July 15, 2018

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Highland Brides, Book 6

I continue on my quest for men in kilts and this is a good one if you don’t mind the amnesia trope.

Aulay Buchanan is laird but he’s staying in his hunting lodge. One morning he finds a woman floating in the water, tied to a mast that has broken off of a ship. He pulls her in and revives her, but she doesn’t know who she is or how she ended up there, and to makes things even more interesting, she is deathly afraid of someone.

Aulay names her Jetta so he can call her something. His brother is a healer who recommends lots of rest and Aulay decides to stay at the hunting lodge until he can determine who she is afraid of and why. He sends out a few trusted men to try and find out which ship she came from and that leads to other problems.

Eventually, fleeting memories come back to Jetta but it isn’t until almost the end of the book that she realizes who she is and how she came to be there. But by then, Aulay and Jetta have fallen in love and try as they do to fight it, they get their happily ever after.

This was a one night read for me and I do recommend it, especially if you like Scottish romances. It’s a fast read and a good one.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE HIGHLANDER’S PROMISE by Lynsay Sands. Avon; Reprint edition (June 26, 2018). ISBN 978-0062842671.  288p.



July 13, 2018

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The Survivors, Book 3

I missed the first book in this series, but after reading the second and third, I just reserved the first at my library. It’s a really interesting series.

I love historicals, especially Regencies, but these books differ in that they don’t focus on high society despite the royalty of the characters. And it’s a refreshing change.

Rafe Beaumont is the fifth son of an earl, so he’ll never inherit the title. That’s okay with him, he inherited the good looks of both his parents and women can’t leave him alone. That does him in good stead as he is a spy, and having women spill secrets in bed is his forte. Until he meets Collette Fortier.

Fortier’s father was an assassin for Napoleon, and now that the Bourbons are in power he has been jailed. The only way Collette can help him is by finding a secret code that the British have and exchanging it for her father. To that end, she is staying with a “cousin” who is sponsoring her at all the social events of the season. Collette is desperate to get these codes and when she meets Rafe,  she doesn’t think he can help her so she blows him off. Rafe has never been turned down by a woman and of course he’s intrigued. Then he is assigned to find out what he can about her, and things get really interesting.

This was a fast, thoroughly enjoyable read. The tension between the two spies really builds and keeps the pages turning. I am looking forward to more from this author.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

AN AFFAIR WITH A SPARE by Shana Galen. Sourcebooks Casablanca (July 3, 2018).  ISBN 978-1492638957. 416p.




HELLO STRANGER by Lisa Kleypas

July 11, 2018

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The Ravenels, Book 4

Sometimes I do judge a book by its cover, and this was one of those times. Although to be honest, I love Lisa Kleypas so if I had known about this book sight unseen I still would have read it. But I stumbled across it in the library (hello, serendipity!) and here I am.  And the thing is, I have read the other books in this series so I think I missed this because it came out while I was post-eye surgery and not able to read. That’s my excuse and I can live with that.

We met our heroine, Dr. Garrett Gibson, previously in the series but now it is her time to shine. Convinced that no man would possibly be interested in the first and only physician in England, she doesn’t even bother with social niceties. Until she meets Ethan Ransom.

Ethan is a spy who is intrigued by the brilliant and beautiful doctor, and secure enough in his place in the world not to care that she (gasp!) works. Born in poverty, he has worked his way up to his position, by way of Scotland Yard and very hard work. He is also brilliant and more importantly, a man of good character and a silver tongue. That charm really swept me away as it did Garrett, a woman who is not used to it but is used to solitude. Instead, she is caught up in a great romance.

These two unconventional characters really made for an interesting and compelling romance. The story line was intriguing and relevant, and the sex was hot. That’s pretty much all I ask for in a historical romance, and Kleypas delivers once again.

As a note of added interest, Kleypas named her character after Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first physician in England. She was a fascinating and accomplished woman and I really appreciated this nugget of truth that had me searching out the real deal. Well done.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HELLO STRANGER by Lisa Kleypas. Avon (February 27, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062371911.  400p.


THE RISK OF ROGUES by Sabrina Jeffries

July 8, 2018

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From the publisher:

Featuring New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries’ “hallmark humor, poignancy, and sensuality” (Romantic Times), this entry in the Sinful Suitors series inspires you to risk all for love.

Lady Anne is shocked when Captain Lord Hartley Corry—her former fiancé who left for India after her father forbade their marriage—returns to England and acts as if everything is all water under the bridge. He never fought for her hand or eloped with her as he promised and he thinks she’d still be willing to marry him? Not a chance.

Hartley is equally shocked to literally run into his past love upon arriving at his brother’s house. Though he yearns to take advantage of this second chance to woo his beloved, he can hardly admit that he is secretly a spy—at least not until he can be sure he trusts her. But convincing Lady Anne to let him prove his sincerity by courting her respectably all over again might be his undoing. Because all he wants is to show her how much of a rogue he can be when the right woman is in his arms…

This is a Kindle Single, a novella only available as an ebook. Although it has been my experience that many of these novellas turn up later in anthologies of one kind or another or in the back of a paperback, so you never know. But for now, the only way to read it is digitally.

