September 22, 2018

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Girl Meets Duke Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart . . . without risking her own.

The infamous rake

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling . . . and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

I love Tessa Dare and this is a really good example of why. Her writing is crisp, the dialogue is fast and funny, the pages fly by and the characters come to life on the page. Dare takes things even further by making her heroine half-mestiza Filipino. Diversity is a wonderful thing and I am happy to see traditional authors expanding their horizons from the of-so-white world of Regency England. Many authors create strong female heroines that behave in ways that are completely out of character for the time period, so why not mix up the races, too. The point is not belabored by any means, but just is. And it works.

Another excellent addition to Dare’s body of work.

9/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE GOVERNESS GAME by Tessa Dare. Avon (August 28, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062672124. 384p.





September 18, 2018

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School for Dukes, Book 2

Did you know if you pre-order a book from Amazon, they will have it at your door on publication day?

From the publisher:

If adventure has a name…it must be Lady India Rochester. The intrepid archaeologist possesses a sharp blade and an even sharper knack for uncovering history’s forgotten women. Unfortunately, she has one annoying weakness: the dangerously handsome Duke of Ravenwood. Former best friend. Current enemy. And the man who dared to break her heart.

Daniel Bonds, the Duke of Ravenwood, is a thrill-seeking antiquities hunter who only plays by one rule: Never fall in love. He’s in it for the fortune and glory. At least that’s what he wants the world to think. He’s sworn to hide his tangled web of secrets, especially from the one woman he cares about and will protect at any cost.

But when a priceless relic is stolen from the British Museum, the rivals must align forces. Racing to recover the stolen antiquity and avert an international disaster? All in a day’s work. Avoiding their buried feelings? More and more impossible. For love is about to become the greatest treasure of all.

This was more a tale of intrigue than romance, but neither premise was fulfilled. Lady Danger, a fabulous nickname, is undoubtedly one of the strongest yet least believable characters in a historical romance. I think I’ve just read too many of these to buy her story. She takes a lover because she wants to. She is an archaeologist traveling the world unaccompanied by any sort of chaperone, and her brother is a duke. She has a marriage contract with the Duke of Ravenwood that she has no desire to fulfill. Or does she?

The Duke is a spy, a rather unlikely one at that. His reputation of being an incorrigible rake is a fabulous disguise, but when it comes to his childhood friend Indy, all bets are off. If he can’t keep his distance from her, he is a goner and in this book, they are thrust together until they figure out how to get to their happy ending.

There is a pervasive feeling of suspense throughout this story, with multiple bad guys and danger lurking around every corner. Despite the feminist heavy handedness, which is certainly odd in this time period, I did enjoy this book but I would have liked it more had it been more believable.

Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FOR THE DUKE’S EYES ONLY by Lenora Bell. Avon (September 18, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062692498. 384p.



WHAT ALES THE EARL by Sally MacKenzie

September 14, 2018

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Widow’s Brew Series, Book 1

From the publisher:

Scandal does not define the “fallen” ladies of Puddledon Manor’s Benevolent Home. Instead, it’s a recipe for an intoxicating new future as the women combine their talents—to operate their own brewery and alehouse . . .

When Penelope Barnes arrived at the Home with her young daughter, she discovered a knack for horticulture—and for cultivating the hops needed to produce a superlative pint. She put her scandalous affair with Harry Graham firmly in the past, along with the wrenching pain she felt when he went off to war. After all, she’d always known a farmer’s daughter had no future with an earl’s son. Now she has the pleasant memory of their passion, and she has little Harriet, for whom she would do anything—even marry a boring country vicar . . .

Harry went off to fight for the Crown unaware that his delightful interlude with his childhood friend had permanent consequences. Now he’s back in England, catapulted into the title by his brother’s untimely death. He sorely misses his former life of unfettered adventure, so when he has reason to explore Little Puddledon, he jumps at the chance. But what he finds there is something—and someone—he never knew he’d lost, and a once forbidden love whose time has come, if only he can persuade Pen he’s home to stay.

This was my first time reading this author. I had read a review that emphasized the strong female character, which intrigued me, so I borrowed the book from my library.

