May 16, 2020

THE VIRGIN AND THE ROGUE by Sophie Jordan. Forever (April 28, 2020). ISBN 978-1538700327. 384p.



A DUKE BY ANY OTHER NAME by Grace Burrowes

May 11, 2020

A DUKE BY ANY OTHER NAME by Grace Burrowes. Forever (April 28, 2020). ISBN 978-1538700327. 384p.




April 28, 2020


Sons of Sinclair, Book 1

From the publisher:

Cain Sinclair has a plan. In order to finally bring peace to his clan, he will wed the young female chief of their greatest enemy. Only problem: capturing her and forcing her back to Sinclair castle doesn’t exactly make her want to say yes. Ella Sutherland may be clever, passionate, and shockingly beautiful, but what she isn’t is willing.

Every attempt Cain makes to woo her seems to backfire on him. A gift? The kitten practically claws his eyes out. A competitive game of chess? Even when he wins, he loses. It seems the only time the two ever see eye to eye is when they’re heating up Cain’s bed. Still, the only thing Ella truly wants is the one thing he cannot offer her: freedom.

But when Cain discovers she’s been harboring a secret―one that could threaten both clans’ very existence―he’ll have to decide between peace for the Sinclairs or the woman who’s captured his heart.

I was first introduced to Scottish historical romance from the incredible Diana Gabaldon, and she sort of spoiled me for any other writers. But it takes her years to write a book, so I’ve read a bunch of other authors. This was my first read from this author, and this book is set way earlier than anything else I’ve read. It opens in 1589! It was a more brutal time period for sure, and though there are some battles depicted and discussed, they are much more in the background. Other than when our hero and heroine meet.

The Sinclair clan killed the Sutherland chief, leaving his only child, his daughter Ella, as chief. So it is not really a surprise that she leads the charge to kill the Sinclair chief, making his eldest son Cain the new chief of the clan. Ella is captured, and Cain, who is smarter and more strategic than his war-loving father, decides that by marrying Ella, he will be able to take over the Sutherland clan without any bloodshed. Except she doesn’t want to marry him; in fact, she asks him to kill her.

Cain’s mind is made up but he realizes he will need to convince Ella so he sets about trying to do that. He has some success, but like any good romance, for every step forward, there is a half step backward. But as they spend more time together, Cain learns to appreciate Ella’s sharp mind, and Ella learns to appreciate Cain’s even temperament and willingness to listen.

There is a lot of action in this story, and it was a real page-turner for me. I enjoyed learning about how people lived in that time period, and I really appreciated the author’s notes at the end, giving it even more context. I am looking forward to the next book in the series!

4/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HIGHLAND CONQUEST by Heather McCollum. Entangled: Amara (April 28, 2020).  ISBN 978-1640637474. 384p.



April 21, 2020

FIRST COMES SCANDAL by Julia Quinn. Avon (April 21, 2020). ISBN 978-0062956163. 384p.





April 5, 2020

THE EARL NOT TAKEN by A.S. Fenichel. Lyrical Press (March 17, 2020). ISBN 978-1516110544. 219p.


PRINCE OF SPIES by Alex Gerlis

March 25, 2020


The Richard Prince Thrillers, Book 1

From the publisher:

Find the truth; risk everything. A gripping WWII spy novel full of intrigue and peril from a modern master.

1942: A German spy comes ashore on a desolate stretch of Lincolnshire beach. But he is hunted down by a young detective, Richard Prince. The secret services have need of a man like him…

In occupied Europe, Denmark is a hotbed of problems for British intelligence. Rumours of a war-ending weapon being developed by the Germans are rife.

Sent to Copenhagen, Prince is soon caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse. Dodging Gestapo agents, SS muscle and the danger of betrayal, his survival – and the war effort – hangs in the balance.

Gripping and intense, Prince of Spies is the first in a new espionage series that will delight fans of Alan Furst, Philip Kerr and John le Carré.

Alex Gerlis initiates a planned series of novels revolving around Richard Prince, who is by vocation a detective in London. His activities are picked up in the midst of World War II in 1944. Prince already has earned a reputation as a hard worker, a very intelligent and savvy detective and one with a bright future in police work. He has the idea that he would like to do more, increasing his own reputation and earning promotion from the agency he works for.

