A PRINCESS IN THEORY by Alyssa Cole

December 8, 2018

The Reluctant Royals, Book 1

From the publisher:

From acclaimed author Alyssa Cole comes the tale of a city Cinderella and her Prince Charming in disguise . . .

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

Selected as one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2018!


Once again I read a series out of order. I read the second book first, and loved it so much I hunted down this one. If you loved the Eddie Murphy movie, “Coming to America,” you will love this book. I loved them both.

Cole is a rising star in the romance genre, and landing on the NY Times Notable books list firmly entrenches her as romance royalty. Her characters are skillfully drawn and come to life on the page, the plot moves with laughs and sex and, well, romance. Everything a good, contemporary romance should have is here in a fresh new way. Don’t miss it.

12/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A PRINCESS IN THEORY by Alyssa Cole. Avon (February 27, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062685544.  384p.

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DATING YOU HATING YOU by Christina Lauren

November 21, 2018

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From the publisher:

Everyone knows that all’s fair in love and war. But these two will learn that sabotage is a dish best served naked.

A sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love, Dating You/Hating You by New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren is the story of what two high-powered agents will—and won’t—do to get everything they ever wanted.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending, or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, hilarious story of romance in the modern world.


The writing duo Christina Lauren has become a favorite, so when I saw this older title that I hadn’t read, I grabbed it. It didn’t suck me in immediately the way their other books have. In fact, I started it, put it down, picked it up, put it down for so long that when I picked it up again I had to start over. But then I read it straight through so it was probably more a mood thing with me than anything wrong with the book.

I really enjoyed it, there is a lot of humor and some hot sex and that always works for me. I liked the Hollywood stuff – no real names were used (I don’t think? I am pop culture clueless so maybe…) and the characters really came to life, something this writing team excels at.

A fun read although probably not as good as some of their more recent work. Still recommended.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DATING YOU HATING YOU by Christina Lauren. Gallery Books (June 6, 2017).  ISBN 978-1501165818.  368p.

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THE PROPOSAL by Jasmine Guillory

November 11, 2018

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From the publisher:

“There is so much to relate to and throughout the novel, there is a sharp feminist edge. Loved this one, and you will too.”–New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay

The author of The Wedding Date serves up a novel about what happens when a public proposal doesn’t turn into a happy ending, thanks to a woman who knows exactly how to make one on her own…

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn’t come as a surprise–or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…


Another terrific read from Guillory, who is quickly becoming a must read author for me. This is ostensibly the sequel to The Wedding Date, but in the way that romances tend to have sequels. The main character, Carlos, was friends with the main character in The Wedding Date. So if you haven’t read that one, no biggie other than why didn’t you read that one, it was so good! And so is this one.

I loved these characters, they had their faults which only made them seem more real. It is very important in a romance to have characters that you feel invested in, otherwise, who cares. These characters were very well developed and I couldn’t wait to see how their story turned out. Happily ever after, of course, this is a romance, but with a lot of fun, food and sex along the way. And laughs. Lots of laughs.

Another hat tip to diversity here, Carlos is Latino and Niki is black so that’s there, but it is just the way it is and not a commentary on racism. This was just a great story and I highly recommend it. So do librarians – it topped the LibraryReads.org list for October.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE PROPOSAL by Jasmine Guillory. Berkley (October 30, 2018).  ISBN 978-0399587689.  336p.

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THE REAL DEAL by Lauren Blakely

November 4, 2018

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April Hamilton is heading home to the wealthy enclave in Connecticut for her family reunion. She loves her family, she really does, but they don’t understand why she moved to New York City. They don’t understand how she is making a living doing face painting, and they really don’t understand why she isn’t married and moving home.

Several relatives have already warned her they are fixing her up on blind dates while she’s home, so she asks her best friend to accompany her as her “date.” He’s gay, but they won’t know. But at the last minute, he can’t make it and he suggests a bartender he knows who is also an actor on the side and an escort. Not that kind of escort, but the kind who looks good as a date but is strictly platonic. April reads his ad and loves it and arranges to meet him.

