A new, sexy standalone novel from #1 New York Times Bestseller, Vi Keeland.
Terminated for inappropriate behavior.
I couldn’t believe the letter in my hands.
Nine years. Nine damn years I’d worked my butt off for one of the largest companies in America, and I was fired with a form letter when I returned home from a week in Aruba.
All because of a video taken when I was on vacation with my friends—a private video made on my private time. Or so I thought…
Pissed off, I cracked open a bottle of wine and wrote my own letter to the gazillionaire CEO telling him what I thought of his company and its practices.
I didn’t think he’d actually respond. I certainly never thought I’d suddenly become pen pals with the rich jerk. Eventually, he realized I’d been wronged and made sure I got my job back. Only…it wasn’t the only thing Grant Lexington wanted to do for me.
But there was no way I was getting involved with my boss’s boss’s boss. Even if he was ridiculously gorgeous, confident, and charming.
It would be completely wrong, inappropriate even. Sort of like the video that got me into trouble to begin with. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But sometimes it’s twice as fun.
Keeland writes super sexy romances with a lot of humor, and this is a good one. Ireland is a morning TV journalist. She’s worked hard to get where she is but doesn’t get along with her boss and at the first opportunity, he fires her. She is enraged and shoots a drunken email to the owner of the company. She quickly realizes that was a mistake and sends another email, fighting for her job.
Meanwhile, she is hanging out in a coffee shop in the building where she used to work, and meets a very good looking man who asks to share her table. There is definite chemistry there, but he turns out to be the very man she has been emailing, Grant Lexington, the CEO of the company that fired her. He is completely smitten though, and determined to get the girl. So lots of conflict from the get go.
Both of these characters have complex and damaged backgrounds. They will need to work through their own past to find a future together, but while they do, they spend time together until they just can’t fight their attraction anymore.
There are a lot of laughs, some real angst, and some fiery sex scenes as Ireland and Grant find their happy ending. This is a good story that moves fast and was a one night read for me. Highly recommend.
1/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
INNAPROPRIATE by Vi Keeland. C. Scott Publishing Corp. (January 20, 2020). ISBN: 978-1951045043. 364 pages.
Mysterious, unpredictable and most definitely scorching hot
While investigating a criminal network, Detective Crosby Albertson keeps crossing paths with members of the highly trained, suspiciously well-informed McKenzie family. They’re always one step ahead of him—especially their alarmingly attractive intel specialist, Madison. And Crosby needs to find out why.
Madison McKenzie is the tech and surveillance whiz of her family’s operation. A recent case introduced her to Detective Albertson. She finds herself irresistibly drawn to the sexy and mysterious cop. There’s just one problem. He’s a detective and her family’s work is secret. When Crosby starts digging for information about the McKenzies, Madison’s got to get him off the scent…while keeping him at a safe distance.
The McKenzie family business is vigilantism. There are two brothers, Reyes and Cade, their sister, Madison, and their father, Parrish, a former surgeon who runs the business. Reyes owns a gym in a seedy part of town, and Cade owns a bar on the opposite side of town, giving them access to lowlifes who like to talk. And they like to listen. Madison is their tech guru, and she has some serious skills. She also has a massive crush on a local cop, Crosby Albertson, but she doesn’t think he’s interested. He is, it’s just that he is unsure about her family – they always seem to be one step ahead of him on sex trafficking cases, and he isn’t too fond of their penchant for taking things into their own hands.
Crosby has a daughter, Hallie. and he is extremely protective. In his line of work, that should be a given. His nanny is Silver, a woman that he rescued from an abusive marriage, and while they are very close, she is like a grandmother to his daughter, and Crosby is fiercely protective of them both. But his job as a detective involves very long hours, often seven days a week, for not a lot of money. So when Parrish offers him a job, he decides to take it. The money is great and his hours are better. The only hitch is working with this family who sometimes steps outside the law.
Crosby is invited to the family compound, and Madison quickly realizes that he is more than just an employee to her father. In fact, there seems to be a bit of matchmaking going on. And an interesting side romance develops between Parrish and Silver.
Madison can’t help but throw herself at Crosby but he is slow to respond. His other responsibilities weigh on him. But working together brings them closer, and eventually they find their way together but there is a lot of action before that happens. This is romantic suspense, and Crosby and the McKenzies are after a human trafficker that escaped an earlier raid. He’s back in town and creating havoc, and there can be no happy ending until he is taken care of.
