JUST ANOTHER LOVE SONG by Kerry Winfrey

August 5, 2022

From the publisher:

Two high school sweethearts get a second chance at their perfect ending in this charming new romance by Kerry Winfrey, author of Very Sincerely Yours.

Once upon a time, Sandy Macintosh thought she would have her happily ever after with her high school sweetheart, Hank Tillman. Sandy wanted to be an artist, Hank was the only boy in town who seemed destined for bigger things, and they both had dreams to escape town together. But when Sandy’s plans fell through, she stayed in their small town in Ohio while Hank went off to Boston to follow his dreams to be a musician, with the promise to stay together. Only that plan fell through, too.

Fifteen years later, Sandy runs a successful greenhouse while helping her parents with their bed and breakfast. Everything is perfect…until Hank rolls back into town, now a famous alt-country singer with a son in tow. She’s happy with the life she’s built by herself, but seeing Hank makes her think about what might have been. There aren’t enough cliché love songs in the world to convince Sandy to give Hank another chance, but when the two of them get thrown together to help organize the town’s annual street fair, she wonders if there could be a new beginning for them or if what they had is just a tired old song of the past.

“A warm, heartfelt novel that’ll get stuck in your head like your favorite love song.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Winfrey’s sweet, low-heat read, with endearing and humorous characters and small-town setting, will appeal to fans of Candis Terry and Victoria James.”—Library Journal

https://amzn.to/3d9rMcM

Winfrey has turned into one of my favorite authors, and I really enjoyed this book. Sandy and Hank grew up together, best friends until they grew their relationship into something more. He was a musician who longed for a bigger life; she was an artist with the same longings. They planned to go away to college together, but a family emergency leaves Sandy with no money for college. Hank goes off to follow his dreams, and Sandy stays behind.

Sandy quickly realizes that she has to end things with Hank or he will come back to this small town and forget about his dreams. She loves him too much to do that to him, so she breaks his heart. Fifteen years later, Hank returns to town, a young son in town, recently divorced and a single dad. Sandy tries to avoid him at all costs -she has never stopped loving him.

You can guess what happens in this second-chance romance, but spending time with these characters was so much fun it doesn’t matter. This is a popular trope for a reason. The small town and all its quirky characters inject a lot of humor into this book. It is a fast, fun read and I loved it.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

JUST ANOTHER LOVE SONG by Kerry Winfrey.  Berkley (August 2, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593333433. 336p.

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A SHOE STORY by Jane L. Rosen

July 29, 2022

From the publisher:

A young woman has one month and a closetful of shoes to discover the future she thought she’d lost in this captivating new novel from the author of Eliza Starts a Rumor and Nine Women, One Dress.

Esme Nash is eager to leave her small town and begin her carefully planned post-grad life: a move to New York City, an apartment with her loving college boyfriend, and a fancy job at an art gallery. But when tragedy strikes, instead of heading to Manhattan, she returns home to care for her ailing father, leaving every bit of her dream behind.

Seven trying years later, Esme is offered a dog-sitting job in Greenwich Village by a mysterious stranger, giving her access to all of her long-buried hopes and dreams—as well as to an epic collection of designer shoes. Esme jumps at a second chance to step into the future she’s sure was meant to be hers.

As she retraces her steps, one pair of borrowed shoes at a time, making new friends and reconnecting with her old love, Esme tries on versions of herself she didn’t know existed. But the hazy August days and warm summer nights pass too quickly, and Esme must decide how much of the life she imagined still fits, and what—and who—is on the road ahead of her.

https://amzn.to/3cGF93M

This is the second Rosen book I’ve read, after Nine Women, One Dress, and all I can say is that this is a worthy successor. New York City is pretty much another character here, and I really enjoyed that aspect. Esme is a great character, too; smart, caring, a heart big enough to survive and prosper in NYC. When her father falls ill, Esme leaves all her plans behind to go back upstate to take care of him. Several years later, she finally loses him and finds a unique opportunity. Not really sure what she wants to do with the rest of her life, she takes a job dogsitting/apartment sitting for a woman in a very nice apartment, complete with an amazing shoe collection. Esme has a bit of a shoe fetish herself, so she definitely can relate. When the owner, who is in rehab for what Esme assumes is her shoe/shopping addiction, offers her to try anything she likes in the apartment, Esme takes her up on it and every day is a new shoe adventure.

