IN HER SIGHTS by Katie Ruggle

October 15, 2019

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Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters, Book 1

From the publisher:

Five bounty-hunting sisters
Deep in the heart of the Rockies
Fighting to save each other
…and the men who steal their hearts

Bounty hunter Molly Pax fought hard for everything she has, turning the bail recovery business she shares with her sisters into an unqualified success. So when their sticky-fingered mother jumps bail and puts the childhood home up as collateral, Molly’s horrified. To make matters worse, every two-bit criminal in the Rockies now sees her family’s misfortune as their next big break.

She needs help, stat.

Enter rival bounty hunter John Carmondy: six feet of pure trouble, with a cocky grin to match. John’s the most cheerfully, annoyingly gorgeous frenemy Molly’s ever had the pleasure of defeating…and he may be her only hope of making it out of this mess alive.

Ruggle writes good romantic suspense, which I don’t always love because it often feels like the mystery was an afterthought. Not the case here, however. This introduction to a new series revolves around four sisters who all live together and run a bounty hunting business together. The romance in this story revolves around the eldest sister, Molly, and one of their competitors, John.

Molly’s sisters all realize that John has a major crush on Molly, but she is oblivious. Molly is working hard to keep the business going and their lives afloat, after their mother almost lost their house. That mother is quite an unusual character; I’ve seen cats that are better mothers. In fact, most cats are better mothers. She’s been in and out of jail and marriages, is completely self serving, and uninterested and uncaring about her daughters. It would be sad except the girls are doing fine despite their mother. Until she steals a very valuable necklace and puts them all in danger.

There were a few minor plot points that didn’t make sense to me but why quibble when a story is as fast moving and well written as this one. One of the mysteries is solved by the end, but the other is a cliff hanger, leaving me waiting impatiently for the next book in the series. Risk it All comes out 12/31/19. Guess what I’ll be doing this New Year’s Eve!

10/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

IN HER SIGHTS by Katie Ruggle. Sourcebooks Casablanca (March 26, 2019). ISBN 978-1492662495. 384p.



MET HER MATCH by Jude Deveraux

October 14, 2019

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From the publisher:

In small towns, no one lets the facts get in the way of juicy gossip…

Terri Rayburn is a girl with a reputation. She doesn’t deserve it, but having grown up on the outskirts of Summer Hill, Virginia, she knows how small towns work. The only way to deal with vicious gossip is to ignore it. So she keeps to herself as she runs the summer resort on Lake Kissel.

When she returns home from a short trip to find a handsome stranger living in her house, she smells a rat. Someone is trying to fix her up, and she has to admit that Nate Taggert is just her type. However, Nate is engaged to the daughter of the mayor and strictly off-limits.

Nate and Terri form an unlikely friendship while he throws himself into life at the lake. As Nate starts to hear rumors about Terri he’s confused. Knowing how smart, beautiful and strong she is, he’s determined to discover the source of the gossip. Terri doesn’t want to revisit the past, but Nate won’t stop until he discovers the truth—even if the truth might be more than either of them can handle.

Set in the beloved fictional town of Summer Hill, Virginia, Met Her Match examines the tensions between the wealthy townspeople, the summer vacationers and the working-class people who keep the town and resort running. Told with humor and heart, Met Her Match is the perfect summer escape.

I’ve only read a few of Jude Deveraux’s books because I don’t love her writing style. Reading this book reminded me of that. It’s a good story, but honestly it feels like it could be a young adult book if only the characters fit that profile. That said, this was a good story and a very quick read, so redeeming qualities for sure.

The secret from Terri’s past takes too long to get out, but it helps ramp up the tension. Nate also has baggage, but we know more about his as the story unfolds. Nate’s fiancee is named Stacy, which made it hard for me to hate her, but she is the antagonist of the story. Sort of. The characters were interesting and fairly well developed, and the small town setting showed the darker side of what I tend to think of as idyllic small town life. All in all, it was an entertaining read.

10/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MET HER MATCH by Jude Deveraux. MIRA; Original edition (September 17, 2019). ISBN 978-0778351245. 336p.



ROYAL HOLIDAY by Jasmine Guillory

October 9, 2019

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 Wedding Date Series, Book 4

From the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal and a “rising star in the romance genre” (Entertainment Weekly) comes a dazzling new novel about a spontaneous holiday vacation that turns into an unforgettable romance.

Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality.

Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling.

Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they?

