FOREVER STARTS NOW by Stefanie London

June 28, 2021

From the publisher:

What happens when two people who’ve given up on forever find it in each other…?

Single men are as scarce in Forever Falls as a vegetarian at a barbecue. That is, until Ethan Hammersmith moves in. After his fiancée gave him an ultimatum, he left Australia and never looked back. He isn’t in America to find a new girlfriend, though. He’s searching for the father he never knew. But now it’s like he has a flashing sign above his head that says “available.” Thankfully, the manager of the local diner is willing to give him cover―if only she weren’t so distractingly adorable.

Monroe Roberts, town misanthrope and divorcée, knocked “forever” permanently off her wish list ever since the love of her life skipped town with the cliché yoga instructor. And good riddance. She’s got this struggling diner to keep her busy, trying anything to boost sales…until a hot Australian strolls in and changes everything. Monroe’s restaurant is packed full of women who aren’t there to order food, unless Ethan is on the menu. This could sink her business faster than ever. So―light bulb―what if they pretend to be together?

It sounds like the perfect plan. Until they realize there is some very real chemistry in this fake relationship. But is it enough to heal two hearts that have been so deeply wounded?

The fake relationship is always a fun trope in romance, and when the guy involved is a dead ringer for Chris Hemsworth, including the Australian accent, it adds another layer of fun. His real name is Ethan, but all the women in this small town are convinced he is the actor/superhero and they are stalking him. Monroe takes pity on him and feeds him breakfast in the back of the diner’s kitchen, and a friendship is forged.

Ethan has spent a year in America seeking out the father he never knew. As mother was dying, she confessed that the man who raised him was not his father. She gave him a name, Matthew Brewer, and said he had died, but that was all he had to go on. He had been crossing the country, investigating every dead Matthew Brewer until he landed in the tiny town of Forever Falls. This Brewer seems the most likely yet, but the townspeople are very close mouthed, and it turns out Brewer was not well liked, to say the least.

Monroe has her own troubles. She caught her fiancé sleeping with her cousin, and the whole family took sides, creating an irreparable rift. It’s been a while, and now her sisters are pushing her to start dating again but she is not in the mood. Ethan and Monroe decide to form a fake relationship; it will get her sisters off her back and the women of Forever Falls will back off of their stalking if they think Ethan is taken by one of their own. It’s a perfect plan, except of course they develop real feelings for one another.

Ethan is not willing to commit. He’s been burned by his former ultimatum-wielding fiancée and his mother, and pretty much decided against forming any kind of relationship. When he finds the info he needs about his father, he’s heading back to Australia.

Monroe realizes that the fake relationship is no longer fake, but when she confesses her feelings to Ethan, he does not reciprocate; or rather, he is fighting off those feelings as well. This was such a compelling romance, the heat practically flies off the page and I couldn’t wait for Ethan to come to his senses. Everyone gets their happy ending here, especially the reader. A most enjoyable escape.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FOREVER STARTS NOW by Stefanie London. Entangled: Amara (June 29, 2021). ISBN: 978-1649370235. 352 pages.







June 27, 2021

A Single Dad, a Woman Grieving, and a Beautiful Contemporary Western Romance

Creedence Horse Rescue, Book 1

From the publisher:

A brand-new series of sweet, small town cowboy romance from USA Today bestselling author Jennie Marts. The Horse Whisperer meets Hope Floats when bubbly Bryn Callahan and brooding Zane Taylor protect an unwanted horse and end up with an animal rescue operation that they can only handle when they rely on each other.

Scarred and battered loner Zane Taylor has a gift with animals, particularly horses, but he’s at a total loss when it comes to knowing how to handle women. Even though he’s sworn off love, he can’t seem to stay away from Bryn Callahan. He’s known for being a horse whisperer, but can’t seem to find his voice at all where Bryn is concerned.