She meets a young man and they become good friends, hanging out quite a bit. She also meets an elderly gentleman in the dog park, and they, too, form a friendship. Esme is having a great time, but what she really wants is to sort of “accidentally” run into her college ex, the boy she dumped to go home to care for her father. He is still in the city, and it turns out he is living in the apartment they were supposed to share.

Of course everything is not quite as Esme hoped it would be, and while she’s finding her way to her future, these relationships all help clarify things. Along with the shoes, of course. This sweet and funny novel is heartwarming with a touch of romance, and I highly recommend it.

7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A SHOE STORY by Jane L. Rosen.  Berkley (June 28, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593102121. 336p.

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THE HONEYMOON COTTAGE by Lori Foster

July 29, 2022

From the publisher:

From New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster comes a heartwarming, romantic story for fans of Jill Shalvis, Lori Wilde and Sarah Morgan. In The Honeymoon Cottage, locals of a quirky small town help their favorite wedding planner find her own happily-ever-after.

She was fine arranging other people’s weddings… But life had other plans.

When it comes to creating the perfect happily-ever-after, Yardley Belanger is a bona fide miracle worker. From bridal bouquets to matching cowboy boots, the quirky wedding planner’s country-chic affairs have caused quite a stir in the small town of Cemetery. But when it comes to her own love life? She’s clueless.

Completely clueless.

Perhaps it’s for the best. The thirty-one-year-old has poured her heart and soul into her business and doesn’t have time for anything—or anyone—else. And that’s something not even the gorgeous older brother of her newest client can change…right?

All Travis Long wanted was to give his little sister, Sheena, the wedding of her dreams. Ever since the tragic death of their parents, he’s done everything he can to make her feel loved and give her everything she needs. Still…a country wedding? In a place called Cemetery? But Yardley seems to know exactly what to do and how to do it—and Travis finds himself falling for her a little more each day.

Soon Yardley and Travis find themselves being nudged together by well-meaning locals who want to see the town’s favorite wedding planner get her own happy ending.

https://amzn.to/3OyxdPm

This is a lovely small-town romance, replete with quirky characters, charming traditions, and a lot of laughs. The town is Cemetery, named after the founder and his great-granddaughter, Betty Cemetery, now in her 80’s, has been running the town for years. She has forced every business to include the Cemetery name in their names, so Cemetery Floral, Cemetery Weddings, and so forth – which is a fun tradition, except for the business owners who resent it. In fact, they resent it so much they want Yardley to run for office against Betty, which puts both women into a panic.

Yardley is a young woman running her family’s wedding planning business. Her mother and aunt live with her, and she never knew her father. Both ladies have pretty much retired from everything other than shopping, letting Yardley do all the work in the business as well as at home. But Yardley never complains, even when her best friend Mimi invites her to do so. She just soldiers on.

Then she meets her new client, Sheena, and instead of bringing her fiance along, her much older brother is in tow while her fiance is working all kinds of overtime. Travis is not only her big brother; he practically raised her himself – they lost their parents when Sheena was just five years old. They are very close and Travis is determined to see her get the wedding of her dreams.

Yardley and Travis are immediately drawn to one another, but Travis has been on a single track of raising his sister and building up his house-flipping business. Yardley hasn’t been on a date in so long she almost qualifies as a virgin again. But as they spend time together, they can’t help but be drawn to one another.

This is a sweet romance with one sex scene. There are a lot of laughs here as well with all these quirky characters, and a dog rescue just adds to the lovefest. If you enjoy reading books that make you feel good, then this is your book. I swear I was smiling the entire time I was reading!

7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE HONEYMOON COTTAGE by Lori Foster. Berkley (June 28, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593102121. 336p.

