WINTER IN PARADISE by Elin Hilderbrand

October 17, 2018

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Paradise, Book 1 with a meaningli

Hilderbrand leaves her beloved Nantucket and moves to another beach community, this time in the Virgin Islands on St. John. It is a seamless transition, and this is a terrific start to a new trilogy.

There is a slight relationship to the Winter Street series; Irene Steele, our heroine, is a second cousin to Winter Street’s Mitzi Quinn. But that is neither here nor there because we are quickly drawn into Irene’s life. She’s 57 and just been “promoted” at work to a pointless position with a meaningless title, no real responsibility or decision making ability, probably in hopes that she will retire so the next generation can take over. Her husband, Russ, is away yet again on business, leaving Irene to take care of her ailing mother-in-law who is ensconced in a lovely, caring assisted living facility. Her two sons, Baker and Cash, are grown, don’t get along especially well, and are off living their own lives.

Irene is a woman at loose ends, that is until she receives a phone call telling her that her husband has been killed in a helicopter crash in the Virgin Islands. His secretary, with the unfortunate name of Marilyn Monroe, doesn’t have much information and what she has is sketchy. Then she disappears.

Irene is shocked to discover that Russ’s boss has claimed his body and had him cremated. Not to be put off, she flies to the island with her sons, determined to find out what happened. Why was her husband even in the Virgin Islands? She’s been told he has “interests” there, whatever that means.

As Churchill once said, this is “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” and it makes for compelling reading. We quickly learn that Russ owns a home – a multi-million dollar home – on the beach in St. John’s, where he is known as the “invisible man.” Irene is even more distraught when she learns he had a mistress there. His secrets are unraveling and so is Irene’s life.

This was a one night read for me, I couldn’t put it down. I loved these characters and can’t wait to see what happens next – the book leaves many loose ends. I’m just sad I’m going to have to wait a year to find out more!

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WINTER IN PARADISE by Elin Hilderbrand. Little, Brown and Company (October 9, 2018). ISBN 978-0316435512.  320p.

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SEASON OF WONDER by RaeAnne Thayne

October 6, 2018

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From a nice Jewish girl, Christmas book reviews, day 4. 

Haven Point Series, Book 9

From the publisher:

It’s a long way from New York to Idaho…but could they have found a home at last?

Dani Capelli has never truly belonged anywhere. And from her earliest days as a foster child in Queens, she would have been lost if it weren’t for her love of animals. Until high school, when she fell hard for the wrong boy, and found herself pregnant—and married—by graduation. Two daughters later, Dani realized her mistake and filed for divorce, and with the help of scholarships and loans—and a lot of macaroni and cheese dinners—she enrolled in vet school. Things were finally looking up…until her ex-husband became her late husband, in the most notorious way possible.

Now Dani and her daughters need an out-of-town pass more than ever. So when the retiring Haven Point veterinarian offers her a chance to settle in the small Idaho town and take over his practice, she jumps at it. But adjusting to the charming mountain community isn’t easy; thirteen-year-old Silver begins acting out while six-year-old Mia is growing too attached to Haven Point and everything in it, especially their next-door-neighbor, Deputy Sheriff Ruben Morales. And Dani can’t blame her. Ruben is everything she’s secretly wanted—and everything she can’t bear to risk loving…and losing.

As the holidays draw near, their shared concern for Dani’s daughters brings them closer together, giving Ruben the chance to show this big-city woman just how magical Christmas in Haven Point can be…and that the promise of a home at last is very real in the most wondrous season of the year…


Stores start putting out their Christmas stuff now (or even earlier) and the Christmas books start coming now, too. Wish someone would write a new Hanukkah romance. Hanukkah celebrates a miracle, too, so why not?

I started this series with book 8 and I’m moving right along. Guess they come fast when Christmas is right around the corner.

This is another warm, wonderful story with interesting characters who you can’t help but care about. I love the small town setting, too. Not sure why, if I had to live in a small town I’d probably lose my mind but I do love reading about them. Same with the winter – I’ve lived in Florida for over 40 years and don’t think I could handle cold weather and all that snow and ice. But I love watching it on TV!