Guillory has given us a holiday gift with her latest, especially for women of a certain age? The heroine is the mother of one of the characters featured in a previous romance, and I must admit, it really hits home with me seeing a man and woman find happiness, even after their children are grown. Everyone knows someone who married, or usually remarried, later in life, but those types of couples are woefully underrepresented in romance novels. Many years ago, Ann Patchett’s mother, Jeanne Ray, wrote a few books centered around middle age and older couples. My favorite was her first, Julie & Romeo, loosely based on Shakespeare but contemporary, with a middle aged romance at the heart of the story.

Vivian and Malcolm are wonderful characters, fully brought to life on the pages of this sweet book. I thought this story was going to be more of a mother-daughter story, but that was not the case. The romance was front and center, and I was delighted.

I love this time of year, when all the holiday romances start popping up, although I’m still waiting for a Chanukah romance! This is another terrific addition to Guillory’s series, one of my favorites.

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ROYAL HOLIDAY by Jasmine Guillory. Berkley (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-1984802217. 304p.



WRAPPED UP IN YOU by Jill Shalvis

September 25, 2019

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Heartbreaker Bay, Book 8

From the publisher:

It’s love. Trust me.

After a lifetime on the move, Ivy Snow is an expert in all things temporary—schools, friends, and way too many Mr. Wrongs. Now that she owns a successful taco truck in San Francisco and an apartment to call home, Ivy’s reinvented life is on solid ground. And she’s guarded against anything that can rock it. Like the realities of a past she’s worked hard to cover up. And especially Kel O’Donnell. Too hot not to set off alarms, he screams temporary. If only his whispers weren’t so delightfully naughty and irresistible.

Kel, an Idaho sheriff and ranch owner, is on vacay, but Ivy’s a spicy reason to give his short-term plans a second thought. Best of all, she’s a tonic for his untrusting heart, burned once and still in repair. But when Ivy’s past intrudes on a perfect romance, Kel fears that everything she’s told him has been a perfect lie. Now, if only Ivy’s willing to share, Kel will fight for a true love story.

This is one of my favorite series, so I was ready to love this latest installment – and I did! I didn’t remember either of these characters but it didn’t matter. The series revolves around this small neighborhood in San Francisco, and peripherally the fountain that promises true love if you wish for it. Most of the characters in the series fight believing in such nonsense, but all are bound by its success.

Ivy and Kel are no different. Ivy is a tough, cautious woman who has been burned so many times already. Kel has had his heartbroken, and is determined to guard it at all costs. He is suspicious and fearful, yet somehow Ivy worms her way into his heart. And he into hers, fight it as she does. But Ivy has family problems. Her brother is a troublemaker from way back, but Ivy loves him and has been protecting him her whole life, despite all his betrayals. This time, though, he may have gone too far.

Lots of struggles in this romance, but the happy ending is worth it all. I really enjoyed watching Ivy grow and come out of her shell.

This series does not need to be read in order, and this book especially stands on its own.

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WRAPPED UP IN YOU by Jill Shalvis. Avon (September 24, 2019). ISBN 978-0062897787. 384p.



CALL HER MINE by Melissa Foster

September 14, 2019

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Harmony Pointe, Book 1

From the publisher:

Two besties and a baby make for an instafamily and a surprising romance in a delightful series by Melissa Foster, the New York Times bestselling author of the Sugar Lake novels.

Ben Dalton has always been honest, except where his heart is concerned. He’s been in love with his best friend—saucy, smart-mouthed Aurelia Stark—forever. But Ben’s a planner, and timing has never been on his side. When he finally decides to make his move, Aurelia beats him to the punch with a move of her own—to a different town.

Aurelia loves her new life in the charming town of Harmony Pointe. She has a great apartment and her very own bookstore, and best of all, the sinfully hot, commitment-phobic friend she’s crushed on for years is no longer just around the corner. Maybe she’ll finally be able to leave her unrequited love behind and move on.

But when a baby is left on Ben’s front porch—a baby that is presumably his—Aurelia is there for him. Neither one knows the first thing about babies, but how hard can it be? Ben and Aurelia are catapulted into a world of love, laughter, and tracking down the baby mama, and it might even add up to a very happily ever after… just not one either of them expects.

Aurelia owns a bookstore, so of course I had to read this. I am a complete sucker for any book that features a bookstore or library. Those are my happy places.

This is the first book of a new series from Foster. This is light and fluffy and entertaining, even with the specter of the unwanted baby left on the doorstep. It’s also a very short book, sort of between novella and novel, so not a whole lot of character or plot development. It’s a simple story and it works. There are some sad moments to be sure, but the happiness washes it all away and left me with a smile on my face. If you are looking for a fun, sexy fast read, this is your book. It was a good romance for sure.

