So I just realized I have read a book in this series, the fifth book, in fact, last year and never got around to reading any more until I was prompted to by my work daughter, Caitlin. I read the first book, this is the second in the series and apparently, I read the fifth book last year. Just when I thought I was reading a series in order!
This book put me in mind of another book I recently read and will be reviewing in early December when it comes out, Roomies by Christina Lauren. Both center around a fraudulent marriage to gain an immigrant the cherished green card.
Honor Holland has been best friends with Brogan since elementary school. At one point they decided to have sex and do so on occasion over the years. When Honor has her annual pelvic exam, the doctor mentions she might want to start thinking about having children. She’s 35 years old and her best childbearing years are behind her, so she decides to propose to Brogan. She has fancied herself in love with him for years, so why not. Of course, he says no and she is humiliated. To make matters worse, her best friend immediately moves in on Brogan and the next thing Holland knows, they are telling her they are in love, Holland sees red and it’s a real wine tossing, punch throwing, cat fight.
Holland’s grandmother tries to set her up with a penpal’s grandson from England who has been living in the area and needs a green card. Tom is intrigued to meet the hellion he saw rolling around the bar floor, but despite his good looks and dreamy accent, Tom acts like a real jerk. But then they meet up again, and Honor decides he is possibly marriage material.
Tom needs to stay in America for his ex-fiancee’s son. After she died, and his father took off, Charlie has been living with his grandparents who are not happy about it. They use Tom as a babysitter when they’ve had enough, which works for Tom. He fell in love with the kid the first time he met him. Honor is touched by their relationship, and after a wild night of sex, she agrees to marry him.
Of course Honor falls in love with Tom, fighting it all the way. And he with her. But they are both so damaged from their past relationships that it doesn’t look like either one of them will be able to move to where they need to be. Meanwhile, this book is laugh out loud funny, sweetly emotional and all in all, a terrific read. I loved it.
11/17 Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™
THE PERFECT MATCH by Kristan Higgins. HQN Books (October 29, 2013). ISBN 978-0373778195. 448p.
Clayton East is an ex-Navy SEAL who doesn’t want to go home. He lost his brother years earlier and doesn’t like living on the family ranch without him. But his father is having some serious health issues, and it looks like their accountant has made off with the family fortune. His family is in trouble and Clayton has to go home and help his parents, he’s all they have left. And it’s Christmas time.
Then a big chunk of their cattle herd goes missing, along with their $100,000 bull. The sheriff manages to catch one of the perpetrators, a teenage boy named Brice Harper. Turns out Brice and his younger brother Caleb have a legal guardian, their sister Abby. After their mother walked out on the family, Abby was determined to do right by her brothers and she’s been more mother than sister to them. When she gets called about Brice, she is just heartsick.
Clayton is at the jail and she offers to pay him back for the missing cattle if he won’t press charges. But Abby has been living paycheck to paycheck, working for a CPA and taking night classes when she can. When she realizes that she’ll owe Clayton over $250,000, she is beside herself.
Clayton thinks she is beautiful, and he realizes that sometimes you have to give people a second chance. He makes Brice an offer; he can come to the ranch every day after school and every weekend and work off his debt. Clayton is hoping that he will earn Brice’s trust and find his missing cattle as well. Meanwhile, he is falling for Abby and she for him.
The Harpers start spending more and more time at the ranch, and Abby not only falls in love with Clayton but also with his parents, and they love her and her brothers. Clayton and Abby have to get past dangerous cattle rustlers, crooked accountants, have a few close calls, and finally find their Christmas miracle.
I loved this book. I felt like I really got to know these characters, was rooting for their relationship to work out, and there was a bit of heat. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.
11/17 Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™
THE CHRISTMAS COWBOY HERO by Donna Grant. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (October 31, 2017). ISBN 978-1250165428. 320p.
Colbie Albright is a bestselling author of a dystopian young adult series of books that are being turned into movies, but she writes under a pseudonym. When her publisher asks for a fourth book in the trilogy* to coincide with the movie premier, Colbie finds herself with a severe case of writers block. She decides to hop on a plane to somewhere warm and try and find her muse again.
(*No, that doesn’t add up but isn’t all that unusual! In real life, see Adriana Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap trilogy, I think there are at least 4 books, maybe 5?)
Colbie ends up in San Francisco, asks the cab driver to surprise her and she ends up visiting this famous fountain. Unfortunately, she ends up in the fountain when a large dog takes off and knocks her over. The dog’s walker, Spencer Baldwin, feels terrible and that is your meet-cute. He convinces her to come with him and provides her with laundry service, a place to stay, himself as a San Francisco tour guide and eventually, her lover.
Colbie isn’t exactly forthcoming about who she is and Spence assumes she is a struggling writer working on her first novel. Spence isn’t forthcoming about who he is either; he’s a tech millionaire workaholic with a history of bad romances. But there is such a strong attraction between them that they keep getting together, finding they have more and more in common. But Colbie has to get home by Christmas, and the fact she’s leaving let’s Spence feel comfortable with the short-term relationship. Until they both realize they want more…
If you are looking for a Christmas romance, this really isn’t it. The holiday aspects seem somewhat of an afterthought, but it is a fast, fun read. I thoroughly enjoy this series.
