THE KEY TO HAPPILY EVERY AFTER by Tif Marcelo

April 23, 2019

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©Library Journal, 2019

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE KEY TO HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Tif Marcelo. Gallery Books (April 23, 2019). ISBN 978-1501197581. 320p.

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UNDER THE TABLE by Stephanie Evanovich

April 16, 2019

I was so excited that Evanovich finally had a new book coming out – it had been about three years since her last book (The Total Package) and I really loved all three of her previous books. While I enjoyed this one, I must admit that I was the tiniest bit disappointed.

This is a very short book (272 pages) and a very quick read. The basic plot line is good, but I would have liked a bit more character development, especially for Tristan, our man of the hour, and Derek, the ex. I felt like I got to know Zoey pretty well and this is definitely her story to tell, but her ex was a real mystery. He barely made a blip in the story even though a lot of the plot, Zoey’s reason for being in New York, the reason she almost loses Tristan, depended on Derek. There was just enough back story to make the major plot points feasible but I would have liked more, especially his relationship with Zoey’s family – as lifelong friends before marriage, that seemed important but is barely glossed over.

Tristan was also a bit of an enigma but definitely a man in want of a makeover. We do get most of his backstory, but some of the choices he makes throughout the book weren’t always clear to me. That said, I couldn’t help but root for Zoey and Tristan to find their way to one another so I did get my happy ending. There’s not as much sizzle as in previous books, but that really worked well for these characters in this story.

There are some really funny moments in the story, as well as some sweet ones. And of course, I loved the foodie subplot. Wishing hard for that kitchen! Ultimately, I couldn’t put the book down and read it in one sitting, despite my minor quibbles. Now I hope I don’t have to wait as long for the next book!

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

UNDER THE TABLE by Stephanie Evanovich. William Morrow (April 16, 2019). ISBN 978-0062415929. 272p.

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COLORADO COWBOY by Sara Richardson

April 15, 2019

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Rocky Mountain Riders, Book 5

From the publisher:

Come home to Topaz Falls, Colorado where a down-on-her-luck bull rider falls for the cowboy she can’t resist in this heart-warming western romance!
As a champion barrel racer, Charity Stone has learned to hold her own in the male-dominated rodeo world. There’s no cowboy she can’t handle…except for one. Officer Dev Jenkins has made it clear he doesn’t look at her like one of the guys. He’s caught her attention but Charity doesn’t do relationships–especially not with a cowboy. When she suddenly finds herself in charge of her thirteen-year-old nephew, who’s had a few brushes with the law, Charity has no choice but to ask for the deputy’s help.

Dev hasn’t stopped fantasizing about Charity since she moved to Topaz Falls, but she’s been hell bent on keeping her distance. When she comes to him for help with her nephew, he finally has the chance to make his move. Winning her over won’t be easy, thoughespecially when her nephew’s mistakes start to threaten his town. How can he do his job and still convince Charity he’s the cowboy for her?

Includes the bonus story “Unbroken” by Jay Crownover!

I started this series by reading the fourth book True-Blue Cowboy, and at that time, it felt like I must have missed something by not reading the earlier books in the series. With this fifth book, I didn’t have that feeling. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was a series book until after I’d read it. To me, that says a lot about the writing – this book easily stands alone. From what I can surmise, this series is set in the town of Topaz Falls, Colorado, but beyond that, I’m not sure what else crosses over.

I loved, loved, loved the strong female protagonist in this book. Charity isn’t looking for a cowboy, she is one. Cowgirl. Whatever. She’s a rodeo star in her own right which was a refreshing change to me. I’ve read a lot of cowboy romances and while there have been some strong women for sure, I don’t remember one that felt turned on its head like this one. The man in the other half of this equation is a cop, not a cowboy; well, not a rodeo star at any rate. He does help work his family ranch so he can wear the cowboy hat without irony.

There are a lot of family dynamics at play here, the subplots are as interesting as the main romance. This was a terrific story and I highly recommend it.

If you’d like to read them in order (and tell me what I’m missing!) here you go:

  1. Hometown Cowboy, Book 1
  2. Comeback Cowboy, Book 2
  3. Renegade Cowboy, Book 3
  4. True-Blue Cowboy, Book 4

 

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

COLORADO COWBOY by Sara Richardson. Forever (April 2, 2019). ISBN 978-1538712276.  448p.

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MEET CUTE by Helena Hunting

April 15, 2019

This was the first book I’ve read from this author and I immediately put her last book, Good Luck Charm, on reserve at my library. I really liked this book – it lives up to its “meet cute” title. In a delicious twist, it’s the male protagonist, Dax, who explains what a meet cute is to our heroine.

I loved these characters. Kailyn is a smart cookie, and even though she’s definitely a fangirl, her anger over a perceived slight from their law school days keeps her emotions in check. That is, until she starts having to spend time with Dax and his teenage sister. As their relationship deepens, there is a secret that Kailyn is keeping. Yes, that old trope rears its ugly head again. But it almost works here, the rationale seems fairly logical even though it’s dragged out a little too long. But then again, they need a good hurdle to make the ending worthwhile. I could live with it because I liked both of these characters and wanted them to work out. And of course they do, with enough sex thrown in to keep it interesting.

My only (minor) quibble is with the subplot that deals with a custody battle between Dax and his aunt over his little sister. It was pretty obvious what was going on but the why was at least interesting. The denouement could have been a little less obvious, too – it seemed like Hunting got to that point and said okay, time to fix this and boom, there you have it.

Give me great characters, a decent storyline, and enough drama to keep me turning the pages. Throw in some laughs and I’m a happy reader. Well done.