I thought this book was a terrific ending to a trilogy, but Lori told me that she is writing another book featuring one of the secondary characters from the series. I can’t wait! This was one of my favorite series in 2021 so I’m thrilled it will be continuing. I think these books can stand alone, but are best read in order. If you like romantic suspense, steamy love scenes, and hot alpha men, you won’t want to miss this.
1/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
WATCHING OVER YOU by Lori Foster. HQN; Original edition (December 28, 2021). ISBN: 978-1335620989. 352 pages.
A TV meteorologist and a sports reporter scheme to reunite their divorced bosses with unforecasted results in this electrifying romance from the author of The Ex Talk.
Ari Abrams has always been fascinated by the weather, and she loves almost everything about her job as a TV meteorologist. Her boss, legendary Seattle weatherwoman Torrance Hale, is too distracted by her tempestuous relationship with her ex-husband, the station’s news director, to give Ari the mentorship she wants. Ari, who runs on sunshine and optimism, is at her wits’ end. The only person who seems to understand how she feels is sweet but reserved sports reporter Russell Barringer.
In the aftermath of a disastrous holiday party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to solve their bosses’ relationship issues. Between secret gifts and double dates, they start nudging their bosses back together. But their well-meaning meddling backfires when the real chemistry builds between Ari and Russell.
Working closely with Russell means allowing him to get to know parts of herself that Ari keeps hidden from everyone. Will he be able to embrace her dark clouds as well as her clear skies?
Amazon’s Best Romances of January
Apple Books’ Best Books of January
Goodreads’ Hottest Romances of January
Buzzfeed’s Most Anticipated Books of 2022
Popsugar, Parade.com, The Nerd Daily, and Fangirlish’s Most Anticipated Books of 2022
Library Reads top ten books published this month that library staff across the country love
Rachel Lynn Solomon follows up last year’s terrific The Ex-Talk with an even better story. This is not a sequel, so no worries if you haven’t read her last book. What I loved most about this new book is the added depth to the story – this is so much more than just a frothy romcom. There are plenty of laughs and some steamy love scenes, but it is the way Solomon has imbued her main character, Ari, with a debilitating mental illness, depression, that really resonated with me.
Ari grew up with a mother who suffered terribly from depression, but she refused to admit it or get any kind of help. Even when her father walked out on the family, in Ari’s mind it was because of her mother’s depression, and it partly was. Her mother dated over the years, but the same issues kept coming up, teaching Ari a valuable lesson: don’t ever let anyone know about her depression. Once Ari hit high school, she realizes that she, too, suffers from this disease, but it’s not until college that she finally gets the help she needs. We learn that with medication and therapy, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Ari has her dream job as a TV weather girl in Seattle, working for Torrance Hale, Seattle’s preeminent TV meteorologist and Ari’s idol. Except things at the station haven’t been the bed of roses she’d dreamt of. While she thinks she’s been doing a good job, she hasn’t had a review or any kind of constructive criticism from Torrance in the three years she’s been there. Ari wants to grow and learn, but it isn’t happening.
It turns out the Torrance used to be married to the news director, Seth, but they’ve been divorced for years. Time hasn’t benefitted their relationship though, they are constantly bickering and are at each other’s throats, to the point where it is creating a hostile work environment. Things come to a head at the company Christmas party, when Torrance throws Seth’s Emmy award out the window.
Russell is a sports journalist at the station. He’s the newest member of the team and that makes him the person covering high school sports. He doesn’t mind, he knows he has time to move up in the hierarchy. He and Ari end up being the last ones at the party and are hanging out at the hotel bar, discussing their bosses. They get the idea that maybe if their bosses got back together, things would be calmer and happier at work. And a plot is hatched. If this sounds familiar, think “The Parent Trap,” which is referenced here. There is also a cute Netflix movie, “Set it Up,” that has assistants matchmaking their bosses.
Outmaneuvering Torrance and Seth isn’t too difficult, but the more Ari and Russell spend time together plotting and scheming, the more Ari realizes she likes him. A lot. But that worries her – her dating history isn’t great. In fact, she was engaged but the relationship was doomed to fail because Ari never told her fiancé about her depression or the meds she was on. But with Russell, Ari feels like she can be herself.
Russell has his own baggage. He’s a single dad to a preteen girl, and his life has been wrapped around his daughter since he was a teenager. He hasn’t had a date in years, and as much as he likes Ari, he isn’t sure how to go about dating and being a dad. But this is ultimately a romance, and while there are plenty of hurdles to their relationship, they get their happily ever after.
