May 31, 2019

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Silver Springs, Book 5

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak returns to Silver Springs, where no past mistake is so big the heart can’t find a way to fix it

Jada Brooks couldn’t have known how her life would change when she fell for bad boy Maddox Richardson back in high school. She couldn’t have known his troubled brother would leave hers forever crippled. Or that she’d be forced to shun Maddox completely—only to discover she was carrying his child.

Although Maddox was devastated by the events that transpired that fateful night, losing Jada was the worst of it. He’s back in Silver Springs, ready to make amends and provide the kind of youth outreach that once saved him. If only he’d known Jada was in town, too, he would never have come.

Jada has returned to Silver Springs to be with family after her father’s death. But when she sees Maddox, every tough decision she’s made concerning their now twelve-year-old daughter begins to haunt her. Falling for him again is so tempting, but she doesn’t just stand to alienate her family—if he finds out about Maya, she could lose what matters most.

I read the first two books in the series, but managed to skip books 3 & 4. So when I started reading this, I knew it seemed familiar, especially the setting and the school for troubled boys, but I was still a little lost. It turns out this series is all set in Silver Springs, 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 read them, you may be as fuzzy as I was on the details. I’ve enjoyed each book I’ve read, enough that I just went and borrowed books 3 & 4 and will read them soon.

Not sure but I think Novak has some issues with children who are adopted or given up or in this case, the father isn’t told he even has a child. That seems to be a theme running through all her books. I am not a huge fan of not telling the baby daddy but it is explained well enough here to get me past it. There are so many obstacles between Jada and Maddox that it takes pretty much the whole book to get them through it all.

The characters and story rang true and I was involved with these characters from the get go. Some interesting sex, too – or should I say sexting. That’s not something that comes up very often in books for whatever reason, and I appreciated it here, it seemed likely.

It’s a roller-coaster of a romance, and I couldn’t put it down. Another excellent addition to the series. Don’t miss it.

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

UNFORGETTABLE YOU by Brenda Novak.  MIRA; Original edition (February 26, 2019).  ISBN  978-0778369851. 384p.



SMITTEN BY THE BRIT by Melonie Johnson

May 28, 2019

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Sometimes in Love, Book 2

From the publisher:


English professor Bonnie Blythe expects her life to play out like her favorite novels, especially now that her long-term boyfriend has finally proposed. So when a shocking discovery leads Bonnie to end her engagement, she decides to close the book on love. But the plot thickens when a brand-new character enters the scene―and quickens Bonnie’s heart.

With his brilliant blue eyes, sexy accent, and irresistible charm, Theo Wharton is like a romantic hero straight out of a Jane Austen novel. When fate places Bonnie in England for a summer―conveniently close to Theo―she realizes a hot friends-with-benefits fling is exactly what she needs to start a fresh chapter. Just as Bonnie begins to believe she’s falling in love, an eye-opening revelation into Theo’s life makes Bonnie feel like she’s wandered into one of her favorite books. Will Bonnie have the courage to risk her heart and turn the page with the dashing Brit to find her true happy ending after all?

This second book of the series is maybe a bit better than the first, so let’s just say I loved them both. I loved Bonnie, we share a love of Anne of Green Gables, Jane Austen and Shakespeare – she’s my kind of people. She was introduced in the first book so I knew a bit of her backstory. She was engaged to the only man she ever was with, they met as young children and were together for most of their lives. Yet when Bonnie met Theo while on vacation in Great Britain, she was instantly attracted. She forced those feelings down and went about her vacation, trying hard to forget about the man they dubbed a Prince.

Turns out they weren’t far off. Theo is a Duke, and one with an estate that is in serious need of a cash infusion. And just like the historical romances I read, the best way to get that cash is to marry rich. Theo’s mother is on the job, matchmaking with a single-minded purpose and Theo feels obligated to do as she says. No, he’s not a little boy, he’s a man but a man who likes to play the hero, and takes his responsibilities, the upkeep of an estate in London and another in the Lake District, and all the people employed as serious business indeed.

