WINNING THE BOSS’S HEART by Hayson Manning

February 12, 2020

WINNING THE BOSS’S HEART by Hayson Manning. Entangled: Indulgence (September 9, 2013). ASIN B00EBRKWEC. 220p.

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BEEN THERE, MARRIED THAT by Gigi Levangie

February 11, 2020

2/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

BEEN THERE, MARRIED THAT by Gigi Levangie. St. Martin’s Press (February 11, 2020). ISBN 978-1250166814. 336p.

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THE KISS LIST by Sonya Weiss

February 10, 2020

THE KISS LIST by Sonya Weiss. Independently published (January 20, 2020). ISBN 979-8601908962. 220p.

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THE APOLLO DECEPTION by Mitch Silver

February 9, 2020

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From the publisher:

Gary Stephens is brought into a government-sanctioned cover-up when he discovers that his father helped fake the Apollo 11 moon landing in the 1960s.

After China announce a space mission to place their own flag next to the one US astronauts planted during the Apollo 11 mission, few people bat an eyelid. Shortly after this statement Charlie Stephens, a 81-year-old former filmmaker, is murdered. The incident is made to look like an accident, but why?

Going through his father’s effects, Gary Stephens – a director of beer and yogurt ads – discovers seven cans of old 35mm film. Dated before the landing, they’re identical to the footage NASA claims was shot by the Apollo 11 crew. The US flag is not and has never been in the Sea of Tranquillity, and only Tricky Dick and a handful of others knew it.

Why was the real nature of the Apollo 11 mission kept hidden? And what measures will be taken to keep the secret buried?


The United States, according to the history books, successfully landed men on the moon in the 1960s. They left many items and successfully set up an American flag in the general area of their arrival. They then left and were retrieved in the capsule designed for the reentry in the midst of the ocean. Going on to the eternal glory attached to their mission the astronauts making the trip left future moon shots to others. And there, of course, were other trips into space, including unmanned voyages around Mars, and others through our solar system and beyond.

For some reason, not readily apparent, a small group of people have always thought that the first Moon landing was staged, done for the publicity involved and perhaps to bring apparent obedience to the promise of John F. Kennedy, who resolved that the U.S. would land men on the moon before the end of the decade of the 1960s.

Mitch Silver, in an afterward of the novel, indicates that he is not one of the doubters involved with debunking the landing, but brings his readers a seat-of-the-pants novel outlining the possible consequences of a faked trip.

Gary Stephens, a filmmaker, is the son of one man that worked on the Moon Landing team. His father is killed in a boating accident and Gary begins to go through his Dad’s things. He discovers several tapes showing that the landing was staged. At the same time, China announces that they are ready to launch an expedition to the moon and plan to land in the same area as the U.S. did and plant their flag with the American banner showing solidarity, at least in the world of space travel.

Gary decides to take the tapes made by his father to the government and expose the farce. The novel does a very creditable job of describing the reactions of the U.S. to the news and their plans to launch another trip as quickly as possible to rectify the non-existence of material where it should be.

Research is evident in Silver’s descriptions of the process and events, and the creation of a definite all-nighter for his readers.

2/2020 Paul Lane

THE APOLLO DECEPTION by Mitch Silver. Severn House Publishers; First World Publication edition (February 4, 2020). ISBN 978-0727889751. 224p.

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LOVE HER OR LOSE HER by Tessa Bailey

February 8, 2020

LOVE HER OR LOSE HER by Tessa Bailey. Avon (January 14, 2020). ISBN 978-0062872852. 352p.

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A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA by Isabel Allende

February 7, 2020

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From the publisher:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of The House of the Spirits, this epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home.

“One of the most richly imagined portrayals of the Spanish Civil War to date, and one of the strongest and most affecting works in [Isabel Allende’s] long career.”—The New York Times Book Review

In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires.

Together with two thousand other refugees, they embark on the SS Winnipeg, a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, to Chile: “the long petal of sea and wine and snow.” As unlikely partners, they embrace exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning, and over the course of their lives, they will face trial after trial. But they will also find joy as they patiently await the day when they will be exiles no more. Through it all, their hope of returning to Spain keeps them going. Destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world, Roser and Victor will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along.

A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile, and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea shows Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.


Isabel Allende presents her readers with what may very well be her masterpiece; an epic story of people caught up in world events and living through tumultuous times. Moving through the Spanish civil war and then events in Chile as they occur in the twentieth century the author takes hold of her readers and does not ease up until the book ends.