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HONOR ‘N’ DUTY by Tee O’Fallon

July 22, 2022

Federal K-9, Book 6

From the publisher:

Two years after his brother’s murder in jail, Department of Homeland Security K-9 Officer Kade Sampson is still haunted by guilt. No man should ever have to arrest his own brother, even if he is laundering money for a drug cartel. Fortunately, Laia Velez—his brother’s gorgeous widow—never learned the truth about Kade’s involvement. But when she asks him for help, he knows that trouble with the cartel is far from over…

Kade is the last person Laia wants to call. But between her house being thoroughly trashed and the uneasy sense that she and her young daughter are being watched, Laia isn’t taking any chances. The cartel wants something from her. And Kade and his K-9 partner, Smoke, are her only chance to survive whatever fresh hell is coming their way…

Now Laia and Kade are trying to stay one step ahead in a game that’s growing more deadly by the minute. But what the cartel wants, the cartel gets. And Kade is running out of time to save the woman he loves from the same fate that killed his brother…

https://amzn.to/3cvuM2I

I read the first book in this series but missed the rest until this one. I’m sure they are better read in order, but from what I can tell from the two books I’ve read, they easily stand alone. This is a fast paced book with lots of suspense, a bit of violence, and at the heart of the story, a romance.

Kade and Laia met when they were stranded in an elevator for forty minutes. There was such a strong attraction that Kade asked her out, but when they step off the elevator, he finds out why she said she can’t. Laia was engaged to Kade’s brother, Josh.

Kade figures the best way to handle his attraction to his sister-in-law is to avoid her. He attends the wedding, and he’s there for his brother’s funeral, but other than that, he ghosts her. He spends as much time as possible with his niece when she visits her grandparents, and that seems to work for him.

Six years have gone by and Kade still struggles with his guilt over his brother. Josh was a successful accountant, but turned out that much of his success came from laundering money for a drug cartel. Eventually he gets caught, but is killed on his first day in prison. The cops take everything they own, leaving Laia and her daughter to struggle on their own.

All these years later, Laia comes home to find that her house has been trashed. Every piece of furniture is destroyed, and she can’t understand why nothing is missing. She calls the cops, but she also calls her brother-in-law, Kade, thinking he probably won’t come. But he does.

Kade shows up in full protector mode, along with his K-9 partner, Smoke. He hustles Laia and her daughter out of there, quickly realizing that this wasn’t an ordinary robbery. The cartel is after something.

I don’t want to give anything away, so let’s just say the pages fly by as the attraction between Laia and Kade reaches the boiling point, with each of them thinking the other just isn’t interested. Plus the cartel is obviously interested in Laia, so Kade hides her as best as he can. But spending all that time together is just making it harder and harder to pretend they don’t have strong feelings for one another.

I really enjoyed this fast paced romantic thriller. I was very invested in these characters and their story. Highly recommend!

7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HONOR ‘N’ DUTY by Tee O’Fallon. Entangled: Amara (July 18, 2022). ASIN: B0B54LBPD2. 356p.

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Spotlight Review: THE GODPARENT TRAP by Rachel Van Dyken 

July 19, 2022

From the publisher:

Life’s Too Short meets The Unhoneymooners in this sparkling, steamy, and swoon-worthy novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken, in which two sworn enemies must share house, home—and maybe their hearts—when they become co-parents after a sudden loss.

Colby’s living her best life: as a popular food blogger, she gets to fulfill her dreams of exploring the globe. But her world comes crashing down when a tragic accident leaves her co-guardian of her best friend’s two adorable children. Not only does she need to put down roots—fast—but she’ll be sharing custody with the one man she can’t stand sharing a continent with, let alone a house.  

Accountant-extraordinaire Rip values rules and plans. But when he loses his sister and his best friend and becomes an insta-guardian all in one night, Rip sees his organized life imploding. What he really doesn’t need is his sister’s irresponsible, flighty—albeit kind and gorgeous—best friend making it worse.