Thayne is a good storyteller with the ability to draw the reader in right from the get go. I got so involved that I hated to put the book down until I got to the happy ending. Love those happy endings.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable holiday read with a sweet romance, look no further.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SEASON OF WONDER by RaeAnne Thayne. HQN; Original edition (September 25, 2018). ISBN 978-1335947932.  320p..

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THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN by David Baldacci

October 5, 2018

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From a nice Jewish girl, Christmas book reviews, day 3. 

From the publisher:

A HALLMARK CHANNEL ORIGINAL MOVIE

One of America’s most critically acclaimed storytellers, David Baldacci has enthralled millions with his popular novels. Showcasing his remarkable versatility, Baldacci gift-wraps a beloved holiday classic…

Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington, D.C., to L.A. in time for Christmas. Forced to travel by train, he begins a journey of rude awakenings, thrilling adventures, and holiday magic. He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, as he rediscovers people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost.

David Baldacci’s THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN is filled with memorable characters who have packed their bags with as much wisdom as mischief…and shows how we do get second chances to fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams, especially during this season of miracles.


So I was cleaning out a closet and found this book. (Yes, my closets have books in them, at least they did. I think I’ve gathered them all by now.) It is written by the thriller master, David Baldacci, and is so far out of his wheelhouse that he seems like he is channeling Debbie Macomber. But he’s not. I don’t think.

Anyway, I decided to read it and I’m very happy I finally did. This is a wonderful Christmas story and right after I read it, I found the Hallmark movie version. They did a good job, they’ve had lots of practice turning romance novels into romantic comedy movies. It is set on a train, and in a coincidence, some friends recently took a train trip across Canada, which sounded really nice. I was definitely in train mode for this book.

There is a bit of a mystery going on (I guess Baldacci just couldn’t help himself) in that several of the guests have lost something. Nothing too major, things like a favorite pen and a pair of sunglasses. But who is taking these things, and why?

If you think of this as a kinder, gentler Murder on the Orient Express, without the murder of course, you get the idea. Two of the passengers had a relationship several years earlier that ended badly, but being stuck together for days on a train leads to some soul searching and reconciliation.

If you, too, have this book laying around, I recommend picking it up and reading it. You could also buy it or borrow it from your library.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN by David Baldacci. Sourcebooks Casablanca (September 4, 2018)). ISBN 978-1492641599.  320p..

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CHRISTMAS ON MISTLETOE LANE by Annie Rains

October 4, 2018

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From a nice Jewish girl, Christmas book reviews, day 2. 

Sweetwater Springs, Book 1

From the publisher:

This USA Today bestselling author invites you to the delightful small town of Sweetwater Springs where the magic of Christmas brings to strangers together in this “story you won’t forget” (RaeAnne Thayne, New York Times bestselling author).

Christmas is coming to the North Carolina mountains, and the air is fresh and crisp and filled with promise. After the devastating loss of her job in the big city, the small town of Sweetwater Springs feels like heaven to Kaitlyn Russo. She’s inherited her grandparents’ charming (if a little rundown) bed and breakfast, and it’s just the new lease on life she needs. Only “heaven” comes with a catch-and a handsome and completely infuriating one at that.

After what he hopes will be a quick trip, Mitch Hargrove wants nothing more than to put his hometown in the rearview mirror. But his plans get derailed when he learns he’s now half-owner of the Sweetwater B&B. The fact that he’s given only two months to make the inn a success is a huge problem, but it’s his pretty-and incredibly headstrong-partner who’s the real challenge. With the holiday fast approaching and a grand re-opening looming, will Mitch keep running from the ghosts of Christmas past . . . or will he realize the true gift he’s been given?


I’m on a roll – this is another new series that I’ve started with the first book. Maybe it will become a trend!

This was a sweet romance that just happened to be set around the end of the year. It’s not a Christmas story, per se, other than the decorations. But it has lots of small town charm, likeable characters and an unlikely romance, put together by a deceased grandparent. What can I say, it works!