But Bonnie goes back to merry old England after she dumps the fiance and accepts a summer teaching position at Cambridge. Her best friend, Cassie, heroine of the the first book in this series, is getting married at the end of the summer, in Scotland. So Bonnie finds herself thrust back into Theo’s circle. The attraction between them is strong and obvious, but there are hurdles galore. Despite all that, they get their happy ending.

This was a fun, sexy read and I highly recommend it. Can’t wait for the third book, and luckily I don’t have to wait long! Once Upon a Bad Boy arrives June 25. Pre-order now!

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SMITTEN BY THE BRIT by Melonie Johnson. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (May 28, 2019). ISBN 978-1250193056. 384p.



May 26, 2019

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Sometimes in Love, Book 1

From the publisher:


Cassie Crow, a pop-culture reporter for a TV talk show, is focused on becoming a “serious” journalist. But when she stumbles into a kilted Highlander with a killer accent, Cassie decides that taking one night off from work and spending it with a sexy Scot couldn’t hurt. . .

Logan Reid has built a career on his charm, hosting a series of off-the-wall hijinks on the Web. But when the Scottish prankster meets the all-American, equal parts intelligent and irresistible Cassie, Logan realizes that one night of fun won’t be enough. Could it be that this career-focused, commitment-phobic couple is finally ready to take a chance at true and lasting love?


This is a debut novel – look at me, reading not only the first book in a series, but the first book by this author! It was really good. The cover, not so good. Kind of icky, I think. I didn’t like it but we do not judge books by their covers (much.)

There are a lot of characters since this is the first book and at least two more books are coming in this series. That said, the main characters and the secondary characters were pretty well developed, enough so I can easily predict whose story is coming next. But that doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the characters were imperfect and appealing, and their story was so good that you can’t help but keep turning pages.

I loved the European locales, and stateside, Chicago. I visited there recently so was delighted to see mentions of places I’d been, like the Navy Pier. The descriptions were good but short and didn’t impede the flow of the story at all. This was a really fun read and I highly recommend it. Next up, book 2: Smitten by the Brit, which comes out May 28 followed quickly by book 3, Once Upon a Bad Boy on June 25. I love when they push out series like that so I don’t have to wait a year for the next book, at which time I will have forgotten the previous book. So thanks, St. Martin’s Paperbacks! 

Men in kilts, do I have to say anything else? Just read it.

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

GETTING HOT WITH THE SCOT by Melonie Johnson. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (April 30, 2019). ISBN 978-1250193094. 368p.



THE UNHONEYMOONERS by Christina Lauren

May 23, 2019

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From the publisher:

For two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime—maybe even love—in this romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling authors of Roomies.

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.

Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.

Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.

With Christina Lauren’s “uniquely hilarious and touching voice” (Entertainment Weekly), The Unhoneymooners is a romance for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.

Christina Lauren has become one (two) of my favorites. The writing duo does fast paced stories with great characters, lots of heart, lots of laughs and lots of love. And usually some sex, as is the case here.

The trope of enemies becoming lovers is not new, but feels new here. They mine the comedy of a seafood buffet with a serious microbe on the loose and believably explain the two members of the wedding that avoid it. Twins are always fun, especially identical(ish) twins, and they sure are fun here. At least Olive is; Ami is too sick to be funny much. But I loved the idea of winning everything to make the wedding and honeymoon super easy on the budget and I bought into the no changes,  no refunds on the honeymoon prize and the big switcheroo so that Olive and Ethan end up taking the trip.

You can see what’s coming from a mile away, but who cares when getting there is so much fun. If you like a lot of laughs with your romance, then you won’t want to miss this book. I loved it.

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE UNHONEYMOONERS by Christina Lauren. Gallery Books (May 14, 2019). ISBN 978-1501128035. 416p.




May 16, 2019

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From the publisher:


What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius―his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

To pigeonhole this book is to do it a great disservice. Yes, it is a gay romance. It is also very political, but in a sweet, fantasy sort of way that really appealed to me. In the world McQuiston has created, America moved on from Barack Obama to a Latina woman president, continuing those almost forgotten themes of hope and change instead of the torrent of hate and divisiveness that we are currently living through. That definitely worked for me. And she’s from Texas!

