A SHOE STORY by Jane L. Rosen

July 29, 2022

From the publisher:

A young woman has one month and a closetful of shoes to discover the future she thought she’d lost in this captivating new novel from the author of Eliza Starts a Rumor and Nine Women, One Dress.

Esme Nash is eager to leave her small town and begin her carefully planned post-grad life: a move to New York City, an apartment with her loving college boyfriend, and a fancy job at an art gallery. But when tragedy strikes, instead of heading to Manhattan, she returns home to care for her ailing father, leaving every bit of her dream behind.

Seven trying years later, Esme is offered a dog-sitting job in Greenwich Village by a mysterious stranger, giving her access to all of her long-buried hopes and dreams—as well as to an epic collection of designer shoes. Esme jumps at a second chance to step into the future she’s sure was meant to be hers.

As she retraces her steps, one pair of borrowed shoes at a time, making new friends and reconnecting with her old love, Esme tries on versions of herself she didn’t know existed. But the hazy August days and warm summer nights pass too quickly, and Esme must decide how much of the life she imagined still fits, and what—and who—is on the road ahead of her.


This is the second Rosen book I’ve read, after Nine Women, One Dress, and all I can say is that this is a worthy successor. New York City is pretty much another character here, and I really enjoyed that aspect. Esme is a great character, too; smart, caring, a heart big enough to survive and prosper in NYC. When her father falls ill, Esme leaves all her plans behind to go back upstate to take care of him. Several years later, she finally loses him and finds a unique opportunity. Not really sure what she wants to do with the rest of her life, she takes a job dogsitting/apartment sitting for a woman in a very nice apartment, complete with an amazing shoe collection. Esme has a bit of a shoe fetish herself, so she definitely can relate. When the owner, who is in rehab for what Esme assumes is her shoe/shopping addiction, offers her to try anything she likes in the apartment, Esme takes her up on it and every day is a new shoe adventure.

She meets a young man and they become good friends, hanging out quite a bit. She also meets an elderly gentleman in the dog park, and they, too, form a friendship. Esme is having a great time, but what she really wants is to sort of “accidentally” run into her college ex, the boy she dumped to go home to care for her father. He is still in the city, and it turns out he is living in the apartment they were supposed to share.

Of course everything is not quite as Esme hoped it would be, and while she’s finding her way to her future, these relationships all help clarify things. Along with the shoes, of course. This sweet and funny novel is heartwarming with a touch of romance, and I highly recommend it.

7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A SHOE STORY by Jane L. Rosen.  Berkley (June 28, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593102121. 336p.





NORA GOES OFF SCRIPT by Annabel Monaghan

July 22, 2022

From the publisher:

Named one of the Best Beach Reads of Summer 2022 by The Washington Post • USA Today • Cosmopolitan • Southern Living • Country Living • Business Insider • Buzzfeed • Book Riot • The Augusta Chronicle

Nora’s life is about to get a rewrite…

Nora Hamilton knows the formula for love better than anyone. As a romance channel screenwriter, it’s her job. But when her too-good-to work husband leaves her and their two kids, Nora turns her marriage’s collapse into cash and writes the best script of her life. No one is more surprised than her when it’s picked up for the big screen and set to film on location at her 100-year-old-home. When former Sexiest Man Alive, Leo Vance, is cast as her ne’er do well husband Nora’s life will never be the same.

The morning after shooting wraps and the crew leaves, Nora finds Leo on her porch with a half-empty bottle of tequila and a proposition. He’ll pay a thousand dollars a day to stay for a week. The extra seven grand would give Nora breathing room, but it’s the need in his eyes that makes her say yes. Seven days: it’s the blink of an eye or an eternity depending on how you look at it. Enough time to fall in love. Enough time to break your heart.

Filled with warmth, wit, and wisdom, Nora Goes Off Script is the best kind of love story—the real kind where love is complicated by work, kids, and the emotional baggage that comes with life. For Nora and Leo, this kind of love is bigger than the big screen.