Bryn Callahan has a heart for strays, but she is through trying to save damaged men. She vows to only date nice guys, which is a category that does not include Zane Taylor. Too bad he’s the only one who sets her pulse racing every time she’s around him.

Starting a horse rescue ranch wasn’t in Bryn’s plan, but try telling that to the assembly of abandoned animals that have found their way to her doorstep. And when a chance encounter with a horse headed for slaughter brings Zane and Bryn together, they find themselves given a chance to save not just the horse, but maybe each other…

I recently read the second book in this series, (When A Cowboy Loves a Woman) and I liked it so much that I sought out this one, the first. And I think this was even better!

Zane is so damaged that Bryn is warned off him repeatedly, but she is a compassionate woman, and she sees the good in him, plus they have chemistry that burns. The heart wants what the heart wants, and even though on paper the local vet is a better choice for her, they have no spark at all.

Bryn is a waitress in this small town, but she lives on the ranch she inherited from her grandpa. So when she sees an obviously abused horse in a trailer outside the diner, she wants to rescue it from the cowboys who tell her the horse is headed for the glue factory (if there was such a place.) Zane comes to the rescue by leaving her a $100 tip so she can buy the animal, then he helps her get it home and take care of it. As soon as word gets out about the rescue, they are sent on a hunt for another abused, abandoned horse which they also bring back to the ranch. Pretty soon the menagerie includes a hog that was a household pet as it was sold to them as a potbellied pig. Then a pair of lovebirds make their way into the house, and an abandoned pregnant dog who soon gives birth to a bunch of puppies. Bryn can’t really afford to feed and care for all these animals, but she has friends in this small town. Soon there are collection jars all over town and a webpage with crowdsourcing funding and the money is pouring in.

Meanwhile Zane is pushing her away as she burrows under his skin. He knows he is wrong for her despite his heart telling him otherwise. He has been abused all his life by his father after being told he killed his mother during childbirth. The man has issues, not to mention some nasty scarring from the abuse he suffered. But Bryn is determined to get her man, despite all the roadblocks he is constantly putting up.

I really loved that this cowboy was a sort of “horse whisperer;” it seems like so many cowboy romances gloss over what cowboys do and I liked that there was some focus on that here. There are some really funny moments and I cried a time or two as well, so it is safe to say that this is a very emotional read, and really good romance. I can’t wait for the next book in this series, but while I’m waiting, Marts has a couple of other series I will be looking for.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A COWBOY STATE OF MIND by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (June 30, 2020). ISBN: 978-1492689119. 416 pages.








June 25, 2021

From the publisher:

A charming and heartwarming new romantic comedy by the acclaimed author of Waiting for Tom Hanks, Kerry Winfrey.

Teddy Phillips never thought she would still be spending every day surrounded by toys at almost thirty years old. But working at a vintage toy store is pretty much all she has going on in her life after being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend. The one joy that she has kept is her not-so-guilty pleasure: Everett’s Place, a local children’s show hosted by Everett St. James, a man whom Teddy finds very soothing . . . and, okay, cute.

Teddy finds the courage to write to him, feeling slightly like one of the children who write to him on his show. He always gives sound advice and seems like he has everything figured out—and he pretty much does: Everett has a great support system, wonderful friends, and his dream job. But there is still that persistent feeling in the back of his mind that something is missing.

When a woman named Theodora starts writing to Everett, he is drawn to her honesty and vulnerability. They continue writing to each other, all the while living their lives without meeting. When their worlds collide, however, they must both let go of their fears and figure out what they truly want—and if the future they want includes each other.

Romances based on “You’ve Got Mail” are making a big comeback lately and I couldn’t be happier. This book has the email thing happening, but there is more to the story than just that.

Teddy has a bit of a crush on a young Mr. Rogers type named Everett who has a successful local children’s show. When her boyfriend dumps her, she finds out none of her friends liked him and he really did a number on her self esteem. She writes Everett for advice, and he is surprised to hear from an adult like that – he usually gets propositions from the moms who watch with their kids. He is touched, and writes her back, and they form an email relationship.