I loved the family dynamics, both in the American first family and the British royal family. Alex and Henry both have siblings that are also their best friends, until they find each other. They also have Secret Service (and the British equivalent,) live in very large houses that actually belong to the people of their respective countries, and have been living a public life for years, especially Henry. Alex, at least, had his formative years in relative obscurity.

The royal family has been changed enough to make them unrecognizable yet thoroughly believable. Prince Henry is gay, and no one knows it or is allowed to know it. It is his responsibility to be the millennial face of the crown family, and, of course, to reproduce. Learning the machinations of the PR machines that drive both the royal family and the American presidency was fun and actually a little darker than I expected.

Alex and Henry’s story made me laugh and made me cry and especially made me wish for a better America. And if that surprises you, you must be new here. Feel free to comment.

This was a super fun summer read, and I can see why it made the LibraryReads list. It’s fantastical and idealistic and I loved it.

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston. Griffin (May 14, 2019).  ISBN  978-1250316776. 432p.



THE BRIDE TEST by Helen Hoang

May 15, 2019

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From the publisher:

From the critically acclaimed author of The Kiss Quotient comes a romantic novel about love that crosses international borders and all boundaries of the heart…

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

I loved Hoang’s first book, The Kiss Quotient, so much that it made my best books of 2018 list. It is entirely possible that this new one will end up on this year’s favorites list as well. It topped the LibraryReads list for May, and with very good reason.

Hoang has created a niche in the romance genre, or maybe even two; one of her protagonists is autistic, the other is of mixed race.

In this book, she switched things around so our hero is the one on the spectrum, and our heroine is half American, half Vietnamese. But Hoang takes it a step further and really delves into the immigrant experience in America.

Khai is a complex character, as is Esme and I love the character development, it definitely adds to the story and I couldn’t help but root for this couple. Even the secondary characters are interesting,  especially Khai’s mother and his brother. We don’t get to know much about Esme’s family as they are still in Vietnam, but we learn her backstory, about the poverty she grew up in and still lived in until this opportunity arose. Esme is no fool and she seizes every advantage to try and build a better life for her family, hopefully in America.

We know that Khai is very successful but I would have liked to learn a bit more about that. It is suggested that is very frugal which Esme takes for lack of funds, not understanding what is going on and frankly, neither did I. But that is just a minor quibble.

There are some really funny moments in this book, as well as some heartbreaking ones. It was an emotional read for me, and I know I won’t be forgetting these characters any time soon.

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE BRIDE TEST by Helen Hoang. Berkley (May 7, 2019).  ISBN 978-0451490827. 320p.



SUNSET BEACH by Mary Kay Andrews

May 7, 2019

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From the publisher:

Pull up a lounge chair and have a cocktail at Sunset Beach – it comes with a twist.

Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

Sunset Beach is a compelling ride, full of Mary Kay Andrews’ signature wit, heart, and charm.

Andrews has gone back to her roots and given us a cozy mystery; actually two cozies for the price of one! It’s still as beachy a read as you could want, but the romance that was her hallmark has definitely taken a backseat. This also felt like it could be the first book of a series, so I’m curious to see how that plays out.

Drue is a terrific character, someone I enjoyed spending time with. Her curiosity drives the stories, and you can’t help but root for her to solve them. The family dynamics add another layer to the story as well. Having lost her mother, her career, her boyfriend and her home, Drue really can’t fall any lower so it’s up she will have to go. Her stepmother doesn’t help much with that and their relationship is tricky, to say the least, as is her relationship with the father that was absent for a good part of her life. But Drue is a tough cookie, able to pick herself up and move ahead, even when everyone around here is discouraging.

The two storylines, one present day and one set in the 1970’s, are intriguing for sure, and I thought they were going to come together at some point. I was wrong. But they both get resolved in very different yet interesting ways.

All in all, I enjoyed my first beach read of the summer!

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SUNSET BEACH by Mary Kay Andrews. St. Martin’s Press (May 7, 2019).  ISBN  978-1250126108. 432p.



