THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW by Tracey Garvis Graves

June 16, 2019

Click to purchase

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author of On the Island, Tracey Garvis Graves, presents the compelling, hopelessly romantic novel of unconditional love.

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game―and his heart―to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.


I had heard about this book a while back, and I’m sorry to say it got lost on my overstuffed Kindle bookshelves. Luckily, a friend read it and told me to, and I’m so happy she did.

When I started reading, my first thought was is autism in romance a new trend? Helen Hoang owns it (The Kiss Quotient, The Bride Test), but Graves does an admirable job with it here. Especially as the word autism isn’t mentioned until almost the end of the book. As I recently learned (at the Florida Library Association Annual conference,) many people who are on the ASD spectrum do not self-identify that way. Therefore they do not get the help they need and that is very much the case here.

While Annika is certainly high functioning, I think it is apparent to the reader that she is on the spectrum. On the other hand, she just thinks of herself as weird. But Jonathan makes her feel special and safe.

The story moves back and forth between both characters and two different timelines, ten years apart; when they first met in college, then ten years later. It is easy to follow and easy to differentiate between all that, and the story moves quickly and dramatically. I loved these characters, all of them, even the secondary characters, because they are all so well drawn and feel like people I could run into tomorrow. That says a lot about the mad writing skills Graves displays here. But I especially loved the story of how these people move through life and toward one another.

My only complaint about this book was the ending; it was rather abrupt. I needed another page or two with a more defined resolution. I usually hate it when books tie up every loose end in a bow, it never seems real that way but this ending was too far in the other direction for me. But that is a minor quibble. I loved this book and I truly hope it finds a lot of readers.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW by Tracey Garvis Graves. St. Martin’s Press (April 2, 2019).  ISBN  978-1250200358. 304p.

Kindle

Audible


A ROGUE BY NIGHT by Kelly Bowen

June 15, 2019

Click to purchase

The Devils of Dover, Book 3

From the publisher:

2018 RITA award-winning author!
From the author who Sarah MacLean calls “a charming, clever, and engaging storyteller” comes the next regency romance in the witty and sexy Devils of Dover series!

Baron. Physician. SmugglerHarland Hayward is living a double life as an aristocrat by day and a criminal by night. As a doctor, Harland has the perfect cover to appear in odd places at all hours, a cover he uses to his advantage. He’s chosen this life to save his family from financial ruin, but he draws the line at taking advantage of the honest and trustworthy Katherine Wright.

Katherine thought she was done smuggling. Having finally convinced her ailing father and injured brother to abandon their criminal pursuits, she’s returned to England to help them escape to a new life–once she helps them fulfill their last contract. And that means working with Hayward, even when her instincts tell her that becoming his ally may be a risk to her heart – as well as her life.


Bowen is an award winning romance writer and this is only the second book of hers that I’ve read, and the first in this series. It’s a very good, very suspenseful read.

Our heroine is a surgeon, although the protocol of the day states that there is no such thing as a lady doctor. Nonetheless, Katherine is a doctor, trained by her mother and by war. She followed her heart, going off to war with a man who promised to marry her. Instead, he abandoned her, leaving her bitter and suspicious. But she learned a lot, she stayed abroad and took care of many soldiers who weren’t wealthy enough for a real, AKA, male doctor.

Once again we have to truly suspend our disbelief and I don’t mind at all. I like these strong, smart, completely fictional women who should have been able to kick butt instead of being relegated to looking pretty and capturing a husband. The hero is also an anomaly; a member of the peerage who is a practicing doctor instead of just practicing gambling and hunting as befits his station. Oh, and both of them are smugglers. This is a complex story with a lot of suspense due to all the illegal activity going on, not to mention a power hungry zealot as the town lawman.

A comment on the cover, because I do, at times, judge a book by its cover. If I saw this on the shelf in a bookstore or library, I would not realize that it is historical based on the picture on the cover. The title certainly hints at it, not a lot of contemporary romances use “rogue” in the title. But it looks like a pretty modern guy, maybe wearing a puffy shirt (remember that Seinfeld episode?)

 

 

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A ROGUE BY NIGHT by Kelly Bowen. Forever (May 28, 2019).  ISBN 978-1478918622. 368p.