I did like these characters but I would have liked the secondary characters fleshed out a bit more, especially since this is an introduction to a new series. There are a few strong women here but we don’t learn much about them other than the bare basics. Same with all the other characters in this book, other than the main characters they are just names on a page.

At this point, I have read many historical romances of the “royalty can’t marry a commoner, or can he/she” ilk and it is not my favorite. The royalty in question here, the Earl, is bound and determined to marry another royal for the purposes of breeding, but he also plans to live his own life. A loveless marriage, but one that ensures the line continues, and in this case, an example set by the Earl’s parents. This one suffers from the same problem I have with many of these, the sudden light bulb moment near the end of the book of “I’m a  ____ (insert title of your choice) so I can marry whomever I please” moment which leads to the happy ending.

This book ends rather abruptly but with the requisite happy ending. While it wasn’t my favorite, I liked it well enough to look for the next book in the series. I always remain hopeful.

9/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WHAT ALES THE EARL by Sally MacKenzie. Zebra (July 31, 2018).  ISBN 978-1420146714. 352p.




August 23, 2018

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Sins for All Seasons, Book 2

I actually started this series with the first book (Beyond Scandal & Desire) which I really enjoyed, and this is an excellent continuation.

The series centers around a family of, for lack of a better word, bastards that a poor widow took in. None are related by blood but they are all as close as siblings usually are. The youngest is actually the mother’s only natural child, and one of two girls, and this book centers on the older girl, Gillie Trewlove.

Gillie is a most independent woman, raised to stand on her own two feet and take care of herself. Yes, she has four very tough brothers to look out for her, but even as a young child she was fiercely independent. In this story, she is thirtyish, unmarried and owns a tavern. She dressed as a boy for most of her childhood, and her mother’s dire warnings about getting pregnant have her binding her breasts and dressing in shapeless clothes as her regular attire. She is used to being ignored by men and is fine with that.

One night after closing the tavern, she hears a scuffle out back and goes to investigate. There she finds a man being beaten & robbed by four men, who run off as she approaches, leaving him for dead. He is severely wounded, and Gillie takes him upstairs to her apartment over the tavern and nurses him back to health. He is the most beautiful man she has ever seen, and he finds her most attractive and intriguing as well.

Turns out that man is Thorne, a Duke. He had been left at the altar earlier that day and was trying to find his runaway bride when he was attacked. Gillie helps him search for days, and they get to know one another in the process and fall in love. But neither can or will admit it or act upon it, at least not for a long while.

Gillie knows that the Duke must marry someone in duty to his family, not for love, and she has no interest in marrying into royalty or really anyone, as then her tavern would become her husband’s property. Eventually they work through their difficulties to find their happily ever after, and have some of the steamy love scenes that Heath is known for in the process.

I was a bit annoyed by the whole duke-can’t-marry-a-commoner issue as in my admittedly limited experience in the genre, Dukes generally do whatever the hell they want and the ton learns to deal with it. Beyond that minor quibble, it was a most enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WHEN A DUKE LOVES A WOMAN by Lorraine Heath. Sourcebooks Casablanca (July 31, 2018).  ISBN 978-1492663355. 352p.



ALL DRESSED IN WHITE by Charis Michaels

August 21, 2018

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The Brides of Belgravia, Book 2

Tessa St. Croix and two of her friends post an advertisement for husbands, offering a large dowry. They are hoping to find husbands who will take the money and basically run, leaving them to live their lives as they want, as respectable married women who happen to live by themselves.

Joseph Chance and two of his friends respond to the ad. Chance is a self made man, quite wealthy but he has an idea for a business venture that needs an infusion of cash. His friends are all in, so they marry the women, and plan to leave on their adventure. But for the couple of weeks they court, Joseph finds himself falling for Tessa, and she seems to be falling for him as well.

Then on their wedding night, Tessa reveals an ugly secret, and Joseph is heartbroken and furious. He leaves, their marriage unconsummated, and is gone for months. Tessa is also heartbroken but feels she had no choice. She would like to make amends, if possible, so when he returns they slowly, cautiously try and find their way back towards one another.

