THE SOULMATE EQUATION by Christina Lauren

May 29, 2021

From the publisher:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners returns with a witty and effervescent novel about what happens when two people with everything on the line are thrown together by science—or is it fate? Perfect for fans of The Rosie Project and One Plus One.

Single mom Jessica Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents—who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno—Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father was never around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: one of GeneticAlly’s founders, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond Match” that could launch GeneticAlly’s valuation sky-high, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.


First of all, yay that the main protagonist is a woman with a penchant for numbers, and a job as a statistician. That is not something you see every day and I loved it. This book is super nerdy, and I mean that in the best possible way. I didn’t always get all the statistical references and that’s okay because it lent some authenticity to these characters and who cares if I got it or not. I got the point, and I loved it.

The characters are believable and interesting. The idea of a dating app based on DNA? Why not. And the execution of the story was at times sweet, funny, sexy, but always compelling. Christina Lauren scores another hit – they are a couple of my favorite writers. Put this one in the “must read” pile.

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE SOULMATE EQUATION by Christina Lauren. Gallery Books (May 18, 2021). ISBN: 978-1982123963. 368 pages.

Kindle

Audible

 

 

 

 


THE DATING PLAN by Sara Desai

May 28, 2021

From the publisher:

Even with a step-by-step plan, these fake fiancés might accidentally fall for each other in this hilarious, heartfelt romantic comedy from the author of The Marriage Game.

Daisy Patel is a software engineer who understands lists and logic better than bosses and boyfriends. With her life all planned out, and no interest in love, the one thing she can’t give her family is the marriage they expect. Left with few options, she asks her childhood crush to be her decoy fiancé.

Liam Murphy is a venture capitalist with something to prove. When he learns that his inheritance is contingent on being married, he realizes his best friend’s little sister has the perfect solution to his problem. A marriage of convenience will get Daisy’s matchmaking relatives off her back and fulfill the terms of his late grandfather’s will. If only he hadn’t broken her tender teenage heart nine years ago…

Sparks fly when Daisy and Liam go on a series of dates to legitimize their fake relationship. Too late, they realize that very little is convenient about their arrangement. History and chemistry aren’t about to follow the rules of this engagement.


The fake fiancée is at the forefront of this terrific romcom. Daisy and Liam go way back; they were childhood friends. But they haven’t seen each other in years. Daisy is career driven, but her traditional family is making her crazy – they want to see her married. Liam is in even deeper trouble. His inheritance is contingent on him marrying, so these old friends decide that they are the answer to each other’s problem. So the fake fiancée is born.

Daisy and Liam need to learn more about one another as adults, plus they need to date to have everyone believing their story. Falling in love was never the plan, but of course that’s what happens.

I loved Desai’s last book, The Marriage Game, and this new one lived up to my expectations. A super fun romance – don’t miss it!

A LibraryReads Pick!

One of…

SheReads’ Most Anticipated Romance Books of 2021
GoodReads’ Hottest 2021 Romances
Marie Claires Best New Romance Novels of 2021 (So Far)
PopSugar’s Best New Romance Books of March 2021
HelloGiggles’s Best New Books to Read in March

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE DATING PLAN by Sara Desai. Berkley (March 16, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593100585. 352 pages.

Kindle

Audible

 

 

 

 


ONE SNOWY NIGHT by Patience Griffin

May 27, 2021

Sweet Home, Alaska: Book 1

From the publisher:

A woman struggling to raise her daughter alone in a small Alaskan town finds her simple existence upended when the father of her child returns. . . .

Sweet Home, Alaska, was once a thriving, idyllic town, where A Stone’s Throw Hardware and Haberdashery and the Sisterhood of the Quilt were the cornerstones of the community. Then, in one fatal moment, two young lives were cut short, and everything changed. Now the Stone family businesses have closed, the diner is in the red, and the population has dwindled to 573.