Theo Banks is gorgeous, smart and funny and boy, is he in trouble. He has never been attracted to a professional assignment before and he is not sure how this is going to work. But he really needs the money, she is willing and able to pay, so off they go to Connecticut. Where her family falls in love with him, and they fall in love with each other.

There are a lot of laughs and a lot of drama to get through before they reach their happily ever after. I loved these characters and every page of this super fun, sexy romance.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE REAL DEAL by Lauren Blakely. St. Martin’s Griffin (July 10, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250165930.  368p.

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MR. NICE GUY by Jennifer Miller & Jason Feifer

October 18, 2018

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A writing duo writing about dueling writers brings a singular perspective to this charming New York City–centric novel.

Lucas Callahan is the eponymous “nice guy” who is new to the city and thrilled when he has his first one-night stand. Unbeknownst to him, his partner, Carmen Kelly, is a coworker at Empire magazine, where he toils as a fact checker and she is the uberpopular sex columnist. Lucas learns this when he reads about their encounter in the magazine.

Mortified, he pens a scathing response and signs it “Mr. Nice Guy.” To his surprise, the magazine publishes it, and he and Carmen continue to date and write about their encounters. The column breathes new life into the magazine, and Lucas and Carmen forge a relationship of sorts that transforms as they both change and grow. Political intrigue at the magazine adds to the drama, but there are plenty of laughs as well.

VERDICT This first-time effort from author and journalist Miller (The Year of the Gadfly) and spouse Feifer, a journalist and blogger, offers a fun read that is sure to satisfy admirers of Sophie Kinsella and Meg Cabot.

©Library Journal, 2018.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MR. NICE GUY by Jennifer Miller & Jason Feifer. St. Martin’s Griffin (October 16, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250189882.  400p.

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HOLIDAY IN THE HAMPTONS by Sarah Morgan

September 3, 2017

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From Manhattan with Love, Book 5

This is one of my favorite series and I have enjoyed every one of these books. They have all been set in Manhattan but this one moves out to the Hamptons, summer playground of many city dwellers. And if you’re a dog lover, this is a must read!

Fliss and Harriet are identical twins who own a dog walking business in the city. Their business has grown tremendously since Urban Genie, the concierge service owned by the women who starred in the first three books in the series, started recommending them to their clients. The twins had a difficult childhood with a verbally abusive father, and Harriet was a stutterer as a child and Fliss her protector. As adults, Fliss still feels protective over her 3-minute-younger sister.

Fliss was briefly married to Seth Carlyle ten years earlier, and that marriage ended only a few months in. We don’t find out why for quite a while and that journey is at times heart wrenching and funny. When Fliss sees Seth at the vet’s office, she freaks out and when her grandmother suffers a fall, she offers to go out to the Hamptons to take care of her, escaping her ex. Except when she gets out there, she immediately runs into Seth. She freaks out and lies, telling him that she is Harriet. Turns out he was just helping out a friend in the city for a few days, but his practice is really out on Long Island.

Gradually he convinces her to meet with him and talk, but Fliss is used to keeping everything inside, and it is almost impossible for her to overcome all her baggage and open up to him – or to her twin. She grows closer to her grandmother, learns more about the family dynamics that play into her psyche, and eventually finds her happily ever after.

I loved this book. If you haven’t read the others in the series, it is not necessary to read them first. But if you enjoy this one as much as I did, please go back and read them in order. To be honest, I am very tempted to go back and read them all again, and that is not something I say lightly. In order:

1. Sleepless in Manhattan
2. Sunset in Central Park
3. Miracle on 5th Avenue
4. New York, Actually

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HOLIDAY IN THE HAMPTONS by Sarah Morgan. HQN Books (August 29, 2017). ISBN 978-0373803996. 416p.

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YOUNGER by Pamela Redmond Satran

September 2, 2017

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Pamela Redmond Satran was most well known for her baby name books, written with Linda Rosenkrantz and are “acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming.” Which I think is true, but Satran also wrote several chick-lit books back in the day and I loved them, but somehow I missed this one.