Roser, a young lady coming of age, and Victor Dalmau, who is an army doctor and the brother of Roser’s sweetheart, are the central protagonists of the story. Events occurring during the civil war breaking out in Spain in 1936 first throw the two together. Francisco Franco and his fascists lead Spain away from its government with a revolution establishing the long term rule of a dictatorship. The author captures the essence of what the uprising was with descriptions of the horrors and excesses of war and the depravity of Franco as he assumes total power in the country. It then becomes necessary for thousands to flee Spain if they are not to be killed. Roser, who is pregnant with her lover’s baby, and Victor travel away from Europe together with their destination the Latin American country of Chile. En route, they learn that Chilean immigrant visas are most likely to be given to families and decide to marry to ensure their entrance to Chile. They do so vowing to divorce as soon as feasible and of course when Victor’s brother, Roser’s lover arrives from Spain.

The second part of the book deals with changes in Chile during most of the twentieth century starting with the second world war taking place in Europe and Africa and then the country’s development going forward. Roser and Victor’s characters are very well fleshed out as are many of the other people taking part in the story. The rule by Salvador Allende is outlined and due to the fact that Isabel’s father was a first cousin to him his treatment is favorable. His overthrow and assassination are not blamed on his dictatorial conduct but on other malevolent factors. This is the author’s opinion and does nothing to harm the overall story.

The growth and development of Roser and Victor and their personal changes during this period are brilliantly described by Allende. The reader will easily follow and understand the reasoning behind their actions and capture the shifts as time and events go forward. Totally a five-star book and a milestone for Isabel Allende.

2/2020 Paul Lane

A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA by Isabel Allende. Ballantine Books (January 21, 2020). ISBN 978-1984820150. 336p.

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PROJECT DUCHESS by Sabrina Jeffries

February 6, 2020

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Duke Dynasty, Book 1

From the publisher:

From New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries comes a sparkling new series about an oft-widowed mother’s grown children, who blaze through society in their quest for the truth about their fathers . . . and in the process find that love just might conquer all . . .

A series of stepfathers and a difficult childhood have left Fletcher “Grey” Pryde, 5th Duke of Greycourt, with a guarded heart, enviable wealth, and the undeserved reputation of a rogue. Grey’s focus on expanding his dukedom allows him little time to find a wife. But when his mother is widowed yet again and he meets the charmingly unconventional woman managing his stepfather’s funeral, he’s shocked to discover how much they have in common. Still, Grey isn’t interested in love, no matter how pretty, or delightfully outspoken, the lady . . .

Beatrice Wolfe gave up on romance long ago, and the arrogant Duke of Greycourt with his rakish reputation isn’t exactly changing her mind. Then Grey agrees to assist his grief-stricken mother with her latest “project”: schooling spirited, unfashionable Beatrice for her debut. Now that Beatrice is seeing through Grey’s charms to his wounded heart, she’s having trouble keeping him at arm’s length. But once Grey starts digging into her family’s secrets, she must decide whether her loyalties lie with her family . . . or with the man whose lessons capture her heart . . .


Sabrina Jeffries writes a good, steamy romance so I was very happy to see she is starting a new series. Because it is the first book in the series, there are a lot of characters, but she does a good job of introducing them without overwhelming. Grey is our hero, and he is a man with a difficult past. Even dukes can have baggage, (apparently to this day!) and his troubled childhood has left him wary of letting anyone in. But when he meets Beatrice, her refreshing way of speaking her mind disarms him.

Beatrice has been living out in the country in pretty much isolation, other than her extended family and the help. She and Grey have much in common, they both lost family members, and both have little use for pretense. But Grey’s mother, the thrice widowed dowager duchess, is determined to have Beatrice come out along with her daughter, Grey’s sister. To that end, while they are in mourning, they take the opportunity to teach the girls the graces, and subterfuge, that is necessary to succeed in London’s high society.

Grey is determined to never lose his heart and plans on marrying eventually, but in the way of much of the ton, purely for business reasons, for lack of a better term. But he is enraptured with Beatrice, fight it as he may. Not to mention Grey’s half-brother suspects Beatrice’s brother of killing two of their mother’s husbands. Yes, it is a bit complicated but that’s half the fun. A bit of mystery, some steamy sex, lots of secrets, and a big family all combine to create a terrific start to this new series. If you enjoy your romances historical, quick, fun, and sexy, then read this book. I’m very glad I did.