After the tragic accident that took her sister’s life, Hope McKnight discovered she was pregnant, and gave up her dreams of college to raise her daughter. When Donovan Stone returns to sell his family’s properties and to cut final ties with Sweet Home, he’s shocked to find Hope still there–and a single mother. The pull between Hope and Donovan is as powerful as ever. But so are the secrets and lies stemming from that long-ago tragedy. Will they be able to overcome the past, or will the heartbreak of bygone days destroy their love again?


Patience Griffin is a new-to-me author but I am obsessed with books set in Alaska, so this one made it to be to-be-read pile. Unfortunately, it got lost there for a little while, and then I read it and it got lost in my to-be-reviewed pile, but I finally made it!

Hope and Donovan have some shared history that is tough to overcome. His brother and her sister were in a fatal accident. He blames Hope, and they drift apart for good after he moves away. This is set in a small town in Alaska, with all the nosiness of the residents and the severe economic downturn that has hit many small towns. But when Donovan returns, he realizes his feelings for Hope never really went away, despite his anger.

This is a warm, wonderful romance and there isn’t any sex to speak of, so for those of you who prefer that, here’s your book. I loved the setting and these characters, and I’m happy to report that book 2, Once Upon a Cabin, comes out in November. I will try and be more prompt about reading and reviewing.

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ONE SNOWY NIGHT by Patience Griffin. Berkley (February 23, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593101476. 336 pages.

Kindle

Audible

 

 

 

 


THE SECRET BRIDESMAID by Katy Birchall

May 26, 2021

From the publisher:

Matrimony meets mayhem in a modern British romcom about a young woman charged with pulling off the biggest aristocratic wedding of the year––and the misadventures that ensue.

Sophie Breeze is a brilliant bridesmaid. So brilliant, in fact, that she’s made it her full-time job.

As a professional bridesmaid, Sophie is hired by London brides to be their right-hand woman, posing as a friend but working behind the scenes to help plan the perfect wedding and ensure their big day goes off without a hitch. When she’s hired by Lady Victoria Swann––a former model and “It Girl” of 1970’s London; now the Marchioness of Meade––for the society wedding of the year, it should be a chance for Sophie to prove just how talented she is.

Of course, it’s not ideal that the bride, Lady Victoria’s daughter, Cordelia, is an absolute diva and determined to make Sophie’s life a nightmare. It’s also a bit inconvenient that Sophie finds herself drawn to Cordelia’s posh older brother, who is absolutely off limits. But when a rival society wedding is announced for the very same day, things start to get…well, complicated.

Can Sophie pull off the biggest challenge of her career––execute a high-profile gala for four hundred and fifty guests in record time, win over a reluctant bride, and catch the eye of handsome Lord Swann––all while keeping her true identity a secret, and her dignity intact?

Heartwarming and hilarious, Katy Birchall’s The Secret Bridesmaid celebrates the joys (and foibles) of weddings, the nuances of female friendship, and the redeeming power of love in its many unexpected forms.


If you are looking to escape for a few hours and you like to laugh out loud while you’re reading, this is your book! It certainly was mine.

So a professional bridesmaid is basically a laid back wedding planner, perfect for brides who want to keep control of the wedding but may need some help along the way. I don’t know if this is a real thing, but Birchall had me believing. It was a little harder to believe that a British aristocrat planning a fairly large wedding wouldn’t just go ahead with a wedding planner, but the bridezilla at the center of the wedding makes that call. Her mother, on the other hand, hires Sophie despite her daughter’s resistance (to put it mildly.)

Cordelia is the bridezilla, or as Sophie’s friend refers to her at Miranda Priestly. (You know who that is, yes?) Cordelia is determined to force her hired bridesmaid to quit, and goes to great lengths to make her point. But Sophie considers herself a professional, and with her mother’s occasional encouragement, she is bound to make Cordelia see the light, if she doesn’t get fired first.

There are other brides in the roster and they add some additional comic relief – the bride who wants all her bridesmaids to be redheads so her brunette hair will stand out, the bride who wants a Star Wars themed wedding, replete with her hired bridesmaid dressed as Chewbacca, and so forth. But Cordelia – she is the master of mean which makes for a very fun read. Her good looking brother is Sophie’s romantic interest, but he takes a back seat to everything else going on in her life.

