MAD ABOUT YOU by Mhairi McFarlane

August 19, 2022

From the publisher:

International bestseller Mhairi McFarlane delivers a sharp, emotional new novel about a woman who calls off her engagement to “the perfect man” and moves in with a charming stranger who makes her question everything about her life, her past, and the secrets she’s kept for far too long…

Harriet Hatley is the most in-demand wedding photographer in town, but she doesn’t believe in romance, loathes the idea of marriage, and thinks chocolate fountains are an abomination. Which is why, when her long-time partner proposes, she panics. Suddenly Harriet is single… and living down the hall from her ex. She needs a new apartment, like, yesterday.

Enter Cal Clarke, a hopeless romantic who just experienced his own wedding-related disaster. Harriet and Cal are like chalk and cheese, but as they go from strangers to roommates to friends, it becomes clear they’re both running from something. When Harriet’s most heavily guarded secret comes to light, her world implodes. And Cal, with his witty humor and gentle advice, is a surprising source of calm at the center of the storm.

With her career, friendships, and reputation on the line, Harriet must finally face her past in order to take control of her future. Because if she’s willing to stop playing it safe and risk everything to share her truth, real love and happiness may be waiting on the other side…

“McFarlane’s gift is writing romantic comedy that depicts a recognizable world… without dimming the luster of shining moments of humor, love, and connection.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Despite its heavy themes of coping with past abuse and loss, McFarlane’s latest, following Just Last Night (2021), is a mostly lighthearted romp through friendship, love, and starting over. Readers of Marian Keyes will be drawn to this British charmer.” — Booklist

https://amzn.to/3PBznyi

This is more women’s fiction than romance or rom-com. Harriet has been through a lot; first, several years with an emotional abuser, then a couple of years with basically a rebound, although it takes her a while to figure that out. She meets Cal when she needs to find a new place to live. One of her closest friends is in real estate and tips her off to this room for rent before it gets posted online. A brief phone call later, and Harriet is moving in.

Harriet is a wedding photographer. She has her own business and it has grown pretty much by word of mouth, helped along by social media. She is shocked to find her abusive ex is the best man at a wedding she is shooting and is even more shocked when it turns out the ex is engaged. Feeling a responsibility to perhaps warn his fiancée about him, she sends the young woman a letter, and unfortunately, she shares it with the ex. Payback is brutal and it costs her a lot of business, and eventually a friendship.

Meanwhile, Harriet finds out that her new landlord is actually the runaway groom from a wedding she was supposed to shoot. She’s harbored bad feelings about him ever since, but it’s getting harder to reconcile that behavior with the landlord she has come to know. Harriet and Cal have a spark for sure, but it is very slow burning.

This story is more about abuse and revenge and friendship, but eventually, it leads to a romance with the requisite happy ending. There are some very funny moments as well as a bit of sex. The characters feel real on the page, and I was completely engrossed in their story. This is another winner from McFarlane!

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MAD ABOUT YOU by Mhairi McFarlane. Avon (August 9, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0063117945. 416p.

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JUST HAVEN’T MET YOU YET by Sophie Cousens

January 7, 2022

From the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of This Time Next Year comes a heartwarming and hilarious tale that asks: What if you picked up the wrong suitcase and fell head over heels for its mystery owner?

Hopeless romantic and lifestyle reporter Laura’s business trip to the Channel Islands isn’t off to a great start. After an embarrassing encounter with the most attractive man she’s ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel and realizes she’s grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation is its irresistible contents, each of which intrigues her more and more. The owner of this suitcase is clearly Laura’s dream man. Now, all she has to do is find him.

Besides, what are the odds that she’d find The One on the same island where her parents first met and fell in love, especially as she sets out to write an article about their romance? Commissioning surly cab driver Ted to ferry her around seems like her best bet in both tracking down the mystery suitcase owner and retracing her parents’ footsteps. But as Laura’s mystery man proves difficult to find—and as she uncovers family secrets—she may have to reimagine the life, and love, she always thought she wanted.

https://amzn.to/31xT07t

The imagination is a wonderful thing – except when it leads you away from what is right in front of you. Or rather, who is right in front of you. That is Laura’s dilemma.

After a pretty funny scene with tampons flying everywhere, Laura reaches her destination, a small island in the Channel Islands. But when she opens her suitcase, she quickly realizes it is not hers at all. It’s a man’s suitcase, judging by the clothes. Curious, she digs through and finds a well read book that she also loves, among other things that convince her that is suitcase belongs to the man of her dreams.

The taxi driver who she gives a rather unflattering nickname to – not out loud, at least – is helpful enough to get her back to the airport to see if her suitcase is there. It’s not, so she decides to keep the one she has until she can meet the man who owns it. Her wardrobe is severely limited, leading to a few really funny scenes.

