2017

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A Harry Bosch Novel, Book 20

Harry’s back and I couldn’t be happier! This is my favorite series, the one I haunt the publicist for, the one I put down anything else I’m reading to devour. And I am never disappointed!

Having been forced into retirement from the Los Angeles Police Department, Harry has landed in the San Fernando Police Department as a volunteer, working cold cases out of an old jail cell that is now his office, despite its creepy past. San Fernando is a tiny enclave within the sprawl of Los Angeles, so Harry feels at home.

When a father and son are killed in a local pharmacy robbery turned deadly, the chief asks Harry to help out – in fact, he takes lead on the case. This small department doesn’t deal with much in the way of homicides, and really appreciate his experience. His first thought is the son was mixed up in something, but soon realizes that he has rushed to judgment, and that never sits well with our hero. The opioid epidemic is front and center here, and couldn’t be more timely. I learned a lot, right along with Harry, which makes for fascinating albeit heartbreaking reading.

One case is never enough for Connelly, so he saddles Harry with another, and this time it’s personal. A thirty-year-old rape and murder case of his has come under scrutiny. The killer is on death row, but the convict’s new lawyer claims DNA evidence proves his client’s innocence, and Harry’s old LAPD partner is pretty sure it’s a good claim. Luckily, Harry knows his case was solid and sets out to prove it. Plus he has a good lawyer in the family, his half-brother Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer himself, and they take it all the way to court.

Superbly written, well plotted with just enough suspense to keep the pages turning,  this was a one night read for me – admittedly a very late night – the book is over 400 terrific pages. Connelly doesn’t  waste a word, and I hang on every one. As an added bonus, I have Titus Welliver in my mind as Harry, which just adds to the pleasure (if you haven’t watched Bosch, please do!)

Another excellent read from the finest crime fiction writer out there. Don’t miss it!

 

10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TWO KINDS OF TRUTH by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown and Company (October 31, 2017).  ISBN 978-0316225908. 416p.

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THE BRIDE WHO GOT LUCKY by Janna MacGregor

October 30, 2017

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The Cavensham Heiresses, Book 2

Nicholas St. Mauer is the son of a Duke who has forsaken him. As a student, he covered the gambling debt of a friend and his father never forgave him. Nick is determined to make it on his own, and another friend helps him on his way. Soon he is almost wealthier than his father and that is his goal.

Lady Emma Cavensham is convinced that spinsterhood awaits her. Her best friend Lena made a very poor match, her husband beat her and eventually killed her and the baby she was carrying. Because he was a Lord and well-connected, there were no repercussions to his despicable act, but Emma is determined to see justice meted out.

On an impulse, Lady Emma kisses Nick and he is besotted. But he doesn’t want to get married until his holdings surpass that of his father. Eventually, they become friends, as the headstrong Emma tries to pursue justice for her friend, imperiling her own life and her family’s good name. Nick rescues her more than once, and ultimately they realize they were meant for each other.

With thanks to Eloisa James for recommending this author, a new favorite for sure. This is a terrific read and I’m looking forward to more in this series.

10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE BRIDE WHO GOT LUCKY by Janna MacGregor. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (October 31, 2017). ISBN 978-1250116147.  368p.

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AUTOBOYOGRAPHY by Christina Lauren

October 29, 2017

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Christina Lauren is the pen name of two women who write together. They write Young Adult and adult fiction, and have a new adult book, Roomies, coming out in November that is terrific. I mentioned it to a co-worker and she recommended I read this book. Thank you, Caitlin! I loved this book.

Autumn and Tanner have been best friends since he moved to Provo, Utah from California. They moved for his mother, Jenna’s job – she’s a high tech genius who left Google to become CTO of a Utah company. His father is a very well respected cardiac surgeon, and needless to say, the family is comfortable financially and very liberal. Tanner’s mom was raised in Salt Lake City as a Mormon, but when her sister came out as a lesbian and Jenna married her Jewish husband, she was ex-communicated and her family disowned both daughters. She has a healthy fear of Mormons and their narrow worldview because of her background.

Tanner is bisexual, which was fine in California and fine with his parents, but not so fine in Provo. His mother especially is adamant that he stay in the closet while living there and no one, not even his best friend knows. Until he meets Sebastian.

Sebastian is the teaching assistant in a senior seminar where the goal is for each student to write a book by semester’s end. Sebastian became a local celebrity when his book was published. He’s only 19 years old, a year older than Tanner, and it is pretty much lust at first sight for both of them. The big hitch is that Sebastian is Mormon, and not only Mormon but his father is a Bishop in the Church.

Tanner’s book for his seminar class turns into a memoir of his and Sebastian’s romance. Tanner knows he can’t turn it in and out Sebastian. There is a lot of angst, a lot of laughs, lots of secretiveness and of course some sadness as their journey progresses.