This book was pure escapism, funny as hell with a sweet romance. I loved it!

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE SECRET BRIDESMAID by Katy Birchall. St. Martin’s Griffin (May 4, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250795793. 400 pages.

Kindle

Audible

 

 

 

 


HANA KHAN CARRIES ON by Uzma Jalaluddin

May 23, 2021

From the publisher:

One of Amazon’s Best Romances of the Month!

For fans of “You’ve Got Mail,” a young woman juggles pursuing her dream job in radio while helping her family compete with the new halal restaurant across the street, in this sparkling new rom-com by the author of Ayesha at Last

Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighborhood of Toronto. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening her mother’s restaurant.

When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighborhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant–who might not be a complete stranger after all.

As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be.


Once I saw the comparison to “You’ve Got Mail,” this became a must read for me. The comparison is apt so I was pretty sure I knew what was going on fairly early in the story, but that in no way lessened its appeal. Plus it revolves around restaurants, always in my wheelhouse, and in addition to a wonderful love story, there is a gentle look at hate crimes and this book makes it personal, always a good thing.

Hana loves radio and found her dream internship with the local NPR station. Set in Toronto, a new to me setting, in an Indian neighborhood called the Golden Crescent, it just adds depth to the story. I loved learning about the culture, the food, and these characters, and we get to know them well.

There are some complications at work that make Hana’s life a little bit stressful. But when she is attacked for her ethnicity, things really take a turn for the worse. What could have been a dark turn, instead the author uses it in a more gentle way which I really appreciated.

Aydin is a wonderful hero, young, good looking, but most of all kind and generous. But his father! Every good story needs a bad guy and while he has a small role, it is a memorable one. The other secondary characters all play their parts in making this an interesting book, but it is the sweet romance at the heart of things that really drew me in.

This was a wonderful read from the author of another fabulous book, Ayesha at Last. Don’t miss it!

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HANA KHAN CARRIES ON by Uzma Jalaluddin. Sourcebooks Casablanca (January 19, 2021). ISBN: 978-1728226316. 384 pages.

Kindle

Audible

 

 

 

 


MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU by Samantha Young

May 21, 2021

From the publisher:

The cozy comforts of an English village bookstore open up a world of new possibilities for Evie Starling in this charming new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young.

At thirty-three-years old Evangeline Starling’s life in Chicago is missing that special something. And when she’s passed over for promotion at work, Evie realizes she needs to make a change. Some time away to regain perspective might be just the thing. In a burst of impulsivity, she plans a holiday in a quaint English village. The holiday package comes with a temporary position at Much Ado About Books, the bookstore located beneath her rental apartment. There’s no better dream vacation for the bookish Evie, a life-long Shakespeare lover.

Not only is Evie swept up in running the delightful store as soon as she arrives, she’s drawn into the lives, loves and drama of the friendly villagers. Including Roane Robson, the charismatic and sexy farmer who tempts Evie every day with his friendly flirtations. Evie is determined to keep him at bay because a holiday romance can only end in heartbreak, right? But Evie can’t deny their connection and longs to trust in her handsome farmer that their whirlwind romance could turn in to the forever kind of love.


Is this really a thing? You can go on vacation and run a bookstore? By yourself? And it’s fun and not work? In a charming village where everyone is completely welcoming? You get a work visa in the snap of a finger? Call me a cynical New Yorker, but I seriously have doubts about all this. But you know what? I don’t care because this was a terrific read. Push past your common sense and embrace the fantasy because it’s worth it.

Most of my readers know that I am a librarian, but you may not know I was a bookseller before that. I worked for Borders Books & Music, a Barnes and Noble competitor that bit the dust for a myriad of reasons. But when I worked there, it was the most fun I ever had at a job. It wasn’t because I was running the bookstore by myself though, it was because of the people I worked with, an eclectic bunch of smarty pants with an occasional pill thrown in just because. I am still friends with many of the people I worked with (and we are talking the last century people!) and remember most of them fondly. So I can totally understand the appeal of working in a bookstore, albeit one without other employees would be a bit lonely for me.