Meanwhile, Ted, the cab driver, is happy to chauffeur Laura all over the island. She is a journalist and her boss has sent her to the island to follow a happily ever after story – her own parents’ story, in fact. As Ted and Laura spend time together, they get to know each other pretty well. In fact, Laura is the first woman Ted has had any interest in for a very long time, and Laura likes him a lot, too. Except she is willing to push him away in hopes of meeting the “dream man” who owns the suitcase.

Never fear, a happy ending is reached but we get to laugh a lot along the way, and even cry a bit. But maybe that’s me. This is a very sweet romance with a lovely locale and characters that leap to life off the page. Don’t miss it.

1/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

JUST HAVEN’T MET YOU YET by Sophie Cousens. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (November 9, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593331521. 400 pages.

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THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY by Freya Sampson

September 18, 2021

Welcome to Thorndale, Book 4

From the publisher:

Can the magic of Christmas and the

June Jones emerges from her shell to fight for her beloved local library, and through the efforts and support of an eclectic group of library patrons, she discovers life-changing friendships along the way.

Lonely librarian June Jones has never left the sleepy English village where she grew up. Shy and reclusive, the thirty-year-old would rather spend her time buried in books than venture out into the world. But when her library is threatened with closure, June is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save the heart of her community and the place that holds the dearest memories of her mother.

Joining a band of eccentric yet dedicated locals in a campaign to keep the library, June opens herself up to other people for the first time since her mother died. It just so happens that her old school friend Alex Chen is back in town and willing to lend a helping hand. The kindhearted lawyer’s feelings for her are obvious to everyone but June, who won’t believe that anyone could ever care for her in that way.

To save the place and the books that mean so much to her, June must finally make some changes to her life. For once, she’s determined not to go down without a fight. And maybe, in fighting for her cherished library, June can save herself, too.

Good Morning America Buzz Pick
A Library Reads Pick


This book is a love letter to libraries and librarians; no wonder it made the Library Reads top picks! Let me add my voice to the chorus.

If you like charming English villages with quirky characters, then this is your book. If you love libraries, then this is your book. If you like a fairy tale, then this is your book. It certainly was mine.

June’s mom was the head librarian at their little village library for most of June’s life. June started working there right out of school when her mother became ill. June’s father has never been in the picture, and she is extremely close to her mother and nursed her through cancer until she lost her. June has been dealing with her grief by staying in the same house, not changing a thing, and only leaving for work or if she’s absolutely forced to. When the town council announces that they have had budget cuts and are looking at possibly closing six area libraries, including June’s, the town goes into revolt. The politics aren’t good -June’s job is threatened if she conspires with the town folk who are trying to save the library, so she goes undercover. But then she outs herself and decides it is too important to hide.

There is a lot of humor here, along a touch of romance. I loved that this is a look at the importance of libraries in a community, beyond the bookshelves. I loved this book and wish everyone would read it!

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY by Freya Sampson. Berkley (August 31, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593201381. 336 pages.

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A COUNTRY VILLAGE CHRISTMAS by Suzanne Snow 

September 10, 2021

BLOG TOUR!

Welcome to Thorndale, Book 4

From the publisher:

Can the magic of Christmas and the community of Thorndale bring two lost souls together in love?

Olivia doesn’t have time for Christmas or for romance – she’s got a demanding career and has been burned before when it comes to love. This year, she’s spending the festive season in her dad’s old house, packing it up now that he’s moved out. Her dad failed to mention she wouldn’t be spending her time there alone…

The last thing Olivia expects is for her surprise guest to be the very man who literally ran from her after an evening of mutual flirtation. But Tom has nowhere else to go and Olivia is determined to forget the disappointment she felt at his abandonment and instead help him find his way again.

As heavy snow keeps them inside the cottage, will their enforced confinement spark romance once again – or will it push them further apart?

The perfect festive romance to curl up with, for fans of Victoria Walters and Trisha Ashley.


What could be more embarrassing then finding out the man who walked away from a one night stand is now sharing your house? That’s the situation Olivia finds herself in when she goes home to help her dad ready his house for selling. He’s moved into a retirement home, but the former bookseller has a lot of stuff that needs to be dealt with before the sale can go through.

Olivia is not thrilled, to say the least, but has enough respect for her father than she accepts her new housemate. The attraction is still there, but she knows better than to act on it since it didn’t go well the first time.

Turns out Tom, her new roommate, is a writer and her dad loves nothing more than helping writers. He tells Olivia that he is pretty much homeless, and is working on a book. They butt heads quite a bit, and both have enough baggage to make things even more complicated. But as time passes, Olivia starts thawing a bit and Tom starts warming up and eventually, they work their way towards one another.