FUMBLED by Alexa Martin

May 3, 2019

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The Playbook, Book 2

From the publisher:

One of Amazon’s Best Romances of the Month 
One of Apple’s Best Books of April

A second chance doesn’t guarantee a touchdown in this new contemporary romance from the author of Intercepted.Single-mother Poppy Patterson moved across the country when she was sixteen and pregnant to find a new normal. After years of hard work, she’s built a life she loves. It may include a job at a nightclub, weekend soccer games, and more stretch marks than she anticipated, but it’s all hers, and nobody can take that away. Well, except for one person.T.K. Moore, the starting wide receiver for the Denver Mustangs, dreamt his entire life about being in the NFL. His world is football, parties, and women. Maybe at one point he thought his future would play out with his high school sweetheart by his side, but Poppy is long gone and he’s moved on.When Poppy and TK cross paths in the most unlikely of places, emotions they’ve suppressed for years come rushing back. But with all the secrets they never told each other lying between them, they’ll need more than a dating playbook to help them navigate their relationship.

I love a good sports romance, and the reviews and buzz around this one drew me in. I haven’t read the first book in this series, Intercepted, yet – but after reading this one, I searched it out and it is now on my Kindle ready to go.

This has some real life behind it. The story revolves around an NFL player and Martin is married to one (now retired.) So she speaks with some authority here which really added to the story for me. Poppy is a terrific character, a great mom, and a good friend. I wouldn’t mind hanging out with her and when you can feel that comfortable with a character, that is a very good thing.

The football player in question, TK, is also a well developed character, not just a one dimensional athlete. I liked how his relationships with his mother and the other women in his life were explored; it all rang true for me. An important plot point centers around the concussion issue in the NFL. Martin tackles it head on, (if you’ll excuse the pun) which was a real plus for me. I love football, despite being a Dolphins fan (this is a rebuilding year, go Fins!) but CTE is a very serious issue so I was very glad she addressed it.

Martin is a good storyteller and her writing is crisp with lots of humor and pathos. She brought me to tears several times but also had me laughing out loud. A very enjoyable romance!

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FUMBLED by Alexa Martin. Berkley (April 23, 2019).  ISBN 978-0451491978. 336p.



UNTIL THERE WAS US by Samantha Chase

April 28, 2019

This was my first book by this author and I have a theory about why that is. I got this book as a digital galley, pre-publication. In many instances, the books I’m reviewing don’t have cover art yet, so I get a white cover with the title and author in black print on it and that’s it.

There is an old adage not to judge a book by its cover, except publishers often spend quite a bit on cover art so really, don’t they want us to judge their books by their expensive covers? The publisher here chose not to go that route. Or if they did, it was not money well spent. I found this book on my Kindle (I have close to 3000 books on there so stuff gets missed sometimes) and I read it. I really liked it, too. When I went to write this review, I finally got a gander at the cover and I was surprised. To me, this looks like one of those cheesy romance novels from the 1980’s. I really dislike this cover and had I seen it, I probably would not have picked up this book and that would have been a shame. Plus I had no idea this was the eighth book in a series; that information is not always included in the advanced reader copy either.

This series apparently centers around the Montgomery family, and I’m guessing the brothers started out the series. But by book 8, we are dealing with a Montgomery sister, Megan. Megan has some baggage, as most of us do, and after spending a crazy, sex filled weekend with Alex, they sort of tried to keep it going. Except she lived on the east coast, and he lived on the west coast. And the one weekend they were supposed to meet up, she didn’t show up.

In an interesting twist, Megan is a workaholic who has spent her life trying to prove her worth to her father. He seems to think that women should be raised to get a husband and men to be brought into the ultra successful family business. But Megan is an IT expert, and has proven her worth to the company by being that workaholic. When she is offered a position working with her brothers on the west coast, she moves there. Her first night there, she runs into Alex, her brother’s best friend.

It may have been two years since they were together, but time has not lessened their attraction to one another. As much as she tries to fight it, Megan just can’t help herself. And the fact that her brothers are really big on work-life balance and refuse to allow her workaholic ways into their business, she has time to have a social life. And finds herself re-prioritizing her life.

I liked this book enough to search out the rest of the series. It really does seem like there is an endless supply of good romance series. And while good is subjective, that is the point of this blog. I am still in need of happily ever afters and thoroughly enjoyed my escape with the Montgomery family.