The opportunity arises in a big way when Prince masterminds the capture of a Nazi spy that has secretly entered the country and who tells of secret weapons the Nazis are developing which could let them win the war. The center of the activity by Germany seems to be centered in Denmark, which is currently occupied by the Nazi army.

The British deem it necessary to get an agent into Copenhagen to begin investigating the facts about the planned weapon. Prince is fluent in Danish due to having lived in Denmark at one point in his youth. He is approached by the British Secret Service and asked if he will take on the mission. Nervous, but anxious to further develop his skills Richard accepts the assignment and is smuggled into Copenhagen.

The events depicted take Prince into Denmark, Germany, and a neutral Sweden while searching for information on what type of weapon is being developed and then where the manufacturing process is centered. Along the way, he meets a woman assigned to help him in Denmark which leads him into a love affair. In addition another woman, actually a member of the German upper class, and the wife of a high-level German army officer who is helping the British due to her distaste for Hitler’s regime has occasion to provide aide to Prince. She takes a liking to him while at the same time getting rid of her husband because of his views on the current German path which include a disdain and slaughter of Jews. This hatred reflects Hitler’s official position and his need to cleanse Germany of Jews and other groups selected for use as scapegoats who are believed to have caused a major recession in the country.

The portraits of Richard Prince, the two ladies he is involved with, and several people involved in the story’s evolution are well done. They act bravely, are motivated by their cause and feel anxiety and fear as would be normal in a titanic stress situation as is war. After an interesting read, it is no surprise that the ending finds Prince accepting another assignment and getting ready to reenter war-torn Europe again.

3/2020 Paul Lane

PRINCE OF SPIES by Alex Gerlis. Canelo Action (March 19, 2020). ASIN: B082FZQHTX. 352p.

THE DEEP by Alma Katsu

March 10, 2020


From the publisher:

From the acclaimed and award-winning author of The Hunger comes an eerie, psychological twist on one of the world’s most renowned tragedies, the sinking of the Titanic and the ill-fated sail of its sister ship, the Britannic.

Someone, or something, is haunting the ship. Between mysterious disappearances and sudden deaths, the guests of the Titanic have found themselves suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone from the moment they set sail. Several of them, including maid Annie Hebley, guest Mark Fletcher, and millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, are convinced there’s something sinister–almost otherwordly–afoot. But before they can locate the source of the danger, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later, Annie, having survived that fateful night, has attempted to put her life back together. Working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic‘s sister ship, the Britannic, newly refitted as a hospital ship, she happens across an unconscious Mark, now a soldier fighting in World War I. At first, Annie is thrilled and relieved to learn that he too survived the sinking, but soon, Mark’s presence awakens deep-buried feelings and secrets, forcing her to reckon with the demons of her past–as they both discover that the terror may not yet be over.

Brilliantly combining the supernatural with the height of historical disaster, The Deep is an exploration of love and destiny, desire and innocence, and, above all, a quest to understand how our choices can lead us inexorably toward our doom.

Alma Katsu has written a truly unique novel incorporating an eerie twist to the very well known story of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. In 1916 at the height of World War one the ocean liner Britannic was sunk according to accounts by two German submarines. The Britannic coincidentally was a sister ship to the Titanic and had been turned into a hospital ship for the duration of the war. The novel moves from one point to the other effortlessly as the story unfolds.

The action swings back and forth between 1912 and 1916 and uses two protagonists to tell the story. Annie Hebbley is a young girl that has left her home in Ireland due to the horrific conditions she was suffering there. She manages to luckily get a job on the Titanic as a room steward serving twelve of the first-class cabins on the ship. Among the passengers she serves are John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, well known multimillionaires of the day.

The second individual playing an important role in the book is Mark Fletcher, an American returning home with his new British wife and their baby. From the sailing date, both passengers and crew shrug off odd happenings including the sudden death of a young boy sailing as caretaker to one of the millionaire’s dogs. The chairman of the White Star Line owners of the Titanic is aboard and hastens to assure everyone that the ship is unsinkable. People should not worry and just enjoy the luxury of the cruise bound for New York.