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MEET CUTE by Helena Hunting. Forever (April 9, 2019). ISBN 978-1538760185. 384p.

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HARD LOVING COWBOY by A. J. Pine

April 12, 2019

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Crossroads Ranch Series, Book 4

From the publisher:

This cowboy’s handsome, sexy, and definitely off limits . . .

Walker Everett spends his days at the Crossroads Ranch wrangling cattle-and steering clear of anything that would complicate his already too-complicated life. Until Violet Chastain, the ranch’s newest employee, asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend for her parents’ anniversary party. She’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever met and needs his help. How can he refuse?Violet isn’t about to fall for a brooding bad-boy cowboy, no matter how sizzling their chemistry. But she also never expected Walker to go along with the charade. Before long, he’s charming her parents at their weekly dinners and kissing her way more than necessary. Spending so much time together tests the limits of their “just friends” relationship, but what happens when their game of pretend becomes all too real?

Includes the bonus story Rocky Mountain Cowboy by Sara Richardson!


I read the third book in this series, Tough Luck Cowboy, which I mistook for the second book, but somehow missed the first (not unusual for me!) and the actual second book. Maybe. Apparently Amazon is as confused as I am about the order of this series! I am going to have to backtrack and find them because I know there are holes in the background that I’m missing.

So first things first, as my mother used to say, do as I say, not as I do, and read this series in order! I am investigating. Because of my little bit of confusion, I skipped reading the bonus novella but I’m sure I will get to that eventually.

The fake boyfriend is a good romance standby, and it works really well here. Violet has some serious family issues, and when Walker fakes it for her parents, too, she is really happy. Especially as she’s falling for him, despite all her reasons not to.

Walker is a good man, even if he is a cowboy. I lived in Dallas for five years in the early 80’s and rarely saw cowboys like the ones in these books. I think I mostly saw urban cowboys, thanks to the movie (John Travolta) and the TV series, “Dallas.” I lived just a few miles from Southfork and never saw them filming. I did see Susan Howard (“Donna Krebs”) in the hair salon once. But I digress.

I love this contemporary cowboy romance subgenre, and this one is pretty good. But I think it will be better once I read the other books in the series!

Crossroads Ranch Series, in order according to Amazon, sometimes:

  1. Second Chance Cowboy (Crossroads Ranch Book 1) Feb 27, 2018
  2. Saved by the Cowboy (Crossroads Ranch Book 2) Aug 7, 2018 (according to the author’s website, this is book 1.5 so maybe a novella?)
  3. Tough Luck Cowboy (Crossroads Ranch Book 3) Aug 28, 2018 (according to the author’s website, this is book 2)
  4. Hard Loving Cowboy (Crossroads Ranch Book 4) Mar 26, 2019 (according to the author’s website, this is book 3)

So according to the author, I read books 2 and book 3 and there is no book 4. And I can’t borrow Saved by the Cowboy from my library so I guess I’ll just be missing that one. Sigh.

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HARD LOVING COWBOY by A. J. Pine. Forever (March 26, 2019). ISBN 978-1538727119.  480p.

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THE TROUBLE WITH COWBOYS by Victoria James

April 8, 2019

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From the publisher:

From New York Times bestseller Victoria James comes a poignant and heartfelt romance that wraps you in a warm embrace…

Eight years ago, Tyler Donnelly left Wishing River, Montana, after a terrible fight with his father and swore he’d never return. But when his father has a stroke, guilt and duty drive him home, and nothing is as he remembers––from the run-down ranch to Lainey Sullivan, who is all grown up now. And darn if he can’t seem to stay away.

Lainey’s late grandma left her two things: the family diner and a deep-seated mistrust of cowboys. So when Tyler quietly rides back into town looking better than hot apple pie, she knows she’s in trouble. But she owes his dad everything, and she’s determined to show Ty what it means to be part of a small town…and part of a family.

Lainey’s courage pushes Ty to want to make Wishing River into a home again―together. But one of them is harboring a secret that could change everything.


This was the first book I read by this author, and it was pretty good. It is a sweet romance, centered around family dynamics and has just enough drama to keep the pages turning. The characters are well developed, even the secondary ones, and I liked getting to know them all and the small town that is pretty much another character in this story. There is a bit of mystery surrounding the family feud between Ty and his dad which makes sense as it unfolds.

Lainey’s keeping a secret from Ty. This is a common trope in romances, and not my favorite. She knows she should tell him yet there never seems to be a good time until it blows up. I guess I’m too blunt in my own life to truly understand why people do this. You’re in a relationship, be honest or get out. Just my opinion, for what it’s worth.

That is a minor quibble though. The story moves along nicely, and it is always good to end a book with a smile. I love the happily ever after found here.

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE TROUBLE WITH COWBOYS by Victoria James. Entangled: Amara (March 26, 2019). ISBN 978-1640635418.  320p.

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CRASHING INTO HER by Mia Sosa

April 2, 2019

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

CRASHING INTO HER by Mia Sosa. Avon Impulse; Reissue edition (April 2, 2019). ISBN 978-0062878762. 400p.

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THE CHANCE by Robyn Carr

March 18, 2019

3/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE CHANCE by Robyn Carr. MIRA; 1st edition (February 25, 2014). ISBN 978-0778315995. 360p.

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THE HERO by Robyn Carr

March 16, 2019

3/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE HERO by Robyn Carr.  MIRA; 1st edition (August 27, 2013). ISBN 978-0778314592. 379p.

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THE NEWCOMER by Robyn Carr

March 12, 2019

3/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE NEWCOMER by Robyn Carr.  MIRA; 1st edition (June 25, 2013). ISBN 978-0778314523. 360p.

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