A COWBOY UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Jessica Clare

December 8, 2019

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The Wyoming Cowboys Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

‘Tis the season for starting over for one military man turned cowboy in this new novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Cowboy and His Baby.

Former Navy master-at-arms Jason Clements is down on his luck and calling in one last favor. His cousin has secured him a job opportunity as a cowboy working at Price Ranch in Wyoming. Too bad Jason has never even saddled a horse. If he can keep this job without his PTSD getting in the way, it’ll be a Christmas miracle.

Local busybody Sage Cooper loves Painted Barrel something fierce, but it’s time for her to move on. Since her father passed away, the family ranch feels too big for just her, and there’s no chance of finding a husband in this small town. To the rest of the world, she’s just another local fixture, known for her closet full of ugly Christmas sweaters and being perpetually single.

It isn’t until Jason shows up in desperate need of a cowboy crash course that Sage discovers a tall, dark, and handsome reason to stick around. And with the holidays coming up, Sage is in need of a date for a special event—maybe they’ll turn out to be each other’s best Christmas present.


This romance ticked a lot of boxes that I really like; damaged characters, small town, cowboys, and Christmas.

Sage has no self-esteem. Living in this small town, she’s had a long-standing crush on a man who is about to marry. Someone else. She lost her mom as an infant, and her dad fairly recently, leaving her alone on a big ranch in a big empty house. She has decided to sell the ranch in the spring, and move to a larger community, in hopes of meeting someone.

Jason suffers from PTSD, but his cousin landed him this job as a cowboy, of all things. He’s never even been on a horse, much less a ranch. Desperate for help, he wanders into what passes for a library in this small town, a few shelves of books and the town’s only employee, Sage. She ignores his symptoms and lends him a helping hand with a crash course in ranching. Sage has a calming effect on Jason, and a relationship begins.

This was a warm, holiday read filled with love and grace and hope. A wonderful holiday romance!

12/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A COWBOY UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Jessica Clare.  Berkley (October 15, 2019). ISBN 978-1984804006. 320p.

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RESTLESS RANCHER by Jennifer Ryan

November 17, 2019

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Wild Rose Ranch Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

If you like bad-boy heroes, western settings, and a sexy, sassy heroine you will love Jennifer Ryan’s newest Wild Rose Ranch book! Perfect for fans of Diana Palmer, Linda Lael Miller, and Jodi Thomas.

One minute down-on-his-luck rancher Austin Hubbard slept soundly, the next, a sassy spitfire dumped a pitcher of water on his head and woke him up—in more ways than one. Hired to help him rebuild his ranch, Sonya Tucker ends up helping him put the tattered pieces of his life back together. The capable, all-business accountant is on a mission to get the ranch up and running, but can he convince the temptingly beautiful woman to take a chance on him?

Sonya was dismayed that Austin had lost it all: money, family, respectability. Things she—who’d been raised by her mother at Nevada’s notorious brothel Wild Rose Ranch—only dreamed about. But working with the long, lean cowboy shows her that Austin is honorable to his core. Together they slowly grow to see what the love between them might bring.

But then Austin’s powder keg of a family feud explodes, exposing long-buried secrets, and threatening their new-found love…


Just when I was thinking I hadn’t read a good cowboy romance in a while, this one dropped in my lap. I liked the first book in this series, but I think this one is even better. I guess like the premise of a smart woman bossing around a cowboy! At least here, it really works. It sort of turns on its head the cowboy saving the woman, although there is a hint of that as well. But mostly Sonya is fierce and in charge.

Both of these characters have a lot of baggage and troubling backgrounds, and they both can appreciate that in the other. I couldn’t help but root for them to get together, but first, they had to learn to trust one another. Another good cowboy romance!

11/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RESTLESS RANCHER by Jennifer Ryan.  Avon (November 12, 2019). ISBN 978-0062851901.  384p.

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TO TAME A WILD COWBOY by Lori Wilde

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.

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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.

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SECOND CHANCE COWBOY by A. J. Pine

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.

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COLORADO COWBOY by Sara Richardson

April 15, 2019

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Rocky Mountain Riders, Book 5

From the publisher:

Come home to Topaz Falls, Colorado where a down-on-her-luck bull rider falls for the cowboy she can’t resist in this heart-warming western romance!
As a champion barrel racer, Charity Stone has learned to hold her own in the male-dominated rodeo world. There’s no cowboy she can’t handle…except for one. Officer Dev Jenkins has made it clear he doesn’t look at her like one of the guys. He’s caught her attention but Charity doesn’t do relationships–especially not with a cowboy. When she suddenly finds herself in charge of her thirteen-year-old nephew, who’s had a few brushes with the law, Charity has no choice but to ask for the deputy’s help.