The story finds Annie in a mental institution four years after the Titanic tragedy unable to cope with the horror she has undergone. She is released by her doctor and reluctantly manages to obtain a job as a nurse on the Britannic finding an aptitude she doesn’t know she has to do the work. In inspecting the wounded men under her care, she comes upon Mark Fletcher. While on the Titanic she had met Mark, who was a passenger in one of the cabins she attended. She had developed a crush on him and in a wild moment has a one night stand. Her feelings come out and her imaginings lead her into thinking that Mark was in love with her and this feeling just has to be rekindled.

Katsu changes the actual destruction of the Britannic from sinking by submarines to something else based on the love Annie thinks she can rekindle with Mark. The novel is absolutely compelling, grabbing the reader and bringing him or her into another era and a possible link into the macabre. I certainly hope that Alma Katsu comes out with her next book soon and indicate my recommendation to pick it up as soon as published to enjoy.

3/2020 Paul Lane

THE DEEP by Alma Katsu. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (March 10, 2020). ISBN: 978-0525537908. 432p.



A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA by Isabel Allende

February 7, 2020


From the publisher:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of The House of the Spirits, this epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home.

“One of the most richly imagined portrayals of the Spanish Civil War to date, and one of the strongest and most affecting works in [Isabel Allende’s] long career.”—The New York Times Book Review

In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires.

Together with two thousand other refugees, they embark on the SS Winnipeg, a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, to Chile: “the long petal of sea and wine and snow.” As unlikely partners, they embrace exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning, and over the course of their lives, they will face trial after trial. But they will also find joy as they patiently await the day when they will be exiles no more. Through it all, their hope of returning to Spain keeps them going. Destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world, Roser and Victor will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along.

A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile, and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea shows Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.

Isabel Allende presents her readers with what may very well be her masterpiece; an epic story of people caught up in world events and living through tumultuous times. Moving through the Spanish civil war and then events in Chile as they occur in the twentieth century the author takes hold of her readers and does not ease up until the book ends.

Roser, a young lady coming of age, and Victor Dalmau, who is an army doctor and the brother of Roser’s sweetheart, are the central protagonists of the story. Events occurring during the civil war breaking out in Spain in 1936 first throw the two together. Francisco Franco and his fascists lead Spain away from its government with a revolution establishing the long term rule of a dictatorship. The author captures the essence of what the uprising was with descriptions of the horrors and excesses of war and the depravity of Franco as he assumes total power in the country. It then becomes necessary for thousands to flee Spain if they are not to be killed. Roser, who is pregnant with her lover’s baby, and Victor travel away from Europe together with their destination the Latin American country of Chile. En route, they learn that Chilean immigrant visas are most likely to be given to families and decide to marry to ensure their entrance to Chile. They do so vowing to divorce as soon as feasible and of course when Victor’s brother, Roser’s lover arrives from Spain.

The second part of the book deals with changes in Chile during most of the twentieth century starting with the second world war taking place in Europe and Africa and then the country’s development going forward. Roser and Victor’s characters are very well fleshed out as are many of the other people taking part in the story. The rule by Salvador Allende is outlined and due to the fact that Isabel’s father was a first cousin to him his treatment is favorable. His overthrow and assassination are not blamed on his dictatorial conduct but on other malevolent factors. This is the author’s opinion and does nothing to harm the overall story.

The growth and development of Roser and Victor and their personal changes during this period are brilliantly described by Allende. The reader will easily follow and understand the reasoning behind their actions and capture the shifts as time and events go forward. Totally a five-star book and a milestone for Isabel Allende.

2/2020 Paul Lane

A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA by Isabel Allende. Ballantine Books (January 21, 2020). ISBN 978-1984820150. 336p.



PROJECT DUCHESS by Sabrina Jeffries

February 6, 2020


Duke Dynasty, Book 1

From the publisher:

From New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries comes a sparkling new series about an oft-widowed mother’s grown children, who blaze through society in their quest for the truth about their fathers . . . and in the process find that love just might conquer all . . .

A series of stepfathers and a difficult childhood have left Fletcher “Grey” Pryde, 5th Duke of Greycourt, with a guarded heart, enviable wealth, and the undeserved reputation of a rogue. Grey’s focus on expanding his dukedom allows him little time to find a wife. But when his mother is widowed yet again and he meets the charmingly unconventional woman managing his stepfather’s funeral, he’s shocked to discover how much they have in common. Still, Grey isn’t interested in love, no matter how pretty, or delightfully outspoken, the lady . . .

