May 24, 2018

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Scandal & Scoundrel, Book III

Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, is a very ambitious man. He has worked his way up through the government as one of their best spies, and his dream job is in sight but just out of reach. To get the job, he needs a wife.

Spies do not make the best husbands. They are secretive and travel extensively, but that is not Bebingstoke’s problem. He is, in fact, already married, but shortly after he wed, his wife left him and moved to France. They have been out of touch for many years. But he needs her to get this promotion, so off to France he goes.

Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, has grown quite to used to being on her own. When her husband shows up, they strike a deal to have her return to England. They were once very much in love, but neither was mature enough or strong enough to make the marriage work. This is their second chance, not that either one of them will admit it.

This was a very enjoyable read with a lot of wit and some heat. I don’t think I read the earlier books in the series and it didn’t seem to matter. Well done.

5/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE DAY OF THE DUCHESS by Sarah MacLean. Avon; Reissue edition (June 27, 2017). ISBN 978-0062379436.  400p.



May 12, 2018

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Penhallow Dynasty, Book 3

I truly hate writing negative reviews but I stuck with it and read the whole thing, so I’m going to review it. Read on…

From the publisher:

Lisa Berne’s Penhallow Dynasty continues with a pair of star-crossed childhood friends who meet again years later—and find love where they least expect it . . .

Katherine Brooke may be a fabulously wealthy heiress, but she’s trapped, a pawn in her parents’ ruthless game to marry her into the nobility. Then Captain Hugo Penhallow—so charming, as handsome as a Greek god—comes into her life once more, and suddenly she sees a chance to be free.

As a Penhallow, his is one of the highest names in the land, but still his family is facing ruin. So Katherine boldly proposes an exchange: his name for her money. But only if Hugo understands it’s merely a practical arrangement, and that she’s not surrendering herself entirely.

Back from eight years in America and determined to give his younger siblings a better life, Hugo agrees. He’s never fallen in love, so why not? Yet neither of them guesses that this marriage will become far, far more than they ever dreamed of . . .

This is my first book by this author and it is a Regency romance, which are usually pretty witty. This one, not so much. I also didn’t care for the writing style, it seemed a bit childish to me. Or the characters were childish, I can’t say exactly. They were very one dimensional for sure.

The setting was interesting and the storyline was good but I just couldn’t get past the lack of character development and the writing. To be fair, maybe if I had read the first two books in the series the characters would have come to life for me but I’ll never know. I didn’t like this one enough to go read the first two. There are so many wonderful romances out there that this one just felt very mediocre to me.

5/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE BRIDE TAKES A GROOM by Lisa Berne. Avon (April 24, 2018). ISBN 978-0062451828.  384p.


SOMEONE TO CARE by Mary Balogh

May 2, 2018

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A Westcott Novel, Book 4

Just when I was truly starting to think that there are more young, handsome Dukes in England than shells on the beach, Mary Balogh pulls a fast one on me. I don’t think I’ve ever read a historical romance about people in their forties. Yes, middle aged people who are lusty! Want companionship! Have fun! Until it all comes crashing down on them.

Viola Kingsley was stripped of her title, Countess of Riverdale, when it turns out their was a bit of bigamy going on. The family is lovely though, and they all stick together, but she is tired of it all and wants to escape, by herself, for just a little while.

Marcel Lamarr is shocked to see the countess all by herself at an inn. He has been widowed for many years, and has the well earned reputation of being a terrific womanizer. He always had a crust on Viola, so he is determined to try and have a fling with her now that appears to be somewhat vulnerable.

Lamarr’s plan works, and he suggests they rendezvous at a house he owns in the country. They have a lovely time, but both are falling in love and refuse to recognize it. Until their children show up, worried and now upset to find them alone like this. Lamarr announces their engagement, which mollifies everyone but Viola, because even at this age, true love can not be conquered without a lot of trouble.

Another terrific read from Balogh. Her fans will love it, as will new readers.

5/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SOMEONE TO CARE by Mary Balogh. Berkley (May 1, 2018). ISBN 978-0399586088.  384p.



April 28, 2018

PERFECT DUCHESS by Erica TaylorThe Macalisters, Book 2

Lady Clara Masson badly wants to attend the Mcallister birthday ball. Her brother is her guardian, and he has been spreading vicious rumors about her ever since her twin sister jilted the Duke at the altar and disappeared. The ton enjoys nothing more than good gossip, so Lady Clara hasn’t been receiving many invitations. But off to the ball she goes, where she rekindles her friendship with Andrew, the jilted Duke of Bradstone.

When her reputation is further compromised, Andrew feels obligated to offer for her. Although they both have feelings for one another, neither is willing to believe it until circumstances force them to find their happily ever after.

This is a good Regency romance, witty with a bit of sensuality as well, and a very enjoyable read.

4/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE PERFECT DUCHESS by Erica Taylor. Amberjack Publishing (April 17, 2018). ISBN 978-1944995577. 392p.

THE SOUL OF A THIEF by Steven Hartov

April 27, 2018

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A really well done book dealing with war is generally anti-war in the final analysis. Certainly “The Soul of a Thief” is well done by any measure.