Love heals all wounds, of course, at least in romance novels and this is no exception. I enjoyed spending time with these characters, although Tessa was often maddening. I suppose that just added to the tension though. An enjoyable romance. I imagine the two friends will each get their own story in the next couple of books – or maybe they already did? Once again I didn’t read the first book in the series so I’m at a loss, sorry.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ALL DRESSED IN WHITE by Charis Michaels. Avon Impulse (August 21, 2018). ASIN: B07238XNZG. 384p. eBook only.


BRAVE NEW EARL by Jane Ashford

August 19, 2018

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The Way to a Lord’s Heart, Book 1

The Earl of Furness, Benjamin Romilly, was heartbroken when his wife died. Left behind was his son who looks so much like his lost wife, the Earl can barely stand to look at him. Left in the care of servants and an orphan boy slightly older than the child, he is a child run wild, to say the least. Then the countess’s cousin, Miss Jean Saunders arrives to determine whether or not to take the boy away, which seems to awaken the Earl to his surroundings.

Jean’s circumstances are not exactly what she purports them to be, and the Earl finds himself both intrigued and alarmed by the woman. Theirs is a tempestuous relationship, which lightens this read that deals primarily with grief.

The romance is on the sweet, sentimental side for sure with a bit of humor thrown in now and then, which it desperately needs as otherwise it would be a tad maudlin. I liked it and will read more of this series as it becomes available. Yes, I actually started a series with the first book (don’t get used to it, heaven knows I won’t!)

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BRAVE NEW EARL by Jane Ashford. Sourcebooks Casablanca (July 31, 2018).  ISBN 978-1492663355. 352p.




August 18, 2018

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A Season for Scandal, Book 3

From the publisher:

2017 RITA award winning author!

Their love was always in the cards.
He should have thrown her out. But when club owner Alexander Lavoie catches a mysterious blonde counting cards at his vingt-et-un table, he’s more intrigued than angry. He has to see more of this beauty-in his club, in his office, in his bed. But first he’ll have to devise a proposition she can’t turn down.

Gossip said he was an assassin. Common sense told her to stay away. But Angelique Archer was desperate, and Lavoie’s club offered a surefire way to make quick money-until she got caught. Instead of throwing her out though, the devil offers her a deal: come work for him. Refusing him means facing starvation, but with a man so sinfully handsome and fiercely protective, keeping things professional might prove impossible…

This was a terrific historical romance, and a little different than most. The main characters aren’t trying to marry royalty, for starters. Alex has many rumors swirling around him but his main occupation is running a high end gambling establishment. Angelique is a brilliant woman with a gift for numbers, also most unusual, for this time period especially.

The setting is interesting, the characters are skillfully brought to life and believeable, and I loved their struggles. There are some good backstories here and a mystery. A very good read.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DUKE by Kelly Bowen. Forever (January 31, 2017).  ISBN 978-1455563418. 352p.



August 8, 2018

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A Collection of Outlander Fiction

As regular readers know, Diana Gabaldon is on the shortlist of my favorite writers. SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR TO FALL is a collection of the novellas that have previously been published as Kindle Singles and such, now collected in this anthology and now out in paperback. I have not read the Lord John Grey stories as I read the first of that mystery series and it wasn’t for me. But I have read the Outlander novellas and they are fabulous!

SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL begins with “The Custom of the Army,” and Lord John Grey being shocked by an electric eel and ends at the Battle of Quebec. Then comes “The Space Between,” where it is revealed that the Comte St. Germain is not dead, Master Raymond appears, and a widowed young wine dealer escorts a would-be novice to a convent in Paris. In “A Plague of Zombies,” Lord John unexpectedly becomes military governor of Jamaica when the original governor is gnawed by what probably wasn’t a giant rat.

A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows” is the moving story of Roger MacKenzie’s parents during World War II. In “Virgins,” Jamie Fraser, aged nineteen, and Ian Murray, aged twenty, become mercenaries in France, no matter that neither has yet bedded a lass or killed a man. But they’re trying… “A Fugitive Green” is the story of Lord John’s elder brother, Hal, and a seventeen-year-old rare book dealer with a sideline in theft, forgery, and blackmail. And finally, in “Besieged,” Lord John learns that his mother is in Havana—and that the British Navy is on their way to lay siege to the city.