I didn’t realize how short this story was until I read it and thought, where’s the rest of the story? There is a beginning, middle and an end but I am not a fan of the novella, I like my stories fleshed out a bit more. I like Jeffries writing and it was a good read but more, I need more.

This series has five books plus four novellas so far. It’s a good way to keep readers into the series while waiting for the next book, and all these novellas will probably end up in their own book eventually. If you like Regency romances and want a super fast read, this is your book. I’d rather read a novel.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE RISK OF ROGUES by Sabrina Jeffries. Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc., July 2, 2018.  ASIN: B078M5C7DS.  95p.


June 28, 2018

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Lords of the Highlands, Book 1

RT Reviewers’ Choice Award winner!

From the publisher:

She’ll put her life on the line for him . . . 
When Akira Ayres finds the brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, the healer has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to save his life. Even if it means fleeing with him across the Highlands to tend to his wounds while English redcoats are closing in. Though Akira is as fierce and brave as any of her clansmen, even she’s intimidated by the fearsome, brutally handsome Highlander who refuses to reveal his name.

Yet she can never learn his true identity.
Geordie knows if Akira ever discovers he’s the Duke of Gordon, both her life and his will be forfeit in a heartbeat. The only way to keep the lass safe is to ensure she’s by his side day and night. But the longer he’s with her, the harder it becomes to think of letting her go. Despite all their differences, despite the danger-he will face death itself to make her his . . .

This author was new to me so I had no real expectations other that hoping it would  tide me over until the Droughtlander ends (until Gabaldon writes the next book and/or the Starz TV series returns!)

The fact that the hero Geordie is a Highlander being chased by the English Redcoats and the heroine Akira is a healer was enough to fill the void. This book takes place in the early part of the 18th century so that was interesting as I’m not as familiar with that time period. Akira is dirt poor and has Gypsy blood at a time when Gypsies were being driven out of Scotland, at least the criminal elements. So that is two strikes against her as Geordie is a Duke and a Laird, and as such is expected to make a proper match.

Being on the run together brings them very close, and there is real chemistry here. Jarecki is a good storyteller, the pacing was good, the characters believable and the story made sense. Sometimes that’s all you need. This was a very enjoyable read and I learned a few things so I’m happy.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE HIGHLAND DUKE by Amy Jarecki. Avon (May 29, 2018). ISBN 978-0062848802. 304p.


June 24, 2018

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The Rakes of St. James, Book 3

This was my first book by this author. It was a bit slow and convoluted at times, but maybe that’s because I hadn’t read the first two.

The Duke of Rathburne was quite the hellion as a young man. He, along with his best friends, inadvertently ruined the reputations of a dozen young girls during their first season by playing a practical joke on them. As he is now in his early thirties, he realizes the error of his ways so when his late father’s closest friend asks a favor of him, he impulsively agrees.

Miss Marlena Fast was orphaned at a young age and her guardian has been very distant, to say the least. He is actually quite ill, so he asks the Duke of Rathburne to assume her guardianship. Marlena is horrified – unbeknownst to everyone, she is the Honora Truth, author of the most scandalous gossip sheet and her favorite target is none other than that very same Duke.

Determined to marry her off, the Duke sets about arranging a wardrobe and social life for Marlena, but she is resistant. The Duke quickly realizes that he is resistant too, he falls for her rather quickly but of course there are obstacles to overcome before their happy ending.

Not my favorite, but not a bad read. If you’ve read the first two books in this trilogy, you’ll undoubtedly want to read this one as it is the conclusion. On the other hand, I don’t feel the need to go back and read the first two books that I missed.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DUKE by Amelia Grey. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (May 29, 2018). ISBN 978-1250102539. 352p.



June 21, 2018

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The Bareknuckle Bastards, Book 1

From the publisher:

When Wicked Comes Calling . . .

When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She’s seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won’t accept a marriage without it.

The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain . . .

Bastard son of a duke and king of London’s dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.

For the Promise of Passion . . .

But there’s nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she’d rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil’s carefully laid plans are in chaos and he must choose between everything he’s ever wanted . . . and the only thing he’s ever desired.

That’s a good synopsis but I have to add that it is the characters that really take this historical romance to a higher level. The Devil is smart and ruthless and never thought he would succumb to a woman’s charms. Felicity is smart and beautiful, but has low self esteem and thinks herself plain.

It is more than the Duke’s good looks that draw her to him, it is the element of danger. I guess bad boys have always been popular, even in merry old Regency England. A bad boy with a heart, of course, steals Felicity’s heart despite his denials.

One of the best things about reading historical romances is the opportunity to learn about life in those times. MacLean offered up fascinating history of locks and the ice business that really held me enthralled. There is a lot of intense drama and a bit of steamy sex, and all in all this was a good start to a new series. I’m looking forward to more.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WICKED AND THE WALLFLOWER by Sarah MacLean. Avon (June 19, 2018). ISBN 978-0062842640. 368p.



