ONCE UPON A BAD BOY by Melonie Johnson

July 11, 2019

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Sometimes in Love, Book 3

From the publisher:


Sadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend―the one who took her heart and ran away.


Bo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them―Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet―is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

This is the third book of the series and I’m quite proud of myself for reading them all in order. That said, this was my least favorite of the series so far. Not that it’s bad or anything, it just wasn’t as good as the first two, which I loved.

The characters are well developed and there is a bit of a twist near the end. I just had some trouble with this couple and the way they interacted, it didn’t feel real to me. A lot of the tension between them seemed contrary to what else was going on, like the sex. It seemed very high school to me, I just didn’t buy it. Despite that, I raced through this book and did enjoy it. I really like these women and I’m looking forward to seeing whose story is next. It is hinted at but it really could go a different way and I wouldn’t be surprised.

While this was not my favorite entry in the series, I still recommend it!

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ONCE UPON A BAD BOY by Melonie Johnson. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (May 28, 2019). ISBN 978-1250193056. 384p.


THE ME I USED TO BE by Jennifer Ryan

July 7, 2019

7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE ME I USED TO BE by Jennifer Ryan. William Morrow Paperbacks (July 2, 2019). ISBN  978-0062883919. 384p.



HOW TO LOSE A FIANCÉ by Stefanie London

July 3, 2019

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From the publisher:

Sophia Andreou has always been the “good daughter” who tried to keep her domineering father happy. She followed the rules and did everything that was asked of her. But this time, her father is asking too much. The family company is crumbling, and her father has arranged a marriage to a Greek billionaire who can save their property business. What?! Umm no thank you. If Cinderella can dress up to win a prince, surely Sophia can do the opposite and ditch hers…

Dion Kourakis has come a long way from being an orphan with only a single friend to his name. Now he runs a billion-dollar investment company and has the respect of everyone in Europe. His charming personality covers a lot of emotional scars, including his desire to make his mentor proud.

Dion doesn’t exactly want a bride to go along with his next business deal, and he plans on letting the lass down gently when they meet…

Only, his future bride has turned out to be nothing like what he thought she’d be. She’s quirky and has a habit of turning up to social events in strange outfits. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what she’s up to, but the harder she tries to convince him she’d be an awful wife, the more he wants to convince her they’d be perfect together.

This is a very fast read, it’s just over 200 pages. But London does a really good job of character development of the main protagonists in a very tight story, my usual pet peeve with books this short. That said, it would have been better with more of Sophia’s mother’s backstory. That character was integral to the plot yet barely developed. Actually, her father, too, should have been more developed. And I didn’t understand the relationship between Sophia’s father and Dion’s father; the plot had some holes in it for sure. But this book is all about the romance, and there was good development there plus some really funny, laugh out loud scenes mixed in with some hot sex. If you want a short, entertaining, fun, sexy read, this is your book. I enjoyed it.

7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HOW TO LOSE A FIANCÉ by Stefanie London. Entangled: Indulgence (June 17, 2019). ASIN: B07R1PJD93. 207p.


THE PLUS ONE by Sarah Archer

July 2, 2019

©Library Journal, 2019

7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE PLUS ONE by Sarah Archer. Gallery Books (April 23, 2019). ISBN 978-1501197581. 320p.


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.