HEART AND SEOUL by Jen Frederick

October 10, 2021

From the publisher:

One woman learns that the price of belonging is often steeper than expected in this heart-wrenching yet hopeful romantic novel and first in the Seoul duology by USA Today bestselling author Jen Frederick.

As a Korean adoptee, Hara Wilson doesn’t need anyone telling her she looks different from her white parents. She knows. Every time Hara looks in the mirror, she’s reminded that she doesn’t look like anyone else in her family—not her loving mother, Ellen; not her jerk of a father, Pat; and certainly not like Pat’s new wife and new “real” son.

At the age of twenty-five, she thought she had come to terms with it all, but when her father suddenly dies, an offhand comment at his funeral triggers an identity crisis that has her running off to Seoul in search of her roots.

What Hara finds there has all the makings of a classic K-drama: a tall, mysterious stranger who greets her at the airport, spontaneous adventures across the city, and a mess of familial ties, along with a red string of destiny that winds its way around her, heart and soul. Hara goes to Korea looking for answers, but what she gets instead is love—a forbidden love that will either welcome Hara home…or destroy her chance of finding one.

This book is part family story, part romance, and part travelogue to Seoul in South Korea. Hara was adopted when she was a baby after her biological mother abandoned her on the streets of Seoul. Her adoptive parents live in the Midwest, and there are no other Asian kids in her school. Hara grows up always feeling like an outsider, despite her mother trying to help her learn about her heritage. Hara pushes those efforts away.

Her parents divorce and her father eventually remarries and has a son. When he suddenly dies, she learns he left his money to his “real” child. Hara and her dad had a difficult relationship, but she is very close to her mom. A few months after the funeral, Hara receives an email from the DNA adoption matching service with her birth father’s name and address, in Seoul. Hara decides to go meet him, and hopes to also find her birth mother.

Hara doesn’t plan much; this is a spur of the moment decision. She doesn’t speak Korean but a newish friend does, and her friend will be in Korea at the same time. Hara is sure it will all work out. But of course, there are hurdles.

Her friend arranged for a car and driver, but Hara mistakenly gets a ride with a young, gorgeous man that she originally thinks is her driver. He thinks she is beautiful, doesn’t dissuade her and gives her a ride. Luckily, he speaks perfect English, and tells her he was educated in the U.S. He also admits he is not a driver. She is so jet lagged and he is so good looking, she just goes along with it.

Hara spends two weeks in Seoul, finding her father, her mother, and love. But, and this is a big but and the cause for a lot of negative reviews – there is no happy ending here. However, the sequel, Seoulmates, comes out early next year.

The story is slow moving, and Hara isn’t an especially likeable character. But I like my happy endings, so I will be reading the sequel in hopes of finding it. Frankly, the publisher should have known better than to market this as a romance; one of the defining characteristics of the romance genre is the happy ending. It is women’s fiction with some romance, but it is really a story about Hara learning about her background and her culture. I like learning those sorts of things, too, so it worked for me.

NOTE: Coincidentally, as I finished reading this book I came across this article in the New York Times*:

The Myth of Asian American Identity: We’re the fastest-growing demographic group in the U.S. But when it comes to the nation’s racial and ethnic divisions, where do we fit in? [This article is adapted from “The Loneliest Americans,” by Jay Caspian Kang, to be published by Crown in October.]

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HEART AND SEOUL by Jen Frederick. Berkley (May 25, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593100141. 352 pages.



*Thanks to the New York Times for allowing me to “gift” my readers with free access to this article, a lovely perk for subscribers.


October 8, 2021

Maybe, Definitely

From the author:

Disgusted with my love life, I join a dating app under a fake name. I start chatting to a man named Edgar.

One question from an ex-lover.

One text message from a complete stranger.

The same answer to both…Yes.

Scarlett Bell has found a way to move beyond a dark past that threatened to take her best friend, Kinsley, from her. Now ten years later Scarlett has everything. A multi-billion dollar fashion and beauty empire. A fabulous New York apartment filled with everything a girl could need. And an awesome best friend. What more could she want? Love, marriage, and a baby. Everything her best friend has.

One ex-boyfriend could give her everything she thinks she wants. Even if he is a little too nice…One dark stranger could give her everything she never knew she wanted. But he could destroy her life…Two men. Two choices. One answer to both: Definitely Yes.