There is an author’s note explaining how she, too, suffers from depression, which is undoubtedly why that plot line rings true and is handled with such sensitivity. As someone with family members who suffer from depression, I found it comforting to see someone with a similar affliction living her best life. I also loved that these characters are Jewish and living in Seattle, home to so many inspirational and Christmas romances (I’m looking at you, Debbie Macomber!) It’s not always easy being in a minority, and that, too, is handled with grace and dignity.
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.
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.
He’s cosplaying as her boyfriend but their feelings for each other are real in this romantic comedy from Seressia Glass.
Sometimes Kenya Davenport believes she was switched at the hospital—how else could a lover of anime, gaming, and cosplay come from STEM parents? Still, Kenya dreams of being able to turn her creative hobby into a career. She finally has a chance to make it big when she joins the reality show competition Cosplay or No Way.
There’s just one catch: the challenge for the final round is all about iconic pairs, and the judges want the contestants’ significant others to participate. Unfortunately, Kenya is as single as can be at the moment. Luckily her best friend, Cameron Lassiter, agrees to be her fake boyfriend for the show.
Roleplaying a couple in love will force them to explore what they’re hiding under the mask of friendship. Can Kenya and Cam fake it until she makes it, or will she be real about her feelings, knowing it could cost her the best friend she’s ever had?
Is there anything more fun than the fake dating trope? Well, maybe, but it is a lot of fun and this time is no exception. This book is set in the world of cosplay, which I do not participate in. I don’t generally read graphic novels, and I certainly never read anime or superhero anything, I mean I rarely even watch a superhero movie (sorry, Marvel,) so I was coming at this from a place of unknowing and not too much interest. I felt that way about the Well Met series by Jen DeLuca, set in the world of Renaissance Faires, but I ended up loving that series so here I am, delving into the world of cosplay. I am a curious person and I love learning about things outside my scope of knowledge, and this fit that niche perfectly.
Kenya loves cosplay, but her parents don’t. They don’t understand her fascination with it, and they really don’t understand why she isn’t using the engineering degree they paid for. When her best friend and roommate, Cam, hears about this new reality TV show focused on cosplay, he urges Kenya to enter and she secures a spot on the show. Oh, and Kenya is Black, and Cam is not, which adds another layer of depth to this story.
Everything is going well until she reaches the finale, when the stakes are changed. The final two contestants get some help – but from their significant others. Unfortunately, Kenya hasn’t been in a relationship for a while, but on live TV, she blurts out that Cam will be helping her – then prays he says yes and isn’t too pissed.
Of course he is on board. Years earlier, he had tried to take things to more of a relationship than just friends, but Kenya had shut him down quick. He figures this is the perfect opportunity for her to realize that they can be more.
The ending is no surprise, but it is such a fun journey to get there and that’s what makes this such a terrific read. A lot of laughs, a lot of heart, and some hot sex combine to make this read a winner.
1/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE LOVE CON by Seressia Glass. Berkley (December 14, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593199053. 320 pages.
Falling for your best friend is one thing, accidentally getting knocked up by him is another…
Hockey hottie Garrett Dubiak has been my best friend since college and the one constant in my life the past seven years. Through distance, career changes, and other relationships, we’ve always found our way back to each other.
Including one wild weekend this winter, when he finally told me he wanted more… wanted everything from me.
Too afraid to admit I felt the same, I told him I needed time.
Twelve weeks later, here I am, pregnant with his baby, alone, and terrified.
He’s my best friend. He deserves to know the truth.
So I swallow my fear, my pride, and I shoot my shot. I just hope he’s still willing to have me—and our baby.
I love a good sports romance, and ice hockey is one of my favorites, so I was all in on this and was not disappointed. In a sort of role reversal, Garrett knows he is in love with Lizzie and wants to marry her. But when he told her he loved her, she bolted and said she’d be in touch.
Best friends since college and now with added benefits, Lizzie is scared. After spending the weekend with Garrett, she is sick as a dog, and somehow her meds have negated her birth control and hello, baby. She knows she has to tell him because she also knows Garrett wants a family. But she’s scared because she also knows she hurt him when she took off on him like that.
Lizzie finally gets up the courage to book a flight to Las Vegas to tell him in person. But before she can get on the plane, her social media is suddenly full of pictures of Garrett and some gorgeous woman, looking very cozy, to say the least. Devastated and unsure of what to do now, she waits. And waits. Until the Vipers are in Chicago and she decides it’s now or never.
