THE ACCIDENTAL BEAUTY QUEEN by Teri Wilson

December 4, 2018

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Well, happy birthday to me! I love when my birthday falls on a Tuesday because then I feel like all the good books published that day are my gifts, and this one made a terrific present. (Feel free to call me silly but that is truly how I feel.) And a bonus: it can be your present, too! You can win a copy of this book, read on for all the details. Plus find out the inspiration for this book from Teri Wilson herself!


Charlotte Gorman is a grade school librarian and an identical twin. Her twin sister, Ginny, is a beauty queen like their deceased mother was. Ginny invites Charlotte to hang out at the swanky Orlando resort where the Miss American Treasure pageant is being held, but shortly after she arrives, Ginny has a terrible allergic reaction that would preclude her from competing – unless her twin will take her place.

For identical twins, these women are as different as night and day; Charlotte is the stereotypical dowdy librarian while Ginny is a glamazon. Nevertheless, Charlotte acquiesces in the name of sisterhood, meets and falls for one of the judges, and almost brings the pageant down.

This is a charming story with a lot of laughs and a warm, heartfelt ending. Reid (Royally Wed) also writes Hallmark Channel movies so do not be surprised if this book ends up there, obvious comparisons to The Parent Trap and Miss Congeniality notwithstanding. This is fast paced chick-lit that is sure to appeal to fans of Meg Cabot, Stephanie Evanovich, and Rainbow Rowell.

©Library Journal, 2018.

12/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE ACCIDENTAL BEAUTY QUEEN by Teri Wilson. Gallery Books (December 4, 2018). ISBN 978-1501197604. 304p.

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From Teri Wilson:

I first got the idea for The Accidental Beauty Queen last summer when I served as a judge at the national Miss United States pageant, which is the pageant featured in Miss Congeniality. It’s an actual thing! Who knew?

I’d never participated in a pageant in any way before, although I always watched them on television when I was a little girl. The directors of Miss United States are big Hallmark Channel fans, and several of my books have been made into Hallmark movies so they reached out and asked if I would be interested in being their “celebrity” judge. My answer was an immediate yes…so long as they let me try on the crown. (I mean, come on. How could I not?)

I knew before I even got there that I’d end up wanting to write something set at a pageant, so I was on the lookout for inspiration. During the judges’ interviews, I met a contestant who told me she was an identical twin. When I asked if her twin sister was there to support her, she said, “Yes, she’s right out in the hallway. But if you saw us together side-by-side you’d never know we’re identical twins. She’s a real tomboy.” That was all the inspiration I needed.

I like to describe the book as Miss Congeniality meets Parent Trap. I had more fun writing it than any other project I’ve worked on. But it’s more than a pageant book or even a romance. It’s really about two sisters rediscovering their connection after a lifetime of pulling away from each other. And of course it’s about inner beauty with a big dose of women’s empowerment. I can’t wait for readers to get their hands on it!

About the Author:

Teri Wilson is the author/creator of the Hallmark Channel Original Movies Unleashing Mr. Darcy, Marrying Mr. Darcy, and The Art of Us, as well as a fourth Hallmark movie currently in development. Teri is a double finalist in the prestigious 2018 RWA RITA awards for her novels The Princess Problem and Royally Wed. Teri also writes an offbeat fashion column for the royal blog What Would Kate Do and is a frequent guest contributor for its sister site, Meghan’s Mirror. She’s been a contributor for both HelloGiggles and Teen Vogue, covering books, pop culture, beauty, and everything royal. In 2017, she served as a national judge for the Miss United States pageant in Orlando, Florida, and has since judged in the Miss America system. She has a major weakness for cute animals, pretty dresses, Audrey Hepburn films, and good books. Visit her at TeriWilson.net or on Twitter @TeriWilsonAuthr.


To win a copy of The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson, please send an email to contest@gmail.com with “BEAUTY QUEEN” as the subject.

You must include your U.S. street address in your email.

All entries must be received by December 31, 2018. One (1) name will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age in the United States only. Your book will be sent by SIMON & SCHUSTER|GALLERY BOOKS.

One entry per email address. Subscribers to the monthly newsletter earn an extra entry into every contest. Follow this blog to earn another entry into every contest. Winners may win only one time per year (365 days) for contests with prizes of more than one book. Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone.


