THIS COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING by Jill Mansell

August 4, 2018

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Did you ever worry that one day you would write an email and accidentally send it to everyone in your address book? Essie Phillips didn’t, until she wrote a silly, scathing holiday letter to her best friend, complaining about her future mother-in-law and her job working for her. She leaves it on her computer and her brother shows up at her apartment, drunk, an acquaintance in tow. They spend the night and in the morning Essie finds out that her brother’s friend Lucas thought it would be funny to send out that email, and he did, to everyone she knows.

Essie’s boyfriend dumps her, leaving her homeless, and she loses her job. She also goes viral and a story about her debacle ends up in the local newspaper. This intrigues Zillah, a lonely widow with a large home where she rents out a couple of rooms. She offers Essie a place to stay for what she can afford to pay with the proviso that she run errands as needed. Essie is thrilled, she never thought she would live in such a posh neighborhood. Did I mention this is set in Great Britain?

Essie is happy to find a job as a waitress at the pub across the street, until she finds out that Lucas, the source of all the drama in her life, is the owner. But she is desperate, and she likes the job despite him. Eventually Essie finds a way to forgive him, and they find themselves with a strong attraction to one another but unable to act on it. Until they can.

Nothing unusual here but this was a fun read. I liked the characters very much, and the subplot about granting wishes to older folks in hospice was a nice touch. If you are looking for a quick read and you enjoy a good romance, you should like this book. I did.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THIS COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING by Jill Mansell. Sourcebooks Landmark (June 5, 2018).  ISBN 978-1492664222. 342p.

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A DUKE BY DEFAULT by Alyssa Cole

August 2, 2018

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Reluctant Royals, Book 2

I think this was a first for me – a royal, contemporary romance! You just don’t see a lot of Dukes wandering around so this was a real treat.

Portia Hobbs is having some trouble at home. She’s a wealthy NY socialite but can’t seem to keep a job or even find something that interests her. It helps to have rich parents but even they are running out of patience. Then she impulsively applies for an apprenticeship to a swordmaker in Scotland and lands the gig.

Tavish McKenzie is struggling to keep his business afloat and his cousin comes up with the idea for an apprentice. He isn’t thrilled and makes that very clear but Portia is undeterred. She loves the idea of swordmaking and Tavish’s good looks and Scottish burr are really making her crazy, but he’s standoffish and gives her scut work to do. But she is nothing if not persistent, and eventually figures out a way to make a place for herself in updating their website.

In the process, she stumbles across some information that is life changing. It seems the struggling swordmaker is, in fact, a Duke. That leads to all sorts of complications and trouble, and a lot of laughs, too. Finally, the Duke realizes he needs Portia for more than her mad web skills and she needs him, too.

This was a really fun read with great characters, some nice heat, and a terrific storyline. It also touches on some important issues like racism – Portia is a woman of color.

I loved it!

Note: Alyssa Cole is an award winning author. AN EXTRAORDINARY UNION was chosen as the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award’s Best Book of 2017 and the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018. She was also a RITA award finalist in 2017.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A DUKE BY DEFAULT by Alyssa Cole. Avon (July 31, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062685568. 384p.

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WILD AT WHISKEY CREEK by Julie Anne Long

July 28, 2018

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Hellcat Canyon Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

Everyone knows the Greenleaf family puts the “Hell” in Hellcat Canyon—legend has it the only way they ever leave is in a cop car or a casket. But Glory Greenleaf has a different getaway vehicle in mind: her guitar. She has a Texas-sized talent and the ambition (and attitude) to match, but only two people have ever believed in her: her brother, who’s in jail, and his best friend . . . who put him there.

Sheriff Eli Barlow has secretly been in love with Glory since he was twelve years old. Which is how he knows her head is as hard as her heart is soft—and why she can’t forgive him for fracturing her family . . . or forget that night they surrendered to an explosive, long-simmering passion. But when a betrayal threatens Glory’s big break, Eli will risk everything to make it right . . . because the best way to love the girl from Whiskey Creek might mean setting her free forever.


Catching up on a terrific series with the second book, a terrific read. I really read these out of order, and while Long does a really good job making it easy to keep up, it’s been great putting everything I already knew into perspective. I really enjoyed this story and these characters. Glory is talented and smart enough to know that with her family’s bad reputation, she needs to be extra careful because people are always going to assume the worst. Luckily, she’s known Eli since they were children and that’s not an issue with him. But there are lots of other issues.

Glory is a truly gifted singer and songwriter who has spent her life dreaming of a music career and leaving Hellcat Canyon. But she lives with her mother and younger brother, and they are just one paycheck away from foreclosure. The women in Whiskey Creek aren’t especially nice or kind to Glory, and she has a major chip on her shoulder which is totally understandable. I like women who help one another, but this rang true for me so I’m not going to quibble about it, it works for the story.

Some hot sex scenes amp up the romance and all in all, this was a good read for me. I enjoyed the humor as well. Now I’m all caught up in this series and hoping there’s a fifth book coming soon.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WILD AT WHISKEY CREEK by Julie Anne Long. Avon (November 29, 2016). ISBN 978-0062397638.  384p.