Filling in mesmerizing chapters in the lives of characters that readers have followed over the course of thousands of pages, Gabaldon’s genius is on full display throughout this must-have collection.

Diana Gabaldon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular Outlander novels—Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (for which she won a Quill Award and the Corine International Book Prize), An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood—as well as the related Lord John Grey books Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, and The Scottish Prisoner; two works of nonfiction, The Outlandish Companion, Volumes 1 and 2; the Outlander graphic novel The Exile; and The Official Outlander Coloring Book. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband.

BORN TO BE WILDE by Eloisa James

July 30, 2018

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The Wildes of Lindow Castle, Book 3

From the publisher:

The richest bachelor in England plays matchmaker…for an heiress he wants for himself!

For beautiful, witty Lavinia Gray, there’s only one thing worse than having to ask the appalling Parth Sterling to marry her: being turned down by him.

Now the richest bachelor in England, Parth is not about to marry a woman as reckless and fashion-obsessed as Lavinia; he’s chosen a far more suitable bride.

But when he learns of Lavinia’s desperate circumstances, he offers to find her a husband. Even better, he’ll find her a prince.

As usual, there’s no problem Parth can’t fix. But the more time he spends with the beguiling Lavinia, the more he finds himself wondering…

Why does the woman who’s completely wrong feel so right in his arms?

This is a series I’ve read in order. I loved the first book, Wilde in Love, but I didn’t love the second book, which was most unusual for me as Eloisa James is one of my favorites. So it was with some trepidation that I read this one, but I am happy to say I loved it! Thank you, Eloisa.

These characters were well developed and I liked that Parth was biracial, you don’t see that a lot in Regency romances. The chemistry felt real and the sex scenes were hot but scarce. It was more about the relationship than the sex, not a bad thing in my opinion. The witty banter was good, too.

This book had a very interesting subplot dealing with laudanum addition. In the late 1700’s, women were often prescribed “drops” to calm their nerves and some became addicted. In light of the opioid addiction going on today, it was definitely worth pointing out the historical connection.

Another subplot dealt with the fashion of the day, how it was produced and the men and women in that industry. Parth owns a lace factory but his lace is not considered as fine as the handmade lace of Europe. The seamstresses are expected to work 18 hour days in poor lighting until Lavinia takes them on. There is a really touching scene where one of the maids explains to Lavinia how rare it is for a seamstress to be listened to and cared for, and that is rather extraordinary. James included some notes about these subplots at the end of the book. I really like when authors do that, especially in historicals. Those details make these types of book so much more interesting.

I am happy to say that I can highly recommend this as a fun, fast read that I couldn’t put down.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BORN TO BE WILDE by Eloisa James.  Avon (July 31, 2018). ISBN: 978-0062692474. 384p.


THE DUKE BUYS A BRIDE by Sophie Jordan

July 24, 2018

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The Rogue Files, Book 3

This was such a fun read!

Alyse Bell was orphaned at age 15 and her father arranged a “marriage” to a friend so she would be protected. The marriage meant she would take care of all the man’s children but the marriage was never consummated. Seven years later he wants to marry a local widow, so arranges for Alyse to be sold at auction, avoiding the complications and expense of a divorce.

Alyse’s childhood friend is supposed to be at the auction to purchase her, but he doesn’t show. Instead, things get ribald and scary, until a man comes riding in to save her. That man is the Duke of Autenberry, who has basically run away from problems at home. He doesn’t get along with his father and needs some time to be alone. He is terribly hungover but his conscience won’t allow him to leave the poor girl so he purchases her. He quickly informs her that they are not married and he doesn’t want her for a wife. He doesn’t tell her he is a Duke but she knows he has money.

Autenberry takes her on a road trip to his home in the Scottish Highlands. He’s never actually been there but it is remote enough to give him the solitude he seeks. He offers Alyse a position as housekeeper and she figures it is a good deal. Except while they are on the road, they are forced to share a bed on several occasions and the next thing you know, there is some serious chemistry going on there.

This was a really good romance with likable characters, steamy sex, and an interesting story. Another excellent read from one of my favorite authors.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE DUKE BUYS A BRIDE by Sophie Jordan. Avon (July 24, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062463647. 368p.