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CALL HER MINE by Melissa Foster. Montlake Romance (August 13, 2019). ISBN 978-1542007382. 265p.




September 13, 2019

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Summer Resort Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

As the summer ends, friendship begins…

When single mom Joy Lee abandoned her old life to take a job at a lakeside resort, she found something that her family’s wealth and influence could never buy: peace of mind. Not easy to come by for the once-burned divorcée who keeps everyone at a distance. But when her new friend, Maris, dares her to take a chance with the drive-in’s charismatic new owner, everything changes for Joy and her young son.

A difficult childhood has left Maris Kennedy with definite priorities. Her job running Summer’s End, the camp store and café, comes first. Always. Nothing could ever make her risk that hard-won security—especially not her free-spirited colleague. But the more she encourages Joy to open herself up to new experiences, the more Maris begins to wonder what she, too, might be missing.

Learning how to trust will bring Joy and Maris together. And soon they form a friendship that leaves them as close as sisters—and open to love where they least expect it…in Summer’s End.

This is the sequel to Cooper’s Charm, which I read last year and loved. I remembered these characters and the setting and was very happy to be back with them.

Foster has given us another two-fer, two romances in one, and she does a really good job with it. I think this story worked so well because the women involved, Joy and Maris, become the best of friends. Even though they’ve been working together for years, they never really had much of a relationship. Maris is single minded in her pursuit of making her business a success. And Joy is just as single minded in making her son a priority.

Single motherhood is never easy, but Joy’s husband took off as soon as he learned she was pregnant. Her family disowned her, disapproving of the wastrel she married. Maris has buried both her parents, and has no family other than the people who work at the campground where her store is. As the women slowly knock down their barriers, a real friendship, a sisterhood in fact, is formed.

This is a wonderful story of the power of women’s friendships, and of love. It is heartwarming and at times, sexy, and occasionally even humorous. There is a lot to like here if you like contemporary romance as much as I do. Foster has become a favorite.

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SISTERS OF SUMMER’S END by Lori Foster. Berkley (September 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1984805386. 336p.



THE AUSSIE NEXT DOOR by Stephanie London

September 10, 2019

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From the publisher:

“A sweet, sexy read, featuring a couple that feels both true-to-life and aspirational.” Kirkus Review, Starred Review

American Angie Donovan has never wanted much. When you grow up getting bounced from foster home to foster home, you learn not to become attached to anything, anyone, or any place. But it only took her two days to fall in love with Australia. With her visa clock ticking, surely she can fall in love with an Australian―and get hitched―in two months. Especially if he’s as hot and funny as her next-door neighbor…

Jace Walters has never wanted much―except a bathroom he didn’t have to share. The last cookie all to himself. And solitude. But when you grow up in a family of seven, you can kiss those things goodbye. He’s finally living alone and working on his syndicated comic strip in privacy. Sure, his American neighbor is distractingly sexy and annoyingly nosy, but she’ll be gone in a few months…

Except now she’s determined to find her perfect match by checking out every eligible male in the town, and her choices are even more distracting. So why does it suddenly feel like he―and his obnoxious tight-knit family, and even these two wayward dogs―could be exactly what she needs?

An American girl moves to Australia to escape her notoriety and falls in love with the place. Angie is sweet and kind but has a lot of baggage. Growing up in the foster care system, she became the poster child for its horrors and just wanted to live her life in peace. She can’t find any in the US so moves halfway around the world to do so.

Jace is her landlord. While he doesn’t tell her for most of the book, it was fairly obvious that he is high functioning autistic, the hottest trend in diverse romance. If anything can “normalize” autism, reading about characters like Jace certainly will. He is not scary, he just has some personality quirks, and really, who doesn’t? Angie likes his quirks, they make her feel comfortable and their relationship works. Of course, it takes some time to get to that point!

There are some very funny scenes and some really sweet ones as well. Both of these characters have their challenges, but the way they complement each other makes the struggle to get to their happily ever after worth all the effort. Very well done and sure to appeal to fans of the Helen Hoang books, The Bride Test and The Kiss Quotient. Loved it!

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE AUSSIE NEXT DOOR by Stephanie London. Entangled: Amara (August 27, 2019). ISBN 978-1640636682. 350p.


THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE by Katherine Center

September 8, 2019

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From the publisher:





“Center gives readers a sharp and witty exploration of love and forgiveness that is at once insightful, entertaining, and thoroughly addictive.”