TONY’S WIFE by Adriana Trigiani

November 20, 2018

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From the publisher:

Love, ambition, and the consequences of both lie at the heart of this spellbinding epic of two working-class kids who become a successful singing act during the big band era of the 1940s.

Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada meet one summer on the Jersey shore before World War II. Chi Chi is a talented and ambitious singer-songwriter working in a local blouse factory looking for her big break, while Saverio, a singer already on the rise, is fronting a touring band and has the good looks and smooth vocals that make success seem assured. It isn’t long before Saverio becomes Tony Arma and  he and Chi Chi form a duo; together they navigate the glamorous worlds of nightclubs, radio, and television. Soon they’re married and all goes well until it becomes clear that they must make a choice: Which of them will put ambition aside to build a family and which will pursue a career? What compromises will they make to achieve their dreams? And on the road to fame and fortune, how will they cope with the impact these compromises have on their marriage, family, and themselves?

From the Jersey shore to Hollywood, New York City to Las Vegas, the hills of northern Italy and the exuberant hayride of the big band circuit in between: Tony’s Wife tells the story of the twentieth century in song, as Tony & Chi Chi make studio recordings and promote them with appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. As they juggle the demands of their public lives, secrets are revealed, promises are broken, and loyalty is tested as the Armas attempt to keep the music playing and their family together.

Tony’s Wife is a richly layered novel that explores how a traditional Italian-American family grapples with the seismic shifts they face in a rapidly changing world. Replete with a pageant of vivid, complex characters, this deeply human saga of love and sacrifice showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a captivating storyteller and reveals her understanding that there are many different kinds of families: that over time love can evolve in ways that nobody can predict, especially when the hearts involved are open to forgiveness, the sweet reprise of redemption.


An Adriana Trigiani book is always cause for celebration at my house. It gets passed around long before publication date as no one wants to wait to read it. Reading Trigiani is an immersive experience into Italian family life and food and love.

Trigiani brings these characters and this time period to life, from the home decor to the cars and especially the attitudes. These characters learn and grow as times change, especially Chi Chi. In a way, this book reminded me a bit of the Broadway show Jersey Boys, so if you are not familiar with the author but you like the show (or movie), you will like this book.

Tony’s Wife is a deep dive into the 1940’s music scene and a marriage. This is a compelling and heartwarming read, sure to please Trigiani’s legion of fans.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TONY’S WIFE by Adriana Trigiani. Harper (November 20, 2018). ISBN 978-0062319258. 496p..

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COWBOY CHRISTMAS JUBILEE by Dylann Crush

November 19, 2018

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Holiday, Texas, Book 2

From the publisher:

Merry Christmas from your new friends in Holiday, Texas:
The most celebratory town in the South!

When Jinx Jacobs’s motorcycle breaks down outside Holiday, Texas, the last thing she wants is to get stuck in the cheery little town, especially during the holidays. The whole place has gone Christmas crazy, but all she has to do is stay out from under the mistletoe―and do her best to keep that unnervingly attractive cop off her back.

Single dad and sheriff’s deputy Cash Walker doesn’t have time for romance, and yet something about the tempting loner twists his stomach up tighter than a tangle of tinsel. He may have finally found the missing piece in his life…but with Jinx so determined to avoid putting down roots, convincing her to stay may just take a Christmas miracle.


I continue my love affair with Christmas romances and cowboys, and in this case it is a winning combination. This is a terrific series and Cowboy Christmas Jubilee is a welcome addition.

Jinx is not your typical heroine for sure. She’s tough and antsy and is not looking to settle down, especially with a cop. Cash is a little more typical of the genre, a big good looking protector but one who is willing to let Jinx be herself and that really says a lot about him.

Both characters experience growth, and that adds depth to the story. It is a wonderful holiday romance and I loved it.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

COWBOY CHRISTMAS JUBILEE by Dylann Crush. Sourcebooks Casablanca (October 30, 2018). ISBN 978-1492662648.  384p.

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NOT QUITE OVER YOU by Susan Mallery

November 17, 2018

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Happily Inc, Book 4

From the publisher:

Susan Mallery, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fool’s Gold romances, proves there’s nowhere better than Happily Inc to rekindle first love.

