MUTTS AND MISTLETOE by Natalie Cox

November 16, 2018

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From the publisher:

Thirty-one-year-old Charlie isn’t in the mood for Christmas cheer...

Her boyfriend has left her for his personal trainer, her mother has absconded with her latest husband for the holidays, and–adding insult to (literal) injury–her London apartment has just been destroyed by a gas leak. Single, mildly concussed and temporarily homeless, Charlie realizes there’s only one place to go: Cozy Canine Cottages, where she’ll spend the season looking after her cousin Jez’s doggy day care center. And if she’s not exactly a dog person, well, no one has to know…

But her plans for a quiet Christmas in a quaint country village are quickly dashed. Peggy the pregnant beagle and Malcolm the anxious Great Dane seem determined to keep her up all night. A strange man has been casing her cousin’s house. And where is Cal, the unbearably patronizing but disturbingly handsome local vet, when she needs him?

As the days tick down to Christmas, Charlie’s life has never felt so out of control–but with some help from her new four-legged friends, she just might learn a thing or two about living in the moment, embracing the unexpected and opening herself up to love…


If you could truly judge a book by its cover, this would be the cutest doggie Christmas story ever. It’s cute, but that cover lured me into wanting more.

The basis for the story was fun and should have worked. But I never really felt like I got to know what made Charlie tick, she was an anomaly to me, and if I can’t get involved with the main character, I can’t get involved with the story. I just found her flighty, at best. And worse yet, I wasn’t sure at all when the romance happened on Cal’s end.

The dogs were wonderful, but the story just didn’t work for me. That said, there were some very funny scenes that kept me hopeful and turning pages. I finished it although I was somewhat disappointed.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MUTTS AND MISTLETOE by Natalie Cox. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (October 9, 2018). ISBN 978-0525539193.  320p..

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BEAUTIFUL SINNER by Sophie Jordan

November 14, 2018

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Devil’s Rock, Book 5

From the publisher:

Locked in with the town bad boy . . .

Most women would be scared, but Gabriella’s only worried about resisting Cruz Walsh, who’s even hotter than he was back in high school. Cruz was wrongly accused of the high-profile crime for which he was imprisoned; Gabriella’s desperate for the scoop that will get her career off the ground and get her out of Sweet Hill, where everyone still remembers her as “Flabby Gabby.” Being stuck in a supply closet with Cruz is the perfect opportunity to land an interview. What Bri doesn’t count on is Cruz taking “up-close and personal” to a whole new level.

If there’s a silver lining to the hell Cruz went through, it’s that losing his freedom put everything in perspective. Maybe starting over someplace new would be easier, but after years locked up, Cruz values his family—and his true friends—more than ever. So he’s back home, facing the gossip, dodging reporters . . . and face-to-face with Gabriella Rossi. They’ve both changed: Bri wants a story and Cruz just wants her. Another thing he’s learned? Don’t let a good thing slip away.


Hot, hot, hot! Sophie Jordan brings the heat in the latest erotic romance in the Devil’s Rock series. Devil’s Rock is a prison, so you know this is not going to be all hearts and flowers.

Cruz is definitely tall, dark and mysterious and Gabby’s boss wants the mystery solved. She’s not sure she does. Turns out Cruz was her high school crush and they have a bit of history that he is not exactly aware of. And Cruz had a massive, unrequited crush on Gabriella, too. Cruz is completely non-responsive to any and all questions about his mistaken incarceration, and frankly, Gabby is more interested in her physical reaction to him rather than the story.

I loved their back story which brought additional depth to the romance. A terrific read with plenty of sex which just added to the fun. I haven’t read all the books in this series but I’m working on it.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BEAUTIFUL SINNER by Sophie Jordan. Avon (October 30, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062666598.  368p.

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ALL CHAINED UP by Sophie Jordan

November 13, 2018

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Devil’s Rock, Book 1

From the publisher:

There are bad boys and then there are the men of Devil’s Rock . . .

Some men come with a built-in warning label. Knox Callaghan is one of them. Danger radiates from every lean, muscled inch of him, and his deep blue eyes seem to see right through to Briar Davis’s most secret fantasies. But there’s one major problem: Briar is a nurse volunteering at the local prison, and Knox is an inmate who should be off-limits in every way.

Knox feels it too—a shocking animal magnetism that drives him to risk his own life to protect Briar’s. Paroled at last, he tries to resist her. She’s too innocent, too sweet, and she has no idea what Knox is capable of. But a single touch can lead to a kiss—and a taste . . . until the only crime is denying what feels so right . . .


This is the first book in the Devil’s Rock series – of course, I’ve already read a few of the newer books but no matter, they do not need to be read in order. This is a terrific romance with Jordan’s legendary smokin’ hot love scenes. But more than just the sex, there is a lot of heart here, and plenty of emotion. It is inescapable when a man gets out of prison for saving lives in a prison riot.

Devil’s Rock is a prison, not your typical romance setting but Jordan makes it work. The woman has mad skills.