To no one’s surprise but Lizzie’s, Garrett is thrilled about the baby. He is less thrilled about Lizzie, as he is afraid she will hurt him again and maybe keep him out of the baby’s life. But no worries, she’s all in, too, and while they have some hurdles – a scantily clad gorgeous woman in his bed, for instance, they manage to get to their happily ever after. This was a super fun, one night read for me. If you like sexy sports romances, don’t miss this one.
12/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
GAME CHANGER by Stacey Lynn. Bowker (November 29, 2021). ISBN: 978-0996275156. 266 pages.
Remi Carter has survived her fifteen minutes of fame and is putting LA in her rearview mirror. As a former reality show contestant, she’s trading staged expeditions and faked wilderness tours for real adventures. Only one fluke storm in Glacier National Park has her stranded with a handsome man, and adventure takes on a whole new meaning.
Seth King is as rugged and sexy as he is annoyed to be trapped with Remi. Probably because she ghosted him at the local bar not three days ago. But she’s got her reasons for ditching him, and twenty-four hours in an abandoned Montana cabin with the wildlife biologist isn’t nearly enough time to explain.
As tempting as he is by firelight, she’s been burned too many times.
Except one day together and suddenly her travel van doesn’t hold as much appeal. The open road feels lonely. Remi’s about to learn that shelter is more than a safe place to weather a storm.
Shelter might just be the man himself. If he can give her a reason to stay.
This was my first read in this series, and now I am going to try and track down the first book. Remi is a reality show TV star, having won a season of Survivor and done several other Survivor-type shows. She has made enough money to retire, and she wants to go on a real adventure, not a scripted one. She ends up in Montana, where she meets Seth at a bar one night. There is some real chemistry there, but Remi wants her adventure, not a romance. Seth is not looking for a relationship either, a one night stand would be fun, though.
But Remi blows him off, and a couple of days later she is out hiking when a snow storm blows in. Luckily for her, Seth knew she wouldn’t take his advice that it does snow in these mountains even in September, and he shows up to rescue her. They end up staying in an empty chalet that is closed for the season, at least until the next day when they can be dug out. They have a wild night, and Seth decides one night may not be enough.
They dance around their attraction to one another but end up staying at Seth’s cabin more often than not, until Remi realizes she has pretty much moved in. And Seth, the man who thought he’d never want a relationship, is in love and wants forever. Remi had a difficult childhood and is not close with her family, to say the least. She is not used to being taken care of, especially by family members, but decides she could definitely get used to it.
When Remi’s agent calls offering a boatload of money for a week’s “survivor” type contest, she decides to go. It’s only a week. But that forces her to face her feelings about Seth.
This book didn’t have a whole lot of drama, in fact, there wasn’t much in the way of obstacles to this romance. This would be a sweet romance except there are some very steamy scenes throughout. It was a very quick and enjoyable read.
12/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
SHELTER by Kristen Proby. Ampersand Publishing (December 14, 2021). ISBN: 978-1633501126. 262 pages.
Following Spoiler Alert, Olivia Dade returns with another utterly charming romantic comedy about a devil-may-care actor—who actually cares more than anyone knows—and the no-nonsense woman hired to keep him in line.
Alexander Woodroe has it all. Charm. Sex appeal. Wealth. Fame. A starring role as Cupid on TV’s biggest show, Gods of the Gates. But the showrunners have wrecked his character, he’s dogged by old demons, and his post-show future remains uncertain. When all that reckless emotion explodes into a bar fight, the tabloids and public agree: his star is falling.
Enter Lauren Clegg, the former ER therapist hired to keep him in line. Compared to her previous work, watching over handsome but impulsive Alex shouldn’t be especially difficult. But the more time they spend together, the harder it gets to keep her professional remove and her heart intact, especially when she discovers the reasons behind his recklessness…not to mention his Cupid fanfiction habit.
When another scandal lands Alex in major hot water and costs Lauren her job, she’ll have to choose between protecting him and offering him what he really wants—her. But he’s determined to keep his improbably short, impossibly stubborn, and extremely endearing minder in his life any way he can. And on a road trip up the California coast together, he intends to show her exactly what a falling star will do to catch the woman he loves: anything at all.
Alex is a TV star who ends up in a bar fight, giving the paparazzi plenty of ammunition to keep him in the tabloids. But the powers that be in charge of his TV show are really angry, and the showrunner hires his cousin Lauren to basically babysit Alex until the new season premiers. The series is based on books, but they have run out of the original author’s materials and a team of TV writers has written the final season. Alex hates what they’ve done to the storyline and to his character, and he starts writing fanfiction under a pseudonym.