Evie is fine with it though. The owner of the shop is around at first, but then leaves it in Evie’s hands. Meanwhile, Evie has sworn off men because, well, it doesn’t matter what the weak reason is. But when the local farmer gets a massive crush on her, she fights it every step of the way. Until she realizes she is in love with him.

I love British, I love bookstores, and I love love, so this book hit on all cylinders for me.

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU by Samantha Young. Berkley (February 2, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593099483. 384 pages.

Kindle

Audible

 

 

 

 


PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION by Emily Henry

May 19, 2021

From the publisher:

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Newsweek ∙ Oprah Magazine∙ Marie Claire ∙ Parade ∙ PopSugar ∙ BookPage ∙ BookBub ∙ Betches ∙ SheReads ∙ Good Housekeeping ∙ BuzzFeed ∙ and more!

Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love. 

From the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read, a sparkling new novel that will leave you with the warm, hazy afterglow usually reserved for the best vacations.  

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?


In a nod to “When Harry Met Sally”, Poppy and Alex become friends on a car ride home from college to the small town they grew up in – Poppy hated it and couldn’t wait to get away, while Alex loved it and can’t wait to move home. The only time these friends get to spend together over the next twelve years is the annual vacation they take together. But something happened in Croatia and two years later, Poppy and Alex still aren’t speaking. But Poppy really misses him and plans a new vacation that will hopefully get them over the Croatia problem.

I loved Poppy and Alex and laughed and cried along with them in this heartfelt romance. If they could have just talked to one another, well, there wouldn’t have been a book so never mind. Opposites can attract, as Poppy and Alex prove – they often complement each other, and I was so happy to see them get their happily ever after. This was a one night read for me and this book lived up to the hype. A fun summer read!

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION by Emily Henry. Berkley (May 11, 2021). ISBN: 978-1984806758. 384 pages.

Kindle

Audible

 

 

 

 


ENJOY THE VIEW by Sarah Morgenthaler

May 17, 2021

Moose Springs, Alaska, Book 3

From the publisher:

A grouchy mountaineer, a Hollywood starlet
And miles of untamed wilderness…
What could possibly go wrong?

Former Hollywood darling River Lane’s acting career is tanking fast. Determined to start fresh behind the camera, she agrees to film a documentary about the picturesque small town of Moose Springs, Alaska. The assignment should have been easy, but the quirky locals want nothing to do with River. Well, too bad: River’s going to make this film and prove herself, no matter what it takes.

Or what (literal) mountain she has to climb.

Easton Lockett may be a gentle giant, but he knows a thing or two about survival. If he can keep everyone in line, he should be able to get River and her crew up and down Mount Veil in one piece. Turns out that’s a big if. The wildlife’s wilder than usual, the camera crew’s determined to wander off a cliff, and the gorgeous actress is fearless. Falling for River only makes Easton’s job tougher, but there’s only so long he can hold out against her brilliant smile. When bad weather strikes, putting everyone at risk, it’ll take all of Easton’s skill to get them back home safely…and convince River she should stay in his arms for good.


This is one of my favorite series so I was very happy that this third entry was just as good as the first two. Alaska is one of my favorite settings, and small towns are always a good thing for me. But sometimes you have to bring in outsiders to make a romance, and that’s what happens here.

River is a movie star who wants to work behind the camera making documentaries. When she is offered the opportunity to make one about this small town, she’s all in. Except the people who live there are not. They are a quirky bunch for sure, and don’t take kindly to the tourists that come through so they are not of a mind to help with a documentary that is sure to bring in even more people. But River is nothing if not determined, and she gets to work with a small crew.

When River meets Easton, a local guide, she somehow convinces him to help her. He has never met a woman as fearless as River, or as beautiful, but he is not looking for love or to increase tourism to their small town. Nevertheless, he ends up doing both.

There are some really funny, laugh out loud moments, and some dangerous ones, too, making this a book that is hard to put down. I loved the characters and the setting and the romance, a perfect trifecta of a read. This is the third book of a series and while they each stand alone, I think they are best read in order:

The Tourist Attraction (Book 1)

Mistletoe and Mr. Right (Book 2)

You’re welcome!