2/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

PROJECT DUCHESS by Sabrina Jeffries. Zebra (June 25, 2019).  ISBN 978-1420148558. 400p.

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HOUSE ON FIRE by Joseph Finder

February 5, 2020

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A Nick Heller Novel, Book 4

From the publisher:

In New York Times bestselling author Joseph Finder’s electrifying new thriller, private investigator Nick Heller infiltrates a powerful wealthy family hiding something sinister.

Nick Heller is at the top of his game when he receives some devastating news: his old army buddy Sean has died of an overdose. Sean, who once saved Nick’s life, got addicted to opioids after returning home wounded from war.

Then at Sean’s funeral, a stranger approaches Nick with a job, and maybe also a way for Nick to hold someone accountable.

The woman is the daughter of a pharmaceutical kingpin worth billions. Now she wants to become a whistleblower, exposing her father and his company for burying evidence that its biggest money-maker was dangerously addictive. It was a lie that killed hundreds of thousands of people, including Sean.

All Nick has to do is find the document that proves the family knew the drug’s dangers. But Nick soon realizes that the sins of the patriarch are just the beginning.

Beneath the surface are barely concealed cabals and conspiracies: a twisting story of family intrigue and lethal corporate machinations. In a deadly game of chess that pits Nick against a family dynasty, against brothers and sisters with schemes of their own, Nick learns how far his enemy is willing to go to protect its name and its wealth.


There are commonalities about novels written by Joseph Finder that make him one of today’s top authors. These are excellent plots, well defined principal characters, a writing style that allows his readers to dive into the story, and reading it generally in one rewarding session. “House on Fire” is no exception and is easy to classify as a mesmerizing five star read.

Nick Heller, a private investigator used in previous novels by the author, is front and center in this book. Nick receives the unwelcome news that a good friend of his has died from an overdose of opioids and he is invited to the funeral. Once there he meets the daughter of the man in charge of the pharmaceutical company that manufactures and distributes the drug that his friend was hooked on and which killed him. The woman tells Nick that she has made it her life’s work to find evidence, indicated as suppressed, of the drug’s becoming addictive and harmful to the taker. She hires Nick to help her find the derogation study, known to exist, and help victims of the opioid go against her family’s company in order to collect funds that could help them financially in surviving their lives of drug dependency.

The story moves Nick through meeting the family at a dinner and then again while attending a corporate sales meeting as a guest of the lady that hired him. Finder takes the reader through the politics of the family owning the company and paints a realistic picture of what undoubtedly goes on in any situation where a great deal of money is involved. Who hates who, who loves who and what are the schemes to keep on the good side of the patriarch of the family who controls who gets what. Nick had lost his wife in a previous novel and while not actively searching for another has several instances of sexual activity in “House on Fire.” This, in no surprise, includes the woman that hired him to help find evidence against the company that she and her family have an interest in. The addition of a little spice serves to make Nick a human being with normal needs rather than a superman.

The ending is one with an interesting twist but becomes logical as the story unfolds. As stated it is a five-star novel, and the only thing that is negative is that Joseph Finder does not dash off novels one after the other but takes his time and it is usually at least a year between them. But certainly, it is well worth the wait.

2/2020 Paul Lane

HOUSE ON FIRE by Joseph Finder. Dutton (January 21, 2020). ISBN 978-1101985847. 384p.

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Avon Books Announces Two Acquisitions After Open Submission for Own Voices Romances

February 4, 2020

New York, NY (February 4, 2020) – Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, today announces the acquisition of two original works of romance fiction, the result of an “open submission” call for “compelling, heartfelt romances featuring authentic perspectives” that the publisher conducted in Summer 2019 to encourage increased diversity and amplify representation of writers of all backgrounds.  Authors Preslaysa Williams and Thien-Kim Lam each received a publishing contract for Own Voices contemporary romance novels that are scheduled to be published in 2021.

Editorial Director Erika Tsang signed Thien-Kim Lam, an author of stories about Vietnamese characters who smash stereotypes and find their happy endings.  Lam’s novel centers on heroine Trixie Nguyen, who is determined to make her sex toy business a success, proving to her traditional Vietnamese parents that she can succeed in a non-traditional career. Her first pop-up event is going well…until she runs into the ex who dumped her. Tsang says, “There’s an energy in Thien-Kim’s writing that I fell in love with almost right away. And the story feels universal, especially as it relates to our heroine Trixie, who bucks people’s expectations of who she should be and strikes out on her own path. With sex toys.”