This is a beautiful story and I read it in one night. It made me laugh, it made me cry but mostly it made me think. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time. I highly recommend it.

For another coming of age/gay love story, try Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger.

10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

AUTOBOYOGRAPHY by Christina Lauren. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (September 12, 2017). ISBN 978-1481481687. 416p.

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NECESSARY ROUGHNESS by Julie Brannagh

October 28, 2017

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As I continue on my exploration of sports romances, I landed on this fun football story. Tanner Cole had a career ending injury, and is need of some serious rehab.

Luckily, the therapist that had been helping him was no longer available so he gets to work with Jordan Mueller. She’s a woman, a really pretty woman, and is super dedicated to her patients. But Tanner isn’t interested in working with her, he’s too busy feeling sorry for himself.

But Tanner has no choice, and quickly realizes that despite Jordan’s sunny disposition, she is really working him hard. Then Jordan is forced to move rather suddenly out of her apartment and with nowhere to turn, Tanner lets her move into the guest suite in his mansion.

Lots of heat and lots of laughs make this a really terrific read.

Note: Kindle version available now, paperback comes out 11/28/17

10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

NECESSARY ROUGHNESS by Julie Brannagh. Avon Impulse (October 10, 2017). ASIN B01ARKZN7M. 171p.


THE DUCHESS by Danielle Steel

October 27, 2017

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I read my first Danielle Steel book in over thirty years a couple of weeks ago, and it was probably the worst book I’ve read in a very long time. But seeing how popular she is, I was determined to try another one and maybe figure out why.

Granted, most of the people I know who read her regularly do so more out of habit than anything else. They often complain, and for the most part, I hear, “all the books are the same.” The most positive reviews I hear are that they are a few hours of escapist entertainment, which I’m fine with. And her readers know exactly what they are getting and are content, if not happy about that. So I asked for some recommendations and The Duchess seemed to be universally liked, if not loved. It is my understanding that this is Steel’s first historical in a while, and since I love historicals, I was hopeful.

I liked it. Didn’t love it, had no trouble putting it down, but I finished it and it was fine. Not great, not terrible, very middle of the road and that’s okay. Not every book has to make me struggle with my best books of the year list. It was entertaining and that is good enough for me to feel like I’ve accomplished something here, mostly that I don’t feel like I have to read her again.

Angélique Latham is the daughter of the Duke of Westerfield. Her mother was his second wife, a noblewoman of French birth making Angelique closely related to both the Kings of England and France. She died in childbirth, and Angélique grew up very close with her father, was definitely his favorite child which did not endear her to her half-brothers. The Duke had two sons with his first wife, and they considered his second wife to be no more than a French whore, and had little use for Angélique. In fact, they hate her.

Shortly before the Duke’s death, he gives Angélique some money and her mother’s jewels. By law, he isn’t even allowed to give her that, he can only bequeath to his sons, in particular, the first son. The British law of entail demands the estate of royalty be passed on to the first son. As soon as the Duke dies, he throws Angélique out, offering her a position as nanny to some friends. Bewildered and thoroughly heartbroken about her father’s death, she acquiesces.

Angélique has never spent any time around children but quickly falls in love with her charges. But slightly more than a year later, she is attacked by one of the guests, who tells the family that she tried to seduce him. They throw her out without a reference, and she has nowhere to go. She hears about a woman who might be able to get her a job but without the reference, she cannot. She does suggest it might be easier in France since she is fluent in the language. Angélique goes to France but meets the same dead end.

While walking back to her hotel, she stumbles upon a young woman lying in a gutter. She has been badly beaten and Angélique takes her back to her hotel to help her. She quickly learns that the woman is a prostitute but she is sweet and grateful, even overwhelmed by Angélique’s help. It starts Angélique to thinking and she comes up with the idea of taking the money her father left her and opening a high class brothel. She will be the madam and not sleep with any of the men, and she succeeds beyond her wildest dreams. The house is the most popular in France, and while there are men who want her, even an American who asks her to be his mistress and eventually his wife, she never accepts any offers.

Two men get into an argument in the house and one shoots and kills the other. Angélique is told to flee the country and she sets sail to America. While on board the ship she meets the love of her life, and they eventually decide to marry.

But heartache is not to be escaped. There is family drama, tragedy and then a final reckoning. This is not a romance but it is women’s fiction, and a bit of a departure from most historicals that it emulates. I enjoyed it after suspending my disbelief several times and that’s the best thing I can say about it.

10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE DUCHESS by Danielle Steel. Delacorte Press (June 27, 2017). ISBN 978-0345531087. 352p.

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