It looks like this series is divided into two parts; Maybe, and Definitely. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I definitely (see what I did there? HA!) felt like I was missing backstory. It looks like the first three books of this series are Maybe, and this appears to be the first book of the Definitely part of the series. A tiny bit confusing, but no matter. I still enjoyed this book.

Scarlett knows what she wants, but she is afraid to go after it. The anonymous man she calls Beast definitely knows how she wants to be treated – in bed, that is. But she hasn’t even seen his face. And her ex is suddenly available, but he may just be too nice for her.

Scarlett’s best friend Kinsley is pregnant and Scarlett feels like maybe she is missing out. Beast is very mysterious, but will he come through for her and give her what she wants? Or should she settle for the nice guy?

The suspense is light, the sex is hot, and the story moves. Not sure I care enough to go back and read the earlier books, not to mention that being they are self published, my library isn’t carrying these. I got this book free from Amazon through BookBub and if they offer up anymore freebies, I’d read them. So who knows.

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

DEFINITELY YES by Ella Miles. Independently published (May 20, 2019). ISBN: 978-1099478321. 258 pages.




MY TIME AMONG THE WHITES by Jennine Capó Crucet

October 7, 2021

Notes from an Unfinished Education

From the author of Make Your Home Among Strangers, essays on being an “accidental” American―an incisive look at the edges of identity for a woman of color in a society centered on whiteness

In this sharp and candid collection of essays, critically acclaimed writer and first-generation American Jennine Capó Crucet explores the condition of finding herself a stranger in the country where she was born. Raised in Miami and the daughter of Cuban refugees, Crucet examines the political and personal contours of American identity and the physical places where those contours find themselves smashed: be it a rodeo town in Nebraska, a university campus in upstate New York, or Disney World in Florida. Crucet illuminates how she came to see her exclusion from aspects of the theoretical American Dream, despite her family’s attempts to fit in with white American culture―beginning with their ill-fated plan to name her after the winner of the Miss America pageant.

In prose that is both fearless and slyly humorous, My Time Among the Whites examines the sometimes hopeful, sometimes deeply flawed ways in which many Americans have learned to adapt, exist, and―in the face of all signals saying otherwise―perhaps even thrive in a country that never imagined them here.

This memoir is a collection of essays and is remarkable reading. Crucet is the American born daughter of Cuban refugees, and grew up in Hialeah, a Miami haven for Cuban families. In this book, she talks about everything from moving to Nebraska to Walt Disney World to how she was named after a Miss USA – sort of. What drew me to this book was the immigrant experience being told first hand.

Crucet is the first person in her family to go to college, and she writes about that experience and the difficulties she had because she had no guidance. She applied to only two colleges, because no one told her you could get application fees waived and they were steep. She received a full ride to the University of Florida, no easy feat, but instead, she selected a school based on a brochure a secretary was throwing away. The school that looked so appealing was Cornell University, and she was accepted. She did receive financial aid, but not the free ride she could have had at UF. She decided, along with her family, that Cornell was the best place for her, even though it was a struggle.

Struggle is at the heart of the book. Crucet is Latinx, a light skinned brown person who often passes as white, living in a country where the last president called Mexicans rapists and murderers. I loved the review in the Los Angeles Review of Books; they described this book as “post-Trump Latinx literature.” The bigotry she has to deal with is at times subtle, and other times overt, but it is always there, a backdrop to every essay in this collection. This is a worthwhile read, especially now when right-wing racist groups have gained national attention. It is sometimes painful reading, sometimes funny, but always engaging, making this a difficult but excellent read.

NOTE: I am facilitating a discussion of this book at Lynn University on Friday, 10/8/2021 at noon, with college students and faculty. I am especially looking forward to hearing what the students have to say. This discussion is part of the Impact Series: in collaboration with Student Affairs and the Lynn Library, Project Civitas‘ Impact Series is a multi-departmental collaboration that seeks to immerse students, faculty and staff in holistic conversations about issues of social justice. Register here for the book discussion: https://lynn.libcal.com/event/8297620

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MY TIME AMONG THE WHITES by Jennine Capó Crucet. Picador (September 3, 2019). ISBN:‎ 978-1250299437. 208 pages.






NO HOLDING BACK by Lori Foster

October 6, 2021

The McKenzies of Ridge Trail, Book 1

From the publisher:

Introducing The McKenzies of Ridge Trail, an all-new sexy contemporary romance series from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster.