“Monaghan’s witty adult debut novel perfectly captures the apprehension and excitement of infatuation blended with life’s complications.” —Washington Post

“The perfect escape from reality…In the best way.” —USA Today


I picked up this book because of all the buzz, but also because Nora is one of my best friends. Not this Nora, of course, but a namesake. I’m happy to report that this Nora represents the name well.

Nora’s husband leaves her and their kids after years of her supporting him and him belittling her. All she truly feels is relief and now has the ability to pay her bills without her ex running up the credit cards. Nora writes romance movie scripts for a Hallmark type channel. But once her husband leaves, the best way she knows how to deal with all her anger is to write it. She writes her breakup and to her surprise, her agent tells her that while it is not a good fit for the romance channel, she sells it to a film company who is making it into a big budget movie with the Sexiest Man Alive, Leo, set to star as her ex.

The film company wants to film a bit on her property, a unique space with a house in need of repair along with an out building called the Tea House. It’s a charming stone cottage and is Nora’s office. The film crew arrives and Nora finds out the star is staying in an Airstream on her property. But he keeps wandering into her house, drinking her booze, and eating her food. He’s so good looking she doesn’t complain but would certainly appreciate a thank you now and then. She never gets one.

Leo decides to stay on after the film crew leaves. He offers Nora $1000 a day to stay in the Tea House for a week, and she needs the money for sure so she agrees. Leo is an interesting character. He’s been so successful for so long he has no idea how regular people live. He hasn’t been in a store or bought groceries in years, so he follows Nora around asking questions and buying her stuff now and then. They spend a lot of time together and Nora finds herself falling for the star. To her shock, he tells her he is falling in love for the first time in his life.

Leo is also spending time with her kids, and her son is set to star in a Dickens play. Leo helps him learn his lines and ends up directing the school play. But shortly before the night it goes live, he gets offered an action film and mega millions to star in it. He has to go to L.A. to audition, meet with the director, and so forth. He promises to return in time for the play’s opening, but he doesn’t. In fact, he ghosts Nora.

Heartbroken, life goes on and once again Nora finds her writing this part of her life into a movie script. She tries to give it the romance channel spin and a happy ending, but her agent tells her to lean into it and write her truth. She struggles with it but eventually finds her way and it sells for a ton of money.

Meanwhile, her kids are also missing Leo and Nora is just miserable. This goes on for months until the film is nominated for several Oscars, including a screenwriting nomination for Nora. When shortly after that her son doesn’t show up for school, Nora is frantic. She calls Leo, who finds him. Leo and Nora finally talk, and that gets them to their happy ending.

I was immediately drawn into this story, and I really couldn’t put this book down. The characters come to life on the page, and the dialogue rings true. I loved seeing these characters grow together and find their way back to one another. I’m looking forward to more from this author – this was her first adult book and I hope she writes another soon.

7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

NORA GOES OFF SCRIPT by Annabel Monaghan. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (June 7, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593420034. 272p.





THE HOTEL NANTUCKET by Elin Hilderbrand

July 15, 2022

From the publisher:

“The queen of beach reads” (New York Magazine) delivers an immensely satisfying page-turner in this tale about a summer of scandal at a storied Nantucket hotel.

Fresh off a bad breakup with a longtime boyfriend, Nantucket sweetheart Lizbet Keaton is desperately seeking a second act. When she’s named the new general manager of the Hotel Nantucket, a once Gilded Age gem turned abandoned eyesore, she hopes that her local expertise and charismatic staff can win the favor of their new London billionaire owner, Xavier Darling, as well as that of Shelly Carpenter, the wildly popular Instagram tastemaker who can help put them back on the map. And while the Hotel Nantucket appears to be a blissful paradise, complete with a celebrity chef-run restaurant and an idyllic wellness center, there’s a lot of drama behind closed doors. The staff (and guests) have complicated pasts, and the hotel can’t seem to overcome the bad reputation it earned in 1922 when a tragic fire killed nineteen-year-old chambermaid Grace Hadley. With Grace gleefully haunting the halls, a staff harboring all kinds of secrets, and Lizbet’s own romantic uncertainty, is the Hotel Nantucket destined for success or doom?  