Kindle

Audible


RIGHT WHERE WE BELONG by Brenda Novak

June 14, 2019

Click to purchase

Silver Springs, Book 4

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak returns to Silver Springs with a moving story about rebuilding your life when you’ve got nothing left to lose

Savanna Gray needs a do-over. Her “perfect” life unraveled when, to her absolute shock, her husband was arrested for attacking three women. With her divorce settled, she takes her two children to Silver Springs to seek refuge between the walls of a farmhouse her late father had planned to renovate. It needs a little TLC, but she’s eager to take control of something.

Gavin Turner understands the struggle of starting over. Abandoned at a gas station when he was five, it wasn’t until he landed at New Horizons Boys Ranch as a teen that he finally found some peace. He steps up when Savanna needs help fixing things—even when those things go beyond the farmhouse.

Despite an escalating attraction to Gavin, Savanna resolves to keep her distance. She trusted her ex, who had a similarly tragic background, and is unwilling to repeat her past mistakes. But it’s hard to resist a man whose heart is as capable as his hands.


This is one of those series that definitely does not have to be read in order. I read the first two books in the series, but somehow managed to skip books 3 & 4, then read 5. I liked them all, and finally went and found the two books I somehow skipped over. And here we are.

The books all share a setting, the small town of Silver Springs, California, and a school for troubled boys, but the characters don’t seem to overlap much. Which means you don’t really have to read them in order, but if you want to, great – just bear in mind that the first four books were published in 2017 so even if you already read them, you may be as fuzzy as I was on the details when you get to book 5, which just came out a couple of months ago.

This story revolves around Gavin Turner, one of the boys who went to the New Horizons school for troubled boys, and is one of eight boys adopted by the school’s founder, Aiyana. She is a remarkable character and appears in some way or another in all the books. Gavin was a troubled teen, abandoned as a young child and on the path to very destructive behavior until he was saved by the school and his adoptive mother.

Gavin’s love interest is Savanna, and it is her backstory that really drives this romance. Savanna was married to a man who had been accused of abducting and raping three women. Stories like hers hit the news every now and then, and personally I never really thought about the family members of the accused. But apparently Novak has and brings it home here. This was a very emotional and fascinating look at such a family and the repercussions to those who were on the periphery of criminal acts; in this case, the wife and children.

Great characters make for a great story, and Novak has done an outstanding job here. I love this series and this may be my favorite book in it.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RIGHT WHERE WE BELONG by Brenda Novak.  MIRA; Original edition (October 31, 2017).  ISBN  978-0778330387. 400p.

Kindle

Audible


THE SUMMER GUESTS by Mary Alice Monroe

June 13, 2019

Click to purchase

BLOG TOUR!

From the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Beach House series comes a heartwarming and evocative novel about the bonds and new beginnings that are born from natural disasters and how, even during the worst of circumstances—or perhaps because of them—we discover what is most important in life.Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only the few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

With Mary Alice Monroe’s “usual resplendent storytelling” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author), The Summer Guests is a poignant and compelling story of self-discovery, love, and redemption.


This was not my favorite Monroe book. Probably because I have lived through so many hurricanes, and I’ve never been in the financial position to weather the storm like the characters in this book. It also surprised me that I wasn’t more interested in the all the information about horses. I grew up riding (not competing! just for fun) and I live a short (car) ride down the road from Wellington. If you are not familiar, Wellington is the home of extremely wealthy horse people during season. Winter, when it’s warm here. People like Bill & Melinda Gates. They not only bought a house there, (their daughter competes), they bought the whole block. Or are in the process of buying all the homes on the street. I didn’t follow the story closely enough to know if they ever managed to do it. Anyway, you get the idea. The only thing I have in common with these people is that I love animals. Even though there is a lot more to the story, I just wasn’t all that interested in reading about how the 1% deal with hurricanes. f you are, then this is your book!

 

About MARY ALICE MONROE:
Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the Beach House series: The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, Beach House for Rent, and Beach House Reunion. She is a 2018 Inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame, and her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, and the 2017 Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at MaryAliceMonroe.com and at Facebook.com/MaryAliceMonroe.


6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE SUMMER GUESTS by Mary Alice Monroe. Gallery Books (June 11, 2019). ISBN: 978-1501193620. 368p.

Kindle

Audible


RECURSION by Blake Crouch

June 12, 2019

Click to purchase

From the very fertile mind of Blake Crouch comes another novel that is like his past works: almost science fiction, perhaps forecasting the future but most decidedly imaginative and bound to cause sleepless nights for his readers. Crouch has given us the trilogy “Wayward Pines” and recently “Dark Matter” This, his latest novel, continues in the vein of being completely out of the box and going way beyond the limits of imaginative fiction.