Dev hasn’t stopped fantasizing about Charity since she moved to Topaz Falls, but she’s been hell bent on keeping her distance. When she comes to him for help with her nephew, he finally has the chance to make his move. Winning her over won’t be easy, thoughespecially when her nephew’s mistakes start to threaten his town. How can he do his job and still convince Charity he’s the cowboy for her?

Includes the bonus story “Unbroken” by Jay Crownover!

I started this series by reading the fourth book True-Blue Cowboy, and at that time, it felt like I must have missed something by not reading the earlier books in the series. With this fifth book, I didn’t have that feeling. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was a series book until after I’d read it. To me, that says a lot about the writing – this book easily stands alone. From what I can surmise, this series is set in the town of Topaz Falls, Colorado, but beyond that, I’m not sure what else crosses over.

I loved, loved, loved the strong female protagonist in this book. Charity isn’t looking for a cowboy, she is one. Cowgirl. Whatever. She’s a rodeo star in her own right which was a refreshing change to me. I’ve read a lot of cowboy romances and while there have been some strong women for sure, I don’t remember one that felt turned on its head like this one. The man in the other half of this equation is a cop, not a cowboy; well, not a rodeo star at any rate. He does help work his family ranch so he can wear the cowboy hat without irony.

There are a lot of family dynamics at play here, the subplots are as interesting as the main romance. This was a terrific story and I highly recommend it.

If you’d like to read them in order (and tell me what I’m missing!) here you go:

  1. Hometown Cowboy, Book 1
  2. Comeback Cowboy, Book 2
  3. Renegade Cowboy, Book 3
  4. True-Blue Cowboy, Book 4

 

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

COLORADO COWBOY by Sara Richardson. Forever (April 2, 2019). ISBN 978-1538712276.  448p.

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HARD LOVING COWBOY by A. J. Pine

April 12, 2019

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Crossroads Ranch Series, Book 4

From the publisher:

This cowboy’s handsome, sexy, and definitely off limits . . .

Walker Everett spends his days at the Crossroads Ranch wrangling cattle-and steering clear of anything that would complicate his already too-complicated life. Until Violet Chastain, the ranch’s newest employee, asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend for her parents’ anniversary party. She’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever met and needs his help. How can he refuse?Violet isn’t about to fall for a brooding bad-boy cowboy, no matter how sizzling their chemistry. But she also never expected Walker to go along with the charade. Before long, he’s charming her parents at their weekly dinners and kissing her way more than necessary. Spending so much time together tests the limits of their “just friends” relationship, but what happens when their game of pretend becomes all too real?

Includes the bonus story Rocky Mountain Cowboy by Sara Richardson!


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.

The fake boyfriend is a good romance standby, and it works really well here. Violet has some serious family issues, and when Walker fakes it for her parents, too, she is really happy. Especially as she’s falling for him, despite all her reasons not to.

Walker is a good man, even if he is a cowboy. I lived in Dallas for five years in the early 80’s and rarely saw cowboys like the ones in these books. I think I mostly saw urban cowboys, thanks to the movie (John Travolta) and the TV series, “Dallas.” I lived just a few miles from Southfork and never saw them filming. I did see Susan Howard (“Donna Krebs”) in the hair salon once. But I digress.

I love this contemporary cowboy romance subgenre, and this one is pretty good. But I think it will be better once I read the other books in the 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 read books 2 and book 3 and there is no book 4. And I can’t borrow Saved by the Cowboy from my library so I guess I’ll just be missing that one. Sigh.

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HARD LOVING COWBOY by A. J. Pine. Forever (March 26, 2019). ISBN 978-1538727119.  480p.

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THE TROUBLE WITH COWBOYS by Victoria James

April 8, 2019

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From the publisher:

From New York Times bestseller Victoria James comes a poignant and heartfelt romance that wraps you in a warm embrace…

Eight years ago, Tyler Donnelly left Wishing River, Montana, after a terrible fight with his father and swore he’d never return. But when his father has a stroke, guilt and duty drive him home, and nothing is as he remembers––from the run-down ranch to Lainey Sullivan, who is all grown up now. And darn if he can’t seem to stay away.

Lainey’s late grandma left her two things: the family diner and a deep-seated mistrust of cowboys. So when Tyler quietly rides back into town looking better than hot apple pie, she knows she’s in trouble. But she owes his dad everything, and she’s determined to show Ty what it means to be part of a small town…and part of a family.

Lainey’s courage pushes Ty to want to make Wishing River into a home again―together. But one of them is harboring a secret that could change everything.


This was the first book I read by this author, and it was pretty good. It is a sweet romance, centered around family dynamics and has just enough drama to keep the pages turning. The characters are well developed, even the secondary ones, and I liked getting to know them all and the small town that is pretty much another character in this story. There is a bit of mystery surrounding the family feud between Ty and his dad which makes sense as it unfolds.