Not needing him won’t stop her from wanting him…

Trucker Sterling (Star) Parson is no stranger to the challenges a woman faces, both in her industry and in life. But she can take care of herself. She’s never needed—or wanted—a man around…until she meets Cade McKenzie. The take-charge bar owner sets off all kinds of alarm bells for Sterling, but he also sets her heart racing.

Cade’s lived in Ridge Trail long enough to know trouble when he sees it, and the moment Sterling—Star—walks into his bar, he knows trouble’s come to call. Secrets run deep in the small town and Cade can tell Star’s got as many as he does, leaving him itching to uncover every last one. But finding common ground will mean trusting one another, further feeding an intense attraction that’s growing impossible to resist.

I’m glad I got to start this series with the first book because it is a complicated and worthwhile story. The McKenzie family business is vigilantism. There are two brothers, Reyes and Cade, their sister, Madison, and their father, Parrish, a former surgeon who now runs the business. Reyes owns a gym in a seedy part of town, and Cade owns a bar on the opposite side of town, giving them access to lowlifes who like to talk. And they like to listen. Madison is their tech guru, and she has some serious skills.

Star drives a big rig, but likes to stop at Cade’s bar when she’s in town. She has a habit of napping in the corner, but she’s hyper-alert, and the bar is a good place to find out what’s going on in the underworld. Star is also a bit of a vigilante, helping women who have been trafficked. She’s rescued some and helped them move on. She is self taught and doesn’t have the training or experience of the McKenzies, but she’s also very much a loner. So when Cade offers her his office to nap in, she is touched. No one has ever looked out for her, and as she gets to know him, and they start working together. feelings start to emerge.

Cade has never wanted a relationship, but there is something about Star that really draws him in, but she constantly pushes him away and he really likes her independent streak. When they do get together, their chemistry is just scorching hot. It’s not easy chasing down bad guys when you’re worried about your partner, but they work well together and Star feels respected, which is very important to her.

This is a fast read with a lot of suspense and steamy love scenes, and some violence. I can’t wait for the next book in this series, and luckily, I don’t have to – Stronger Than You Know came out in August, and the third book, Watching Over You, comes out in December.

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

NO HOLDING BACK by Lori Foster. HQN; Original edition (January 26, 2021). ISBN: 978-1335668509. 352 pages.






October 5, 2021

The Trouble with Hating You, Book 1

From the publisher:

A fiercely independent engineer walks out on the man her parents have set her up with — only to start working side-by-side with him at her job in this laugh-out-loud debut with “delicious banter, deep wounds, heartwarming friendships, and a path to love that often feels impossibly hard, and [a payoff] satisfying enough to give you a book hangover the size of Texas” (Sonali Dev, USA Today bestselling author of Recipe for Persuasion).

Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents’ latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she’s out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later — the new lawyer hired to save her struggling company. What’s not surprising: he’s not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.

Jay Shah looks good on paper…and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He’s also infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late-night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance?

I read the second book in this series, First Love, Take Two and I loved it, so I dug around my Kindle and sure enough I found this book. I was so happy I did – this was also a really good read and a good introduction to the characters.

This book is all about Liyah. She is a very successful engineer; in fact, so successful, she just got promoted to management. Except what her boss didn’t tell her is that the company is facing a ton of lawsuits, and everyone’s jobs are in jeopardy. Determined to work hard and help push the company past this bump, on her first day she is late to the meeting with the lawyer in charge of settling the lawsuits. He turns out to be Jay, who she met briefly a few days earlier when her parents tried to set her up with him. She has no interest in marriage, much less parent-matched marriage, and she flees. Unfortunately, she crashes into Jay right on the front lawn, taking them both down. She really hates his smirk as she sprawls on top of him, and she just takes off. And now it’s time for payback.

After a few snarky comments about her tardiness, they end up working together to try and save this company. But all they do is argue, and the chemistry between them just can’t be denied. Jay is intrigued for sure, but Liyah is playing hard-to-get – or actually, impossible to get.

Liyah has a terrible reputation. When she was a young teen, she accused the leader of their Hindu church of sexually abusing her. Her father called her a liar, and their relationship has been strained ever since. Her mother may have believed her, but she is completely submissive to her psychologically abusive husband. Not exactly the great role models for a good marriage, and Liyah is really destroyed by her father’s refusal to believe her. She starts sleeping around, moves out of her parent’s house after college which is frowned upon in this community, and she develops this bad reputation. So she has a hard time believing that this man and his good family would be accepting of her.

But Jay isn’t giving up. He has his own issues – his father died in a fire, and he was injured, but he feels responsible for his father’s death. He is very close with his mother and brother, and they don’t blame him but he can’t get past the guilt.