Silver Tesdal has a head for business and a mouth made for kissing, and banker Drew Lovato has his eye on both. But ever since he was dumb enough to let her go, she’s kept him at a distance. When the bank turns her down for a loan, Drew sees a double opportunity—he can finance her brilliant, unique idea to rock Happily Inc’s wedding industry and win back her trust.

Despite her reputation, Silver’s not as tough as she seems. Losing Drew nearly destroyed her. Still, his kisses are as tempting as his offer to invest in her business. If she can’t quite get over him, maybe she should get under him and knock him out of her system once and for all.

But her best laid plans begin to unravel as Silver finds herself falling even harder than when they were high school sweethearts. Which means that she’ll have to come clean about the secret she’s been hiding from him for years—and risk losing


Where would romances be without unrequited high school love? I met my husband when I was in college but I was 17 years old, so close enough I guess. But I didn’t let him get away.

Silver and Drew have history. Drew is determined to win Silver back, and she is just as determined to keep her distance. Drew is a smart cookie, though, and really knows how to manipulate Silver. Yes, I said manipulate. It may be cute, and it may even be welcome, and heaven knows Mallery knows how to make it work. Nontheless, when a character is manipulated, I feel manipulated and I don’t especially like that feeling.

This is one of my favorite series but this was probably my least favorite book in the series. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good read, just not as good as I expect from this author. Still looking forward to the next one though.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

NOT QUITE OVER YOU by Susan Mallery. HQN; Original edition (October 23, 2018).  ISBN 978-1335474636.  384p.

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MUTTS AND MISTLETOE by Natalie Cox

November 16, 2018

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From the publisher:

Thirty-one-year-old Charlie isn’t in the mood for Christmas cheer...

Her boyfriend has left her for his personal trainer, her mother has absconded with her latest husband for the holidays, and–adding insult to (literal) injury–her London apartment has just been destroyed by a gas leak. Single, mildly concussed and temporarily homeless, Charlie realizes there’s only one place to go: Cozy Canine Cottages, where she’ll spend the season looking after her cousin Jez’s doggy day care center. And if she’s not exactly a dog person, well, no one has to know…

But her plans for a quiet Christmas in a quaint country village are quickly dashed. Peggy the pregnant beagle and Malcolm the anxious Great Dane seem determined to keep her up all night. A strange man has been casing her cousin’s house. And where is Cal, the unbearably patronizing but disturbingly handsome local vet, when she needs him?

As the days tick down to Christmas, Charlie’s life has never felt so out of control–but with some help from her new four-legged friends, she just might learn a thing or two about living in the moment, embracing the unexpected and opening herself up to love…


If you could truly judge a book by its cover, this would be the cutest doggie Christmas story ever. It’s cute, but that cover lured me into wanting more.

The basis for the story was fun and should have worked. But I never really felt like I got to know what made Charlie tick, she was an anomaly to me, and if I can’t get involved with the main character, I can’t get involved with the story. I just found her flighty, at best. And worse yet, I wasn’t sure at all when the romance happened on Cal’s end.

The dogs were wonderful, but the story just didn’t work for me. That said, there were some very funny scenes that kept me hopeful and turning pages. I finished it although I was somewhat disappointed.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MUTTS AND MISTLETOE by Natalie Cox. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (October 9, 2018). ISBN 978-0525539193.  320p..

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BEAUTIFUL SINNER by Sophie Jordan

November 14, 2018

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Devil’s Rock, Book 5

From the publisher:

Locked in with the town bad boy . . .

Most women would be scared, but Gabriella’s only worried about resisting Cruz Walsh, who’s even hotter than he was back in high school. Cruz was wrongly accused of the high-profile crime for which he was imprisoned; Gabriella’s desperate for the scoop that will get her career off the ground and get her out of Sweet Hill, where everyone still remembers her as “Flabby Gabby.” Being stuck in a supply closet with Cruz is the perfect opportunity to land an interview. What Bri doesn’t count on is Cruz taking “up-close and personal” to a whole new level.

If there’s a silver lining to the hell Cruz went through, it’s that losing his freedom put everything in perspective. Maybe starting over someplace new would be easier, but after years locked up, Cruz values his family—and his true friends—more than ever. So he’s back home, facing the gossip, dodging reporters . . . and face-to-face with Gabriella Rossi. They’ve both changed: Bri wants a story and Cruz just wants her. Another thing he’s learned? Don’t let a good thing slip away.


