THE MISTLETOE SECRET by Richard Paul Evans

December 11, 2016
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I’ve never read this hugely popular author but I saw the Hallmark movie based on Mistletoe Promise  and really liked it, so I decided to read this new book.

Richard Paul Evans writes contemporary romance that is on the sweet side, a sort of male Debbie Macomber, if you will. A little humor, no sex, and happily ever after is the formula and it works.

Alex Bartlett (like the pear) is a salesman in Daytona Beach, Florida who was doing a lot of traveling for his job. His wife met someone and took off, breaking his heart, and Alex is lonely. He has friends, but it’s not enough.

Those friends convince him to try Internet dating but when the site matches him up with his ex, he decides to Google loneliness. He finds a blog written by a woman with the initials LBH, and he really connects with everything she’s written. Determined to meet her, he follows some of the clues she’s left in her blog posts and figures out she is in a small town in Utah.

Alex flies to Utah and stays at a bed and breakfast and the owner is only too happy to help – it is a small town, after all. Eventually he falls for a waitress, Aria, at the local diner but still seeks the mysterious “LBH.” Aria has also been hurt by love, but there is a strong attraction between them – until Alex blows her off when he thinks he’s found his mystery woman.

It’s not too hard to figure out the story but it is enjoyable nonetheless. A quick, sweet holiday story that may end up on Hallmark next Christmas.

12/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE MISTLETOE SECRET by Richard Paul Evans. Simon & Schuster (November 15, 2016).  ISBN 978-1501119811. 320p.



November 13, 2016
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A Twilight, Texas Novel

Although there are several Twilight, Texas novels, this is really the sequel to last year’s I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. That story was a takeoff on the film, The Holiday, where Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet trade homes over the Christmas holiday. In the book, Kate and Gabi trade homes, and Gabi falls in love with Kate’s brother.

This book starts off with Kate’s adventure in Los Angeles while staying at Gabi’s home. She goes to a club where she runs into her first high school crush, Ryder Southerland. He is security at the club and tackles her, mistaking her for a stalker. They end up spending the night together having mind blowing sex, but Kate slips out in the morning and heads home.

The story then picks up a year later. Gabi and Joe’s wedding is taking place on Christmas Eve and Kate is the maid of honor. Ryder is the best man and it is his first time back in Twilight in over a decade. He comes home a few weeks early after he finds out the stepmother who hated him has died. His father is in the hospital and Kate is hired to clear out the house before he comes home. There were major hoarding issues going on there.

Kate and Ryder meet up and the sparks fly, but Kate is afraid of a relationship because of Ryder’s commitment issues. Ryder has feelings for Kate, but is afraid to take the next step. Meanwhile the housecleaning goes on, as do the pre-wedding parties and Ryder and Kate are constantly thrown together.

They end up back in bed again but Kate is treating him like an embarrassment. Eventually Gabi and Joe point out that everyone knows what’s going on and they come out of hiding. A pregnancy scare moves things forward but there is no easy path to the happy ending.

Another fun, sexy read in Twilight, Texas.

11/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A WEDDING FOR CHRISTMAS by Lori Wilde. Avon (October 25, 2016).  ISBN 978-0062311450. 384p.


October 4, 2016
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Debbie Macomber is the Queen of the Christmas novel, and they are often followed up as Hallmark movies. That said, some years are better than others and I’m happy to report that this year is a winner.

Julia Padden is a morning person. A bright, cheerful, bubbly morning person, just the type that her grouchy neighbor Cain can’t stand. They leave for work at the same time and her perkiness is just driving him mad. One morning she catches him stealing her newspaper and she loses it altogether.

Complaining to her best friend Cammie brings a little relief, then Cammie has a brainstorm – instead of just wanting to kill him, she suggests, why don’t you kill him with kindness? And blog about it.

Julia is in the running for her dream job and to get it, she needs to create a blog and amass as many followers as possible. Meanwhile, she’s working her tail off at Macy’s – there’s nothing like retail during the Christmas holidays. Since Christmas is a mere twelve days away, Julia goes for it. She starts writing her blog, nicknaming her neighbor “Ebenezer,” bending over backwards to be kind to him, and writing about their rocky relationship.

Her blog picks up steam every day, and it doesn’t take too long for her campaign to have an effect. A surprising effect – in no more than a week, Julia and Cain have forged a romantic, although Macomber-chaste, relationship. But no good romance goes unscathed, and there is plenty of angst before the requisite happy ending.

This quick read was a great kickoff to the holiday season, full of charm and all the sweetness you could want for Christmas. I loved it –  hear that, Hallmark?

10/16  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Debbie Macomber. Ballantine Books (October 4, 2016). ISBN 978-0553391732. 288p.




October 19, 2015
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A Christmas Novel


I know Macomber is beloved for her sweet stories filled with charming locations, strong friendships and romantic love, and Christmas novels in general are over the top, which I don’t mind, but this book just bordered on the wrong side of silly for me.

Ashley Davidson is a graduate student in California who unexpectedly gets Christmas week off. Determined to go home to Seattle to visit her widowed mother, she is frantic when the airlines tell her they can’t sell her a ticket.

The guy behind her in line is Dash Sutherland, former military, now heading for Seattle for a job interview. He is offered a stand by ticket, but this interview is too important to count on luck.

They both end up at the car rental counter, but there is only one car left in the lot. They end up sharing the car and the ride to Seattle turns into the road trip of a lifetime. Dash and Ashley deal with mistaken identity, puppies dumped by a rest stop, teenage thieves, a motorcycle gang and a crazed FBI agent, yet somehow they find themselves falling in love on the way home. Chaste love, may I add.

Macomber fans will undoubtedly love it but I guess I was looking for a little more substance in my Christmas read. This is an original Hallmark movie, airing on Sunday, 12/13/15 at 9:00 pm.

10/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW by Debbie Macomber. Ballantine Books (October 6, 2015). ISBN 978-0553391695. 256p.