August 5, 2018

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A Dewey Andreas Novel, Book 8

There is one thing absolutely sure about any book featuring Dewey Andreas – there will be action galore! Since Ben Coes first introduced Dewey as an employee of an ocean-going drill rig, his character has grown in stature and the violence that he interacts with along with his increasing importance to the U.S. government. Bloody Sunday finds Dewey reeling from previous adventures narrated in prior books. He is getting ready to retire from the CIA and just relax. Obviously this is not a possibility for Dewey – his country needs him and fast.

North Korea has successfully developed nuclear bombs but not the long range missiles necessary to deliver them to their arch enemy – the United States. But of course where there is a will there is always a way and so it is that a trade has been planned between the North Koreans and another mad regime in Iran.

The Iranians will exchange two missiles for nuclear triggers and fissionable material to help them develop their own anti west weaponry. But both of these evil doers have not reckoned on Dewey Andreas being called up by the president of the United States to break up the scheme.

Present with the CIA is a brilliant British agent on loan to aid in inter-agency relations. It is a young lady who is quite pretty and trying to get over the murder of her husband. It is thought that her husband was killed in error in place of her. Jenna Hartford, the exchange agent has come up with a scheme to inject a poison into the person of the high level North Korean officer that will be handling the trade between Iran and his country. An antidote would be hidden somewhere in the city of Pyongyang the capital of North Korea to deliver to the officer injected once he delivers the secret plans for the firing of the missiles to the U.S. Obviously Dewey is the ideal man to handle the tasks of both breaking up the trade,and injecting the poison.

Action involves the first set of problems complicated by Dewey injecting himself with a tiny quantity of the poison and than having only 24 hours to go after the antidote. The events are machine gun fast and calculated to keep the reader drawn to the book with no inclination to put it down. Of course the novel leaves us with the ingredients for the next book featuring Dewey Andreas and the possibility of a romance while involved with the events he faces.

6/18 Paul Lane

BLOODY SUNDAY by Ben Coes. St. Martin’s Press (July 31, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250140760. 400p.


August 5, 2018

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This is the second series I’ve read by this author and she has become a favorite. These books – Deep in the Valley, Just Over the Mountain, and Down By the River combine to create a world that I loved spending time in.

Grace Valley is a small town filled with warm, likable characters, and the books center around the town doctor, June Hudson. June’s grandparents basically founded the town and her dad was the town doctor before he retired, leaving June to take over. Her Aunt Myrna, an eccentric but very successful novelist, built the clinic where June works.

Myrna raised her baby brother and didn’t marry until late in life. Her husband, a traveling salesman, disappeared and the townsfolk speculate that Myrna, whose novels usually center around a wife killing her cheating husband in myriad and gruesome ways, is writing what she knows. And she encourages those rumors.

A lecherous preacher, a gas station owner who’d rather fish than work, a cafe owner who gives away free meals on a regular basis, June’s best friend, the sheriff, and her godmother are the other major players in the story along with many more. Carr brings them to life, lovable quirks and all. Then there are the others, the poor, the abused, and the criminal that round out this tiny town. The way these characters interact and take care of each other is inspiring. Makes me want to live in a small town, although I suspect towns like Grace Valley are strictly fiction.

One night, two men come into June’s clinic, ordering her to remove a bullet from one of the men. The other man is holding a gun on her, but as she starts her work, he faints, sending the gun skittering across the room. June suspects that the faint was faked, and it turns out she was right. She’s also very attracted to the gunman, leaving her to think he is not at all what he seems and she is right about that as well. That’s where the story begins and it meanders beautifully through all three books and completely sucked me in. I read all three books in a weekend.

This is women’s fiction with a touch of romance and a lovely read. If you are looking for an escape, I highly recommend this trilogy. I loved it and I’m truly going to miss these characters.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

The Grace Valley Trilogy by Robyn Carr. MIRA (August 1, 2017). ASIN: B071YCRFTV. 662 p.


August 4, 2018

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Did you ever worry that one day you would write an email and accidentally send it to everyone in your address book? Essie Phillips didn’t, until she wrote a silly, scathing holiday letter to her best friend, complaining about her future mother-in-law and her job working for her. She leaves it on her computer and her brother shows up at her apartment, drunk, an acquaintance in tow. They spend the night and in the morning Essie finds out that her brother’s friend Lucas thought it would be funny to send out that email, and he did, to everyone she knows.

Essie’s boyfriend dumps her, leaving her homeless, and she loses her job. She also goes viral and a story about her debacle ends up in the local newspaper. This intrigues Zillah, a lonely widow with a large home where she rents out a couple of rooms. She offers Essie a place to stay for what she can afford to pay with the proviso that she run errands as needed. Essie is thrilled, she never thought she would live in such a posh neighborhood. Did I mention this is set in Great Britain?