10/17 Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™
CHASING CHRISTMAS EVE by Jill Shalvis. Avon (September 26, 2017). ISBN 978-0062697219. 272p.
Macy Frost believes she is a direct descendant of Cupid, so it’s only natural that she started a matchmaking business with her two best friends. But things don’t always go as planned as Macy learns after meeting Deacon Banks.
Deacon has moved to Charleston for a month to help his aunt, a retired TV big shot, settle in to her new town. Being from New York has some advantages here, for one thing Macy is enchanted with his accent, and he with hers. But his aunt wants him to meet someone and settle down, so he persuades Macy to set him up on some dates with the proviso that he is only in town for a fling and nothing more. That way he’ll make his aunt happy seeing him date, and he’ll be honest with the women he’s meeting.
Except Macy falls for Deacon, and he for her. Deacon persuades all the women she sets him up with to help him pursue Macy, and Macy finds herself more and more entrenched in a relationship with a client, a definite business no-no.
This is a fun read with a slightly steamy scene or two and I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I never noticed before but it seems to me that there are more and more holiday books every year, and that means I’ll have lots to pick from to get me through the holidays! This was a charming holiday story, and I really enjoyed it.
10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
CHRISTMAS AT TWO LOVE LANE by Kieran Kramer. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (October 3, 2017). ISBN 978-1250111043. 352p.
Just when you thought the Winter Street trilogy was over, Hilderbrand writes another last episode, turning this into a Christmas series, I guess, instead of a trilogy. Either way, I was happy!
I don’t want to give too much away, so here is what the publisher offers:
Raise one last glass with the Quinn Family at the Winter Street Inn.
It’s been too long since the entire Quinn family has been able to celebrate the holidays under the same roof, but that’s about to change. With Bart back safe and sound from Afghanistan, the Quinns are preparing for a holiday more joyous than any they’ve experienced in years. And Bart’s safe return isn’t the family’s only good news: Kevin is enjoying married life with Isabelle; Patrick is getting back on his feet after paying his debt to society; Ava thinks she’s finally found the love of her life; and Kelly is thrilled to see his family reunited at last. But it just wouldn’t be a Quinn family gathering if things went smoothly. A celebration of everything we love–and some of the things we endure–about the holidays, WINTER SOLSTICE is Elin Hilderbrand at her festive best.
This is a wonderful holiday series, and if you have the time, I recommend you give yourself a gift this holiday season and read all of them, in order. But you can certainly give this one a go on its own, but it probably won’t have you bawling. Well, maybe it will.
Hilderbrand says that this is her most autobiographical family story. She is not referring to the plot lines or all the details, but to the family structure, the guilt working mom’s have to contend with, and of course, life on Nantucket.
10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
WINTER SOLSTICE by Elin Hilderbrand. Little, Brown and Company (October 3, 2017). ISBN 978-0316435451. 304p.
Yay! Debbie’s back with another terrific Christmas book. After her last super Christiany (is that a word? Spell check doesn’t think so) Any Dream Will Do, a standalone novel, I was a little nervous thinking that maybe that was the direction she was going to be going in all her books. But it wasn’t. The Macomber I love is back and she remains my favorite author of Christmas stories.
This book was a direct ripoff of “You’ve Got Mail,” one of my favorite movies ever (which in itself was a remake of “The Shop Around the Corner”) and believe me, I am not complaining about that. In fact, Macomber even mentions it, poking a bit of fun at herself and I loved that moment.
Merry Knight is a hard-working temp filling in for someone on leave for a year. Her time at the company is up on Dec. 23, and she’s been socking away the money so she can go back to college and finish up. She lives at home with her parents and her brother, who has some challenges and she has enormous patience with all of them.
Her boss, Jaysen, is a bit of a jerk. He is the type who reads the rule book and lives by the rules. No eating at your desk. No holiday decorations. And so on. She has a nameplate on her desk that says “Mary” and the HR department is not inclined to correct it as she is only a temp, so Jaysen thinks that is her name.
For an early birthday gift, Merry’s parents and her brother buy her a subscription to an online dating service. It’s really not something that she wants, but her brother and mother are so excited about it that she doesn’t have the heart to tell them. They set up an account for her, using her dog’s picture instead of her own.
Jaysen’s best friend is getting married. He met his fiancée on an online dating site, so Jaysen decides to check it out. He is drawn to the dog account and uses a picture of his old dog as well. “Jay” signs on and he and Merry start chatting online and they both are infatuated rather quickly. But when they arrange to meet, Merry sees who “Jay” really is and takes off, leaving him frustrated and both of them upset.
Meanwhile, Jaysen realizes he’s been acting like a jerk at work and starts trying harder to be more pleasant. He soon finds himself attracted to “Mary” and well, you can see where this is going. Let’s just say they find their happily ever after, but not before there are more roadblocks to overcome.