I only read this because of the TV show, which I found because I love the Gilmore Girls and watched the re-boot on Netflix. One of the episodes, “Summer,” featured a musical play starring Sutton Foster, who was fabulous. This led me to watching “Bunheads”, a cult favorite from the same creative team as the Gilmore Girls that only lasted one season. I loved that, so when I heard that Sutton Foster was currently starring in “Younger,” I binge watched the first three seasons of that on Hulu, and I’m now caught up in the fourth. During that binge, I noticed it was based on a book and after this very long (probably too long, sorry!) explanation, here I am.

So if you are familiar with the TV show, here’s what you need to know. There have been many name changes, starting with Liza, who is Alice in the book, Kelsey was Lindsey, Diana was Teri, and well, you get the idea. Charles is a woman in the book so no romance there. Josh is still Josh, only he’s a video game designer instead of a tattoo artist. And the book ends way sooner and without half as much drama or fun as the TV series. All that said, it was still fun to read the inspiration behind the series.

If you are not familiar, here’s the plot. Alice has been a stay at home mom whose daughter has now left college for the Peace Corps and her husband, a dentist, has left her for his much younger dental hygienist. Trying to find a job in publishing, where she worked for a few months before a difficult pregnancy, proves much harder than expected. Alice’s best friend Maggie lives in New York City and offers some advice and a place to stay while she’s looking for a job in publishing. Her advice is to do a makeover on Alice, buy her new clothes and prove to her that she can pass for a twenty-something instead of a middle aged housewife.  She does this by taking her to a bar on New Year’s Eve, where she meets and kisses Josh. He is much younger than her, but thinks she is only a few years older than he is, maybe 29? She’s really 44 but by leaving off the past decade or so from her resume, she lands a job with the same publisher she worked for before her pregnancy.

Living a lie causes all sorts of tension and working for a bitch isn’t any more fun for a pretend 29-year-old than it would be for a 44-year-old. Eventually, the truth comes out and Alice dumps Josh before he can dump her. But that wouldn’t make for a happily ever after so at the last possible second, they work it out.

I enjoyed the book and considering it was published twelve years ago, it holds up pretty well. But I have to admit I enjoy the TV show more. There are just so many more complications and plot twists over four seasons than is possible in a book of a few hundred pages.

If you love the TV show, you’ll probably enjoy the book. If you haven’t seen it, read the book then watch it. Either way you’ll have fun – I did.

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

YOUNGER by Pamela Redmond Satran. Gallery Books; First Edition edition (July 5, 2005).  ISBN 978-1416505587.  284p.

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FITNESS JUNKIE by Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza

August 25, 2017

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I first heard about this book from The Skimm, a daily news update I get every morning. It’s a fun way to get the news and these days I need all the fun I can get with my news. Every now and then they include a book recommendation and this one came up the other day and it sounded cute. It was.

As someone who has battled weight issues for most of my life, it was hard to take this book seriously but I was not meant to. It centers around Janey Sweet, the CEO of a high-end designer wedding gown company that doesn’t make a dress in a size larger than 4 (really.) Janey is partners with Beau, her best friend since childhood. Beau is the bitchy, gay stereotypical designer who is completely obsessed with diet and weight. He confronts Janey with a photo taken at a fashion show that shows her eating junk food. He demands she drop thirty pounds per their contract, and not return to work until she does.

Janey is devastated but turns to her girlfriends for help and moral support. Her best friend C.J. immediately takes her under her wing and they start visiting one crazy workout place after another. Janey’s cousin Ivy teaches a spin class at SoarBarre, one of the hottest places to be seen in town. Ivy has always been a kind person, but her clients at SoarBarre aren’t happy unless she is abusing them. She is in therapy for this dichotomy in her life.

But the pinnacle of workouts is something called simply, “The Workout,” started by Sara Strong in partnership with a Gwyneth Paltrow type clone. They have a falling out but the Workout lives on anyway.  It changes its secret location every month, and clients have to be invited to partake. Janey meets a woman who claims to be a shaman and she befriends Janey and invites her.

Janey misses her work, misses Beau but doesn’t miss her ex-husband at all and starts dating, a younger man who she thinks works at the juice bar and takes her dumpster diving at Whole Foods for dinner, and a wealthy, older man she meets through the shaman. The workouts get crazier and culminate in an invitation-only “retreat,” an 8 day, women only, $15,000 party in St. Lucia. Janey ends up in the hospital and learns the lesson that you are only as beautiful as you feel and it doesn’t matter what your weight is. She also figures out that her relationship with Beau isn’t what she always thought it was.