Barry Sutton is a detective with the New York City Police Department. He is called to try and stop a possible suicide of a woman who is looking to jump off a building in Manhattan. In talking to her, the lady comes out with the reason for wanting to jump; “my son has been erased.” When she does jump to her death Barry is stirred to begin investigating what she was talking about. He finds a definite surge around the country with cases of people waking up from sleep with memories of a life they never lived. The malady gets the name of “false memory syndrome” and appears to be spreading with resultant suicides when the situation can’t be faced.

Separately, neuroscientist Helena Smith is working on a method of preserving one’s most intense memories and allowing the person involved to relive them. A method seen as providing humans with vivid memories of both wonderful, and even bad in order to enjoy them again.

Barry and Helena meet, becoming lovers and marrying. And Helena’s project gives rise to actually reentering life at certain points in time based on the memories of the person. Is this time travel or something more? Crouch builds a lucid and very logical progression of events involved with using memories to relive the past. While nothing is mentioned in the notes after the book, I believe it would be an incredible movie. Hope Hollywood picks this up and makes it so.

6/19 Paul Lane

RECURSION by Blake Crouch. Crown (June 11, 2019). ISBN 978-1524759780. 336p.

Kindle

Audible


COWBOY REBEL by Carolyn Brown

June 11, 2019

Click to purchase

Longhorn Canyon Series, Book 4

From the publisher:

A wild Texas cowboy is about to meet his match in an ER nurse in this heartwarming romance from a USA Today bestseller, which includes a bonus novella from Annie Rains.

Ever since losing his best friend in a motorcycle accident, Taggart Baker wants to make every moment count. No dare is too dangerous, no adventure too crazy for this cowboy. But after one bad brush with the law, he realizes it’s time to ditch his hooligan friends and grow up. Now he’s running his own ranch next to the Longhorn Canyon spread in Texas. Still, no one would ever call him tame.
Nikki Grady has worked too hard for her RN license just to throw it away for some reckless cowboy who shows up in her emergency room after a barroom brawl. But she can’t help being drawn to Tag’s sense of humor and those crystal blue eyes. The more time they spend together, the more she sees his good heart. But just as Tag seems ready to settle down for good, his troubled past comes calling-and this time he won’t be able to walk away so easily.

I liked these characters and I liked the story. What I didn’t like was the writing. It felt very stilted to me, especially the dialogue. I had trouble getting through the book because of that, but I liked the characters enough, and was invested enough in their story, to stick with it.

Another big disconnect for me was all the references to country music songs throughout the book. The characters motivations were often (and annoyingly) credited to some country song or another. They often communicated by talking about a song. Several times. I am sorry to say that I am not a fan of country music, so I was not familiar with any of the songs mentioned in the book. For what it’s worth, I have heard of most of the singers mentioned. But that aspect of the book was just lost on me. I have read many cowboy romances, and have run across an occasional mention of a song. I have even looked up a song or two to see why it was referenced and I was fine with that. But this was just too much for me.

I haven’t read the other books in this series so maybe that was another part of my disconnect here. In fact, I’ve only read one other of her books, The Magnolia Inn, and I liked that one a lot – but it wasn’t a cowboy romance. Although I’m not sure why that would matter. If you love country music, you may very well love this book. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

COWBOY REBEL by Carolyn Brown. Forever (May 28, 2019). ISBN 978-1538748718.  400p.

Kindle

Audible


UNTIL YOU LOVED ME by Brenda Novak

June 10, 2019

Click to purchase

Silver Springs, Book 3

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak returns to Silver Springs

Sometimes starting over means finding everything you’ve been missing…

After catching her fiancé cheating—with another man—usually straitlaced, workaholic scientist Ellie Fisher liberates her wild side just long enough to indulge in a passionate one-night stand with a tall, dark stranger she meets at a trendy Miami bar. Embarrassed by her recklessness, she ducks out the following morning without learning the guy’s full name, something that shouldn’t have been a problem…until a pregnancy test turns positive.

Being a professional football player, Hudson King has always been cautious around women. But this one had been different—so disinterested in his celebrity, so convincingly into him. When Ellie tracks him down, claiming she’s carrying his baby, he’s stunned. And more than a little betrayed.