Kaitlyn was fired from her dream job under a cloud of suspicion, and she is thrilled to have somewhere to run. Her family situation isn’t the best, but she loved the grandparents who left her the B&B, even though she didn’t get to spend much time with them. On the other hand, they practically raised Mitch since his mother worked two jobs.

Mitch is dealing with the aftermath of a horrible car accident when he was a teenager. Guilt is a terrible thing, especially when fueled by the animosity of the victim’s family. But he is a good person and a good, caring man who truly needs to be forgiven.

They have their problems for sure, but they work them out to find their happily ever after. This was a very enjoyable read.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CHRISTMAS ON MISTLETOE LANE by Annie Rains. Forever (September 25, 2018). ISBN 978-1538713952.  432p..

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ALASKAN HOLIDAY by Debbie Macomber

October 3, 2018

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From a nice Jewish girl, Christmas book reviews, day 1. 

From the publisher:

“[Debbie] Macomber brings her signature charm to this appealing tale of an aspiring chef. . . . This charmer will please Macomber fans and newcomers alike.”—Publishers Weekly

Debbie Macomber brings us to the Alaskan wilderness for a magical Christmas tale about finding love where it’s least expected.

Before beginning her dream job as sous chef in one of Seattle’s hottest new restaurants, Josie Avery takes a summer position cooking at a lakeside lodge in the remote Alaskan town of Ponder. Josie falls for the rustic charms of the local community—including Jack Corcoran, the crotchety keeper of Ponder’s famed sourdough starter, and, in particular, the quiet and intense Palmer Saxon, a famed master swordsmith.

Josie and Palmer become close during the long Alaskan summer days, but Josie knows that, come fall, she’ll be returning to reality and the career she’s worked so hard for. Palmer, on the other hand, would like nothing better than to make Josie his wife and to keep her in Ponder. But Josie can’t imagine abandoning her mother back in the Emerald City and sacrificing her career to stay in this isolated town—not even for a man she’s quickly coming to love.

Fate has other plans. Josie misses the last boat out of town before winter sets in, stranding her in Ponder and putting her dream job at risk. As the holidays approach, Josie and Palmer must grapple with the complications that arise when dreams confront reality, and the Christmas magic that can happen when they put their faith in love.

Debbie Macomber is at her best in this beautiful holiday story about the far journeys we travel to find a place to call home.


I was really excited about this book. I love Christmas books, and have really enjoyed most of Macomber’s. I also love any book set in Alaska; living in Florida, it is like another world to me. And I’m a foodie, so any book with a chef as the main character automatically grabs my interest.

While I enjoyed this, it did not live up to my expectations. I actually put it down a couple of times to read other books, then came back and eventually finished it. I know that when that happens, it means the book is not holding my attention as well as it should. I didn’t get lost in the story, and I was kinda bored through much of it.

The plot was a geographic love problem; Palmer lives in such a small town that when winter comes, it can take weeks to get out and there’s no mail service. Josie is from Seattle, and loves living in that city. They fall in love but never tell each other and of course, this being a Debbie Macomber book, their physical relationship is limited to kissing. I can live with that, I know what to expect. But every obstacle was easily anticipated and worse, there were no real surprises and dammit, I want to be surprised sometimes.

I did like these characters and that helped me keep reading because I wanted them to get their happy ending. The secondary characters were not developed at all, they were just used as a way to move the plot on occasion.

Maybe the Hallmark movie will be better. I’m assuming there will be one, I think they have made movies from her last several Christmas books. I’ll wait and see.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ALASKAN HOLIDAY by Debbie Macomber. Ballantine Books (October 2, 2018). ISBN 978-0399181283.  256p.

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CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS by Susan Wiggs

June 29, 2018

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The Lakeshore Chronicles, Book 10

This is such a long series that it warranted not one, but two Christmas books. I love me a good Christmas romance so I was delighted. And lest you think I’m just some kind of Susan Wiggs/Christmas story nut, I’ll have you know that this book has 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon! So at least I’m in good company.

This is Logan O’Donnell’s story, and I was surprised and happy to learn more about him than just what we’ve learned through Daisy’s eyes. He becomes a fully realized character here who deserves his own happily ever after. If you haven’t read the entire series (you really should!) Wiggs provides enough details here to make the story compelling without leaving more familiar readers impatient, a fine balance that she has achieved throughout this series.

