JUST THIS ONCE by Mira Lynn Kelly

October 20, 2018

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The Wedding Date Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

He can’t have her.
So he moves in with her…
What could possibly go wrong?

As heir to a chain of luxury hotels, Sean Wyse III always gets what he wants. So when he sees a freeloading roommate taking advantage of his spunky best friend, Molly Brandt, he doesn’t hesitate to step in. He kicks out the roommate…and moves himself in.

Molly loves quality time with Sean, but spending nights with him one wall away threatens to wake the crush she thought she’d gotten over. A crush Sean knows nothing about, which might be a problem…considering how hard Sean’s been working never to think of Molly that way.

The Wedding Date series:
May the Best Man Win (Book 1)
The Wedding Date Bargain (Book 2)
Just this Once (Book 3)
The Decoy Date (Book 4)


This is my first read by Mira Lynn Kelly, and I will definitely be back for more. I loved these characters and couldn’t help rooting for them. There was enough twists and hurdles to keep the pages turning, and some laughs, too.  I didn’t feel like I missed a thing by having started this series with the third book but I am looking for the previous books in the series, just because I think I will enjoy them.

If you want a fast escape and some lighthearted fare with a happy ending, look no further.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

JUST THIS ONCE by Mira Lynn Kelly. Avon; Reissue edition (September 25, 2018). ISBN 978-0062741837. 384p.

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GRIN AND BEARD IT by Penny Reid

October 19, 2018

Winston Brothers Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!

Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.

But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston.

Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often.

Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?


This was the first book I’ve read from this author. It was recommended to me by one of my library patrons, we often share books that we enjoy and I was very happy she told me about this one.

The celebrity being appreciated for herself (or himself) is not that uncommon a ploy in romances, and Reid does a really good job of it here. I liked all the characters and their relationships, from Sienna’s sister-manager and co-star/ex-boyfriend to Jethro’s brothers and co-workers. Their chemistry was off the charts and even though this book was written before the current #MeToo movement and the obvious, strongly written consent in current romances, it was there (copyright 2016). And it was Jethro who was putting on the brakes, which usually makes for an unbelievable storyline, but not here. I bought it all.

This was somehow still a hot romance, even though there were few sex scenes, but I enjoyed the humor the most, there were a lot of laughs here. If you like funny, contemporary romances, check out this book.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

GRIN AND BEARD IT by Penny Reid. EverAfter Romance (March 23, 2018). ISBN 978-1635764871. 404p.

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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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A NICE DAY FOR A COWBOY WEDDING by Nicole Helm

October 12, 2018

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A Mile High Romance, Book 4

From the publisher:

From Nicole Helm, the bestselling author of the Big Sky Cowboys, Navy Seal Cowboys, and Stone Cold series, comes this breathtaking new romance set in the middle of Big Sky country—Colorado’s gorgeous Rocky Mountains . . .

As the oldest of three brothers, Shane Tyler takes his responsibility to the family ranch seriously—and it’s clear to him that the younger man who wants to marry his widowed mother is only looking for a meal ticket. He’s determined to stop the nuptials whatever it takes, but the shy wedding planner his mom hired is harder to intimidate than he expected.

When Cora Preston worked up the nerve to leave her abusive ex and move with her young son to Gracely, it was a huge step. Accepting the position as wedding planner at brand-new Mile High Weddings took even more courage. But Cora’s biggest challenge is turning out to be the bride’s handsome—and stubborn—oldest son, Shane, and the way the strong-willed cowboy makes her feel.

Can the heat crackling between them warm two hearts suspicious of love?


I read my first Nicole Helm book a few weeks ago, it was a Christmas story in a different series, and I really liked it. Then this book sort of fell into my lap (it helps that my lap was in the library) and I thought, serendipity!

I must admit to some confusion with some of the characters because, as usual, I didn’t read the earlier books in this series. I have a feeling things would have made a lot more sense to me if I had. But even though I wasn’t quite clear on everything going on in the background, there was enough of a story to keep me intrigued and turning pages. I’ll be looking for more of this author.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A NICE DAY FOR A COWBOY WEDDING by Nicole Helm. Zebra (August 28, 2018). ISBN 978-1420146943. 320p.

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WHY NOT TONIGHT by Susan Mallery

October 8, 2018

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Happily Inc, Book 3

From the publisher:

Susan Mallery welcomes you to Happily Inc, where true love isn’t just for fairy tales…

Natalie Kaleta will do anything for the artists at her gallery, including risk life, limb and the effect of humidity on her naturally curly hair. Braving a downpour to check on reclusive Ronan Mitchell, Natalie gets stranded by a mudslide at his mountain home, where the brooding glass artist reveals his playful side, sending her inconvenient crush from under-the-radar to over-the-top.

After a secret tore apart his family and made him question his sense of self, Ronan fled his hometown for Happily Inc, but the sunny small town can’t fix his damaged heart. He won’t give in to his attraction for beautiful, perpetually cheerful Natalie. She’s untouched by darkness—or so he thinks.

Natalie knows that when a heart goes through the flame, it comes out stronger. Life may not be a fairy tale, but sometimes dreams do come true. Why not this one? Why not tonight?


This has become one of my favorite series and this book is one of the reasons. All the books have been wonderful and real escapist fiction, which frankly, I need right now.

The series centers around the Mitchell brothers, all famous artists. They had a difficult childhood, their father was unfaithful to their mother and that was the least of their problems. He is also a famous artist, and was very abusive towards his children. They have all responded to those problems differently, but Ronan is the most sensitive and brooding of the bunch.

Natalie is a ray of sunshine, and Ronan doesn’t know quite why he is finding that appealing. Being trapped together always moves a romance along nicely, and it does here but it’s the follow through that matters. Malley has it down, and the story just works. There are laughs and love and some sex, and all in all, another excellent read.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WHY NOT TONIGHT by Susan Mallery. HQN; Original edition (September 18, 2018). ISBN 978-1335474605. 384p.

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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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THEN THERE WAS YOU by Miranda Liasson

September 29, 2018

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Angel Falls, Book 1

Look at me, starting a series with the first book! And an excellent start it is.

Angel Falls is the small town where Sara grew up. She left for college and medical school, and the only reason she returned was to get married. But the night before the wedding, the bachelor party included a girl jumping out of a cake, and that girl was the groom’s high school sweetheart. Despite their ten years together, he dumps Sara for the cake girl and she has to learn to deal with it.

A year later, she returns home to Angel Falls to become her father’s  partner in his medical practice and to take care of her Nonna who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Her first patient is Police Chief Colton Walker – the groom’s best man and the man she thinks orchestrated the demise of her wedding. Luckily, she gets to stitch him up and give him a tetanus shot so at least she has a bit of revenge. But it turns out her arch enemy has changed quite a bit since the days he teased her in school. He is now much beloved in town and by her family as well.

This is the enemies-become-lovers storyline prevalent in so many romances and Liasson does a marvelous job with it here. Colton and Sara have a lot of hurdles to jump over but the tension between them really makes the pages fly by.

This is a charming, small town romance with warm, wonderful characters and enough angst to make the happy ending worth it. I loved it and am looking forward to the next book in this series.9/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THEN THERE WAS YOU by Miranda Liasson. Forever (May 29, 2018).  ISBN 978-1455541805. 368p.

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