Meanwhile, they run into one another but don’t realize who each other is, a familiar plot line that works really well here. They have terrific chemistry, and one thing leads to another.

Teddy works in a vintage toy store. It’s not her dream job, but her boss treats her like a daughter, and she enjoys talking to the people that come into the store. She especially enjoys a precocious young girl who turns out to be a somewhat important character.

This is a really fun romcom. Kerry is a big Tom Hanks fan (the first book of hers that I read was Waiting for Tom Hanks) so obviously diving into his romcoms is a great source of material, and I think Winfrey really hit it out of the ballpark with this story. There is a sweetness to these characters that feels genuine, and I couldn’t wait for their happy ending. Don’t miss it!

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

VERY SINCERELY YOURS by Kerry Winfrey. Berkley (June 15, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593333419. 384 pages.








June 24, 2021

From the publisher:

Fans of Susan Mallery, Jill Shalvis, and the Netflix hit series Virgin River will love this unforgettable summer romance about family, friendship, and the magic of finding true love from the USA Today bestselling author of The Summer House! 

Hallie Flynn’s favorite place in the world is her aunt Clara’s beautiful beachside house, with its inviting wraparound porch and enchanting views across the sparkling turquoise ocean. For Hallie, going to Firefly Beach, filled with magical childhood memories, feels like coming home. But when her adored aunt passes away, Hallie is left brokenhearted—until she discovers Aunt Clara’s last letter and her final wish. 

Hallie is astonished to find the bucket list she wrote as a young teenager and reluctant to step away from her adult responsibilities to fulfill her youthful dreams. But to honor her beloved aunt, Hallie agrees to embrace Clara’s last words and abandon her predicable schedule for the summer.

As she spends sun-filled days at Firefly Beach, Hallie begins to remember the things that matter most to her. Best of all, her childhood friend Ben Murray is there, supporting her every step of the way. But when a run-in with wealthy newcomer Gavin leaves her questioning her future, Hallie is forced to face the truths buried deep in her heart. Can Hallie complete the bucket list and change her life? Or will the secret she’s been keeping destroy her new beginning—and her second chance at love?

I don’t know how I missed her, but I haven’t read Jenny Hale before and she has a lot of books! But better late than never, I suppose.

This is a sweet romance with interesting characters and the friends-to-lovers trope that I always enjoy. When Hallie’s favorite aunt passes away, she leaves letters and inheritances for each of her relatives, except Hallie. Instead, Hallie gets a note telling her to complete her “bucket list”, a list she wrote as a child. What does Hallie’s aunt know that Hallie doesn’t? Apparently quite a bit.

This is a family story as well as a romance, and love abounds. It has the feel of a Debbie Macomber book, so if that is your jam, enjoy.

This is a very emotional read; there are parts that made me cry, but more parts that made me laugh. Hale does a very good job with plot and characters, and that isn’t always easy to do. If you are looking for a good beach read, look no further.

SUMMER AT FIREFLY BEACH by Jenny Hale. Forever (May 25, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538718896 320 pages.







NEW GIRL IN LITTLE COVE by Damhnait Monaghan

June 22, 2021

From the publisher:

After the local French teacher scandalizes the fishing village of Little Cove, Newfoundland, by running off with a priest, the school looks to the mainland to fill the job quickly. They want someone who can uphold their Catholic values and keep a motley group of largely unwilling students in line.

The position is filled by mainlander Rachel O’Brien—technically a Catholic (baptized!), technically a teacher (honors degree!)—who’s desperate to leave her current mess of a life behind. She isn’t surprised that her students don’t see the value of learning French. But she is surprised that she can barely understand their English… Is it a compliment or insult to be called a sleeveen? (Insult.) And the anonymous notes left on her car, telling her to go home, certainly don’t help to make her feel welcome.