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

UNTIL THERE WAS US by Samantha Chase. Sourcebooks Casablanca (May 1, 2018). ISBN 978-1492655909. 384p.




April 27, 2019

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Crossroads Ranch Series, Book 1

From the publisher:

Ten years ago, Jack Everett left his family’s ranch without a backward glance. Now, what was supposed to be a quick trip home for his father’s funeral has suddenly become more complicated. The ranch Jack can handle—he might be a lawyer, but he still remembers how to work with his hands. But turning around the failing vineyard he’s also inherited? That requires working with the one woman he never expected to see again.

Ava Ellis broke her own heart the night she let Jack go. She was young and scared—and secretly pregnant with Jack’s baby. Now that he’s back and asking for her help, Ava sees her opportunity to right the wrongs of the past. But how will he feel about the son he’s never known? Could this be their second chance—or their final heartbreak?

I’m including an excerpt from my review of Hard Loving Cowboy, book 3 in the series, the why of which will become clear in a moment.

I read the third book in this series, Tough Luck Cowboy, which I mistook for the second book, but somehow missed the first (not unusual for me!) and the actual second book. Maybe. Apparently Amazon is as confused as I am about the order of this series! I am going to have to backtrack and find them because I know there are holes in the background that I’m missing.

So first things first, as my mother used to say, do as I say, not as I do, and read this series in order! I am investigating. Because of my little bit of confusion, I skipped reading the bonus novella but I’m sure I will get to that eventually.

So I found this book, the first book in the series, at my library. Yay, libraries! Which reminds me, do you all know about the Google Chrome and Firefox library extension? This is the coolest thing ever! I tweeted about it and facebooked and then CNET wrote about it:

This browser extension shows you which Amazon books are available free at your local library. Available for Chrome and Firefox, the insanely great Library Extension saves you time and money.

I don’t know about you all, but I am all about saving time and money. I work full time as a librarian and do this blog and I’m working on a book as well and I read about a book a day so time is definitely precious. As for saving money, well, here is one of my favorite librarian “jokes,” in quotes because, well, maybe more true than funny?

What’s the difference between a large pizza and a librarian?

A large pizza can feed a family of four.

And after all those digressions, back to my review of the first book in this terrific series.

Having read the later books, I sort of knew what was going to happen, mostly because these characters are so memorable. Nonetheless, it was fun seeing how it all got started. Why Jack, an attorney, is primarily running a winery. Why all the brothers are so close. Why they are all attracted to strong women. Well, pretty much every romance written in the past few years has strong women protagonists. The helpless female being rescued by the strong male is no longer. He may save her a time or two, but he knows damn well that she could probably have saved herself.

So great characters here. Ava is a frustrated artist who had to make a living instead of making art but she’s never given up her dream. The surprise child, a popular trope in romance, works which probably explains its popularity. The chemistry between Jack and Ava is strong and fiery, and a treat to observe. All in all, I’m very glad I hunted down this book and will stick to my assertion that this is a series that is best read in order. But do read it, especially if you like cowboys, because it is a really fun and sexy series.

Crossroads Ranch Series, in order according to Amazon, sometimes:

  1. Second Chance Cowboy (Crossroads Ranch Book 1) Feb 27, 2018
  2. Saved by the Cowboy (Crossroads Ranch Book 2) Aug 7, 2018 (according to the author’s website, this is book 1.5 so maybe a novella?)
  3. Tough Luck Cowboy (Crossroads Ranch Book 3) Aug 28, 2018 (according to the author’s website, this is book 2)
  4. Hard Loving Cowboy (Crossroads Ranch Book 4) Mar 26, 2019 (according to the author’s website, this is book 3)

So according to the author, I’ve now read books 1, 2, and 3 and there is no book 4. I can’t borrow “Saved by the Cowboy” from my library so I guess I’ll have to cough up a few bucks and buy it for my Kindle. Stay tuned…

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SECOND CHANCE COWBOY by A. J. Pine. Forever (February 27, 2018). ISBN 978-1538727065.  320p.