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THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD by Jennifer Probst

July 27, 2018

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Stay Series, Book 1

When Ethan Bishop and Mia Thrush first meet, it is hate at first sight. Romance readers know that means that love is sure to follow, and it does but there are many obstacles to overcome first.

Mia has her own public relations firm, and she is finally on track to the big leagues with her client, a man running for Mayor of New York City. Mia knows first hand what can happen in a political campaign so when the candidate’s daughter, Chloe, gets in trouble and has to perform community service for the summer in upstate New York, he begs Mia to stay up there and keep an eye on her. Very reluctantly, Mia agrees and moves into the bed & breakfast attached to the horse rehabilitation center where Chloe has been assigned.

Mia is a city girl through and through. Ethan has moved back home after a severe injury in the Special Forces. The physical injuries were horrible, but it’s the PTSD that is really keeping him down. Mia and Ethan keep butting heads, but Chloe is learning a lot and the changes in her are all for the better. Eventually, Mia and Ethan realize they have more in common than they thought, and the sexual attraction between them is undeniable (and occasionally pretty steamy.) But can the country boy live in the city? Can the city girl live in the country? These problems seem almost insurmountable.

These are really well developed characters. Mia is a strong, successful woman and Ethan is a kind, albeit damaged man. This is a terrific start to a new series, and I can’t wait to read the rest. I’ve read a few of Probst’s books and she never disappoints. She is an excellent story teller who really knows how to keep the pages turning. Highly recommended.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD by Jennifer Probst. Montlake Romance (June 5, 2018). ISBN 978-1503901858.  316p.

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HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON by Julie Anne Long

July 21, 2018

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Hellcat Canyon Novel, Book 1

Once again I’m working my way backwards into a series. I read book 4, The First Time at Firelight Falls, and liked it so much that I searched out the first book in the series and will go from there.

JT is an actor who is a bit adrift. He was the hottest thing on TV with a catchphrase and everything, but that was years ago. Now he’s pushing forty and trying to stay relevant. His truck breaks down in the small town of Hellcat Canyon, and he stops at the only restaurant in town, the diner, where he meets a cute waitress.

Britt is the waitress, and she’s come out of an abusive relationship and is not looking for more. But their chemistry is undeniable even though they both fight it. Being that this is the first book in the series, there are a lot of introductions to the town and the folks who live there. The romance is central though, and there is a lot of humor and some steamy scenes as well.

This was a fun read but I’m guessing, based on reading book 4, that it gets better as the series progresses.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON by Julie Anne Long. Avon (May 31, 2016). ISBN 978-0062397614.  384p.

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THE LITTLE BROOKLYN BAKERY by Julie Caplin

June 18, 2018

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Romantic Escapes, Book 2

This British import is a delightful read set in the hipster haven, Brooklyn.

Sophie Bennings had the worst possible breakup after a two year relationship when she found out her boyfriend was married. Luckily, she is offered a last minute job exchange to America and she jumps on it, escaping as quickly as she can. Sophie is a food writer, and her magazine and their American counterpart want to switch things up for a six month period, so off she goes.

The apartment she is provided with is above a delicious bakery, and the owner’s cousin, Todd, is her gorgeous co-worker. Todd is the perfect antidote to Sophie’s messy love life, but everyone warns her off him, he is a notorious player. But he’s also kind and considerate and Sophie & Todd become friends….and then more. But the relationship is doomed to fail as Todd has some serious commitment issues, and Sophie’s work visa has an expiration date.

These characters are terrific, Brooklyn becomes another character as well, and this was just a delicious read.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE LITTLE BROOKLYN BAKERY by Julie Caplin. HarperImpulse (May 25, 2018). ASIN: B077CYJ3QM.  272p. (e-book only)

 


RETURN TO WILLOW LAKE by Susan Wiggs

June 17, 2018

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The Lakeshore Chronicles, Book 9

I love visiting the tiny hamlet of Avalon on the shores of Willow Lake, and even though this is the ninth book in the series, Wiggs keeps on proving what a terrific writer she is.

This story centers around Sonnet, the former mayor’s kid who is now a young adult and is still struggling with her career choices, her difficult relationship with her father, and life in general. She returns to Camp Kioga for her step-sister Daisy’s wedding but when she sees her former best friend, Zach Algers all grown up, it’s like a punch to the gut.

Growing up as the bi-racial daughter of a single mother was not always easy for Sonnet. But Zach, whose mother died, was also being raised by a single parent and that shared experience brought them close together. But Zach had moved on after his father was convicted of embezzling money from the town coffers. He doesn’t want to return to town but he can’t say no to Daisy.

Then Sonnet finds out her mother has cancer, and is pregnant, and her priorities become crystal clear. She moves home to Willow Lake to help take care of her mother and in the process, does some real soul searching and grows up in the process.