Rip doesn’t trust Colby to take their new responsibilities seriously, while Colby can’t believe Rip thinks children will thrive under his rigid control. Yet soon Rip and Colby discover they need each other more than they hate each other. Could it be possible that following their hearts is just what their new little family needs?

https://amzn.to/3IU3GhR

This is a very cute book that reminded me of a not-so-great movie with Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel, “Life As We Know It.” Same basic premise; couple die in an accident leaving their child to be raised by their best friends, who naturally hate one another. In the book, there are two kids, doubling the trouble. Makes me kind of wish Van Dyken had a hand in that movie, it would have been so much better.

Colby lives a life that a lot of people would envy. As a food and travel blogger, she travels the world and writes about it. Rip is a very successful accountant, and his sister was married to his best friend, and her best friend is Colby. It’s not all that complicated but you can guess that a by-the-numbers kind of guy isn’t going to be impressed by someone who floats around the world for a living. But they are godparents and legal guardians to a toddler girl and her elementary school age brother, so they have to step up. 

Both of them are grieving in their own way, and so are the kids. It’s a heart wrenching premise to be sure, but it works here. Colby and Rip both prioritize the kids, so even though she is a hot mess to his perfectionism, they have to get along for the kids’ sake, no matter how difficult that is. But as they spend time together – the both move into the kids home – they learn to rely on one another. Of course there is a sexual attraction as well, but both are fighting it. Until they no longer can.

Despite the devastating loss, there are a lot of laughs here, and as Colby and Rip give in to their attraction to one another, some steamy sex scenes, too. This was a fast, fun read and a perfect book to take on vacation, which I did. If you are looking for an escape, this is a good one.

7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE GODPARENT TRAP by Rachel Van Dyken. Forever (July 19, 2022). ISBN: 978-1538720530. 352p.

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Spotlight Review: THE ACCIDENTAL NEWLYWED GAME by Jaci Burton 

June 28, 2022

Boots and Bouquets, Book 3

From the publisher:

What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas, when one night out turns into a wedding that neither newlywed can remember, from New York Times bestselling author Jaci Burton.

Wedding planner Honor Bellini is in Las Vegas for a work convention when she runs into her sister’s ex-fiancé, Owen Stone, who’s also in town for his craft brewery business. They’re both glad to see a familiar face from home…until a night of drinking leads to waking up in bed together—and a marriage certificate from a wedding that neither of them can recall.

Horrified, Owen suggests an immediate annulment. Honor agrees, but when they spend the day together, their chemistry is overwhelming. Plus, Honor has a flash of memory of their steamy wedding night, and she definitely likes what she remembers. They decide to wait before cancelling the whole marriage thing, though they both head back to Oklahoma determined not to tell anyone at home what happened in Vegas.

The problem is, Honor and Owen can’t seem to stay away from each other—or keep their hands off one another. The longer they keep their secret, the harder it gets to deny how they really feel. Even worse, this huge secret has the potential to hurt someone they both care about. They need to get an annulment before this accidental marriage turns into love.

https://amzn.to/3u49BKT

This is my first foray in this series, but I want to read the earlier books now! I must admit, the drunk-and-married-in-Vegas plotline is not my favorite. I just find it almost impossible to believe, but I like Jaci Burton as a rule so I went with it. It is a popular device in romance, so I can’t fault anyone for using it, plus the “accidental marriage” is a favorite plot device for a lot of romance readers. 

Owen was engaged to Honor’s sister, but that was a while ago and now her sister is happily married. He basically dumped her right before the wedding when he was diagnosed with cancer. It’s been a couple of years though, and he is living his best life. Honor always thought Owen was cute and they’ve always been friends, so when she spies him across the lobby in her hotel in Vegas, she texts him and he joins her for lunch. One tequila leads to another and the next thing you know, they are waking up in bed together, married.

Annulment immediately springs to mind but Honor sort of remembers having sex with Owen, but doesn’t remember if they used protection. They decide to go home to Oklahoma and wait to see if she is pregnant. That takes weeks, and meanwhile they are secretly dating. Honor doesn’t want to upset her sister. The three sisters and their mom run a wedding venue at the family vineyard, and they are all very close, so Honor is very uncomfortable keeping her relationship a secret.