Hot, hot, hot! Sophie Jordan brings the heat in the latest erotic romance in the Devil’s Rock series. Devil’s Rock is a prison, so you know this is not going to be all hearts and flowers.

Cruz is definitely tall, dark and mysterious and Gabby’s boss wants the mystery solved. She’s not sure she does. Turns out Cruz was her high school crush and they have a bit of history that he is not exactly aware of. And Cruz had a massive, unrequited crush on Gabriella, too. Cruz is completely non-responsive to any and all questions about his mistaken incarceration, and frankly, Gabby is more interested in her physical reaction to him rather than the story.

I loved their back story which brought additional depth to the romance. A terrific read with plenty of sex which just added to the fun. I haven’t read all the books in this series but I’m working on it.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BEAUTIFUL SINNER by Sophie Jordan. Avon (October 30, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062666598.  368p.

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ALL CHAINED UP by Sophie Jordan

November 13, 2018

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Devil’s Rock, Book 1

From the publisher:

There are bad boys and then there are the men of Devil’s Rock . . .

Some men come with a built-in warning label. Knox Callaghan is one of them. Danger radiates from every lean, muscled inch of him, and his deep blue eyes seem to see right through to Briar Davis’s most secret fantasies. But there’s one major problem: Briar is a nurse volunteering at the local prison, and Knox is an inmate who should be off-limits in every way.

Knox feels it too—a shocking animal magnetism that drives him to risk his own life to protect Briar’s. Paroled at last, he tries to resist her. She’s too innocent, too sweet, and she has no idea what Knox is capable of. But a single touch can lead to a kiss—and a taste . . . until the only crime is denying what feels so right . . .


This is the first book in the Devil’s Rock series – of course, I’ve already read a few of the newer books but no matter, they do not need to be read in order. This is a terrific romance with Jordan’s legendary smokin’ hot love scenes. But more than just the sex, there is a lot of heart here, and plenty of emotion. It is inescapable when a man gets out of prison for saving lives in a prison riot.

Devil’s Rock is a prison, not your typical romance setting but Jordan makes it work. The woman has mad skills.

In light of all the consent issues going on in romances today, Jordan was fairly prescient in her handling of it in this earlier title. These characters are drawn to one another despite their differences which frankly, seem insurmountable, yet true love wins out as it always does. Thank goodness.

11/18  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

ALL CHAINED UP by Sophie Jordan. Avon (March 29, 2016). ISBN 978-0062423689. 384p.

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THE NOEL STRANGER by Richard Paul Evans

November 7, 2018

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The Noel Collection, Book 2

From the publisher:

From “The King of Christmas,” Richard Paul Evans, the next exciting holiday-themed novel in his New York Times bestselling The Noel Collection.

Maggie Walther feels like her world is imploding. Publicly humiliated after her husband, a local councilman, is arrested for bigamy, and her subsequent divorce, she has isolated herself from the world. When her only friend insists that Maggie climb out of her hole, and embrace the season to get her out of her funk, Maggie decides to put up a Christmas tree and heads off to buy one—albeit reluctantly. She is immediately taken by Andrew, the kind, handsome man who owns the Christmas tree lot and delivers her tree. She soon learns that Andrew is single and new to her city and, like her, is also starting his life anew.

As their friendship develops, Maggie slowly begins to trust again—something she never thought possible. Then, just when she thinks she has finally found happiness, she discovers a dark secret from Andrew’s past. Is there more to this stranger’s truth than meets the eye? This powerful new holiday novel from Richard Paul Evans, the “King of Christmas fiction” (The New York Times), explores the true power of the season, redemption, and the freedom that comes from forgiveness.


I didn’t read the first book in this series but I read the Christmas book before that, Mistletoe Secret, and loved it. This one, not so much.

I know he writes short books, but it didn’t feel like the characters were developed enough. Despite that, there was plenty of angst. There was an air of foreboding that ran through the story that I didn’t really care for in a romance. I also didn’t necessarily believe that these characters fell in love so quickly, especially considering what Maggie had gone through. It didn’t feel like she was mentally stable enough to make these kinds of decisions. Maybe I’m turning into a cynic? I hope not.

