June 24, 2019

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From the publisher:

Alisha Rai returns with a sizzling new novel, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

– Nude pics are by invitation only

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

– Protect your heart

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears.

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

Rhiannon. I know it is a popular name but when I hear it, or read it, all I can think of is Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac and the song (see YouTube below. You’re welcome.) Luckily, I love that song. I also loved this character. She was strong, feisty bordering on aggressive at times, and definitely a woman in charge of her own destiny. That worked for me.

We know that Rhi has experienced some trauma in her life that affect her professional career, and eventually we get most of the sordid details. So she definitely has baggage and she creates rules to protect herself. She also knows that sometimes rules can be broken.

Samson also has baggage. Not only is he a former professional football player, he comes from football royalty, with both his father and his uncle former NFL stars. But he lost his father and more recently, the uncle he took care of. He hasn’t really dated in years and his first attempt is a disaster. But Samson has a bigger problem than lack of dating skills; he doesn’t think he’s capable of a relationship because everyone he’s ever loved has left him.

The chemistry between these two is palpable and I couldn’t help rooting for them to get together. The very hot sex just adds to the fun. When they are thrust together in business, they realize they have a lot more blocks to get past in their personal lives. But this is a romance so happily ever after is a requirement.

Rai once again gives us a charming read with humor and pathos. She also tackles some important topics like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, sexual harassment in the work place, and the prejudices towards women-owned businesses, especially in the tech industry. She handles all of that beautifully, exploring these issues in a very personal way. This was a very enjoyable read and I highly recommend it.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE RIGHT SWIPE by Alisha Rai. Avon (August 6, 2019).  ISBN  978-0062878090. 400p.



FIX HER UP by Tessa Bailey

June 22, 2019

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From the publisher:

A steamy, hilarious new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey, perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne!

Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since.  Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means.

Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)

Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)

Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)

Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite?

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her…

This is a fast, fun read with lots of humor, pathos, and steamy sex – what more could you want? I couldn’t help but get emotionally involved with both Travis and Georgie. Retiring from professional baseball with an injury in his twenties really messed with his head. He found solace by hiding and drinking alone. Until Georgie comes by, throws some old lo mein at his head and forces him out of bed. And to clean. His best friend’s little sister is showing him something he’s never had before; someone who cares about him

A difficult childhood left Travis alone and aloof but Georgie is breaking down those walls. And she can’t stand how her family still treats her like the baby they think she is. She may be all grown up but her work as a clown for children’s birthday parties isn’t convincing anyone to treat her as an adult – except Travis.

Suspend your disbelief and enjoy this funny, sexy book. I sure did.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FIX HER UP by Tessa Bailey. HQN Books; Original edition (June 11, 2019).  ISBN  978-1335659972. 368p.




June 19, 2019

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From the publisher:

The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny…

As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?

Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.

Master storyteller Susan Mallery weaves threads of family drama, humor, romance and a wish-you-were-there setting into one of the most satisfying books of the year!

This book falls somewhere between women’s fiction and romance, but whatever you want to call it, it is an engrossing read. The characters are skillfully brought to life and I liked the two storylines, one following each of the sisters. They briefly overlapped now and again as the sisters are not estranged, just living their own lives as most of us do.

Sunshine is determined to turn her life around. She loves working as a nanny, but regrets the kids she left behind to follow after random men who invariably ended up hurting her. This time she is not going anywhere; she loves the young boy she is caring for and she is taking her first college class as well. The problem arises when she realizes she is very attracted to her recently widowed boss.

Margot loves helping people and this job is proving to be the most challenging one of her career. Bianca is living with her son and Margot is completely besotted – with the house. It is an old monastery that has been renovated and turned into a home, leaving much of the original intact. Bianca’s son is an historian who wants nothing more than to be left alone with his ancient documents, so he is surprised to find himself so strongly attracted to Margot. And she is equally surprised to find herself attracted to him.

Once I started this book, I was drawn completely into the lives of these sisters. If you like family stories with some romance, then you will enjoy this. I sure did.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SUMMER OF SUNSHINE & MARGOT by Susan Mallory. HQN Books; Original edition (June 11, 2019).  ISBN  978-1335659972. 368p.