In light of all the consent issues going on in romances today, Jordan was fairly prescient in her handling of it in this earlier title. These characters are drawn to one another despite their differences which frankly, seem insurmountable, yet true love wins out as it always does. Thank goodness.

11/18  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

ALL CHAINED UP by Sophie Jordan. Avon (March 29, 2016). ISBN 978-0062423689. 384p.

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THE NOEL STRANGER by Richard Paul Evans

November 7, 2018

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The Noel Collection, Book 2

From the publisher:

From “The King of Christmas,” Richard Paul Evans, the next exciting holiday-themed novel in his New York Times bestselling The Noel Collection.

Maggie Walther feels like her world is imploding. Publicly humiliated after her husband, a local councilman, is arrested for bigamy, and her subsequent divorce, she has isolated herself from the world. When her only friend insists that Maggie climb out of her hole, and embrace the season to get her out of her funk, Maggie decides to put up a Christmas tree and heads off to buy one—albeit reluctantly. She is immediately taken by Andrew, the kind, handsome man who owns the Christmas tree lot and delivers her tree. She soon learns that Andrew is single and new to her city and, like her, is also starting his life anew.

As their friendship develops, Maggie slowly begins to trust again—something she never thought possible. Then, just when she thinks she has finally found happiness, she discovers a dark secret from Andrew’s past. Is there more to this stranger’s truth than meets the eye? This powerful new holiday novel from Richard Paul Evans, the “King of Christmas fiction” (The New York Times), explores the true power of the season, redemption, and the freedom that comes from forgiveness.


I didn’t read the first book in this series but I read the Christmas book before that, Mistletoe Secret, and loved it. This one, not so much.

I know he writes short books, but it didn’t feel like the characters were developed enough. Despite that, there was plenty of angst. There was an air of foreboding that ran through the story that I didn’t really care for in a romance. I also didn’t necessarily believe that these characters fell in love so quickly, especially considering what Maggie had gone through. It didn’t feel like she was mentally stable enough to make these kinds of decisions. Maybe I’m turning into a cynic? I hope not.

Once again my opinion isn’t mainstream, this book has 4.5 stars on Goodreads but there aren’t many reviews. Yet. Amazon didn’t have any so I’m guessing it wasn’t part of their Vine (early review) program. It was okay, but I would recommend Mistletoe Secret over this new one. The best thing I can say about it is that it is a quick read.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE NOEL STRANGER by Richard Paul Evans. Simon & Schuster (November 6, 2018). ISBN 978-1501172052.  352p.

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BIG BAD COWBOY by Carly Bloom

November 2, 2018

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Once Upon a Time in Texas, Book 1

From the publisher:

One of Publishers Weekly’s Best Romances of 2018!
After one too many heartbreaks, Travis Blake hung up his cowboy hat and put Big Verde, Texas, behind him. But when he gets the call that his young nephew needs him, he knows he has to return home. His plan is to sell the family ranch and hightail it back to Austin, but there’s a small problem: the one person who stands in his way is the one person he can’t resist.

Maggie is pretty sure she hates Travis Blake. He’s irritating, he’s destroying her business, and . . . and he’s just so frickin’ attractive. But when they’re forced to work together, Maggie discovers that the Most Annoying Man in the World is more than he seems. He’s sweet with his nephew, he helps out in the community, and he makes her heart flutter. Maggie doesn’t want to risk everything on a man who wants to leave, but what if she can convince this wayward cowboy to stay?


My love affair with cowboy romances continues with this terrific entry into a new series. The setting was a small town in Texas. Maggie is a strong, independent woman, and you can’t help rooting for her to succeed. Travis is respectful yet playful, and their chemistry is so electric that it is palpable. He has a whole host of problems, but manages to overcome them. I loved them together, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BIG BAD COWBOY by Carly Bloom. Forever (October 30, 2018). ISBN 978-1538763438. 368p.

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DARK SACRED NIGHT by Michael Connelly

October 30, 2018

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A Ballard and Bosch Novel, Book 1

From the publisher:

Harry Bosch teams up with LAPD detective Renée Ballard to solve the murder of a young girl in the new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly.

Detective Renée Ballard is working the night beat — known in LAPD slang as “the late show” — and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is retired detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin.

Ballard can’t let him go through department records, but when he leaves, she looks into the case herself and feels a deep tug of empathy and anger. She has never been the kind of cop who leaves the job behind at the end of her shift — and she wants in.
The murder, unsolved, was of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally killed, her body left in a dumpster like so much trash. Now Ballard joins forces with Bosch to find out what happened to Daisy, and to finally bring her killer to justice. Along the way, the two detectives forge a fragile trust, but this new partnership is put to the test when the case takes an unexpected and dangerous turn.
Dark Sacred Night for the first time brings together these two powerhouse detectives in a riveting story that unfolds with furious momentum. And it shows once more why “there’s no doubt Connelly is a master of crime fiction” (Associated Press).