I suspect this will become another Hallmark Chrismas movie. Just a hunch though, we cut the cord and don’t have cable or the Hallmark channel anymore…which I would gladly pay for if Hallmark would get with the times and offer their channels to us cord cutters! But I digress.
Another fun Christmas story from the Queen of Christmas. Loved it!
10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
MERRY AND BRIGHT by Debbie Macomber. Ballantine Books (October 3, 2017). ISBN 978-0399181221. 272p.
Let the Christmas novels begin! Regular readers know I love me a good Christmas story and this was a great way to start.
Ivy Macintosh lost her husband and her three-year-old twins in a plane crash. To make matters worse, her father owns the airline and the government has said it was pilot error – and her father is dating the pilot’s mother. Ivy has locked herself away in her house for eight years since the crash, drinking too much and avoiding the world.
Then one night there is a knock on her door. A little girl named Holly Greenwood is standing there, crying. She is lost, and she asks to use Ivy’s phone. Ivy’s heart goes out to her, and when Holly’s father picks her up, he is rather gruff and takes her home.
Holly has a gift; she is a singer with a most unusual and beautiful voice. But her father hates music, won’t allow it in the house and definitely doesn’t want to hear her singing. Holly doesn’t know why because since her mother died eight years earlier, it’s just been her and her father Daniel. He is super strict and she is at the age where she is starting to hate him for it.
Ivy and Daniel feel a strong attraction to each other, a first for both of them in many years. As Ivy is drawn into their world, she stops drinking and finds a new purpose in life – getting Daniel to allow Holly to share her gift with the world, and finding her own happiness along the way.
Even though I could see where this story was going from almost the beginning, it didn’t detract from seeing the resolution through. This was everything a good Christmas story should be, at least for me; a sweet love story, personal redemption, a Christmas miracle along the way and the requisite happy ending.
9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
HOLLY AND IVY by Fern Michaels. Kensington (September 26, 2017). ISBN 978-1496703170. 320p.
I’ve never read this hugely popular author but I saw the Hallmark movie based on Mistletoe Promise and really liked it, so I decided to read this new book.
Richard Paul Evans writes contemporary romance that is on the sweet side, a sort of male Debbie Macomber, if you will. A little humor, no sex, and happily ever after is the formula and it works.
Alex Bartlett (like the pear) is a salesman in Daytona Beach, Florida who was doing a lot of traveling for his job. His wife met someone and took off, breaking his heart, and Alex is lonely. He has friends, but it’s not enough.
Those friends convince him to try Internet dating but when the site matches him up with his ex, he decides to Google loneliness. He finds a blog written by a woman with the initials LBH, and he really connects with everything she’s written. Determined to meet her, he follows some of the clues she’s left in her blog posts and figures out she is in a small town in Utah.
Alex flies to Utah and stays at a bed and breakfast and the owner is only too happy to help – it is a small town, after all. Eventually he falls for a waitress, Aria, at the local diner but still seeks the mysterious “LBH.” Aria has also been hurt by love, but there is a strong attraction between them – until Alex blows her off when he thinks he’s found his mystery woman.
It’s not too hard to figure out the story but it is enjoyable nonetheless. A quick, sweet holiday story that may end up on Hallmark next Christmas.
12/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
THE MISTLETOE SECRET by Richard Paul Evans. Simon & Schuster (November 15, 2016). ISBN 978-1501119811. 320p.
Although there are several Twilight, Texas novels, this is really the sequel to last year’s I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. That story was a takeoff on the film, The Holiday, where Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet trade homes over the Christmas holiday. In the book, Kate and Gabi trade homes, and Gabi falls in love with Kate’s brother.
This book starts off with Kate’s adventure in Los Angeles while staying at Gabi’s home. She goes to a club where she runs into her first high school crush, Ryder Southerland. He is security at the club and tackles her, mistaking her for a stalker. They end up spending the night together having mind blowing sex, but Kate slips out in the morning and heads home.
The story then picks up a year later. Gabi and Joe’s wedding is taking place on Christmas Eve and Kate is the maid of honor. Ryder is the best man and it is his first time back in Twilight in over a decade. He comes home a few weeks early after he finds out the stepmother who hated him has died. His father is in the hospital and Kate is hired to clear out the house before he comes home. There were major hoarding issues going on there.
Kate and Ryder meet up and the sparks fly, but Kate is afraid of a relationship because of Ryder’s commitment issues. Ryder has feelings for Kate, but is afraid to take the next step. Meanwhile the housecleaning goes on, as do the pre-wedding parties and Ryder and Kate are constantly thrown together.
They end up back in bed again but Kate is treating him like an embarrassment. Eventually Gabi and Joe point out that everyone knows what’s going on and they come out of hiding. A pregnancy scare moves things forward but there is no easy path to the happy ending.
Another fun, sexy read in Twilight, Texas.
11/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
A WEDDING FOR CHRISTMAS by Lori Wilde. Avon (October 25, 2016). ISBN 978-0062311450. 384p.