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ENJOY THE VIEW by Sarah Morgenthaler. Sourcebooks Casablanca (January 19, 2021). ISBN: 978-1728226316. 384 pages.

Kindle

Audible

 

 

 

 


CAN’T HURRY LOVE by Melinda Curtis

May 14, 2021

Sunshine Valley, Book 1

From the publisher:

From a USA Today bestselling author comes a heartwarming romance about a city girl who finds herself widowed in a quirky small town and the new target of the town’s relentless matchmaking Widows Club.

Head-over-heels in love, Lola Williams gave up everything to marry Randy, including a promising career in New York City. Now, after one year of marriage and one year of widowhood, Lola finds herself stranded in Sunshine, Colorado, reeling from the revelation that Randy had secrets she never could have imagined. She swears she’s done with love forever but the matchmaking ladies of the Sunshine Valley Widows Club have different plans…

Sheriff Drew Taylor also knows what it feels like to be unlucky in love. So when Lola comes to him for help uncovering Randy’s hidden life, Drew finds himself saying yes against his better judgment – especially with the Widows Club eyeing them both. Soon enough, Lola is upending Drew’s peaceful, predictable world…and he kind of likes it! But will this big-city girl ever give her heart to a small-town guy again?


This author was new to me, and as this is a new series, I’m happy to report that this was a terrific read and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

It’s always terribly sad when a young woman is widowed, especially after only a year of marriage. Then to find out that your husband had some serious secrets only adds to the grieving process. But there is a Widow’s Club in this small town, and while Lola is decades younger than the rest, they nonetheless decide that she needs a man, and the widows go into a matchmaking frenzy.

This is a very sweet romance, and I loved all the quirky characters. I really liked that the Sheriff also had some baggage that he had to deal with, too. I am a sucker for small towns (never having lived in one) and while this was more sweet than steamy, it had humor and heart and I couldn’t put it down.

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

CAN’T HURRY LOVE by Melinda Curtis. Forever; Reissue edition (March 31, 2020). ISBN: 978-1538733417. 512 pages.

Kindle

 

 

 

 


CAN’T HURRY LOVE by Melinda Curtis

May 10, 2021

Sunshine Valley, Book 1

From the publisher:

From a USA Today bestselling author comes a heartwarming romance about a city girl who finds herself widowed in a quirky small town and the new target of the town’s relentless matchmaking Widows Club.

Head-over-heels in love, Lola Williams gave up everything to marry Randy, including a promising career in New York City. Now, after one year of marriage and one year of widowhood, Lola finds herself stranded in Sunshine, Colorado, reeling from the revelation that Randy had secrets she never could have imagined. She swears she’s done with love forever but the matchmaking ladies of the Sunshine Valley Widows Club have different plans…

Sheriff Drew Taylor also knows what it feels like to be unlucky in love. So when Lola comes to him for help uncovering Randy’s hidden life, Drew finds himself saying yes against his better judgment – especially with the Widows Club eyeing them both. Soon enough, Lola is upending Drew’s peaceful, predictable world…and he kind of likes it! But will this big-city girl ever give her heart to a small-town guy again?


I love finding new authors, and this author was new to me but not for long – I’m going to be reading some of her older books soon. This one was really good.

I always enjoy books set in small towns. I’ve never lived anywhere like that, so I find it interesting. This small town is run by a group of widows and they are matchmakers. Lola and Drew make a great couple, only they don’t know it yet. Lola is a young widow trying to find out more about her husband and Drew is the perfect man to help her.

There are a lot of laughs and some very sweet, poignant moments as well. Sex is more implied than graphic. I couldn’t help but root for these characters to find their happily ever after. Luckily, this is the first book of a series and I am looking forward to the next book for sure!

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

CAN’T HURRY LOVE by Melinda Curtis. Forever; Reissue edition (March 31, 2020). ISBN: 978-1538733417. 512 pages.

Kindle