Despite their pasts, they keep growing closer. Jay is patient – extraordinarily patient – with Liyah and eventually he breaks down her barriers. Until the man she accused of molesting her starts threatening her and even tells Jay and his family that she tried to seduce him. It’s a mess, and Liyah takes off. But Jay tracks her down and they work through their issues together.

I loved these characters and learning about the Indian/Hindu culture. The hate-to-love trope works really well here, and there is a lot of humor despite the seriousness of some of the issues. I think everything is handled with sensitivity and that really added a lot to the emotional resonance of this story. I’m looking forward to whatever comes next from Patel – she is on my must read list for sure.

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE TROUBLE WITH HATING YOU by Sajni Patel. Forever (May 12, 2020). ISBN: 978-1538733332. 352 pages.




FIRST LIGHT by Isabel Jolie

October 4, 2021

Haven Island, Book 3

From the publisher:

He could be my savior…or my downfall…

I am living a lie.

No one knows who I really am. Letting someone in could be devastating for my family.

For the most part, isolation isn’t a hardship. I haven’t been looking for love or any kind of serious relationship.

But then I met Logan.

I tried to keep my distance. He won’t let me.

Logan is gentle, kind, and loving. Everything I never knew I needed in my life.

He’s also a cop—exactly the kind of man who’d never understand my truth.

So, while he has shared his deepest, darkest secrets, I keep mine hidden.

Too bad I can’t keep my heart locked away, too.

Because now I’m falling for a man who can never be mine. Not truly, anyway.

How can I ask him to be my future when I can’t even let him help me survive my present?

First Light is a standalone steamy contemporary romance. The Haven Island Series can be read in any order; you do not need to read any of the other books in the series to enjoy First Light.

This author was new to me, as is this series and here I am starting with the third book. But, as the author says, these books do not need to be read in order and I never would have known this was part of a series if Amazon didn’t tell me. So good job on that!

Cali is a bit of an enigma. Recently moved to this tiny barrier island off of North Carolina, all anyone really knows about her is that she is divorced, runs mid-day with her dog, and locks her doors. The chief safety officer AKA the local police chief, is Logan, almost two years divorced and finds Cali appealing. He hasn’t dated in years, but decides to give it a try with her.

Cali is very close-mouthed, to say the least. She won’t discuss her divorce or her ex, and all anyone really knows is that she moved to this oceanfront home from the west coast and is a translator, tutoring a local child. What they don’t know is that, in fact, Cali has never been married. They also don’t know that she is a state of the art security system, and keeps a bunch of servers downtown in the business district. The servers are her brother’s, as is the security system, and all we really know about him is that he is some sort of hacker with international political interests. We know something isn’t quite kosher, as Cali has her own suspicions, but he is her twin and she loves him.

But then she falls in love with Logan. Her brother is appalled, but after some digging decides it is a safe relationship. But if Logan finds out anything about him, there will be trouble. And sure enough, there is. Not to mention a hurricane adding to the fun.

This was an interesting story with a bit of suspense, especially towards the end. Once Logan finds out what’s really going on with Cali, he is furious. His ex-wife lied to him and he can’t deal with lies. Or as Cali puts it, his world is black and white, and hers has multitudes of gray. But no fear, that hurricane brings them back together and they get their happily ever after. I liked this book but probably not enough to seek out the earlier books in the series. It was just an okay read for me.

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FIRST LIGHT by Isabel Jolie. Noctivity (September 24, 2021). ISBN: 978-1953942265. 304 pages.



THE DUCHESS HUNT by Lorraine Heath

October 3, 2021

Once upon a Dukedom, Book 2

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath continues her Once Upon a Dukedom series with this lush love story of a duke who discovers what he desires in a wife may not be what he needs…

If there exists a more unpleasant task in the world than deciding who is to marry the man you love, Penelope Pettypeace certainly can’t imagine what it might be. Still, she is determined to find the perfect bride for her clueless, yet ruthlessly charming employer.

But when an anonymous note threatens to reveal truths best hidden, Kingsland has no choice but to confront the danger with Penelope at his side. Beguiled by the strong-willed, courageous beauty, he realizes he’s willing to risk everything, including his heart, to keep her safe within his arms. Could it be the duchess he’s hunting for has been in front of him all along?