There is so much chemistry between Owen and Honor, I don’t know how her family didn’t notice for so long. Without giving too much away, let’s say a friendship plus steamy sex makes for a marriage that works. This was pure escapism, so if, like me, you don’t want to deal with the real world right now, try escaping with Honor and Owen.

The series in order:

.5 – The Matchmaker’s Mistletoe Mission (a prequel novella, Kindle only)

1- The Café By the Sea

2 – The Engagement Arrangement

3 – The Accidental Newlywed Game

6/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE ACCIDENTAL NEWLYWED GAME by Jaci Burton. Berkley (June 28, 2022). ISBN: 978-0593439630. 336p.

Kindle

 


Spotlight Review: AN ISLAND WEDDING by Jenny Colgan

June 21, 2022

Mure series, Book 5

From the publisher:

New York Times best-selling author Jenny Colgan brings us a delightful summer novel that will sweep you away to the remote Scottish island of Mure, where two very different weddings are about to take place….

On the little Scottish island of Mure – halfway between Scotland and Norway – Flora MacKenzie and her fiancé, Joel, are planning the smallest of “sweetheart weddings”, a high summer celebration surrounded only by those very dearest to them.

Not everyone on the island is happy about being excluded, though. The temperature rises even further when beautiful Olivia MacDonald – who left Mure 10 years ago for bigger and brighter things – returns with a wedding planner in tow. Her fiancé has oodles of family money, and Olivia is determined to throw the biggest, most extravagant, most Instagrammable wedding possible. And she wants to do it at Flora’s hotel, the same weekend as Flora’s carefully planned micro-wedding. 

As the summer solstice approaches, can Flora handle everyone else’s happy-every-afters – and still get her own?

https://amzn.to/3hyL4XR

This is the fifth novel in Colgan’s popular series set on the fictional island of Mure in northern Scotland. The story centers around Flora and Joel’s upcoming wedding, a secret romance between her best friend Lorna and Saif, a Syrian immigrant and father of two boys, and the recently engaged Olivia, a gorgeous islander who became a model and social media influencer. Olivia is planning her own Mure wedding extravaganza for the same day as Flora’s, while Flora is dismayed to learn that Joel wants a “sweetheart wedding” with only the immediate family present. Meanwhile, Saif finds out his wife, who was fighting in Syria, has moved on, and there are immigration legalities and racism at play here. The insanity of Olivia’s Instagrammable wedding and the teasing Flora and Joel get about their baby’s walking skills add humor and lighten the story. This is a slow paced, very descriptive sweet romance, but be forewarned, not all these characters get their happily ever after.

Verdict: Fans of the series will undoubtedly enjoy this latest addition, but other readers may want to start with the first book. Readalikes include books by Felicity Hayes-McCoy, Katie Fforde, and Sophie Kinsella.

The series in order (U.S. versions):

  1. The Café By the Sea
  2. The Endless Beach
  3. Christmas on the Island
  4. Christmas at the Island Hotel
  5. An Island Wedding

©Library Journal, 2022

6/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

AN ISLAND WEDDING by Jenny Colgan. Avon (June 21, 2022). ISBN: 978-0063141889. 400p.

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Spotlight Review: THE FRIENDSHIP PACT by Jill Shalvis

June 14, 2022

The Sunrise Cove Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis returns to Sunrise Cove with a powerful, moving story about a young woman on a quest to find the truth about her father who learns the meaning of true love along the way.

Alone in the world, Tae Holmes and her mother April pretty much raised each other, but as Tae starts asking questions about the father she’s never met, April, for the first time in her life, goes silent. To make matters worse, Tae is dangerously close to broke and just manages to avoid financial meltdown when she lands a shiny new contract with an adventure company for athletes with disabilities and wounded warriors.

Her first big fundraiser event falls flat, but what starts out as a terrible, horrible, no-good night turns into something else entirely when Tae finds herself face-to-face with Riggs Copeland. She hasn’t seen the former Marine since their brief fling in high school, and while still intensely drawn to him, she likes her past burned and buried, thank you very much. Hence their friendship pact.