Darcy Fitzgerald has had a very rough year. She’s divorced and missing her step-children and she’s bound and determined to protect her heart from ever experiencing that kind of pain again. Until she meets Logan.

Logan has planned a special Christmas for his son, and his whole family comes to Avalon to help them celebrate. There is a lovely subplot involving a couple of children that Logan helps out that really added to the whole miracle of Christmas theme.

Darcy’s hiding out in Avalon because her cheating ex has a brother who is married to her sister – complicated, of course, but why not. So she is trying to avoid her family this year. Logan and Darcy are meant for each other, but they both have so much baggage and obstacles to overcome to get there. I loved reading their story.

Divorce is a major theme in this book, how it affects everyone from the adults to the children. As a child of divorce, I appreciated that it wasn’t just glossed over and I could certainly relate. Once again Wiggs delivers an engaging romance with the added bonus of the spirit of Christmas. I loved it.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS by Susan Wiggs. MIRA; Original edition (October 28, 2014). ISBN 978-0778316671. 384p.

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THE PERFECT MATCH by Kristan Higgins

November 15, 2017

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Blue Heron Series, Book 2

So I just realized I have read a book in this series, the fifth book, in fact, last year and never got around to reading any more until I was prompted to by my work daughter, Caitlin. I read the first book, this is the second in the series and apparently, I read the fifth book last year. Just when I thought I was reading a series in order!

This book put me in mind of another book I recently read and will be reviewing in early December when it comes out, Roomies by Christina Lauren. Both center around a fraudulent marriage to gain an immigrant the cherished green card.

Honor Holland has been best friends with Brogan since elementary school. At one point they decided to have sex and do so on occasion over the years. When Honor has her annual pelvic exam, the doctor mentions she might want to start thinking about having children. She’s 35 years old and her best childbearing years are behind her, so she decides to propose to Brogan. She has fancied herself in love with him for years, so why not. Of course, he says no and she is humiliated. To make matters worse, her best friend immediately moves in on Brogan and the next thing Holland knows, they are telling her they are in love, Holland sees red and it’s a real wine tossing, punch throwing, cat fight.

Holland’s grandmother tries to set her up with a penpal’s grandson from England who has been living in the area and needs a green card. Tom is intrigued to meet the hellion he saw rolling around the bar floor, but despite his good looks and dreamy accent, Tom acts like a real jerk. But then they meet up again, and Honor decides he is possibly marriage material.

Tom needs to stay in America for his ex-fiancee’s son. After she died, and his father took off, Charlie has been living with his grandparents who are not happy about it. They use Tom as a babysitter when they’ve had enough, which works for Tom. He fell in love with the kid the first time he met him. Honor is touched by their relationship, and after a wild night of sex, she agrees to marry him.

Of course Honor falls in love with Tom, fighting it all the way. And he with her. But they are both so damaged from their past relationships that it doesn’t look like either one of them will be able to move to where they need to be. Meanwhile, this book is laugh out loud funny, sweetly emotional and all in all, a terrific read. I loved it.

11/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

THE PERFECT MATCH by Kristan Higgins. HQN Books (October 29, 2013). ISBN 978-0373778195. 448p.

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THE CHRISTMAS COWBOY HERO by Donna Grant

November 3, 2017

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Heart of Texas #1

Clayton East is an ex-Navy SEAL who doesn’t want to go home. He lost his brother years earlier and doesn’t like living on the family ranch without him. But his father is having some serious health issues, and it looks like their accountant has made off with the family fortune. His family is in trouble and Clayton has to go home and help his parents, he’s all they have left. And it’s Christmas time.

Then a big chunk of their cattle herd goes missing, along with their $100,000 bull. The sheriff manages to catch one of the perpetrators, a teenage boy named Brice Harper. Turns out Brice and his younger brother Caleb have a legal guardian, their sister Abby. After their mother walked out on the family, Abby was determined to do right by her brothers and she’s been more mother than sister to them. When she gets called about Brice, she is just heartsick.