We all have secrets, and that is at the heart of this Victorian romance. Penelope Pettypeace has been the Duke of Kingsland’s secretary for eight years. King may be ahead of his time in hiring a woman for this very important position, and she has done an outstanding job for him. In fact, she is his right hand, so when the woman he was courting throws him over for someone else, he tasks Pettypeace to find him a duchess. He advertises for a wife, and lets her sort through all the letters to narrow down the list.

Turns out the Duke, his brother, and his mother were severely abused by his father. When King inherits the title, he finds out his father has left them penniless. But King is smart and turns their fortunes around by his judicious and farsighted investing. Now all he needs is a wife.

The Duke is a shrewd businessman, and Pettypeace is privy to all his secrets, or so she thinks. Turns out he is hiding a monumental one, but she is unaware as she herself dwells on her own very shady past. It is hinted at throughout the book but we don’t find out either secret until pretty much the end. No matter. Meanwhile, the Duke wakes up one day and realizes he is attracted to Pettypeace and decides to see where it goes. For both of them, the best situation is that they have an affair by night and are professional by day. Of course we know how that is going to turn out.

Heath writes steamy romances, and this is no exception, but it has a really sweet ending once you get past the big secret reveals. I liked these characters and although King was very much oblivious to his feelings for most of the book, Pettypeace was not, and it was her struggles with her feelings that really made this such a compelling read. This is another excellent addition to Heath’s body of work. If you like sexy Victorian romances, you will be a happy reader – I was!

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE DUCHESS HUNT by Lorraine Heath. Avon (September 28, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062952011. 368 pages.





October 2, 2021

Once upon a Dukedom, Book 1

From the publisher:

Amazon April 2021 Best of the Month Pick

Lorraine Heath begins an exciting new series with a breathtaking romance about a young woman who must marry a titled gentleman to obtain her inheritance and the usuitable man she begins to fall madly in love with…

She is desperate to wed a duke…

Lady Kathryn Lambert must marry a titled gentleman to claim her inheritance and has finally gained the attention of a duke. Yet she is unable to forget the scandalous second son who aided in her achievement—or his betrayal.

He wants what he can never possess…

Lord Griffith Stanwick is tormented by the bitter truth that as a “spare,” he will never be able to give Kathryn what she yearns to possess. But when his father is found guilty of treason, Griff detours into the dark and dangerous corners of London, haunted by memories of the woman lost to him forever.

Love not to be denied…

As the duke’s courtship intensifies, Kathryn discovers Griff has become a man to be reckoned with. When old passions flare and new desires ignite, she must decide if sacrificing her legacy is worth a lifetime shared with the scoundrel of her heart.

Heath is one of my favorite authors – her books never disappoint. This is the first book of a newish series; it’s actually a sort of spin off of the Sins for All Seasons series, which is great. You definitely do not have to read that series to enjoy this new one.

In the last book of the Sins for All Seasons series, Beauty Tempts the Beast, we met the Stanwick family. There are three siblings, Althea, Griffith, and Marcus, who have their world turned upside down when their father, the duke, is hanged for treason. Lady Kathryn Lambert was best friends with Althea until all of the siblings disappear after the scandal.

Griff grew up as the second son, the spare, and his father always made him feel less than. After his father’s treason, he was penniless and is working on the docks. Lady Kathryn planned to marry a man with a title in order to gain her inheritance, a cottage that she longs to live in. The Duke of Kingsland is supposed to offer for her, but she doesn’t love him. When she sees Griff again, she realizes that she has deep feelings for him. Will she be strong enough to give up her plan to gain her inheritance, or will she marry for love? If you’ve ever read a romance, you know the answer.

I loved this story and these characters. This is a steamy, historical romance and a terrific read.

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SCOUNDREL OF MY HEART by Lorraine Heath. Avon (March 30, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062951960. 368 pages.





THE SANTA SUIT by Mary Kay Andrews 

September 30, 2021

From the publisher:

From Mary Kay Andrews, the New York Times bestselling author of Hello, Summer, comes a novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances in The Santa Suit.

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love―but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it.

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit―beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.

As readers of this blog know, I love Mary Kay Andrews, and I was so excited to see she has written a holiday romance! It has her all of her trademark humor, love of kitsch and everything vintage, and terrific characters I wanted to hang out with.

Ivy’s been divorced for just about a year. Her ex-husband really hurt her and made her distrustful. She not only lost her husband, but she also lost her house (she got paid for her half) and her very successful business (again she got paid for her half.) She decides she wants to make a drastic change in her life and finds this old farmhouse called the Four Roses for sale online. She buys it sight unseen.