June 18, 2019

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Cupid, Texas Series, Book 7

From the publisher:

What would it take to tame a wild cowboy?

One minute, Rhett Lockhart is a love ‘em and leave ‘em bull rider with a slow, sexy smile, a swagger, and not a care in the world. The next, he learns his free-wheeling days are over: a baby has been abandoned in the hospital, and there’s no question: he’s the father. But from the first moment he gazes into his daughter’s eyes, he knows the moment has come to say ‘no’ to no-strings. It’s time to grow up.

Standing in his way is the baby’s foster mother, Tara Alzate, who doesn’t quite believe Rhett is ready to change his ways. Still, she’s not not immune to his considerable charms. So when he proposes a marriage of convenience and shared custody, against her better judgement, she says “I do.” Can Tara tame this wild cowboy and make her own, long-buried dreams come true?

This was a great read – made me wish I had read the six previous books in the series! Guess I’ll be hunting them down.

These characters were really brought to life and I couldn’t help but get caught up in their stories. Tara is a neonatal nurse who has taken this abandoned baby home with her. When she finds out who the father is, she knows there may be some issues as they have history. And Rhett suffers from Peter Pan syndrome. Having a baby forces him to grow up in a hurry, especially a baby with all the problems of an early premie.

If you like these contemporary cowboy romances, then pick this one up. If you haven’t read any, this is a terrific place to start!

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TO TAME A WILD COWBOY by Lori Wilde. Forever (May 28, 2019). ISBN 978-1538748718.  400p.



THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW by Tracey Garvis Graves

June 16, 2019

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From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author of On the Island, Tracey Garvis Graves, presents the compelling, hopelessly romantic novel of unconditional love.

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game―and his heart―to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

I had heard about this book a while back, and I’m sorry to say it got lost on my overstuffed Kindle bookshelves. Luckily, a friend read it and told me to, and I’m so happy she did.

When I started reading, my first thought was is autism in romance a new trend? Helen Hoang owns it (The Kiss Quotient, The Bride Test), but Graves does an admirable job with it here. Especially as the word autism isn’t mentioned until almost the end of the book. As I recently learned (at the Florida Library Association Annual conference,) many people who are on the ASD spectrum do not self-identify that way. Therefore they do not get the help they need and that is very much the case here.

While Annika is certainly high functioning, I think it is apparent to the reader that she is on the spectrum. On the other hand, she just thinks of herself as weird. But Jonathan makes her feel special and safe.

The story moves back and forth between both characters and two different timelines, ten years apart; when they first met in college, then ten years later. It is easy to follow and easy to differentiate between all that, and the story moves quickly and dramatically. I loved these characters, all of them, even the secondary characters, because they are all so well drawn and feel like people I could run into tomorrow. That says a lot about the mad writing skills Graves displays here. But I especially loved the story of how these people move through life and toward one another.

My only complaint about this book was the ending; it was rather abrupt. I needed another page or two with a more defined resolution. I usually hate it when books tie up every loose end in a bow, it never seems real that way but this ending was too far in the other direction for me. But that is a minor quibble. I loved this book and I truly hope it finds a lot of readers.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW by Tracey Garvis Graves. St. Martin’s Press (April 2, 2019).  ISBN  978-1250200358. 304p.




June 14, 2019

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Silver Springs, Book 4

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak returns to Silver Springs with a moving story about rebuilding your life when you’ve got nothing left to lose

Savanna Gray needs a do-over. Her “perfect” life unraveled when, to her absolute shock, her husband was arrested for attacking three women. With her divorce settled, she takes her two children to Silver Springs to seek refuge between the walls of a farmhouse her late father had planned to renovate. It needs a little TLC, but she’s eager to take control of something.

Gavin Turner understands the struggle of starting over. Abandoned at a gas station when he was five, it wasn’t until he landed at New Horizons Boys Ranch as a teen that he finally found some peace. He steps up when Savanna needs help fixing things—even when those things go beyond the farmhouse.

Despite an escalating attraction to Gavin, Savanna resolves to keep her distance. She trusted her ex, who had a similarly tragic background, and is unwilling to repeat her past mistakes. But it’s hard to resist a man whose heart is as capable as his hands.