It is set during the final years of the Second World War and deals with a soldier serving with a unit of the German SS, a particularly crack unit with much glory attached to it’s record. Shtefan Brandt has been forced into the unit by circumstances beyond his control but is in no way enamored with becoming a hero and bringing glory upon himself. By chance Shtefan becomes the adjutant to the colonel commanding and eventually feels himself lucky to have this position. Shtefan by then current German law should not have been allowed to serve in the army since his grandmother was Jewish. His commander may or may not be aware of this but Erich Himmel not only brings Shtefan into the prominent position he holds but also treats him as he would a relative.

The unit sees action throughout Germany and France but also on the Russian front. They comport themselves as brave and loyal soldiers should with Himmel setting the pace with his solid leadership. While stationed in a town that has French citizens living there Col. Himmel discovers a nurse working at the hospital treating German wounded. Gabrielle Belmont is a beautiful girl and a good nurse. She is also Jewish and supposed to be beneath the attention of a German officer. But Himmel finds her very attractive and forces Gabrielle into a relationship with him. She must submit to his attentions or he will kill a group of Jewish orphans held in the area. In getting his colonel and Gabrielle together for evenings of love Shtefan and Gabrielle fall in love; a love that could have both of them executed if Himmel finds out.

The final complication is reached when Himmel receives information that a certain train carrying Nazi treasure will be traveling through the area that Allied soldiers will be marching through after their successful invasion of Normandy. Himmel makes the decision to desert a war effort that certainly looks like a losing fight for Germany. He plans to hijack the train take the treasure and desert the army and his German wife taking Gabrielle with him to a refuge planned for South America. Shtefan finds out what his colonel is planning and obviously wants the exact same thing for himself and Gabrielle.

A beautifully written book with extremely well done characterizations will not disappoint readers that will certainly be unable to set the novel down without finishing it. An extremely well done adventure into a bygone period of total war and a novel that left me with a warm feeling of having experienced something beyond the normal in its reading.

4/18 Paul Lane

THE SOUL OF A THIEF by Steven Hartov. Hanover Square Press (April 17, 2018).  ISBN 978-1335144577. 304p.


April 24, 2018

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The Four Hundred Series, Book 2

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, A Daring Arrangement, and this one was just as good. This is historical but unlike the Regencies I usually read, this one is set during the Gilded Age in New York City, and the cover is refreshingly modern. I’m pretty sure my husband has that shirt…

Lady Eva Hyde is sailing from England to America when she meets Phillip, a gorgeous man on board the ship. Due to inclement weather, they are the last two standing on the final night at sea and enjoy dinner together along with quite a bit of champagne, followed by a rather clandestine meeting in his room. Eva has never felt the kind of attraction she has for this man, and he is rather swept away as well. Much to his chagrin, Eva disappears before he awakens and he cannot find her nor anyone with the name she gave him on board.

Eva is in New York to work. Her father is a world famous architect who has succumbed to an Alzheimer’s type disease. Eva has studied with him for most of her life, and when this job came in – to design the finest hotel in New York City, she leapt at it. Her father had made many bad investments, leaving them penniless and she was desperate to earn some money. But women are not welcome on a construction site as she well knows, so she is going to pass herself off as a representative of her father, who she claims has fallen ill but should be in NY in a matter of weeks. Plus there is the problem of Eva’s romantic past – her father had arranged a marriage for her three times, but one after another of her fiances met an untimely death, earning her the nickname “Lady Unlucky.” She had nothing to do with their deaths but still…

To her horror, the man who is building the hotel is, of course, Phillip. The attraction is still there, stronger than ever, but the work must come first and that is not going to be easy. I loved the whole feminist angle of this story almost as much as the romance, especially when I read the author’s note that explained the impetus for the book came when she found out that a woman architect, Julia Morgan, had designed Hearst Castle in the early part of the twentieth century.

The passion felt real, the odds of this couple getting together were almost insurmountable, and the characters rang true. The tidbits about the history of New York were just an added bonus. This was a terrific one night read for me, I really loved it.

4/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A SCANDALOUS DEAL by Joanna Shupe. Avon (April 24, 2018). ISBN 978-0062678911.  384p.


BETTING THE SCOT by Jennifer Trethewey

April 23, 2018

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I finally found a terrific romance in my quest to find a Scottish romance that I could enjoy despite it not being written by Diana Gabaldon, It’s only available as an ebook or audiobook though.

Declan Sinclair is a Highlander who has always had strong dreams about his future, and believes his dreams never lie. He has been dreaming about a blonde woman that he is convinced is his future wife. He is at a tavern with his friends when he sees a woman who looks just like his dream woman. She is at a table with a man, but Declan can’t help staring at her and she apparently can’t help staring back at him.

Eventually he learns that the man is her brother and a bit of a snob. When they end up in a card game, Declan takes all his money until he finally bets his sister – and Declan wins. He is uncomfortable with the idea of winning his bride, but also determined to marry her.