But when April oddly refuses to help Tae track down her father, it’s Riggs who unexpectedly comes to her aid. On a hunt to unlock the past, the two of them find themselves on a wild ride and learn a shocking truth, while also reluctantly bonding in a way neither had seen coming. Now Tae must decide whether she’s going to choose love … or walk away from her own happiness.

https://amzn.to/3O5ZVHr

Calling all Gilmore Girls fans! Although the publicity I saw never mentioned my favorite show (well, one of them for sure) that was my first thought as I learned that April got pregnant when she was 15 years old, got no support from the baby daddy or her own family, and raised Tae on her own with very little money. Or Tae raised herself and helped raise her mother! Eventually, the two of them land in Sunrise Cove, each of them living on their own (sort of) in an adjoining duplex. April has struggled with men all her life, and it saddens her to see that Tae is following in her footsteps.

Tae knew that her father was a soldier who died overseas, but not much else as she never met him. When she accidentally stumbles across her birth certificate, she is shocked to see no father listed. Tae and April are extremely close, but Tae is afraid to ask her mother about it and instead, decides to do a little investigating of her own.

Meanwhile, her event planning business is finally doing really well. Her biggest and best client, Adrenaline HQ, is run by a veteran in a wheelchair and helps other wounded warriors. When his brother, Riggs, comes home for the summer, Tae is shocked – they had a one-night-stand when she was in high school and never expected to see him again. Riggs is actually a partner in the business, but this is the first time he’s actually working there. The chemistry between them is intense, but Riggs is very closed off. He and his brother lost their mother when they were young, and their father was abusive. Riggs has just gotten out of the Marines, has a lot of guilt about his brother’s injuries, and is just waiting for his new job in Washington D.C. to start.

This story had so many layers that really drew me in. I loved these characters and couldn’t help but root for their happy ending. This book stands alone beautifully – I had forgotten I read the first book in the series, The Family You Make, but never felt like I was missing a thing. Shalvis is a great storyteller and really knows how to keep those pages turning. This is a perfect beach read; don’t miss it!

6/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE FRIENDSHIP PACT by Jill Shalvis. Avon (June 14, 2022). ISBN:‎  978-0063095465. 384p.

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THE WRIGHT BROTHER by K.A. Linde

June 10, 2022

Wright Series, Book 1

From the publisher:

A billionaire contemporary romance stand alone from USA Today bestselling author K.A. Linde…

I’d dated his brother.

He didn’t remember and I wish I could forget.

I may have sworn off the Wright family a long time ago. But when I returned home, Jensen Wright crashed into my life with the confidence of a billionaire CEO and the sex appeal of a god. Even I couldn’t resist our charged chemistry, or the way he fit into my life like a missing puzzle piece.

Too bad he’d forgotten the one thing that could destroy us.

Because Jensen Wright doesn’t share. Not with anyone. And if his brother finds out, this could all go down in flames.

When it all was said and done, was he the Wright brother?

https://amzn.to/3NHxtfo

Emery Robinson and Landon Wright were high school sweethearts, but that relationship went up in flames when he left for college in California. Emery left their Texas town to pursue her own career, but ten years later, her boyfriend cheats on her, causing her to reevaluate her life. She gives up finishing her Ph.D. and returns home, just in time to be her best friend’s plus one at Sutton Wright’s wedding.

Emery has changed quite a bit in those ten years, and Jensen Wright doesn’t recognize her as his younger brother’s ex, just as a hot woman he’d like to bed. Emery knows exactly who he is though; she had a crush on him in high school. Their chemistry is explosive, and since he thinks she’s only in town for a few days, they have a steamy night together. Jensen is a player, so he is shocked to find he wants more of Emery.

The family connection adds some depth to the story, but this is mostly a fast, sexy read that easily stands alone. It is the first book of a series, and I hope to find the rest.

I heard about this book via BookBub, and as of this writing, the Kindle version is still free on Amazon.

6/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE WRIGHT BROTHER by K.A. Linde.  KA Linde Incorporated (February 28, 2017). ISBN: 978-1948427012. 324p.