This is one of those series that definitely does not have to be read in order. I read the first two books in the series, but somehow managed to skip books 3 & 4, then read 5. I liked them all, and finally went and found the two books I somehow skipped over. And here we are.

The books all share a setting, the small town of Silver Springs, California, and a school for troubled boys, but the characters don’t seem to overlap much. Which means you don’t really have to read them in order, but if you want to, great – just bear in mind that the first four books were published in 2017 so even if you already read them, you may be as fuzzy as I was on the details when you get to book 5, which just came out a couple of months ago.

This story revolves around Gavin Turner, one of the boys who went to the New Horizons school for troubled boys, and is one of eight boys adopted by the school’s founder, Aiyana. She is a remarkable character and appears in some way or another in all the books. Gavin was a troubled teen, abandoned as a young child and on the path to very destructive behavior until he was saved by the school and his adoptive mother.

Gavin’s love interest is Savanna, and it is her backstory that really drives this romance. Savanna was married to a man who had been accused of abducting and raping three women. Stories like hers hit the news every now and then, and personally I never really thought about the family members of the accused. But apparently Novak has and brings it home here. This was a very emotional and fascinating look at such a family and the repercussions to those who were on the periphery of criminal acts; in this case, the wife and children.

Great characters make for a great story, and Novak has done an outstanding job here. I love this series and this may be my favorite book in it.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RIGHT WHERE WE BELONG by Brenda Novak.  MIRA; Original edition (October 31, 2017).  ISBN  978-0778330387. 400p.



COWBOY REBEL by Carolyn Brown

June 11, 2019

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Longhorn Canyon Series, Book 4

From the publisher:

A wild Texas cowboy is about to meet his match in an ER nurse in this heartwarming romance from a USA Today bestseller, which includes a bonus novella from Annie Rains.

Ever since losing his best friend in a motorcycle accident, Taggart Baker wants to make every moment count. No dare is too dangerous, no adventure too crazy for this cowboy. But after one bad brush with the law, he realizes it’s time to ditch his hooligan friends and grow up. Now he’s running his own ranch next to the Longhorn Canyon spread in Texas. Still, no one would ever call him tame.
Nikki Grady has worked too hard for her RN license just to throw it away for some reckless cowboy who shows up in her emergency room after a barroom brawl. But she can’t help being drawn to Tag’s sense of humor and those crystal blue eyes. The more time they spend together, the more she sees his good heart. But just as Tag seems ready to settle down for good, his troubled past comes calling-and this time he won’t be able to walk away so easily.

I liked these characters and I liked the story. What I didn’t like was the writing. It felt very stilted to me, especially the dialogue. I had trouble getting through the book because of that, but I liked the characters enough, and was invested enough in their story, to stick with it.

Another big disconnect for me was all the references to country music songs throughout the book. The characters motivations were often (and annoyingly) credited to some country song or another. They often communicated by talking about a song. Several times. I am sorry to say that I am not a fan of country music, so I was not familiar with any of the songs mentioned in the book. For what it’s worth, I have heard of most of the singers mentioned. But that aspect of the book was just lost on me. I have read many cowboy romances, and have run across an occasional mention of a song. I have even looked up a song or two to see why it was referenced and I was fine with that. But this was just too much for me.

I haven’t read the other books in this series so maybe that was another part of my disconnect here. In fact, I’ve only read one other of her books, The Magnolia Inn, and I liked that one a lot – but it wasn’t a cowboy romance. Although I’m not sure why that would matter. If you love country music, you may very well love this book. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

COWBOY REBEL by Carolyn Brown. Forever (May 28, 2019). ISBN 978-1538748718.  400p.



UNTIL YOU LOVED ME by Brenda Novak

June 10, 2019

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Silver Springs, Book 3

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak returns to Silver Springs

Sometimes starting over means finding everything you’ve been missing…

After catching her fiancé cheating—with another man—usually straitlaced, workaholic scientist Ellie Fisher liberates her wild side just long enough to indulge in a passionate one-night stand with a tall, dark stranger she meets at a trendy Miami bar. Embarrassed by her recklessness, she ducks out the following morning without learning the guy’s full name, something that shouldn’t have been a problem…until a pregnancy test turns positive.