I celebrate new Michael Connelly books by pouring myself a nice big glass of wine, curling up on my favorite couch and settling in for the night. I have yet to put down one of his books and yes, sometimes I feel guilty. I know it takes him months to write but I can’t help but read it in a few hours. A few wonderful, magical, at times almost transformational hours. I’ve said it before (I probably say it in every Connelly review) but I truly believe that Michael Connelly is the best crime fiction writer working today (with Lee Child and Karin Slaughter coming up close.)

I’ve been reading Connelly since he began writing, and I have enjoyed watching him stretch himself in new directions over the years. When he introduced Mickey Haller, the “Lincoln Lawyer”, and slipped in a quiet relationship with Bosch, I knew it was only a matter of time before they met up. Now Mickey is off somewhere, and Connelly’s last book was supposedly the launch of a new series featuring a female detective, Renée Ballard. But apparently he is not yet ready to leave Harry Bosch behind so here they are together, sharing pages. And I, for one, am glad.

They cover a lot of ground in this joint endeavor, all the while closing in on Harry’s cold case. Harry’s interactions with Ballard are pure Bosch, and as a team they are unbeatable. There are some definite similarities between these characters. To me it feels like they have as much in common as they differ, making for a terrific team.

I love the way Connelly lays out the detective work, the methodical mixed with the action makes for a fabulous, unputdownable read. I am looking forward to seeing what comes next – maybe the Lincoln Lawyer will be joining them?

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DARK SACRED NIGHT by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown and Company (October 30, 2018). ISBN 978-0316484800.  448p..

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ONE DAY IN DECEMBER by Josie Silver

October 24, 2018

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I loved the premise of this book – it’s based on love at first sight – literally. And I’m happy to say it lived up to my expectations.

Laurie is riding the bus in London and at one of the stops, she looks out the window and sees a man. He looks at her, too, and something passes between them. She tries to get off the bus, and he tries to get on, but neither are successful.

After that, Laurie looks for him at every bus stop and cafe. for a year but never finds him. Every man she meets just doesn’t measure up to “bus stop man,” as her roommate and best friend, Sarah, has dubbed him. Then Sarah meets a man that is really special, Jack is the love of her life, and she can’t wait for Laurie to meet him.

Of course, Jack is “bus stop man.”

Laurie is determined not to come between Sarah and Jack, and they both pretend they don’t know one another. Laurie finally meets someone else and life goes on for all of them. For ten years Laurie and Jack are friends, but that attraction is still there, and you just know it is going to blow up somewhere down the line.

Lots of hurdles to jump over here in this charming read before everyone gets to their happy ending. It made me laugh, it made me cry – it’s a heartfelt, emotional read that I enjoyed immensely.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ONE DAY IN DECEMBER by Josie Silver. Broadway Books (October 16, 2018). ISBN 978-0525574682.  416p..

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JUST THIS ONCE by Mira Lynn Kelly

October 20, 2018

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The Wedding Date Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

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

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

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

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


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

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

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

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

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GRIN AND BEARD IT by Penny Reid

October 19, 2018

Winston Brothers Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

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

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WINTER IN PARADISE by Elin Hilderbrand

October 17, 2018

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Paradise, Book 1 with a meaningli

Hilderbrand leaves her beloved Nantucket and moves to another beach community, this time in the Virgin Islands on St. John. It is a seamless transition, and this is a terrific start to a new trilogy.

There is a slight relationship to the Winter Street series; Irene Steele, our heroine, is a second cousin to Winter Street’s Mitzi Quinn. But that is neither here nor there because we are quickly drawn into Irene’s life. She’s 57 and just been “promoted” at work to a pointless position with a meaningless title, no real responsibility or decision making ability, probably in hopes that she will retire so the next generation can take over. Her husband, Russ, is away yet again on business, leaving Irene to take care of her ailing mother-in-law who is ensconced in a lovely, caring assisted living facility. Her two sons, Baker and Cash, are grown, don’t get along especially well, and are off living their own lives.

Irene is a woman at loose ends, that is until she receives a phone call telling her that her husband has been killed in a helicopter crash in the Virgin Islands. His secretary, with the unfortunate name of Marilyn Monroe, doesn’t have much information and what she has is sketchy. Then she disappears.

Irene is shocked to discover that Russ’s boss has claimed his body and had him cremated. Not to be put off, she flies to the island with her sons, determined to find out what happened. Why was her husband even in the Virgin Islands? She’s been told he has “interests” there, whatever that means.

As Churchill once said, this is “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” and it makes for compelling reading. We quickly learn that Russ owns a home – a multi-million dollar home – on the beach in St. John’s, where he is known as the “invisible man.” Irene is even more distraught when she learns he had a mistress there. His secrets are unraveling and so is Irene’s life.

This was a one night read for me, I couldn’t put it down. I loved these characters and can’t wait to see what happens next – the book leaves many loose ends. I’m just sad I’m going to have to wait a year to find out more!

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WINTER IN PARADISE by Elin Hilderbrand. Little, Brown and Company (October 9, 2018). ISBN 978-0316435512.  320p.

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