Still, she is quickly drawn into the island’s traditional music and culture, and into the personal lives of her crusty but softhearted landlady, Lucille, her reluctant students and her fellow teacher Doug Bishop. But when her beliefs clash with church and community, she makes a decision that throws her career into jeopardy. In trying to help a student, has she gone too far?

Full of warmth, humor, romance and the quirkiest community of characters Get ready to be charmed by this impossibly delightful debut, perfect for fans of Kristan Higgins and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

One of the interesting things about reading advance digital galleys is that often, there is no cover art available. Had I seen this cover, I probably wouldn’t have read the book and that would have been a shame. Judging this book by its cover, to me it looks like some sort of children’s book about a young girl who moves to a new town. But that’s not it at all.

First of all, the setting is in Newfoundland, a place I know very little about. Like the fact they speak a very distinctive dialect – still English, but often with a few words thrown in that are not. I loved learning about this area in the most easterly province of Canada. Plus it takes place in a small town, which I always enjoy.

Rachel needs to get away and when this teaching job opens, she grabs it. One of her co-workers is Doug, and while they both sense the attraction, it takes a while for them to form a relationship. I loved all the quirky characters in this story, they brought a lot of love and laughter to the mix. The romance may have built slowly, but in this case, it works just fine and doesn’t slow down the story at all. That said, I couldn’t wait until they got together, I was very invested in these people and wanted them to get their happy ending. And they did.

This is a debut novel and I cannot wait to see what comes next. By the way, the author’s name, Damhnait, is pronounced pronounced “Downith,” per her Twitter feed.

NEW GIRL IN LITTLE COVE by Damhnait Monaghan. Graydon House; Original edition (May 11, 2021). ISBN: 978-1525811500. 336 pages.







THE SUMMER JOB by Lizzy Dent

June 21, 2021

From the publisher:

Named a Best Beach Read by CosmopolitanEntertainment WeeklyNew York PostBustleCountry LivingParadeFortune, and more.

Beach Read meets Sweetbitter in this laugh-out-loud and ultimately heartwarming debut of a good friend’s very bad decision and the summer job that stands to ruin or make her life.

What if you could be someone else? Just for the summer…

Birdy has made a mistake. Everyone imagines running away from their life at some point. But Birdy has actually done it. And the life she’s run into is her best friend Heather’s. The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather.

The summer job at the highland Scottish hotel that her world class wine-expert friend ditched turns out to be a lot more than Birdy bargained for. Can she survive a summer pretending to be her best friend? And can Birdy stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked, but who thinks she’s someone else?

One good friend’s very bad decision is at the heart of this laugh-out-loud love story and unexpected tale of a woman finally finding herself in the strangest of places.

Birdy offers to help out her best friend Heather by cancelling her summer job as the sommelier at Loch Dorn for her. Heather is chasing some guy across Europe, and Birdy likes free drinks so she attends a party in Heather’s stead by using her name.

The lies start there but really get out of control when Birdy doesn’t cancel Heather’s job, but shows up in her place. Free room and board for the summer seems like the best deal she’s going to get, but with one small hitch; Birdy knows nothing about wine.

James is the sous chef and is kind to the newcomer. Birdy finds him very attractive and before you know it, a romance is born in a bed of lies. No good can come of that, at least not without a lot of trouble and that is half the fun of this story.

I couldn’t help but like Birdy, despite all her lies, and wanted her to get her happy ending. James is a good guy, and their romance starts off slowly but builds as the summer flies by. I loved the Scottish setting and the characters, and there is a lot of humor, too. This was a really fun read, especially for a debut, and I look forward to more from this new author. Rumor has it that a TV adaptation is in the works!

THE SUMMER JOB by Lizzy Dent. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (May 18, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593328118. 384 pages.








June 20, 2021

From the publisher:

A woman desperate to turn a new page heads to the Scottish coast and finds herself locked in a battle of wills with an infuriatingly aloof bookseller in this utterly heartwarming debut, perfect for readers of Evvie Drake Starts Over.