Being a professional football player, Hudson King has always been cautious around women. But this one had been different—so disinterested in his celebrity, so convincingly into him. When Ellie tracks him down, claiming she’s carrying his baby, he’s stunned. And more than a little betrayed.

But after growing up as an orphan, he’ll do anything to stay involved in his child’s life, so he urges Ellie to move to Silver Springs, where they can co-parent. Hudson has a lot of love to give, certainly enough for his child, and when their initial spark reignites, perhaps for Ellie, too…

This is one of those series that definitely does not have to read in order. The books all share a setting, the small town of Silver Springs, California, and a school for troubled boys, but the characters don’t seem to overlap much. Which means you don’t really have to read them in order, but if you want to, great – just bear in mind that the first four books were published in 2017 so even if you already read them, you may be as fuzzy as I was on the details when you get to book 5, which just came out a couple of months ago.

This time out the story starts elsewhere, in my backyard, in fact – Miami. Ellie is a nerdy scientist who knows tons about science but pop culture just isn’t her jam. So when she meets a professional football player, she has no idea who he is. And he really likes that. Instead they connect on an intellectual and emotional level.

When Ellie finds out she’s pregnant, she has to deal with an ex-fiance who doesn’t believe he’s not the father and wants to adopt and/or buy the baby. His biological clock is ticking and he wants to have kids and sees Ellie’s pregnancy as a shortcut for a gay couple to adopt. She knows for a fact that it isn’t his baby and she also knows for a fact whose it is. But that surprise is not a pleasant one for Hudson.

I enjoyed watching these characters grow together and find their happily ever after. Another terrific entry into a wonderful series.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

UNTIL YOU LOVED ME by Brenda Novak. MIRA; Original edition (July 25, 2017).  ISBN  978-0778330257. 400p.




June 7, 2019

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From the publisher:

What if your roommate is your soul mate? A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good novel about finding love in the most unexpected of ways.

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

So British! And a completely delicious debut.

Tiffy is still holding out hope that her on again, off again boyfriend will be on again. Until he gets engaged. Then she’s pretty sure that it’s truly over. But she can’t seem to move past him. Months later, she finally starts grappling with the dysfunctional relationship that she was in and never realized – but as she does, she starts learning a lot about herself.

Meanwhile, work is getting crazy and her flat mate is turning into a good friend, albeit one she’s never met. His girlfriend made sure of that. But when they do finally meet, it is not what either of them expected.

This is a very funny and often emotional read. I love the British wit. The story moves back and forth between Tiffy and Leon’s viewpoints, which makes for an intimate read. You really get to get inside their heads. There are also tons of back and forth notes, that is how they communicate for at least half the book so I would file this under epistolary novels for sure.

The characters are real and well drawn and the story moves quickly. All in all, an excellent debut – I can’t wait to see what comes next. Don’t miss it!

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE FLATSHARE by Beth O’Leary. Flatiron Books (May 28, 2019).  ISBN  978-1250295637. 336p.




June 5, 2019

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From the publisher:

Award-winning author Sonali Dev launches a new series about the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family descended from royalty, who have built their lives in San Francisco…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

·       Never trust an outsider

·       Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations

·       And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with…

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.

Another love story that takes its lead from Jane Austen, which is not a bad thing. Here we have a Mr. Darcy (the “D” in “DJ” is for Darcy) with Trisha standing in for Elizabeth Bennett. It works. For me, an added bonus is the food-centric story. DJ is a chef and Trisha is a scientist who forgets to eat. Really. But when she eats DJ’s food, she is transported.

The two of them are strongly, and strangely, attracted to one another. DJ is aware there are class differences between them, which makes him self conscious and overly sensitive. Trisha is such a workaholic that it is hard for her to move beyond that – except for her family obligations. And those she feels very strongly.

DJ and Trisha fight their way through this story until I started wondering how on earth they would ever get together. Well done, Ms. Dev, well done. This was a delicious read that harkens back nicely to its inspiration. A thoroughly enjoyable romance.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

PRIDE, PREJUDICE, AND OTHER FLAVORS by Sonali Dev. Berkley (May 7, 2019).  ISBN 978-0451490827. 320p.