Lauren works in an emergency room determining whether patients need to be held for psychiatric evaluation. It’s a tough job, both physically and emotionally, and she needs some time off. While on vacation, her cousin asks her to take on babysitting their TV star. Sounds like an easy gig, the money is terrific, and she agrees.
What we learn about Lauren is that she is not Hollywood beautiful. In fact, she is overweight, round in shape, and not especially attractive. In fact, when Alex meets her, he pretty much calls her ugly to her face. But Lauren is used to people being unkind about her looks, and she brushes it off as best as she can, chalking it up to an actor’s giant ego and spoiled personna.
But as Lauren and Alex are spending all day, every day, together, they learn to get along. Lauren is fiercely guarding her heart from the very good looking man, and surprisingly, Alex is realizing he needs Lauren as more than just a babysitter. They have some real hurdles to overcome, and the sensitivity portrayed goes a long way towards “all the feels.” This was very different from most romances where everyone is beautiful, and I really liked that realism. Dade did something similar in Spoiler Alert, but I liked this one better.
12/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
ALL THE FEELS by Olivia Dade. Avon (November 16, 2021). ISBN: 978-0063005587. 416 pages.
I couldn’t resist putting these books together for a review. If only there were ten more, an even dozen donut books! Wouldn’t that be fun?! And FYI, Amazon is having a sale – buy one of these books, get the other for half off! Happy Holidays!
So, The Donut Trap. A brief synopsis from the publisher:
Julie Tieu sparkles in this debut romantic comedy, which is charmingly reminiscent of the TV show Kim’s Convenience and Frankly in Love by David Yoon, about a young woman who feels caught in the life her parents have made for her until she falls in love and finds a way out of the donut trap.
Jasmine Tran has landed herself behind bars—maple bars that is. With no boyfriend or job prospects, Jasmine returns home to work at her parents’ donut shop. Jasmine quickly loses herself in a cyclical routine of donuts, Netflix, and sleep. She wants to break free from her daily grind, but when a hike in rent threatens the survival of their shop, her parents rely on her more than ever.
Help comes in the form of an old college crush, Alex Lai. Not only is he successful and easy on the eyes, to her parents’ delight, he’s also Chinese. He’s everything she should wish for, until a disastrous dinner reveals Alex isn’t as perfect as she thinks. Worse, he doesn’t think she’s perfect either.
With both sets of parents against their relationship, a family legacy about to shut down, and the reappearance of an old high school flame, Jasmine must scheme to find a solution that satisfies her family’s expectations and can get her out of the donut trap once and for all.
I loved “Kim’s Convenience” (it is streaming on Netflix) so I had high hopes for this book. I can definitely see the similarities. Oh, and just FYI, one of the stars of that TV series is Simu Liu, now the star of the new Marvel movie, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” and recent host of SNL. But I digress.
This book read a little young for me, it is more “New Adult” or even Young Adult, but no matter. It is completely adorable! I liked these characters and loved the family dynamic. This donut-sweet romance is fast paced with a lot of laughs. A wonderful debut, and I can’t wait to see what Julie Tieu does next.
Onto Donut Fall in Love – a brief synopsis from the publisher:
A baker provides the sweetest escape for an actor in this charming romantic comedy.
Actor Ryan Kwok is back in Toronto after the promotional tour for his latest film, a rom-com that is getting less-than-stellar reviews. After years of constant work and the sudden death of his mother, Ryan is taking some much-needed time off. But as he tries to be supportive to his family, he struggles with his loss and doesn’t know how to talk to his dad—who now trolls him on Twitter instead of meeting him for dim sum.
Innovative baker Lindsay McLeod meets Ryan when he knocks over two dozen specialty donuts at her bakery. Their relationship is off to a messy start, but there’s no denying their immediate attraction. When Ryan signs up for a celebrity episode of Baking Fail, he asks Lindsay to teach him how to bake and she agrees.
As Lindsay and Ryan spend time together, bonding over grief and bubble tea, it starts to feel like they’re cooking up something sweeter than cupcakes in the kitchen.
I’ll be honest; I cannot resist a punny title! Of the two donut books, I preferred this one as it delves into reality food TV, a personal favorite. This is also a more adult read, and I don’t mean sex – the characters are a bit older and more mature, that’s all.