When she arrives, her real estate agent is there to meet her with the key. He tries to tell her more about the house and its sticking front door lock, for instance, but she brushes him off. Until she can’t get in and has to call him back. Ezra is not the old man Ivy assumed him to be from his name. Instead, he is about her age, young and good looking. Which makes her nervous.

The big surprise of the house isn’t how ramshackle it is, that she expected more or less. But the fact that the family left everything behind. The owners had died years earlier, and their son didn’t want any of it. Cleaning out the house was going to be a huge project.

The Four Roses was known in town as the place to go to look at all the Christmas lights. All of that was left behind as well, including the beautiful Santa suit the owner wore every year. And in the pocket was a note from a little girl, Carlette, asking Santa to bring her daddy back from Vietnam. Ivy is intrigued and asks the one friend she’s made in town if she knew anything about it. Turns out she did, her mom was best friends with their across the street neighbor, Carlette. The dad didn’t make it, and Carlette and her mom moved away.

Meanwhile, Ezra is slowly wearing down her defenses. He’s just incredibly helpful and she finally agrees to go out with him. Ivy meets the old man who is living in Carlette’s old house and more of the mystery is solved. But it’s at the town’s Christmas Stroll that everything comes together, all tied up with a bow you might say, but with some surprises at the end.

If you are looking for a way to get in the holiday mood, this is a great start. It’s a novella, so pretty short and fast reading (I wish it were longer!) It’s heart warming, sweet, and fun – all the good stuff I look for in a Christmas book. Happy holidays!

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE SANTA SUIT by Mary Kay Andrews. St. Martin’s Press (September 28, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250279316. 220 pages.








September 29, 2021

The Trouble with Hating You, Book 2

From the publisher:

On the verge of realizing her dream of being a doctor, Preeti Patel should be ecstatic. But between the stress of her residency, trying to find a job, and managing her traditional, no-boundaries family, Preeti’s anxiety is through the roof. Relationships and love aren’t even an option. Fortunately, Preeti’s finally found a new place to stay . . . only to discover that her new roommate is her ex.

Preeti never quite got over Daniel Thompson. Super-hot, plenty of swagger, amazing cook—the guy is practically perfect. And if it weren’t for their families, there might have been a happily ever after. But it’s hard to keep her sanity and libido in check when the man of her dreams is sleeping mere feet away. Can Preeti and Daniel find a way to stand up and fight for each other one last time . . . before they lose their second chance?

The main theme of this book – besides the romance – is racism. Preeti’s family doesn’t approve of Daniel because he’s Black. Daniel’s family doesn’t approve of Preeti because she comes from a poor background and a different culture. Daniel is part of the 1% and his family runs a hugely successful real estate company. He is expected to take it over, but all he does is fight with his father.

Six years earlier, Preeti was at Daniel’s Harvard graduation when his father, sitting next to her, tells her that if she really loves Daniel, she will leave him and let him find his happiness with his family, that she is no good for him and is destroying his career and his life. Her family isn’t much better; her aunties are toxic, call her a slut and spread all kinds of horrible gossip about Preeti and her family, and her mother ends up having a stress related mild heart attack. Those two events led Preeti to just walk away from Daniel, and she never tells him why.

Six years later, they end up sharing an apartment for a few weeks. Preeti has been matched with a man her family approves of, and they have been texting and talking and sharing family meals for six months. Preeti thinks marrying him will make her parents proud and happy, even though she feels nothing for him. In fact, Preeti has some health issues – she suffers from severe anxiety, touch aversion, and at times those things spiral her into depression. Daniel was the only one who really knows about her issues and how to help her through them. Her fiancé-to-be doesn’t understand why she can’t abide his touch, and thinks she should just get over it.

Despite her health issues, Preeti is fiercely competitive and brilliant, and is in the last few weeks of residency, trying to find a job as a full time doctor. She loves the practice she is with, but there is competition for the one opening they have.

As Preeti and Daniel start spending time together, they both realize they still love one another. There are many setbacks, and it takes Preeti a while to realize that Daniel is willing to forgive her for leaving him and they do find their happily ever after.

This was such a charming, sweet story and I fell in love with these characters. I did realize while reading this that there must have been a book before this one, and sure enough there is – The Trouble with Hating You. I can’t wait to read it, and whatever else Sajni Patel writes next!

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FIRST LOVE, TAKE TWO by Sajni Patel. Forever (September 21, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538733363. 336 pages.