Thea Mottram is having a bad month. She’s been let go from her office job with no notice—and to make matters even worse, her husband of nearly twenty years has decided to leave her for one of her friends.

Bewildered and completely lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But when she learns that a distant great uncle in Scotland has passed away, leaving her his home and a hefty antique book collection, she decides to leave Sussex for a few weeks. Escaping to a small coastal town where no one knows her seems to be exactly what she needs.

Almost instantly, Thea becomes enamored with the quaint cottage, comforted by its cozy rooms and lovely but neglected garden. The locals in nearby Baldochrie are just as warm, quirky, and inviting.

The only person she can’t seem to win over is bookshop owner Edward Maltravers, to whom she hopes to sell her uncle’s book collection. His gruff attitude—fueled by an infamous, long-standing feud with his brother, a local lord—tests Thea’s patience. But bickering with Edward proves oddly refreshing and exciting, leading Thea to develop feelings she hasn’t experienced in a long time.

As she follows a thrilling yet terrifying impulse to stay in Scotland indefinitely, Thea realizes that her new life may quickly become just as complicated as the one she was running from.

I have never been to Scotland, but ever since I read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, I’ve wanted to go. Reading books set in Scotland is as close as I’ve gotten. While this book is set in Scotland, it feels more like Any Small Town Anywhere. I’m not complaining exactly, I like books set in small towns. A little more definitive Scotland would have added to the story for me.

This is a very slow moving romance. Thea meets Edward when she applies for a job in his bookshop. He has never hired a woman because he is afraid of relationships basically. They butt heads a lot but slowly become friends. Thea would like something more but neither of them are in any kind of hurry.

I didn’t really understand Thea. Her marriage falls apart because her husband decides he’s in love with her friend, yet she seems very calm about the whole thing. Stiff upper lip and all that. Edward is another cipher. I didn’t really understand either of them and just wasn’t invested in their happiness.

This was just too slow for me. While there is some charm here, there is not much humor. I did enjoy the book aspects of the story but that just wasn’t enough. The “will he or won’t he” takes pretty much the entire book before they very rapidly decide they are in love and finally get their happily ever after.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE BOOKSHOP OF SECOND CHANCES by Jackie Fraser. Ballantine Books (May 4, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593355657. 448 pages.








June 19, 2021

A Single Dad, a Woman Grieving, and a Beautiful Contemporary Western Romance

Creedence Horse Rescue, Book 2

From the publisher:

“I don’t think I could stay away from you if I tried.”
He shook his head.
“And I have been trying. I told myself not to go to your house tonight.
I ordered my hand not to hold yours.
But apparently I can’t control myself when it comes to you, Elle Brooks.”

When a kitchen fire forces young widow Elle Brooks to move in with her friend Bryn and her motley collection of rescue animals, she doesn’t foresee ending up in the muscled arms of handsome cowboy and veterinarian Brody Tate. Spending time with the hunky cowboy and his adorable young daughter as they rehabilitate rescued horses reminds Elle of all she lost in a car crash years ago.

Brody is devoted to being a good dad for his spirited daughter. He hasn’t let romance even enter his head. But now he’s met Elle. Spending time with her is shaking up the calm he’s worked so hard to achieve, and he can’t seem to get this woman off his mind.

This author was new to me and as usual, I missed the first book in this series. But this book stood alone beautifully; I wouldn’t have known I missed anything.

Brody is a vet and a volunteer fireman, not to mention a widower for several years and the dad of a sweet young daughter. He’s visiting a friend when he spots a fire across the street. He saves Bryn from her kitchen fire, and their attraction is palpable. Bryn is a young widow, and neither of them are looking for a relationship, but the attraction is too big to deny.

In addition to being a vet, Brody also runs an animal rehab. (I think he may walk on water in his spare time.) I couldn’t help rooting for this couple to get past all their hurdles and get together. This is a sweet romance, not as sad as it may sound being they both lost their spouses. There is some humor as well. All in all, this book was a good read, good enough for me to go find the first book in the series, A Cowboy State of Mind. I found the ebook on Hoopla, courtesy of my library.