Lindsay really wants a new job, but is sort of stuck career-wise, and is back home helping out her parents in their donut shop. This is a small, family business and a traditional donut/coffee shop. In Florida, like elsewhere in America, we have these types of donut shops that are barely hanging on as Dunkin’ spreads like, well, a virus. We have The Dandee Donut Factory, a small, family owned chain (soon opening in Massachusetts!) But we also have trendy donut shops, like Duck Donuts and Voodoo Donuts (at Universal Studios in Orlando.) And famously, we used to have not one, but two topless donut shops!
Moving on. Lindsay’s trying to help her parents take their donut shop toward the trendy side, so they can raise their prices and make more money. They are resistant, of course, but when they go off and leave her in charge one day, she cooks up some interesting new flavors, like matcha tea donuts. But as she’s bringing them out, a man literally runs into her.
That man turns out to be a movie star, but Lindsey doesn’t recognize him. Instead, she tears into him for the damage. Ryan recently lost his mother, but one of his favorite memories is of the time they baked cupcakes. They were pretty much inedible, but it is a fond memory. When Ryan is invited to participate in a celebrity baking competition, he realizes he needs some help. He doesn’t want to make a complete fool of himself on national TV.
Ryan hires Lindsey to teach him to bake, and they spend several afternoons together. Lindsay knows who he is, finally, and is a bit smitten. To her surprise, so is Ryan. There are some definite bumps on their road to happily ever after, but the ride is so much fun! This is a delicious romance, sure to please fans of the Food Network and romcoms. More mashups like this, please!
12/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE DONUT TRAP by Julie Tieu. Avon (November 9, 2021). ISBN: 978-0063069800. 368 pages.
MUST HATE DOGS Do you hate dogs? Only want to talk about yourself? Is having a sense of humor something you’ve never been accused of? Think eating for pleasure is a complete waste of time? Agree that tipping is for suckers? Then you’re the date for me.
Dixon Beckett is the kind of guy who loves his mama, treats women right, and never ever wants to fall in love again. That’s why he’ll do anything to win a bet to be the last single man standing by Christmas.
He’s got a plan, too. Create the most no-good, horrible, very bad dating profile in existence. Only someone actually responds to his ad…
The rules say he has to go on six dates with the first (or in his case, only) person who answers—even if that person is Fiona Hartigan: Hater of dogs, non-lover of any delicious food, and zero sense of humor.
But something feels off about this pariah. In fact, Dixon is almost positive Fiona is just pretending to be awful. Pretending to be the most horrible date in existence. And she’s most definitely pretending to not be as interested in him as he is in her.
The more Dixon Beckett starts to unravel the mystery of why Fiona answered his ad in the first place, the more he starts considering the most vile, awful, terrible idea ever…falling in love.
Each book in the Last Man Standing series is STANDALONE: * Mama’s Boy * Neanderthal * Mansplainer
Once again I started a series with the second book, but I liked it so much I immediately went looking for the first book, which I found on Hoopla (yay public library!) The third book comes out in December, a birthday treat for me, and I can’t wait. I have a funny feeling no one is winning this bet.
This series centers around a bet between three cousins. Their beloved grandmother has passed away, leaving behind a wrapped Christmas gift but no name on the gift. They decide that the last man who hasn’t fallen in love will get the gift. But there are rules – they have to post a profile on a specific dating app, and they have to go out on six dates, selected by the other cousins, with the first woman who responds.
Dixon has no desire for a relationship and he wants that last remembrance of his grandmother. Since he gets to write his own profile, he comes up with the most obnoxious, unappealing one that he can. So he is shocked when Fiona responds.
Their first date is a bit of a puzzle for Dixon; almost immediately he starts to suspect something is off about Fiona. He thinks she is only pretending to hate dogs and food and so forth, but he can’t understand why she would do that.
Dixon runs a large and very successful cosmetics company. Fiona’s grandmother has created a line of homeopathic skin care products for women of a certain age, shall we say. She has tried on several occasions to get in to see Dixon, but has been rebuffed at every effort. She decides this is the best way to get to him. Especially when he puts it out there that he knows she is full of it, and admits to why he posted that profile and the bet. They decide to help one another; she will complete the six dates with him but after that, he will owe her a favor of her choosing. He has no idea what she is up to but doesn’t care as long as he wins the bet.
Fake dating invariably leads to true love in romance novels, and this one is no exception. But Fiona is fighting it because of her grandmother, as is Dixon. Lots of drama but even more laughs and some very steamy sex make this a terrific read that I really loved. I can’t wait for the next book!
MAMA’S BOY by Avery Flynn. Entangled: Amara (September 27, 2021). ASIN: B091NQHSK8. 312 pages.