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THE BOARDWALK BOOKSHOP by Susan Mallery

June 3, 2022

From the publisher:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery—a story of friends who become family, giving each other courage to start over…

When fate brings three strangers to a charming space for lease on the California coast, the Boardwalk Bookshop is born. Part bookstore, part gift shop, part bakery, it’s a dream come true for Bree, Mikki and Ashley. But while their business is thriving, their personal lives are…not.

Bree, wounded by brilliant but cold parents and her late husband’s ultimate betrayal, has sworn to protect her heart at all costs. Even from Ashley’s brother, a writer and adventurer who has inspired millions. He’s the first man to see past Bree’s barricades to her true self, which terrifies her. Mikki has this divorce thing all figured out—somehow, she’s stayed friends with her ex and her in-laws…until a new man changes how everyone looks at her, and how she sees herself. Meanwhile, Ashley discovers that the love of her life never intends to marry. Can she live without being a wife if it means she can have everything else she’s ever wanted?

At sunset every Friday on the beach in front of the Boardwalk Bookshop, the three friends share a champagne toast. As their bond grows closer, they challenge one another to become the best versions of themselves in this heartachingly beautiful story of friendship, sisterhood and the transformative power of love.

The Boardwalk Bookshop is a classic beach-read romance that will be enjoyed by fans of Robyn Carr and Sheryl Woods. Readers will appreciate that, while Mallery keeps the tone romantic and fun, the protagonists make hard choices and don’t default to the easy way out, giving everyone a character to root for.”—Booklist on The Boardwalk Bookshop

“A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.”Kirkus on The Boardwalk Bookshop

“Mallery is an expert at writing about strong women, their friendships, and their romances.” —Booklist

“Mallery beautifully illustrates the power of female friendship and the importance of reaching for one’s dreams.”—Publishers Weekly

https://amzn.to/3GPuFdC

Three women become business partners then friends when they lease a large space on the beach for their individual businesses; Bree has a bookstore, Ashley has a muffin/bakery, and Mikki has a gift shop, and all three businesses work well together in the shared space. Every Friday, the women close for the day then head to the beach with some champagne, a different kind every week. As they get to know one another, real friendships form.

Bree’s parents are both acclaimed literary fiction authors, and she inherited her bookstore from her late husband. Her parents could not be bothered with her and she had a very troubled, neglected childhood. Her marriage put the final nail in the coffin of her ability to love or even to be loved. While she recognizes she has some issues, she has found ways to cope – no relationships outside of sex once or twice with the same man. Then she moves on. Until she meets Ashley’s brother, Harding. Somehow Harding has gotten Bree to go on a few dates with him, and as they get to know one another, Bree realizes she is in trouble. She is developing feelings for the man, and that terrifies her.

Mikki is divorced but still friends with her ex. They have two kids, and her ex-mother-in-law works for her in the gift shop. It’s been three years since the divorce, and her youngest is almost ready for college. She has a running gag that she doesn’t date because she’s loyal to Earl, her vibrator. Truth is she hasn’t dated for over twenty years, has low self-esteem, and isn’t too tech savvy. But her friends help her get on a dating app, and to her shock, she gets tons of responses. One of the men is Duane, father of one of her daughter’s friends, also divorced. They meet and Mikki finds herself in a new relationship, which goes sideways when her ex-husband springs on her his desire to try again. Conflicted, Mikki has to dig deep, and her friends give the impetus she needs to set boundaries for herself and her ex.

Ashley is a bit younger than the other women and is head over heels in love with Seth. They live together, and he is hinting at buying a house. Ashley assumes he is going to propose, but one thing leads to another until Seth announces he wants to commit to her for a lifetime, but doesn’t believe in marriage and won’t even entertain the idea. They decide to try and see each other’s point of view, but quickly reach a stalemate.

This is a story about friendships and love, and I couldn’t put it down. The characters and their stories really drew me in until I (sadly) turned the last page. It is always hard to pick up another book after reading one that I was so immersed in – I loved this book!

6/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE BOARDWALK BOOKSHOP by Susan Mallery. MIRA; Original edition (May 31, 2022). ISBN: 978-0778386087. 448p.

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