Essie is happy to find a job as a waitress at the pub across the street, until she finds out that Lucas, the source of all the drama in her life, is the owner. But she is desperate, and she likes the job despite him. Eventually Essie finds a way to forgive him, and they find themselves with a strong attraction to one another but unable to act on it. Until they can.

Nothing unusual here but this was a fun read. I liked the characters very much, and the subplot about granting wishes to older folks in hospice was a nice touch. If you are looking for a quick read and you enjoy a good romance, you should like this book. I did.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THIS COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING by Jill Mansell. Sourcebooks Landmark (June 5, 2018).  ISBN 978-1492664222. 342p.


TRUE-BLUE COWBOY by Sara Richardson

August 3, 2018

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Rocky Mountain Riders, Book 4

From the publisher:

Everly Brooks is finally living her dream. Renting a farm in Topaz Falls, Colorado, is the perfect antidote to her high-stress life back in San Francisco. It’s the ideal place to raise chickens, grow veggies, and run her farm-to-table restaurant. There’s just one problem: her new landlord. Mateo Torres is a handsome-as-hell bronc rider who oozes charm, melts hearts-and plans to kick Everly off the
farm . . .
Mateo has dreams, too. He’d bought that land as an investment, so he could take care of his mom and sisters, which means Everly has to go. Unfortunately for him, this former big-city girl is just as stubborn as the broncs he rides. When his trailer floods and forces him to move into Everly’s farmhouse, things between them really start to heat up. Sure, living under the same roof might not be the best way to settle their dispute over the land. But when two rivals share everything-from heated words to scorching kisses-it’s definitely the hottest.

I liked this book but I also had some issues with it that may have something to do with the fact that this is the first book I’ve read from this author, and it is the fourth book in the series.

I don’t think the characters were developed enough, and again maybe if I’d read the previous books that wouldn’t be the case. But on its own, I didn’t feel like I knew these people so it made it hard to understand all the problems with getting to their happily ever after. I liked them, I just didn’t feel like I knew them very well and it’s difficult for me to get invested in a romance when that happens.

The setting was terrific and there was a lot of humor in these pages. Mateo’s back story was really interesting as was his motivation so that definitely worked for me. Everly was more of an enigma though.

If you’ve read the previous books, you will probably love this one.

8/18  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

TRUE-BLUE COWBOY by Sara Richardson. Forever (July 31, 2018). ISBN: 978-1538712252. 448p.


A DUKE BY DEFAULT by Alyssa Cole

August 2, 2018

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Reluctant Royals, Book 2

I think this was a first for me – a royal, contemporary romance! You just don’t see a lot of Dukes wandering around so this was a real treat.

Portia Hobbs is having some trouble at home. She’s a wealthy NY socialite but can’t seem to keep a job or even find something that interests her. It helps to have rich parents but even they are running out of patience. Then she impulsively applies for an apprenticeship to a swordmaker in Scotland and lands the gig.

Tavish McKenzie is struggling to keep his business afloat and his cousin comes up with the idea for an apprentice. He isn’t thrilled and makes that very clear but Portia is undeterred. She loves the idea of swordmaking and Tavish’s good looks and Scottish burr are really making her crazy, but he’s standoffish and gives her scut work to do. But she is nothing if not persistent, and eventually figures out a way to make a place for herself in updating their website.

In the process, she stumbles across some information that is life changing. It seems the struggling swordmaker is, in fact, a Duke. That leads to all sorts of complications and trouble, and a lot of laughs, too. Finally, the Duke realizes he needs Portia for more than her mad web skills and she needs him, too.

This was a really fun read with great characters, some nice heat, and a terrific storyline. It also touches on some important issues like racism – Portia is a woman of color.

I loved it!

Note: Alyssa Cole is an award winning author. AN EXTRAORDINARY UNION was chosen as the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award’s Best Book of 2017 and the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018. She was also a RITA award finalist in 2017.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A DUKE BY DEFAULT by Alyssa Cole. Avon (July 31, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062685568. 384p.



July 31, 2018

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Hannah and Ethan are finishing up grad school and then will be moving back to New York. Ethan will be working with two college friends to develop an app, and Hannah has earned the dream job of the business school with Goldman Sachs. They take a weekend before graduation to explore wine country. Ethan is the planner and has their itinerary down to the minute but their hotel room isn’t ready so they check out a nearby winery that isn’t on his list.