If you like cowboys and animals as much as I do, you will enjoy this romance!

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WHEN A COWBOY LOVES A WOMAN by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (March 30, 2021) Amara (March 9, 2021). ISBN: 978-1492689140. 336 pages.








June 16, 2021


Welcome to Thorndale, Book 3

From the publisher:

An uplifting and feel-good romance to fall in love with

Sparks and tempers fly when Ben comes to stay in Daisy’s holiday cottage

Daisy likes routine. She goes to work, makes dinner for her son, then loses herself for an hour or two in her sewing. She’s not looking for change, until Ben crashes – literally – into her life.

Ben is training for a triathlon, working himself to the limit in an attempt to forget a recent trauma. Daisy wants to help, but even as they draw closer with every week that passes, he pushes her away whenever things threaten to get serious.

Can Ben open himself up to love again? And with Daisy’s life in the Yorkshire Dales and Ben’s in New York, can they have a future together even if he does?

I haven’t read this author before so I didn’t read the first two books in the series. I never felt like I was missing anything, and in fact, didn’t even realize it was part of a series until I starting working on this review. To me, that says a lot about the author’s skill of creating a book that is part of a series, but can be read as a standalone.

That said, this book was slow going. Ben has some serious issues, and try as she will, Daisy can’t seem to break through his walls. For every step forward it felt like there were at least two steps back. Most romances follow a basic formula; boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back again. Or vice versa. But this boy did not get the girl until the end. I did love the ending of the book, and I liked how Ben and Daisy both helped one another to overcome their own personal obstacles. FYI, there is no sex, only a few kisses if that matters to you.

I liked the characters, I loved the small English village setting, and the ending was perfect. If you like slower paced narratives with a happy ending, then this is your book.

NOTE: Library users, I found this ebook on Hoopla!

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A SUMMER OF SECOND CHANCES by Suzanne Snow. Canelo Escape (June 10, 2020). ISBN:  978-1800324992. 221 pages.





MAYBE ONE DAY by Debbie Johnson

June 12, 2021

From the publisher:

In the spirit of Ruth Hogan and Adriana Trigiani, bestselling British author Debbie Johnson brings us the ultimate in “happy tears”: a heartfelt story about a woman seizing the chance to reconnect with her lost love.

The truth changes everything.

For years Jess believed that Joe—the father of her child and the only man she ever loved—had abandoned her during her greatest time of need. That belief nearly destroyed her. Seventeen years later, when cleaning out her mother’s house, Jess unpacks a box of cards and letters hidden in the attic and makes a discovery that changes everything about life as she knows it.

Shaken but empowered, Jess—and her two stalwart best friends—set out on a remarkable journey to follow a set of faded postmarks around the world. Is Joe still alive? Does he know that Jess never forgot him? Maybe their love story isn’t over.

Maybe one day they’ll find each other again…

A comparison to Adriana Trigiani always grabs my attention (Note to Ade: babe, you are way overdue for your next book!)

This was such an emotional read. There is so much heart to this story and sorrow and even some laughs that it just feels completely captivating. I couldn’t help but get involved with these characters.

Having parents do something despicable is very much in my world view having lived that, so it was not at all far fetched for me to believe the basic premise of the story. The road trip to romance was appropriate and really well done. The characters come to life on the page and their story was terrific. This isn’t a light read, but a well thought out plot with believability, always a good combination, and a lot of heart. I loved it.

I didn’t recall reading this author before, so I dug around on my Kindle and found one of the books from an earlier series, The Comfort Food Cafe, but I need the earlier books. I think I’d like to read them in order. I love finding new authors, even if they are only new to me!

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MAYBE ONE DAY by Debbie Johnson. William Morrow Paperbacks (March 2, 2021). ISBN: 978-0063003651. 384 pages.