But after growing up as an orphan, he’ll do anything to stay involved in his child’s life, so he urges Ellie to move to Silver Springs, where they can co-parent. Hudson has a lot of love to give, certainly enough for his child, and when their initial spark reignites, perhaps for Ellie, too…


This is one of those series that definitely does not have to read in order. The books all share a setting, the small town of Silver Springs, California, and a school for troubled boys, but the characters don’t seem to overlap much. Which means you don’t really have to read them in order, but if you want to, great – just bear in mind that the first four books were published in 2017 so even if you already read them, you may be as fuzzy as I was on the details when you get to book 5, which just came out a couple of months ago.

This time out the story starts elsewhere, in my backyard, in fact – Miami. Ellie is a nerdy scientist who knows tons about science but pop culture just isn’t her jam. So when she meets a professional football player, she has no idea who he is. And he really likes that. Instead they connect on an intellectual and emotional level.

When Ellie finds out she’s pregnant, she has to deal with an ex-fiance who doesn’t believe he’s not the father and wants to adopt and/or buy the baby. His biological clock is ticking and he wants to have kids and sees Ellie’s pregnancy as a shortcut for a gay couple to adopt. She knows for a fact that it isn’t his baby and she also knows for a fact whose it is. But that surprise is not a pleasant one for Hudson.

I enjoyed watching these characters grow together and find their happily ever after. Another terrific entry into a wonderful series.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

UNTIL YOU LOVED ME by Brenda Novak. MIRA; Original edition (July 25, 2017).  ISBN  978-0778330257. 400p.

Kindle

Audible


A FACE IN THE CROWD by Kerry Wilkinson

June 9, 2019

Click to purchase

Lucy and Ben are a very happy couple. They love each other and plan on marriage in a short while. As are many young couples, their incomes are not very big but that does not deter them from enjoying life together living with each other.

Lucy is attempting to complete her university studies while Ben is building up his clientele as a day trader. Ben usually works from their apartment with some travel as needed As the novel opens Ben is getting ready to meet clientele traveling to them by train. He leaves on his trip and the world comes apart for Lucy. She is notified that there was a train wreck with many fatalities and Ben is among them.

Five years later Lucy is working as a cashier in a small supermarket. She unfortunately discovered, much to her chagrin, that Ben had taken all their savings and lost them in the securities market as well as piling up debt for other investments beyond any near term means of repaying it. Lucy became responsible for repayment when it was discovered that her signature had been forged by Ben on loan applications. She is living from hand to mouth with no real means of getting out from under the debt.

Taking the bus to work every day brings the novel to an important moment in the story. Coming home from work she discovers that someone had inserted an envelope with thousands of pounds into her purse. The amount is equal to about three months of her salary from the supermarket but Lucy feels that the only option for her is to look for the person that placed the envelope in her bag and return it.

Finding the money brings Lucy to a juncture in her life. Is the money a means of bettering her situation or is it something causing a host of problems for her. The novel takes the reader through the events occurring due to the finding of the money and makes it a book that cannot be left aside, but must be finished in one reading. Certainly Wilkinson continues his excellent literary career with the expectation that future books by him must be bought and read. There is little doubt that they will be as mesmerizing as this one is.

6/19 Paul Lane

A FACE IN THE CROWD by Kerry Wilkinson. Bookouture (June 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1786817648. 280p.

Kindle


Y.A. Romance Panel: Making Out Between the Pages | BookCon 2019

June 8, 2019

 

Young Adult authors talk about all the swoons and smooches between their pages. Featuring Melissa de la Cruz (The ALEX & ELIZA series), Rachel Hawkins (HER ROYAL HIGHNESS), and Nicola Yoon (THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR), moderated by David Yoon (FRANKLY IN LOVE).

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Millennials and YA Romance Books Panel | BookCon 2019

June 8, 2019

 

Popular authors discuss our current YA rom-com renaissance, and how millennials have embraced it. Join Meg Cabot (THE PRINCESS DIARIES) in a discussion about Romance’s sassy little sister with Tessa Bailey (FIX HER UP), Alexis Daria (DANCE OFF series), Jasmine Guillory (THE PROPOSAL), Amanda Heger (CRAZY CUPID LOVE), Abby Jiminez (THE FRIEND ZONE) and Mia Sosa (LOVE ON CUE series).

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.