Filled with the emotional depth and multiple points of view that characterize Hilderbrand’s novels (The Blue Bistro, Golden Girl) as well as an added dash of Roaring Twenties history, The Hotel Nantucket offers something for everyone in this compelling summer drama. 

“Bring on the fresh-baked gougères and the hydrangea-blue cashmere throws: A classic fictional setting—the grand hotel—gets the Hilderbrand treatment. The beloved beach novelist’s 28th book is another tour de force…Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Hilderbrand is the absolute queen of the beach reads, and her latest offering is dishy and fun, as a classic Nantucket hotel attempts to reinvent itself with a new billionaire owner. It might look glamorous on the outside, but behind closed doors, there is plenty of dysfunction among the staff, drama on the guest side, and a bad reputation the place can’t shake from a tragic fire in 1922.”―Mackenzie Dawson, New York Post


The Hotel Nantucket has been abandoned for many years. The locals all think it is cursed, and haunted by a woman killed in a fire one hundred years earlier. When a billionaire purchases the hotel and pours millions of dollars into renovations, Lizbet sees it as an opportunity. She has just broken up with her partner of fifteen years after she accidentally sees a sext on his phone. She carefully copies all 137 messages, then dumps him. Her ex is a chef and she worked the front of one of the most successful restaurants in Nantucket, but she is out. She lands the job of general manager of the hotel, and works hard on the renovations and hiring the new staff. The billionaire has one goal; he wants to own the hotel that finally gets “five keys” on a travel blog that has never given more than four.

The first headache arrives in a family who wants to check in for the entire summer, pays cash and explains she is in the middle of a divorce and her credit cards are all frozen. Edie, working the front desk, can’t get hold of Lizbet and agrees not only to the cash payment, she upgrades the family to a suite. There are two children, one of whom is a chess prodigy and the other is a Nancy Drew fan bound and determined to ferret out the true story of the ghost who is haunting the hotel. And they have a pit bull. Lizbet is not happy about it but has no options here.

The front desk manager is a seductress looking for her next meal ticket. There were so many red flags thrown at her interview I couldn’t believe she got the job, but she proves herself repeatedly, mostly by gaining lots of positive reviews from the men she sleeps with. The head of housekeeping, Magda, hires her staff but when one of them bows out at the last moment, she hires the next person through the door. Chad is a recent college graduate and a rich, preppy young man. Magda cannot believe he actually wants to clean rooms, but he convinces her to give him a try, thus the nickname she gives him, Long Shot. He is working through some massive guilt about something he did, but we don’t find out all that happened until almost the end.

There is a bar attached to the hotel that serves amazing food as the chef, Mario, was hired away from a top tier restaurant. Mario and Lizbet eventually start dating, but she ends it when she thinks he is also dating their young, beautiful yoga instructor. Lizbet and Mario are the romance of the book, until we find out there is another romance going on that no one knew about.

There are a lot of threads to this story and Hilderbrand artfully weaves them all together, enmeshing us in this unputdownable book. In addition to the fabulous novel, she includes a travel guide of sorts to Nantucket, with hotels, restaurants, and all the sights rated and recommended. If you are planning a trip to Nantucket, (and who doesn’t want to go after reading this book!) you are all set. Another winner from one of my most dependable authors out there – Hilderbrand never disappoints.

7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE HOTEL NANTUCKET by Elin Hilderbrand. Little, Brown and Company (June 14, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0316258678. 416p.






July 15, 2022

From the publisher:

A reality star and a cupcake-baking football player pretend to be a couple in order to save his bakery in this sweet and sexy romance from Jamie Wesley, Fake It Till You Bake It.

