THE TROUBLE WITH HATING YOU by Sajni Patel

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.

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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.

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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.

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SCOUNDREL OF MY HEART by Lorraine Heath

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.

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Cerebration: October 1, 2021

October 1, 2021

I cannot believe it is October already! Autumn is officially here, even in Florida. A few days ago when I left for work at 6:30 A.M., it was cool out, a nice surprise.

October is prime time for all those Christmas romances I love. And a Hanukkah one! So get ready for lots of holiday book reviews. I also just noticed that Hanukkah comes out early again this year. The first night is the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which is better than when it fell on Thanksgiving -but barely in time for Black Friday. Not to mention there are all sorts of warnings out there: “Logistical issues, including ongoing manufacturing and supply chain disruptions, may make the hottest toys and most popular gifts sell out fast or go on waiting lists. And they might not be available at all in the typical Thanksgiving-to-Christmas Day holiday shopping window this year.” So this is a good year to start your holiday shopping early.

The Time to Start Your Holiday Shopping Is Right Now

Retailers’ Latest Headache: Shutdowns at Their Vietnamese Suppliers: Factories in the country, a major apparel and footwear supplier to the U.S., have been forced by the pandemic to close or operate at reduced capacity, complicating the all-important holiday season.*

My husband and I flew to Chicago last week for a wedding, which was held in the Newberry Library. It was my first library wedding and it was beautiful! The library is old but renovated, and it is gorgeous. They posted a few pictures of the wedding on their Instagram, which I’m borrowing.

I was thrilled to get to hold my beautiful grandson during the ceremony. But when he started getting restless, I handed him off to my husband who took him for a walk around Washington Square Park, a registered historic landmark that is better known by its nickname, Bughouse Square. It was the most celebrated open air free-speech center in the country, and that was where the ceremony was held.

We made sure to have Chicago deep dish “pizza” at Lou Malnati’s, and my husband enjoyed the Italian Beef sub at Portillo’s. Luckily, both places had nice patios outside where we ate. We also hit the Museum of Contemporary Art, and my son brought the baby along. He seemed to enjoy his first museum visit!

Also have to give a shout-out to United Airlines. We had two completely uneventful flights, there and back. Everyone wore their masks. The planes were clean and they handed out wipes as we boarded. I never was much of a fan of flying and it is especially difficult during a pandemic. But we are all fully vaccinated and careful, and I’d lose my mind if I didn’t get to hold that baby now and then! Plus there’s this: United Airlines to Fire Workers Who Refused to Get a Vaccination. On the other hand, my son & his family had their Delta flight delayed and then cancelled, followed by a flight the next morning from NYC to Washington DC, an 8 hour layover, then off to Chicago. With a baby. Delta has done them dirty twice in the past couple of months. Last time was a trip to California (also with the baby) where they got to spend hours and hours sitting on the runway only to be let off late at night and told to come back the next morning. They are so lucky to have such a resilient baby who just goes with the flow.

Covid still in the news. Guess I changed the name of this journal too soon (it started out as the Coronavirus Diary.) I am feeling somewhat safe these days, even though I live in Florida with an anti-science moron running the state (and that’s the nicest thing I can say about him.) I’m fully vaccinated, as are most of my family and friends. I am working remotely two days a week (when possible) but that means three days of exposure to colleagues and college students who may or may not be vaccinated. I hide in my office 90% of the time. I wear a mask 90% of the time and 100% of the time when I’m not in my office. I don’t eat at work, I wait until I get home. I am saddened and confused by the vast numbers of unvaccinated people dying and taking up every hospital bed around here. I am even more confused about the shortage of ivermectin (horse dewormer) for the horses that need it because ignorant Covid patients are taking it. I don’t understand parents who insist on sending their children to school without masks. And worst of all, the unvaccinated health care workers giving their patients Covid. Check out this opinion piece by Christina Baker Kline (author of The Exiles, The Orphan Train, and many other books.)

Opinion: My father should be in surgery rehab. But with beds full of the unvaccinated, he died in covid quarantine*

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!

*Thanks to the New York Times and Washington Post for allowing me to “gift” my readers with free access to these articles, a lovely perk for subscribers.


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.

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FIRST LOVE, TAKE TWO by Sajni Patel

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.

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THE MATZAH BALL by Jean Meltzer

September 28, 2021

From the publisher:

Oy! to the world

Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.

But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy—Jacob Greenberg.

Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah—and Jacob—in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze. 

A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK SELECTED BY * POPSUGAR BUSTLE BUZZFEED * BOOKPAGE * GOODREADS MEMBERS

“The Matzah Ball had me laughing out loud…an all-around terrific read.”—Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author


Finally a terrific Jewish holiday romance! Rachel is a Jewish writer who happens to love Christmas and writes Christmas romances. But as the daughter of a rabbi, she is afraid of anyone finding out, so she writes under a pseudonym. Her publisher wants to diversify, and asks Rachel to write a Hanukkah romance.

Truth be told, Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday that gets so much attention primarily because of its place on the calendar, aligned as it is with Christmas. Rachel is very much aware of this, and can’t imagine how to go about writing a romance around Hanukkah. Then she finds out that her first love and summer camp nemesis, Jacob, is hosting a big fancy party on the last night of Hanukkah, called the Matzah Ball.