Beatrice Wolfe gave up on romance long ago, and the arrogant Duke of Greycourt with his rakish reputation isn’t exactly changing her mind. Then Grey agrees to assist his grief-stricken mother with her latest “project”: schooling spirited, unfashionable Beatrice for her debut. Now that Beatrice is seeing through Grey’s charms to his wounded heart, she’s having trouble keeping him at arm’s length. But once Grey starts digging into her family’s secrets, she must decide whether her loyalties lie with her family . . . or with the man whose lessons capture her heart . . .

Sabrina Jeffries writes a good, steamy romance so I was very happy to see she is starting a new series. Because it is the first book in the series, there are a lot of characters, but she does a good job of introducing them without overwhelming. Grey is our hero, and he is a man with a difficult past. Even dukes can have baggage, (apparently to this day!) and his troubled childhood has left him wary of letting anyone in. But when he meets Beatrice, her refreshing way of speaking her mind disarms him.

Beatrice has been living out in the country in pretty much isolation, other than her extended family and the help. She and Grey have much in common, they both lost family members, and both have little use for pretense. But Grey’s mother, the thrice widowed dowager duchess, is determined to have Beatrice come out along with her daughter, Grey’s sister. To that end, while they are in mourning, they take the opportunity to teach the girls the graces, and subterfuge, that is necessary to succeed in London’s high society.

Grey is determined to never lose his heart and plans on marrying eventually, but in the way of much of the ton, purely for business reasons, for lack of a better term. But he is enraptured with Beatrice, fight it as he may. Not to mention Grey’s half-brother suspects Beatrice’s brother of killing two of their mother’s husbands. Yes, it is a bit complicated but that’s half the fun. A bit of mystery, some steamy sex, lots of secrets, and a big family all combine to create a terrific start to this new series. If you enjoy your romances historical, quick, fun, and sexy, then read this book. I’m very glad I did.

2/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

PROJECT DUCHESS by Sabrina Jeffries. Zebra (June 25, 2019).  ISBN 978-1420148558. 400p.




February 4, 2020


Highland Brides, Book 8

From the publisher:

Four Buchanan brothers have found their brides…only three more to go in this scintillating romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands…

Lady Dwyn Innes feels utterly out of place among the eligible women who’ve descended on Buchanan Keep, vying for the attention of the last unmarried brothers. She isn’t long-legged and slender like her sisters, or flirtatious and wily like other lasses. Since her betrothed died, Dwyn has resigned herself to becoming an old maid. Yet a chance encounter with a stranger in the orchard awakens her to a new world of sensation and possibility…

After weeks away, Geordie Buchanan returns to find his home swarming with potential brides, thanks to his loving but interfering family. But one lass in particular draws his attention from the moment he spies her climbing a tree. Lady Dwyn is not nearly as plain as she thinks. Her lush figure and eager kisses delight him, as does her honesty. But the real test lies ahead: eliminating a hidden enemy, so that he and Dwyn can seal their Highland passion with a vow.

This series started out hit or miss with me, but two in a row have been really fun reads so I’m on board. This book has a lot of humor, mostly centering around the heroine’s large boobs, the low cut gowns her sisters are forcing her to wear, and said boobs’ propensity to pop out on a fairly regular basis. Despite her forced lack of decorum, or maybe because of it, I really liked Lady Dwynn. She is honest and kind and empathetic, and Geordie always really likes her. Unfortunately, he had told his older brother that he has no intention of marrying, which Dwynn overheard, but things have a way of changing.

This is a steamy love story, and as in all the books in this series (at least the ones I’ve read), there is also a bit of suspense. The women who are vying to be brides for the single men also have other demands that must be met, chief of which is making the husband heir to whatever lands they own. The problem for Dwynn is that they have a mentally ill neighbor who has a vendetta against her, but also wants the land. The book takes a dark turn towards the end but of course, there is the guarantee of a happy ending. Thank goodness. I need my happy endings!

This was a really fun and sexy read and I couldn’t put it down. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

2/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HUNTING FOR A HIGHLANDER by Lynsay Sands. Avon (January 28, 2020).  ISBN 978-0062855374. 384p.