Hannah is pretty sure Ethan is going to propose and is somewhat ambivalent about it. He comes from a wealthy Manhattan family, she is from Iowa where she was pretty much raised by her mom, a nurse, after her truck driver father was killed in an accident. They are from different worlds.

Ethan is annoyed about deviating from his plans so he begrudgingly goes along to the winery. He stays outside while Hannah goes into the tasting room and she just falls in love with the place. When she is offered a summer job in marketing the winery, she says yes, abandoning her career and Ethan. He is bereft but returns to New York alone, while Hannah has an affair with the winery owners’ son. She loves her new job and the family she works for and she has a lot of big ideas that will make the winery a success.

I really enjoyed this story, the characters and especially the setting. A warm and wonderful read.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE SHORTEST WAY HOME by Miriam Parker. Dutton (July 31, 2018).  ISBN 978-1524741860.  320p.


BORN TO BE WILDE by Eloisa James

July 30, 2018

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The Wildes of Lindow Castle, Book 3

From the publisher:

The richest bachelor in England plays matchmaker…for an heiress he wants for himself!

For beautiful, witty Lavinia Gray, there’s only one thing worse than having to ask the appalling Parth Sterling to marry her: being turned down by him.

Now the richest bachelor in England, Parth is not about to marry a woman as reckless and fashion-obsessed as Lavinia; he’s chosen a far more suitable bride.

But when he learns of Lavinia’s desperate circumstances, he offers to find her a husband. Even better, he’ll find her a prince.

As usual, there’s no problem Parth can’t fix. But the more time he spends with the beguiling Lavinia, the more he finds himself wondering…

Why does the woman who’s completely wrong feel so right in his arms?

This is a series I’ve read in order. I loved the first book, Wilde in Love, but I didn’t love the second book, which was most unusual for me as Eloisa James is one of my favorites. So it was with some trepidation that I read this one, but I am happy to say I loved it! Thank you, Eloisa.

These characters were well developed and I liked that Parth was biracial, you don’t see that a lot in Regency romances. The chemistry felt real and the sex scenes were hot but scarce. It was more about the relationship than the sex, not a bad thing in my opinion. The witty banter was good, too.

This book had a very interesting subplot dealing with laudanum addition. In the late 1700’s, women were often prescribed “drops” to calm their nerves and some became addicted. In light of the opioid addiction going on today, it was definitely worth pointing out the historical connection.

Another subplot dealt with the fashion of the day, how it was produced and the men and women in that industry. Parth owns a lace factory but his lace is not considered as fine as the handmade lace of Europe. The seamstresses are expected to work 18 hour days in poor lighting until Lavinia takes them on. There is a really touching scene where one of the maids explains to Lavinia how rare it is for a seamstress to be listened to and cared for, and that is rather extraordinary. James included some notes about these subplots at the end of the book. I really like when authors do that, especially in historicals. Those details make these types of book so much more interesting.

I am happy to say that I can highly recommend this as a fun, fast read that I couldn’t put down.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BORN TO BE WILDE by Eloisa James.  Avon (July 31, 2018). ISBN: 978-0062692474. 384p.


32 YOLKS by Eric Ripert

July 29, 2018

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From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line

From the publisher:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Hailed by Anthony Bourdain as “heartbreaking, horrifying, poignant, and inspiring,” 32 Yolks is the brave and affecting coming-of-age story about the making of a French chef, from the culinary icon behind the renowned New York City restaurant Le Bernardin.


In an industry where celebrity chefs are known as much for their salty talk and quick tempers as their food, Eric Ripert stands out. The winner of four James Beard Awards, co-owner and chef of a world-renowned restaurant, and recipient of countless Michelin stars, Ripert embodies elegance and culinary perfection. But before the accolades, before he even knew how to make a proper hollandaise sauce, Eric Ripert was a lonely young boy in the south of France whose life was falling apart.

Ripert’s parents divorced when he was six, separating him from the father he idolized and replacing him with a cold, bullying stepfather who insisted that Ripert be sent away to boarding school. A few years later, Ripert’s father died on a hiking trip. Through these tough times, the one thing that gave Ripert comfort was food. Told that boys had no place in the kitchen, Ripert would instead watch from the doorway as his mother rolled couscous by hand or his grandmother pressed out the buttery dough for the treat he loved above all others, tarte aux pommes. When an eccentric local chef took him under his wing, an eleven-year-old Ripert realized that food was more than just an escape: It was his calling. That passion would carry him through the drudgery of culinary school and into the high-pressure world of Paris’s most elite restaurants, where Ripert discovered that learning to cook was the easy part—surviving the line was the battle.