Clayton is at the jail and she offers to pay him back for the missing cattle if he won’t press charges. But Abby has been living paycheck to paycheck, working for a CPA and taking night classes when she can. When she realizes that she’ll owe Clayton over $250,000, she is beside herself.

Clayton thinks she is beautiful, and he realizes that sometimes you have to give people a second chance. He makes Brice an offer; he can come to the ranch every day after school and every weekend and work off his debt. Clayton is hoping that he will earn Brice’s trust and find his missing cattle as well. Meanwhile, he is falling for Abby and she for him.

The Harpers start spending more and more time at the ranch, and Abby not only falls in love with Clayton but also with his parents, and they love her and her brothers. Clayton and Abby have to get past dangerous cattle rustlers, crooked accountants, have a few close calls, and finally find their Christmas miracle.

I loved this book. I felt like I really got to know these characters, was rooting for their relationship to work out, and there was a bit of heat. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

11/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

THE CHRISTMAS COWBOY HERO by Donna Grant. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (October 31, 2017). ISBN 978-1250165428. 320p.

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CHASING CHRISTMAS EVE by Jill Shalvis

October 11, 2017

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Heartbreaker Bay, Book 4

Colbie Albright is a bestselling author of a dystopian young adult series of books that are being turned into movies, but she writes under a pseudonym. When her publisher asks for a fourth book in the trilogy* to coincide with the movie premier, Colbie finds herself with a severe case of writers block. She decides to hop on a plane to somewhere warm and try and find her muse again.

(*No, that doesn’t add up but isn’t all that unusual! In real life, see Adriana Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap trilogy, I think there are at least 4 books, maybe 5?)

Colbie ends up in San Francisco, asks the cab driver to surprise her and she ends up visiting this famous fountain. Unfortunately, she ends up in the fountain when a large dog takes off and knocks her over. The dog’s walker, Spencer Baldwin, feels terrible and that is your meet-cute. He convinces her to come with him and provides her with laundry service, a place to stay, himself as a San Francisco tour guide and eventually, her lover.

Colbie isn’t exactly forthcoming about who she is and Spence assumes she is a struggling writer working on her first novel. Spence isn’t forthcoming about who he is either; he’s a tech millionaire workaholic with a history of bad romances. But there is such a strong attraction between them that they keep getting together, finding they have more and more in common. But Colbie has to get home by Christmas, and the fact she’s leaving let’s Spence feel comfortable with the short-term relationship. Until they both realize they want more…

If you are looking for a Christmas romance, this really isn’t it. The holiday aspects seem somewhat of an afterthought, but it is a fast, fun read. I thoroughly enjoy this series.

10/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

CHASING CHRISTMAS EVE by Jill Shalvis. Avon (September 26, 2017). ISBN 978-0062697219. 272p.

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CHRISTMAS AT TWO LOVE LANE by Kieran Kramer

October 6, 2017

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Macy Frost believes she is a direct descendant of Cupid, so it’s only natural that she started a matchmaking business with her two best friends.  But things don’t always go as planned as Macy learns after meeting Deacon Banks.

Deacon has moved to Charleston for a month to help his aunt, a retired TV big shot, settle in to her new town. Being from New York has some advantages here, for one thing Macy is enchanted with his accent, and he with hers. But his aunt wants him to meet someone and settle down, so he persuades Macy to set him up on some dates with the proviso that he is only in town for a fling and nothing more. That way he’ll make his aunt happy seeing him date, and he’ll be honest with the women he’s meeting.

Except Macy falls for Deacon, and he for her. Deacon persuades all the women she sets him up with to help him pursue Macy, and Macy finds herself more and more entrenched in a relationship with a client, a definite business no-no.

This is a fun read with a slightly steamy scene or two and I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I never noticed before but it seems to me that there are more and more holiday books every year, and that means I’ll have lots to pick from to get me through the holidays! This was a charming holiday story, and I really enjoyed it.

10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CHRISTMAS AT TWO LOVE LANE by Kieran Kramer. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (October 3, 2017). ISBN 978-1250111043.  352p.

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