Like the previous book in this series, A Summer of Second Chances, this was a slow moving story but I liked the characters enough to stay with them. The more I got to know them, the more I wanted them to get their happily ever after. The setting was in a small British village, and that was fun. I liked all the Christmas book recommendations, too!

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A COUNTRY VILLAGE CHRISTMAS by Suzanne Snow . Canelo Escape (September 2, 2021). ISBN: 978-1800325470. 304 pages.

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A SUMMER OF SECOND CHANCES by Suzanne Snow

June 16, 2021

BLOG TOUR!

Welcome to Thorndale, Book 3

From the publisher:

An uplifting and feel-good romance to fall in love with

Sparks and tempers fly when Ben comes to stay in Daisy’s holiday cottage

Daisy likes routine. She goes to work, makes dinner for her son, then loses herself for an hour or two in her sewing. She’s not looking for change, until Ben crashes – literally – into her life.

Ben is training for a triathlon, working himself to the limit in an attempt to forget a recent trauma. Daisy wants to help, but even as they draw closer with every week that passes, he pushes her away whenever things threaten to get serious.

Can Ben open himself up to love again? And with Daisy’s life in the Yorkshire Dales and Ben’s in New York, can they have a future together even if he does?


I haven’t read this author before so I didn’t read the first two books in the series. I never felt like I was missing anything, and in fact, didn’t even realize it was part of a series until I starting working on this review. To me, that says a lot about the author’s skill of creating a book that is part of a series, but can be read as a standalone.

That said, this book was slow going. Ben has some serious issues, and try as she will, Daisy can’t seem to break through his walls. For every step forward it felt like there were at least two steps back. Most romances follow a basic formula; boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back again. Or vice versa. But this boy did not get the girl until the end. I did love the ending of the book, and I liked how Ben and Daisy both helped one another to overcome their own personal obstacles. FYI, there is no sex, only a few kisses if that matters to you.

I liked the characters, I loved the small English village setting, and the ending was perfect. If you like slower paced narratives with a happy ending, then this is your book.

NOTE: Library users, I found this ebook on Hoopla!

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A SUMMER OF SECOND CHANCES by Suzanne Snow. Canelo Escape (June 10, 2020). ISBN:  978-1800324992. 221 pages.

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THE CACTUS by Sarah Haywood

June 6, 2020

5/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE CACTUS by Sarah Haywood. Park Row; First Time Trade edition (May 7, 2019). ISBN 978-0778369073. 384 p.

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25 DAYS ‘TIL CHRISTMAS by Poppy Alexander

January 10, 2020

CLICK TO PURCHASE

From the publisher:

In this heartwarming, feel-good holiday novel, one woman needs to find a little inspiration in the 25 days leading up to Christmas to help her remember the magic of the season and the magic of falling in love—perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan and Josie Silver.

Kate Potter used to love Christmas. A few years ago, she would have been wrapping her presents in September and baking mince pies on Halloween, counting down the days and hours to Christmas. But that was before Kate’s husband left for the army and never came home. Now she can hardly stand December at all.

Kate can’t deny she’s lonely, yet she doesn’t think she’s ready for romance. She knows that her son, Jack, needs a Christmas to remember—just like Kate needs a miracle to help her finally move forward with her life. So she’s decided if there isn’t a miracle on its way, she’ll just have to make her own.

As Kate’s advent countdown to the best Christmas ever begins, she soon realizes that even with the best laid plans, you can’t plan for the unexpected. For when the path of the loneliest woman in town crosses with that of the loneliest man, these two destined hearts might find a way to save the holiday for both of them.


For some reason, I missed this book. I had probably a dozen Christmas books to read this year, and unfortunately, I started and put down the vast majority of them. There were a couple I finished that were okay, and one that I liked a lot. So when I finally read this one, I was sorry I missed it earlier. It was really good. If (unlike me) you want to read your Christmas books before the holiday, grab this one and set it aside until you’re ready. I promise, it is worth it. I like how the book is set up like an Advent calendar. Each chapter is titled by the number of days until Christmas, counting down to the big day. It would be fun to read it that way if you are saving it for next Christmas.

This is a British import so right away I liked the quirky little town and its characters. Kate is a struggling young widow with a little boy who is having some difficulties in school. She is fierce in her love for her boy, and determined to do her best by him, one way or another. Ever since she lost her husband, she hasn’t felt much like celebrating Christmas but she decides this year it is important to celebrate for Jack. Kate is working as a Christmas elf selling trees outside a department store. She hardly makes any money and her boss is a pig. She has regular customers and one she remembers well is Daniel. He is very good looking, but she remembers him more for bringing his sister to get a tree the past couple of years. She has seen the young woman go downhill over that time, and the prior Christmas she was in a wheelchair. Daniel always thought of Kate as “Christmas Tree Girl” and appreciated how kind she was to his sister. When he comes alone this year, she realizes something must have happened.