“An appealing heroine, a compelling love story, a tearjerking twist, and a thoroughly absorbing story. Another winner from Center.”

A spirited, independent heroine meets a smoking-hot fireman in Center’s smart romance… If you enjoyed ‘The Kiss Quotient,’ by Helen Hoang, read Things You Save in a Fire”’

From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel about courage, hope, and learning to love against all odds.

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s a total pro at other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to give up her whole life and move to Boston, Cassie suddenly has an emergency of her own.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew―even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the infatuation-inspiring rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because love is girly, and it’s not her thing. And don’t forget the advice her old captain gave her: Never date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…and it means risking it all―the only job she’s ever loved, and the hero she’s worked like hell to become.

Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt and healing tour-de-force about the strength of vulnerability, the nourishing magic of forgiveness, and the life-changing power of defining courage, at last, for yourself.

There is a whole firefighter romance subgenre, but that generally means hot firemen. As in men. And while there are certainly hot firemen here, our heroine is also a firefighter, and she takes her job seriously. Extremely seriously. So when her estranged mother asks us to leave her beloved Austin job and move to Boston for her, Cassie’s first – and second – response is hell no. But then she receives an award for saving a bunch of kids from a school bus and wigs out on the councilman who gives her the award, who manages to grab her ass in the process. Apparently they have history. She flattens him and her options are to apologize or get out. With the help of her female boss, she finds a job near her mother and heads cross country.

The small fire station she joins is Boston Irish, over a hundred years old, and has never had a woman working there. Lots of changes in store for Cassie, and she is on her best behavior. But the other newbie, a rookie they call Rookie, is too hot for even Cassie to ignore. They are pranked and teased mercilessly, just for being new, so there is no way for them to pursue anything romantic or that would be unbearable. But when the Rookie begs her to be his date at his parents’ anniversary party, she caves and that everything they have kept buried comes to the surface.

There is a lot of information on the inner workings of fire stations, both new and old, and it is all presented in a way that is both informative yet completely entertaining. The characters are great, I really loved this feminist firefighter and how she deals with everything thrown at her. Her backstory was really good as well. There are some laugh out loud moments, and enough drama to really keep the pages turning. This is a terrific romance with enough depth to bring these characters to life and get the reader invested in them and their story.

There are lots of starred reviews for this and tons of praise, all of it well deserved. It isn’t often that a book lives up to its hype for me, so shout out to Mary Kay Andrews, who helped bring this book to my attention. Thanks, I loved it!

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE by Katherine Center. St. Martin’s Press (August 13, 2019). ISBN 978-1984805386. 336p.



WELL MET by Jen DeLuca

September 3, 2019

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From the publisher:

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

I have never been to a Renaissance Fair (Faire?), even though there is an annual one in a park fifteen minutes from my house. Both my kids have been many times, both as school field trips and on their own. The closest I’ve ever gotten to one of these is dinner at Medieval Times outside of Disneyworld in Orlando. It was fun but that was about my limit for jousting and eating without utensils.

Many years ago, when online meant AOL and chatrooms, I had a friend (Hi Glen!) who worked at these fairs, travelling around the country, sleeping in tents, and so forth. I had a lot of respect for him but still never went. Maybe if he had made it to Florida I would have gone. Nonetheless, when my work daughter (Hi Caitlin!) recommended this, I figured it must be good – she has impeccable taste. And it was!

All this rambling has a point: even if you, like me, are not a Renaissance Fair type person, if you’ve never donned a fair maiden dress or you don’t know (as I didn’t) that “well met” is a Renaissance Fair greeting or you never watched grown men joust and toss logs and such, you may also enjoy this book. Renaissance Fair knowledge is not a requirement and lack thereof is not an impediment. In other words, this is a fun read!

To start with, Emily has no experience either, but she is sucked into performing when she finds out it is a requirement for her niece to participate. Plus men in kilts – who could say no to hanging out around that? Beyond the fair setting, this is a good contemporary romance with the meet-cute of our hero and heroine butting heads and hating each other on sight. Then things progress from there with lots of obstacles, back story, and fun along the way.

This is a very entertaining read, sweet and laugh out loud funny at times while alternately tugging at the heart strings. Well Met is very well done.

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WELL MET by Jen DeLuca. Berkley (September 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1984805386. 336p.



August 28, 2019

8/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ELLIE AND THE HARP MAKER by Hazel Prior. Berkley (August 6, 2019). ISBN  978-1984803788. 336p.