Caya is beautiful, and the reason she is even in Scotland is because her brother sold her to an Irish fisherman to pay off his debts. She is supposed to marry this fisherman, so when her brother tells her instead she is to marry the Highlander, she is happy to switch. At least he is good looking and she is attracted to him, trading one arranged marriage for another is not a big deal apparently.

Except when the fisherman appears looking for his wife, all sorts of trouble ensues. Then when Declan brings his bride home, his uncle, the laird, absolutely forbids him to marry a woman he won in a card game. Lots of obstacles get in the way but true love always finds its happily ever after.

This was a sweet read despite some violence, a minimum of sex but a really nice love story.

4/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

BETTING THE SCOT by Jennifer Trethewey. Entangled: Amara (April 23, 2018).  ASIN B07C9Y4JNW.


April 20, 2018

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The Jack McColl Series, Book 4

The fourth, and announced as the final book featuring Jack McColl and his love Caitlin Hanley during the period just before, during and after World War I. Book three left Jack in prison in England serving a trumped up sentence and Caitlin leaving Jack in order to stay in post revolutionary Russia to help work on details of the Communist Revolution.

The opening of this novel has Jack offered a pardon if he will go to Russia to spy on members of the newly formed MI5, apparently plotting high level assassination plans. Jack goes and Caitlin is, of course, in Russia. The strength of the book is in Downing’s thoroughly researched details of the world just after the war to end all wars ends. Russia is depicted in the turmoil of a myriad of battles during her revolution between the many factions emerging to try and take power. Lenin has become the head of state and the Russian government’s ability to help it’s people is virtually nil. Scenes of mass starvation, mass murder and a country devoid of any semblance of law and order are painted in plain prose.

Entering into the mix are the supposed planned assassinations of Gandhi and the British Prince of Wales in India by Russian groups. Also Caitlin has married in the period between the books and that is the proverbial sticky wicket between Jack and her getting together again.

Downing has Jack completely disappointed in England for sending so many young men to die needlessly in World War I and undoubtedly this reflects the author’s opinion. The first three books adequately described the carnage engendered by the battles of men using modern weapons against a foe entrenched just a few yards away. The book and the series ends with a climax that reflects Downing’s opinion and is the only possible logical ending. A complete series about a period now more than a century ago. It is certain that Downing will entertain his readers again, and I trust very shortly.

4/18 Paul Lane

THE DARK CLOUDS SHINING by David Downing. Soho Crime (April 10, 2018).  ISBN 978-1616956066. 384p.


April 18, 2018

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The Worthingtons, Book 4

I picked up this book thinking it was a Julia Quinn book! I haven’t read Ella Quinn before and starting this series with book 4 was probably not the best idea but I didn’t realize that until I was already emeshed.

The Worthingtons are a large, somewhat confusing family unless you’ve read the previous books in the series (I assume.) But I muddled through and by the end, I still wasn’t clear on all the relationships but the main story was fine, so I’ll just stick with that.

Lady Charlotte Carpenter was kidnapped, apparently a common occurence in her family and in Regency England, who knew. But Lady Charlotte isn’t your typical British heroine, prone to vapors and hissy fits. She is a level headed young woman who has been trained in the art of lock picking, in how to use a gun and a knife, something else I wasn’t aware of as life skills taught young women at the time. But I digress.

Lady Charlotte is taken to an inn, where she is held prisoner. She is rescued by Constantine, Marquis of Kenilworth, who sneaks her out in the dead of night. But when he gets lost in trying to take her home, they are seen together and he knows her reputation will be ruined. So he announces their engagement, despite the fact they don’t know each other. But Lady Charlotte isn’t so sure she wants to marry the dashing Marquis. She has seen him at the theater in the company of courtesans, and she strongly disapproves.

Kenilworth works hard to woo her, realizing she is the right woman for him and she fights him every step of the way – until she gives in. This is a Regency romance so it is witty and the sex is not too explicit. The kidnapping angle was interesting and the romance was fun, but I would strongly recommend reading these books in order.

4/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE MARQUIS AND I by Ella Quinn. Zebra (February 27, 2018). ISBN 978-1420145168.  400p.



April 7, 2018

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Dear Lady Truelove, Book 2

Clara Deverill must be the best sister in the world, for as her sister leaves town, Clara is left with the unenviable task of running the family newspaper and answering the lovelorn letters column. She is woefully inexperienced with both, but she is excellent at eavesdropping. When she overhears Rex Galbraith, a local rake, explaining to his friend how to keep from making a commitment and still keep his woman, she takes notes and uses that advice in her column.

Rex is not too happy to see his words in print, and when his friend’s lady reads the column, it all blows up. Rex ends up in a rather odd arrangement with Clara, and they both learn quite a bit about how the heart works. The hate-at-first-sight slowly turns to love, and it is fun to watch.

Another excellent addition to the genre – witty, intelligent and pure escapism.

4/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE TROUBLE WITH TRUE LOVE by Laura Lee Guhrke. Avon; Reissue edition (January 30, 2018). ISBN 978-0062469878.  384p.