Daniel and Kate are like two ships passing in the night until an event brings them together. They are both very lonely, and Kate especially isn’t sure she is ready for a relationship. But ultimately this is a romance so you know they will have their happy ending. At times their stories are quite sad, but essentially this is an uplifting and lovely holiday read.

1/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

25 DAYS ‘TIL CHRISTMAS by Poppy Alexander.  Berkley (October 15, 2019). ISBN 978-1984804006. 320p.

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WANT YOU DEAD by Peter James

November 18, 2014

Click to purchase

Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series, Book 10

In this tenth entry into the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series, Grace is preparing for his wedding to Cleo. His long missing wife, Sandy, has been declared dead, but is she?

That is but a minor footnote to this story, which centers on Red Westwood, a young woman being stalked by her ex, Bryce Laurent, a brilliant psychopath, who blames her parents and the police for their break up. Everything was fine until her mother hired a private detective and found out that Laurent had lied about pretty much everything in his past.

Laurent has some serious skills, including pyrotechnics, bomb building, close up magic, and high tech skills beyond that of the police. Red, a realtor, knowing she’s being stalked, refuses to move, fudges her whereabouts when making appointments to show properties to strangers, and in general is just too stupid to live.

Nevertheless, she gets through her days while Laurent plans her demise, frightening her on a regular basis and not caring how many die as he destroys everything and everyone she holds dear.  Short chapters help make the pages fly, and the suspense builds strongly until the expected ending.

Copyright ©2014 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

11/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WANT YOU DEAD by Peter James. Minotaur Books (November 18, 2014). ISBN 978-1250030207. 416p.


THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS by Deborah Crombie

March 15, 2014


Vincent Arnott may seem like an unlikely candidate for kinky sex games and murder, but when DI Gemma James and her partner, DS Melody Talbot, are called to a scene at The Belvedere, that’s seemingly what they find. Arnott, a regular at the hotel, known to the staff as Mr. Smith, is found tied up and strangled on a Saturday morning.

As it turns out, Arnott was a local barrister whose wife suffered from Alzheimer’s. His regular routine included a Friday night dinner at his local pub and semi regular Friday night check-ins at The Belvedere – with secret female companions. It could be this time around Arnott simply chose the wrong woman, but it seems he was also involved in a bit of a dust up at the pub. Gemma and Melody end up questioning a local up-and-coming guitarist who, it’s soon revealed, has a bit of a connection to Gemma and her husband.

This latest from Crombie is the fifteenth title in her long running Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series. Readers new to Crombie will find that there are quite a few references to previous installments but The Sound of Broken Glass does stand alone for the most part. All of the references are character development rather than plot related.

I’ve only read two titles in the series thus far – this one and its immediate predecessor, No Mark Upon Her – but I already love the characters and the setting. Crombie pays great attention to detail on London and its history, almost equal in fact to her depth of focus on building real and believable characters.

Crombie’s next title in the series, To Dwell in Darkness, is due out this fall.

3/14 Becky Lejeune

THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS by Deborah Crombie. William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 25, 2014). ISBN 978-0061990649. 384p.


DEAD TO ME by Cath Staincliffe

January 25, 2014


A young woman is murdered in Manchester, England, and the Murder Investigation Team, headed by the formidable Gill Murray, gets the case.

Gill is good friends with one of her detectives, Janet Scott, a 25-year veteran who loves her job. Rachel Bailey is a young cop who has escaped a tough childhood, and she is smart and ambitious. Murray teams Bailey up with Scott and puts them on the murder case.

Scott is not happy with the arrogant and overzealous Bailey, and Bailey thinks there is something wrong with Scott because she has never tried for a promotion. They uncover a rape that may be related, find a roving drug dealer that may have been the last person to see the young woman alive, and investigate an unsavory boyfriend that the mother is convinced is the murderer.

Janet is a rules oriented, methodical detective while Rachel is headstrong and thinks and acts outside the box. Working together is a nightmare for both of them, but gradually they learn to respect each other as they work the case through to the shocking ending.

But this is much more than just a murder mystery; these characters are well developed, idiosyncratic and likeable, and that extends to their families and co-workers as well. Most reminiscent of the Cagney and Lacy TV series, this should appeal to readers who enjoy female buddy books like the Rizzoli and Iles series by Tess Gerritsen, the Women’s Murder Club series by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro, or even Lisa Scottoline’s Rosato & Associates legal series.

This book is actually a prequel to a popular British TV series, “Scott and Bailey,” now in its fourth season in the UK and airing on some PBS stations in the U.S. Visit the “Scott and Bailey” Facebook fanpage for more info.

Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

1/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

DEAD TO ME by Cath Staincliffe.  Minotaur Books (January 14, 2014). ISBN 978-1250038548. 400p.