Lainey’s keeping a secret from Ty. This is a common trope in romances, and not my favorite. She knows she should tell him yet there never seems to be a good time until it blows up. I guess I’m too blunt in my own life to truly understand why people do this. You’re in a relationship, be honest or get out. Just my opinion, for what it’s worth.

That is a minor quibble though. The story moves along nicely, and it is always good to end a book with a smile. I love the happily ever after found here.

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE TROUBLE WITH COWBOYS by Victoria James. Entangled: Amara (March 26, 2019). ISBN 978-1640635418.  320p.

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THE COWBOY NEXT DOOR by R.C. Ryan

February 26, 2019

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Montana Strong, Book 2

From the publisher:

From New York Times bestselling author who “delivers it all with page-turning romance” (Nora Roberts) comes a story about a down-on-her-luck teacher, a carefree cowboy, and finding second chances in the most unlikely places.
After weeks on the trail, Sam Monroe is looking forward to a hot bath, a home-cooked meal, and a real bed. In that order. But he’s greeted by something even better when he opens the door to his family’s ranch house. Seems the new housekeeper is a gorgeous young woman who cooks like an angel and wrangles his family like a pro. If only she didn’t dislike him so much…
Penny Cash is down on her luck, and the last thing she needs is a flirtation with a wild, carefree cowboy. Sure, he’s funny and sexy, but they’re as different as whiskey and tea. And she’ll be leaving town as soon as she finds a full-time teaching position. But when trouble comes calling, Penny will find out how serious Sam can be when it comes to protecting the woman he loves…

This second entry into the Montana Strong series lived up to my expectations – an how often do I get to say that. The first book, Cowboy on My Mind, had some suspense running through the story, this book does not, which was fine with me. I think this series is probably best read in order, although there are enough explanations in this book to make the reader feel comfortable if they haven’t read the first book, but not too many to be annoying. It really is a fine line and Ryan did it admirably.

It is the characters that drive these stories and they are all well developed. We learn about Sam and Penny as they learn about each other, and the rest of the characters are brought to life as well. I felt like I knew these people. The setting, a Montana ranch that abuts a small town, is equally well described and so real I could almost smell the long neck beers.  Penny Cash, aka Ms. Money, had a silly name but do a lot of real people so why not.

These books are charming, fun and a little bit sexy without being too explicit. I read these first two books in a few hours and enjoyed every minute. Looking forward to the next installment.

2/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE COWBOY NEXT DOOR by R.C. Ryan. Forever (February 26, 2019). ISBN 978-1538711170.  464p..

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COWBOY ON MY MIND by R.C. Ryan

February 10, 2019

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Montana Strong, Book 1

From the publisher:

A heartwarming western romance about a cowboy who gets a second chance with his first love in the rugged beauty of the Montana mountains. . .
Ben Monroe was the ultimate bad boy – and everyone in Haller Creek knew it. But now as a sheriff’s deputy, Ben spends his time breaking up bar fights rather than starting them, and staying away from trouble…until Becca Henderson comes back into town. She’s just as beautiful as Ben remembers – and just as far out of his reach.
Coming home is exactly what Becca Henderson needed. A place of her own, a successful new business, and a chance to reconnect with the sexy cowboy she had a crush on in school. Ben has always blazed his own path and never let anyone stand in his way. It excites-and scares-her. But when an unexpected threat surfaces, Becca will see just how far Ben will go to protect the woman he loves-and fight for their chance at forever.

 


This book started out very dark in the prologue, but quickly moved into the light and a wonderful story. I loved these characters, the back story, and the setting. As a Floridian, I love reading about the seasons, just not living through them! Snow on the pages is beautiful though and Ryan does a really good job of bringing the small Montana ranching community to life. But it’s the characters that really make this story. Even the secondary characters are well developed and have interesting lives indeed.

This is a variation of the childhood sweethearts romance. Ben and Becca grew up in this same small town, but never really dated. But they both harbored secret crushes and are scared to move forward now that they are adults. All that insecurity, on both sides, increases the tension and keeps the pages turning.

There is a also a bit of suspense. There is someone driving through town taking potshots at pedestrians and it happens a few times, with no deaths thank goodness. But who is being targeted and why slowly unfurls and there is quite the dramatic denouement.

I highly recommend this series to fans of contemporary cowboy romances. If you haven’t tried one of these, this is a terrific series to try. I ripped through the first two books in this series in a day and a half. The second book, The Cowboy Next Door, comes out Feb. 26. The review will be posted then.

2/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

COWBOY ON MY MIND by R.C. Ryan. Forever (June 26, 2018). ISBN 978-1538711156. .964p.

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