Thinking this event will give her the inspiration she needs, Rachel tries to get a ticket but there are none to be had. Jacob offers to let Rachel volunteer for the week before the event; volunteers get a ticket so she agrees. Some of the funniest, laugh out loud moments happen while she’s volunteering. As they work together, they grow closer, but one thing after another happens to cause them both heartbreak.

Rachel also suffers from a debilitating, chronic illness called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. It’s also referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome, and the author shares that with Rachel. Witnessing how this disease affects her life adds another dimension to this story.

I read this book the day after I attended a beautiful wedding in Chicago. The mother of the bride, my beloved machatunim (hi Nancy!) spoke about bashert, which I always understood to mean soulmate. But here, another explanation is given, and I loved it.

Bashert literally means destiny…in Judaism, that’s not the point of finding your bashert.”

“So what is the point?”

“Your other half exists to make you better. She exists to complete something you lack, and vice versa. You challenge each other, like chavruta, two blades which sharpen each other. But that’s different than love, Jacob. In some ways, it’s more powerful. Because only your bashert, your other half, can fill up what you lack…and help you fulfill your destiny.”

This is a sweet, very funny romance with a lot of heart. It wouldn’t be a Jewish story without frequent mentions of food, family, and Yiddish expressions, and it does not disappoint. Don’t miss it!

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HER PERFECT LIFE by Hank Phillippi Ryan

September 27, 2021

From the publisher:

Everyone knows Lily Atwood―and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all―fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret.

Her own.

Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips―but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he―or she―know the truth?

Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world―and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.

How much will she risk to keep her perfect life? And what if the spotlight is the most dangerous place of all?

Publishers Weekly PICK OF THE WEEK!
Goodreads  BIGGEST MYSTERIES/THRILLERS OF THE YEAR!
Crime Reads MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK!

“Superlative…this is a fast-paced, surprise-packed treat.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

..a well-crafted plot and strong female characters drive a satisfying psychological thriller.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


Lily loves her life. She’s an Emmy-winning TV journalist and a single mom to a precocious daughter, Rowan. Her producer, Greer, and her nanny, Petra, help manage her life. But when her mysterious source brings up her sister, Lily is thrown.

When Lily was 7 years old, her much older sister, Cassie, disappeared. She was a freshman in college when she went missing and she was never found. But Lily is torn; her perfect life would crumble if all her secrets got out.

She’s a single mom because her daughter’s father was a married man. Her sister, Cassie, was involved in drugs and a possible murder when she disappeared. Lily doesn’t want all that coming out, fearing she would lose her credibility and her career. Her source is dragging Greer into his web, and Lily along with her.

I love that these strong women were at the heart of this story, and have to solve the mystery of Cassie’s disappearance, who the source really is, and why he’s doing what he’s doing. And they kick ass!

The suspense kept spiraling up throughout this novel, making it impossible to put down. Ryan is at the top of her game, and that’s really saying something as she’s written so many great books. Don’t miss it!

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HER PERFECT LIFE by Hank Phillippi Ryan. Forge Books; 1st edition (September 14, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250258885. 336 pages.

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PERFECT TIMING by Owen Nicholls

September 26, 2021

From the publisher:

From the author of Love, Unscripted. . . . They’re perfect for each other. But what happens when you meet the right person at the wrong time—over and over again?

“A modern-day love story with an old-fashioned warmth.”—Debbie Johnson, author of Maybe One Day

Up-and-coming musician Tom thinks he met the love of his life one night a year ago, but thanks to a made-up girlfriend, he’s pretty sure he’s never going to see her again. If it weren’t for the painkillers the doctor had given him for his dislocated shoulder, he could’ve explained what really happened. But now the moment for explanations has gone, so he just keeps writing songs about her in the wild hope that she’ll hear one on the radio and understand.

Jess thinks she met a cheating liar one night a year ago, but much to her chagrin, she can’t seem to stop thinking about him. When she finally decides to take it upon herself to tell Tom’s girlfriend what happened that night, she finds out that the truth isn’t quite what she thought it was. But by then it’s too late—she’s headed to the other side of the world to launch her comedy career.

As the years go by, Tom and Jess are never far from each other’s thoughts. But every time it seems that there might be a way for them to move forward, something else conspires to keep them apart. In life and in love, timing is everything—but will Tom and Jess ever manage to get it right?


This was an interesting concept for a romance. Tom and Jess meet serendipitously on a train, have a fabulous date, and then he ghosts her. It haunts Jess, she really felt like they had a connection. So when she runs into him again, she’s very angry.

Tom offers her a reasonable explanation and she decides to believe him. But this time, she hears from his best friend that he has a girlfriend. Angry again that he lied to her about that, she leaves.

They go back and forth like this for years. Almost too many years, it seemed a little dragged out for me. But eventually, they are both single at the same time and realize that they love one another and that’s the end.

I enjoyed this story but I would have liked to see them together more than was presented. There’s no heat at all here, other than when they fight. I need more than that in a romance. This is a romance of missed opportunities, in more ways then the author probably intended.

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

PERFECT TIMING by Owen Nicholls. Dell (September 7, 2021). ISBN: 978-1984826893. 384 pages.

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