One thing leads to another and Sonnet and Zach find each other again, this time as adults with all that implies. They fall in love, but there are some real hurdles to get over before they can find their happy ending.

Another terrific story in a wonderful series.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RETURN TO WILLOW LAKE by Susan Wiggs. MIRA; Original edition (February 26, 2013). ISBN 978-0778314998. 384p.

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MARRYING DAISY BELLAMY by Susan Wiggs

June 15, 2018

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The Lakeshore Chronicles, Book 8

I think this was the most anticipated book in the series. A couple of books ago was a sort of cliffhanger featuring Daisy, and I know I was delighted to finally get to her story.

Daisy Bellamy and Julian Gastineaux met as teens at summer camp and they became best friends. They were from different worlds; Daisy, heir to the Bellamy fortune and founding family of the summer camp, and Julian, a scholarship kid.

Nonetheless, they stay best friends, keeping in touch over the years. Julian figures out the only way he’ll be able to afford college is through the armed services. He excels, as he does with everything, by working his butt off, and this time his reward is being sent to Columbia with an elite group of soldiers. Unfortunately, they are all killed.

Daisy is devastated, but eventually realizes that life must go on. She is still young, and a strong single mother to her son. His father, Logan, was a one night stand. But surprisingly, Logan is trying to be a good father and he decides the best course of action would be to marry his child’s mother. Talk about your rebound decisions, but Daisy does marry Logan and while they get along, there is no real connection between them other than their child. But they are both determined to make the marriage work. Until Julian returns.

This was a very difficult read at times, extremely emotional and gut wrenching, but ultimately love does conquer all. I think this is one of my favorite books of the series, mostly because I was so invested in these characters through the previous books and I wanted them to find their happy ending. I loved it.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MARRYING DAISY BELLAMY by Susan Wiggs. MIRA; Original edition (July 28, 2015). ISBN 978-0778317715. 432p.

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THE SUMMER HIDEAWAY by Susan Wiggs

June 13, 2018

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The Lakeshore Chronicles, Book 7

I haven’t forgotten about this series, just put the reviews on the back burner for a bit. But it’s time to catch up with some of my favorite characters in my favorite make believe setting, the beautiful Willow Lake in the glorious Catskill Mountains.

In case I haven’t mentioned this before, these books can all stand alone so can be read in any order. I started with a later book but then went back and read the rest in order. Either way, they are wonderful.

This story revolves around George Bellamy, who is dying of cancer. He has a couple of regrets as he reaches the end of his life – that his grandson hasn’t married yet, and that he is still estranged from his brother after 55 years. Determined to go out in his own way, George starts interviewing palliative care nurses and finds the perfect match for both him, and he hopes for his grandson.

George hires Claire, and she has her own mysterious past. She is happy to go along with whatever George wants, and when she meets Ross, his grandson, sparks fly. But Ross is suspicious of the nurse, and wonders if she is after his money somehow.

Claire helps George fulfill all his last wishes, and this is a lovely story about the end of life as well as the beginnings of a great romance. A few of the regular characters in the series make brief appearances as well. This was another wonderful read in a terrific series.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE SUMMER HIDEAWAY by Susan Wiggs. MIRA; Original edition (March 25, 2014). ISBN 978-0778317005. 432p.

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THE FIRST TIME AT FIRELIGHT FALLS by Julie Anne Long

June 9, 2018

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Hellcat Canyon Novel, Book 4

Gabe, like most elementary school principals, is an ex-Navy Seal. Ha! I wish, I’d love kids to feel that safe in school. But in this fictional tale, he really is, and he really loves kids. He is also very lonely, and fills his days and nights with meetings, coaching, and volunteering all over town. He’s also really hot with a body that draws every female eye in town. It’s not surprising that every mom in the school finds a reason to stop by his office, but he only has eyes for Eden, a single mom with an amazing kid.

There is a strong attraction there but Eden has been so busy being a single mom that she hasn’t allowed herself to get involved with anyone. But Gabe is really hard to dismiss. He’s not pushy, he just keeps showing up and they talk – really talk – about anything and everything and slowly get to know one another. Eventually, they realize it is time to move the relationship to the next level.

Eden has a secret that she has been keeping since her daughter’s conception – no one, including her family, knows who the baby daddy is. Eden knows and she’s not ready to tell anyone, that is until he shows up in town, meets his daughter by accident and realizes rather quickly that she must be his – she’s the spitting image of his mother.  This throws a complication into the whole Gabe/Eden dynamic that neither of them saw coming.

This was a really fun read with great characters and a bit of steamy sex now and then. I  also really enjoyed the humor and all the obstacles in the way of the happily ever after.

I haven’t read the other books in the series but I know that Hot in Hellcat Canyon was a finalist for the Romance Writers of America 2017 Contemporary Romance award. (I just reserved it at my library.) And I wouldn’t be surprised if this new one landed on that list as well.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE FIRST TIME AT FIRELIGHT FALLS by Julie Anne Long. Avon (May 29, 2018). ISBN 978-0062672902.  384p.

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