This is a book that could only be set in New York City.  The mindset of New York women who truly believe what my mother always told me, you can never be too rich or too thin, is beautifully satirized here. Some nice shots are taken at Goop and the whole idea of lifestyle ridiculousness that these women swear by. There is not much depth to the story, the only character we really get to know is Janey, but I think that was kind of the point; a shallow read about shallow people and the insanity of our fitness-crazed culture. It was a fun read, and even though I’m from New York and know women like this, it only added to my enjoyment.

8/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FITNESS JUNKIE by Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza. Doubleday (July 11, 2017).  ISBN 978-0385541800. 304p.

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SECRETS IN SUMMER by Nancy Thayer

May 16, 2017

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Growing up on Long Island, New York, and now living in South Florida, I am familiar with the idea of seasonal residents and how the population can double, triple or more during “season.” In Boca Raton, many of our winter residents summer in the Hamptons in New York, and this book, set on Nantucket, was very reminiscent of the Hamptons and that experience.

Darcy Cotterill is a year round resident, but the homes surrounding her own are summer rentals. Darcy is divorced and basically without family, and doesn’t generally bother with the summer residents. She is a children’s librarian and her storytimes feel the strong influx of summer residents, and she does enjoy that.

But this summer brings a family renting the house behind hers that is a shocker. It is her ex-husband Boyz, his wife Autumn, (the woman he left Darcy for,) and her teenage daughter Willow. When Darcy overhears Willow with a boy who is trying to talk her into trying heroin and sex, she rushes over and scares him off, befriending the young teen in the process.

Darcy’s other neighbors include Susan, her husband Otto who may or may not be having an affair with Autumn, and their three rambunctious sons, and on the other side, Clive, a very good looking man who is taking care of his grandmother, Mimi, for the summer. Somehow Darcy becomes involved with all of them.

Meanwhile, Darcy has been seeing Nash Forrester, a carpenter in town, but things are not progressing the way she’d like. She’s tempted by Clive, but as the summer progresses, so does her relationship with Nash. At least until he sees her kissing Clive.

This is a story of multigenerational friendships with a bit of romance, and the beach setting is charming of its own accord. I have to say there was something about the way this book was written that fell flat for me. I liked the characters but most of them, especially the main character Darcy, didn’t seem fully formed to me and the action felt forced a lot of the time. On the other hand, Thayer really nailed the setting and the atmosphere, I could practically smell the salt in the air. All that said, this was my first “beach read” of the summer, and for the most part, I enjoyed it.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SECRETS IN SUMMER by Nancy Thayer. Ballantine Books (May 16, 2017). ISBN: 978-1101967072. 336p.

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MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE by Sophie Kinsella

April 27, 2017

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Kate Brenner is from Somerset, England, a small farming town. But she’s always dreamed of moving to London and finally does, landing an entry level position in a marketing company. Rents are super high, so she has a tiny bedroom in a shared apartment. But she is determined to make it and her Instagram feed is a reflection of the life she wants, rather than the life she lives.

Demeter runs the department and is a scatterbrained leader, whose staff feels bullied at unappreciated. When she asks Kate to get rid of Alex, a guy waiting to see her, Kate falls for him – until she finds out he is having an affair with Demeter. And then Kate gets fired.

She moves home to the farm, where her stepmother has a bit of money and wants to start a glamping business. Kate helps, creates a website and brochure and the business takes off. And then Demeter shows up. Kate gets her revenge but also finds out she really likes Demeter, and her Instagram life is not as perfect as it looks, either.

This was a bit slow at the beginning for me but once I got into it I raced through the rest. The characters were quirky, and the storyline had enough angst and even some suspense to make it interesting. If you like Jane Green, Emily Giffin or Helen Fielding, or you ‘re just looking for a fun read, look no further.

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE by Sophie Kinsella. The Dial Press (February 7, 2017). ISBN: 978-0812998269. 448p.

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