June 20, 2018

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Nick Dybek presents a beautifully written and memorable novel about a great love beginning on the outer edges of one of the most bloody battles of World War One at Verdun.

Tom is a young American traveling to Europe at the end of the war. He stays on after driving an ambulance during the fighting in order to help with the labor of identifying the dead and possibly uniting families looking for their relatives after the war. We find him in a job collecting bones from the battlefield and bringing them back for possible identification and burial.

Lonely, he is attracted to Sarah, a beautiful American woman visiting the area in search of her husband who disappeared after wandering off from his division and not being seen since. The two fall into an affair, and later meet again at an Italian hospital where a shell shocked soldier dubbed “Douglas Fairbanks” (the American silent screen star) is in the psychiatric ward. The patient has no memory of who he is and what happened to him. Sarah feels that the soldier has enough resemblance to her missing husband to possibly be him. Tom and Sarah are joined by Paul, an Austrian journalist who has his own motives for wanting to meet the amnesiac known as “Douglas Fairbanks.”

The novel shifts to the 1950s in Hollywood where Tom has become a successful screen writer. He again encounters Paul who has continued to fight the demons of how to live and function again after the trauma that he has gone through. They talk and attempt again to come to terms with the events that have caused so much pain for them and for Sarah.

The story ends at this point with everything still up in the air; a situation most likely to occur in real life after facing the horrors of modern warfare. A very captivating novel drawing in the reader and immersing them into emotions and actions of thecharacters facing horrors that should never be faced by human beings.

6/18 Paul Lane

THE VERDUN AFFAIR by Nick Dybek. Scribner (June 12, 2018).  ISBN 978-1501191763. 304p.

TOO WILDE TO WED by Eloisa James

June 7, 2018

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Wildes of Lindow Castle, Book 2

From the publisher:

No one is more surprised than Lord North when he returns from war to find his ex-fiancee in his ancestral home…working as a governess in a sexy, fiery new Wildes of Lindow Castle romance by New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James…

The handsome, rakish heir to a dukedom, Lord Roland Northbridge Wilde—known to his friends as North—left England two years ago, after being jilted by Miss Diana Belgrave. He returns from war to find that he’s notorious: polite society has ruled him “too wild to wed.”

Diana never meant to tarnish North’s reputation, or his heart, but in her rush to save a helpless child, there was no time to consider the consequences of working as a governess in Lindow Castle. Now everyone has drawn the worst conclusions about the child’s father, and Diana is left with bittersweet regret.

When North makes it clear that he still wants her for his own, scandal or no, Diana has to fight to keep from losing her heart to the man whom she still has no intention of marrying.

Yet North is returning a hardened warrior—and this is one battle he’s determined to win.

He wants Diana, and he’ll risk everything to call her his own.

I usually love Eloisa James’s books but I struggled with this one. I found the storyline a bit convoluted at times and lacking the usual charm and wit of most of her books. The heroine, Diana, was more annoying than interesting and there wasn’t a whole lot of romance in this romance. It was an okay read but frankly, I was disappointed.

As an aside that truly means nothing, I found the cover odd, it looks more like a contemporary romance than historical.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TOO WILDE TO WED by Eloisa James. Avon (May 29, 2018). ISBN 978-0062848802. 304p.

THE OPTIKAL ILLUSION by Rachel Halliburton

June 5, 2018

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A novel set in England in the 18th century with world shattering events such as the French Revolution and the beginnings of the Napoleonic era playing out as background. The center of the story are happenings that occurred to the British Royal Academy and involve a scandal Halliburton researched that actually did occur.

The year was 1797 and Benjamin West, an American artist living in London, is approached by a father-daughter duo. They are attempting to interest him in buying a manuscript authored by the great painterc Titian. The piece was indicated to be an outline and description of Titian’s use of colors which allowed him to paint in the commanding style he did. Colors mixed for paintings in those days were generally proprietary to the individual artist with only a small quantity available for purchase from known suppliers.

West was also going through a down period in his paintings leading him to meet with Ann Jemima and her father to see if what they had could help him in breaking out of the doldrums. The Provis duo advised that their grandfather had left the manuscript to his family and they were able to do as they wished with it.

The novel represents a very sound idea and background for an attractive story. The research done in order to set up the late 18th century is well done. Unfortunately, Halliburton allows the characters to continually get involved in long drawn out conversations rather than action to move the story forward. It becomes too easy for the reader to lose interest in what is going on. The well researched material going into the novel gets lost when subjected to the conversations that merely allude to the actions occurring.

This is Halliburton’s first novel and it definitely shows an ability to get the research that would showcase any era. It would be easy for her to attract readers by simply keeping talk to a minimum and showing forward motion via action.

6/18 Paul Lane

THE OPTIKAL ILLUSION by Rachel Halliburton. The Overlook Press (June 5, 2018). ISBN 978-1468316292.  352p.