Taking us from Eric Ripert’s childhood in the south of France and the mountains of Andorra into the demanding kitchens of such legendary Parisian chefs as Joël Robuchon and Dominique Bouchet, until, at the age of twenty-four, Ripert made his way to the United States, 32 Yolks is the tender and richly told story of how one of our greatest living chefs found himself—and his home—in the kitchen.

This was not what I was expecting at all. I have read several memoirs by chefs, and I expect the hardship of the kitchen. But I did not expect the hardship of a childhood, and Ripert’s was not especially pleasant. His mother was a very successful shopkeeper, so they had money, but for everyone who thinks that money is the answer to all problems, I suggest you read this book to find out why that is rarely the case.

The high pressure of the kitchen and how Ripert worked through it was inspiring to read. He holds the unique distinction of taking over a 3 Michelin star & NY Times 4 star restaurant, and holding on to those stars for over thirty years, a remarkable feat not repeated anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, the book ends just as he arrives in America which leads me to hope there will be a sequel.

Co-written with Veronica Chambers, who also worked with Marcus Samuelsson on Yes, Chef, his memoir, she does an excellent job. For foodies who want more than what’s on TV.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

32 YOLKS by Eric Ripert. Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 21, 2017). ISBN 978-0812983067. 256p.



July 28, 2018

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Hellcat Canyon Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

Everyone knows the Greenleaf family puts the “Hell” in Hellcat Canyon—legend has it the only way they ever leave is in a cop car or a casket. But Glory Greenleaf has a different getaway vehicle in mind: her guitar. She has a Texas-sized talent and the ambition (and attitude) to match, but only two people have ever believed in her: her brother, who’s in jail, and his best friend . . . who put him there.

Sheriff Eli Barlow has secretly been in love with Glory since he was twelve years old. Which is how he knows her head is as hard as her heart is soft—and why she can’t forgive him for fracturing her family . . . or forget that night they surrendered to an explosive, long-simmering passion. But when a betrayal threatens Glory’s big break, Eli will risk everything to make it right . . . because the best way to love the girl from Whiskey Creek might mean setting her free forever.

Catching up on a terrific series with the second book, a terrific read. I really read these out of order, and while Long does a really good job making it easy to keep up, it’s been great putting everything I already knew into perspective. I really enjoyed this story and these characters. Glory is talented and smart enough to know that with her family’s bad reputation, she needs to be extra careful because people are always going to assume the worst. Luckily, she’s known Eli since they were children and that’s not an issue with him. But there are lots of other issues.

Glory is a truly gifted singer and songwriter who has spent her life dreaming of a music career and leaving Hellcat Canyon. But she lives with her mother and younger brother, and they are just one paycheck away from foreclosure. The women in Whiskey Creek aren’t especially nice or kind to Glory, and she has a major chip on her shoulder which is totally understandable. I like women who help one another, but this rang true for me so I’m not going to quibble about it, it works for the story.

Some hot sex scenes amp up the romance and all in all, this was a good read for me. I enjoyed the humor as well. Now I’m all caught up in this series and hoping there’s a fifth book coming soon.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WILD AT WHISKEY CREEK by Julie Anne Long. Avon (November 29, 2016). ISBN 978-0062397638.  384p.



July 27, 2018

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Stay Series, Book 1

When Ethan Bishop and Mia Thrush first meet, it is hate at first sight. Romance readers know that means that love is sure to follow, and it does but there are many obstacles to overcome first.

Mia has her own public relations firm, and she is finally on track to the big leagues with her client, a man running for Mayor of New York City. Mia knows first hand what can happen in a political campaign so when the candidate’s daughter, Chloe, gets in trouble and has to perform community service for the summer in upstate New York, he begs Mia to stay up there and keep an eye on her. Very reluctantly, Mia agrees and moves into the bed & breakfast attached to the horse rehabilitation center where Chloe has been assigned.

Mia is a city girl through and through. Ethan has moved back home after a severe injury in the Special Forces. The physical injuries were horrible, but it’s the PTSD that is really keeping him down. Mia and Ethan keep butting heads, but Chloe is learning a lot and the changes in her are all for the better. Eventually, Mia and Ethan realize they have more in common than they thought, and the sexual attraction between them is undeniable (and occasionally pretty steamy.) But can the country boy live in the city? Can the city girl live in the country? These problems seem almost insurmountable.

These are really well developed characters. Mia is a strong, successful woman and Ethan is a kind, albeit damaged man. This is a terrific start to a new series, and I can’t wait to read the rest. I’ve read a few of Probst’s books and she never disappoints. She is an excellent story teller who really knows how to keep the pages turning. Highly recommended.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD by Jennifer Probst. Montlake Romance (June 5, 2018). ISBN 978-1503901858.  316p.