Once again my opinion isn’t mainstream, this book has 4.5 stars on Goodreads but there aren’t many reviews. Yet. Amazon didn’t have any so I’m guessing it wasn’t part of their Vine (early review) program. It was okay, but I would recommend Mistletoe Secret over this new one. The best thing I can say about it is that it is a quick read.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE NOEL STRANGER by Richard Paul Evans. Simon & Schuster (November 6, 2018). ISBN 978-1501172052.  352p.

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BIG BAD COWBOY by Carly Bloom

November 2, 2018

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Once Upon a Time in Texas, Book 1

From the publisher:

One of Publishers Weekly’s Best Romances of 2018!
After one too many heartbreaks, Travis Blake hung up his cowboy hat and put Big Verde, Texas, behind him. But when he gets the call that his young nephew needs him, he knows he has to return home. His plan is to sell the family ranch and hightail it back to Austin, but there’s a small problem: the one person who stands in his way is the one person he can’t resist.

Maggie is pretty sure she hates Travis Blake. He’s irritating, he’s destroying her business, and . . . and he’s just so frickin’ attractive. But when they’re forced to work together, Maggie discovers that the Most Annoying Man in the World is more than he seems. He’s sweet with his nephew, he helps out in the community, and he makes her heart flutter. Maggie doesn’t want to risk everything on a man who wants to leave, but what if she can convince this wayward cowboy to stay?


My love affair with cowboy romances continues with this terrific entry into a new series. The setting was a small town in Texas. Maggie is a strong, independent woman, and you can’t help rooting for her to succeed. Travis is respectful yet playful, and their chemistry is so electric that it is palpable. He has a whole host of problems, but manages to overcome them. I loved them together, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BIG BAD COWBOY by Carly Bloom. Forever (October 30, 2018). ISBN 978-1538763438. 368p.

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DARK SACRED NIGHT by Michael Connelly

October 30, 2018

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A Ballard and Bosch Novel, Book 1

From the publisher:

Harry Bosch teams up with LAPD detective Renée Ballard to solve the murder of a young girl in the new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly.

Detective Renée Ballard is working the night beat — known in LAPD slang as “the late show” — and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is retired detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin.

Ballard can’t let him go through department records, but when he leaves, she looks into the case herself and feels a deep tug of empathy and anger. She has never been the kind of cop who leaves the job behind at the end of her shift — and she wants in.
The murder, unsolved, was of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally killed, her body left in a dumpster like so much trash. Now Ballard joins forces with Bosch to find out what happened to Daisy, and to finally bring her killer to justice. Along the way, the two detectives forge a fragile trust, but this new partnership is put to the test when the case takes an unexpected and dangerous turn.
Dark Sacred Night for the first time brings together these two powerhouse detectives in a riveting story that unfolds with furious momentum. And it shows once more why “there’s no doubt Connelly is a master of crime fiction” (Associated Press).

I celebrate new Michael Connelly books by pouring myself a nice big glass of wine, curling up on my favorite couch and settling in for the night. I have yet to put down one of his books and yes, sometimes I feel guilty. I know it takes him months to write but I can’t help but read it in a few hours. A few wonderful, magical, at times almost transformational hours. I’ve said it before (I probably say it in every Connelly review) but I truly believe that Michael Connelly is the best crime fiction writer working today (with Lee Child and Karin Slaughter coming up close.)

I’ve been reading Connelly since he began writing, and I have enjoyed watching him stretch himself in new directions over the years. When he introduced Mickey Haller, the “Lincoln Lawyer”, and slipped in a quiet relationship with Bosch, I knew it was only a matter of time before they met up. Now Mickey is off somewhere, and Connelly’s last book was supposedly the launch of a new series featuring a female detective, Renée Ballard. But apparently he is not yet ready to leave Harry Bosch behind so here they are together, sharing pages. And I, for one, am glad.

They cover a lot of ground in this joint endeavor, all the while closing in on Harry’s cold case. Harry’s interactions with Ballard are pure Bosch, and as a team they are unbeatable. There are some definite similarities between these characters. To me it feels like they have as much in common as they differ, making for a terrific team.

I love the way Connelly lays out the detective work, the methodical mixed with the action makes for a fabulous, unputdownable read. I am looking forward to seeing what comes next – maybe the Lincoln Lawyer will be joining them?

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DARK SACRED NIGHT by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown and Company (October 30, 2018). ISBN 978-0316484800.  448p..

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