Executive editor May Chen acquired Preslaysa Williams, an award-winning author and professional actress who writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction with an Afro-Filipina twist. Williams’s novel features an exciting new slow-burn contemporary about Maya Jackson, a Manhattan-based, Afro-Filipina wedding gown designer who learns to trust in herself and her ability to love again when she returns home to Charleston, South Carolina, and finds herself helping a widowed single father keep his struggling bridal shop afloat.  Chen says, “Reading this manuscript, it was immediately evident how much Preslaysa loves sharing her culture with her readers. Plus, Preslaysa’s acting background definitely shone through – the romantic tension drama runs high in this sweet and sexy book!”

“Lam and Williams are stellar additions to Avon’s growing diverse title program,” says Tsang.  She continues, “We saw a number of promising manuscripts, and as those projects develop, we hope to identify additional compelling Own Voices romances for the Avon list.”

About Avon Books:

Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, is one of America’s preeminent romance houses and developed the careers of such bestsellers as Tessa Dare, Eloisa James, Beverly Jenkins, Lisa Kleypas, Sarah MacLean, Julia Quinn, Lynsay Sands and Cat Sebastian. Avon is also home to some of the most important names in contemporary romance and women’s fiction, such as Ilona Andrews, Alyssa Cole, Jeaniene Frost, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Alisha Rai, Jennifer Ryan, Jill Shalvis and Mia Sosa. Avon Books has been publishing award-winning romance and women’s fiction since 1941. For our complete mission statement, please visit www.avonromance.com.

About HarperCollins Publishers:

HarperCollins Publishers is the second largest consumer book publisher in the world, with operations in 17 countries. With 200 years of history and more than 120 branded imprints around the world, HarperCollins publishes approximately 10,000 new books every year in 16 languages and has a print and digital catalog of more than 200,000 titles. Writing across dozens of genres, HarperCollins authors include winners of the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Newbery and Caldecott Medals and the Man Booker Prize. HarperCollins, headquartered in New York, is a subsidiary of News Corp and can be visited online at corporate.HC.com.

 


HUNTING FOR A HIGHLANDER by Lynsay Sands

February 4, 2020

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Highland Brides, Book 8

From the publisher:

Four Buchanan brothers have found their brides…only three more to go in this scintillating romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands…

Lady Dwyn Innes feels utterly out of place among the eligible women who’ve descended on Buchanan Keep, vying for the attention of the last unmarried brothers. She isn’t long-legged and slender like her sisters, or flirtatious and wily like other lasses. Since her betrothed died, Dwyn has resigned herself to becoming an old maid. Yet a chance encounter with a stranger in the orchard awakens her to a new world of sensation and possibility…

After weeks away, Geordie Buchanan returns to find his home swarming with potential brides, thanks to his loving but interfering family. But one lass in particular draws his attention from the moment he spies her climbing a tree. Lady Dwyn is not nearly as plain as she thinks. Her lush figure and eager kisses delight him, as does her honesty. But the real test lies ahead: eliminating a hidden enemy, so that he and Dwyn can seal their Highland passion with a vow.


This series started out hit or miss with me, but two in a row have been really fun reads so I’m on board. This book has a lot of humor, mostly centering around the heroine’s large boobs, the low cut gowns her sisters are forcing her to wear, and said boobs’ propensity to pop out on a fairly regular basis. Despite her forced lack of decorum, or maybe because of it, I really liked Lady Dwynn. She is honest and kind and empathetic, and Geordie always really likes her. Unfortunately, he had told his older brother that he has no intention of marrying, which Dwynn overheard, but things have a way of changing.

This is a steamy love story, and as in all the books in this series (at least the ones I’ve read), there is also a bit of suspense. The women who are vying to be brides for the single men also have other demands that must be met, chief of which is making the husband heir to whatever lands they own. The problem for Dwynn is that they have a mentally ill neighbor who has a vendetta against her, but also wants the land. The book takes a dark turn towards the end but of course, there is the guarantee of a happy ending. Thank goodness. I need my happy endings!

This was a really fun and sexy read and I couldn’t put it down. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

2/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HUNTING FOR A HIGHLANDER by Lynsay Sands. Avon (January 28, 2020).  ISBN 978-0062855374. 384p.

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