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego’s newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell.

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the struggling bakery and rehabilitate Jada’s image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient.

Fake it Till You Bake It is a sweet confection of a novel, the perfect story to curl up with and enjoy with a cupcake on the side.


Jada was on a Bachelor-type reality show, but when she won and got the proposal, she said no. When pressed, she said she had met someone right before she started on the show, and wanted to pursue that relationship. She becomes the most reviled woman in the social media sphere for turning down the sweet, handsome Dr. John. She goes home to regroup and hide out, for the most part. Her parents have had it with her. They are both scientists, as is her sister, and none of them understand why she didn’t pursue a loftier goal. But her grandmother, who inherited an NFL team from her husband, does understand and always her back.

Jada’s friend drags her out of the house to go to a newish cupcake store. Jada makes a few snarky remarks in earshot of one of the owners, who happens to be a football player on her grandmother’s team. He takes great offense, and she won’t give him an inch despite the delicious cupcake she’s trying.

Jada’s parents are cutting her off, financially, so she goes to see her grandmother, hoping to convince her to let her have her trust fun a few months early. But her grandmother has another idea; one of her star football players, Donovan, is in her office, too. Donovan agrees to hire Jada, but when he finds out she is his nitpicky customer, he is torn. His new contract is under negotiation and he doesn’t want to rock the boat, so he agrees to hire Jada.

She is a shit baker, and she is the first one to admit that, especially after she almost burns down the bakery. But Donovan is so patient and kind with her that she can’t help but want to try and please him. The more time they spend together, the more they realize they are developing feelings for one another.

Jada can’t bake, but she is social media savvy for sure. When some of her “fans”, i.e. women who hate her for turning down the bachelor, show up at the cupcake shop, she impulsively kisses Donovan, claiming he is the man she was hoping to connect with. She talks him into fake dating her, and it goes really well. Social media goes wild and people start pouring into the struggling bakeshop. When Jada suggests holding evening events, like a neighborhood book club, in the bakery after hours, Donovan reluctantly agrees. Business is booming, so who is he to argue with success.

Between Jada’s events and her social media following, business is booming. These enemies become lovers but this is no easy trip down Lovers Lane, there are enough hurdles to give the football player a real workout. This is a good enemies-to-lovers romance, but even though the male protagonist is an athlete, everything takes place in the off season, so to me, it doesn’t fall into the sports romance category. But it is a terrific story with a lot of laughs, great characters, a bit of heat, and enough drama to keep the pages turning. I’m hoping this is the first book of a series; Donovan has two partners in the bakery that are also his teammates – seems like a natural.

7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FAKE IT TILL YOU BAKE IT by Jamie Wesley. Griffin (June 21, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-1250801852. 336p.





HOTTIE ON HER SHELF by Christi Barth

July 15, 2022

From the publisher:

Hallie Scott expected the hangover from her thirtieth birthday. She did not expect to find her calm, orderly life as Swan Cove’s head librarian to completely change overnight when her best friend added Hallie to the mayoral ballot because of one little remark. One. Now she’s going head-to-head with the small coastal town’s prominent “prince,” Fitz Montgomery…whose charm is about to get seriously checked.

All Fitz wants is to prove himself, beyond being the latest in the unbroken line of Montgomery mayors. Nobody, least of all Fitz, expected the town’s cute-as-hell librarian to step up and run against him. Hallie’s definitely in over her head, which is a problem, since Fitz wants a fair fight. But is he helping Hallie level the playing field…or arming his opponent?

Hallie and Fitz are on completely different sides. Their backgrounds, their lives, their ongoing ebook vs paperback argument. But they’re both about to learn that the art of war is nowhere near as complicated as falling for the enemy…


This was as cute a book as the title suggested! I always love a librarian protagonist, and Hallie is a good one; not exactly a stereotype, but I recognized her among my co-workers for sure. She’s smart and determined and always has the facts on her side. So after ranting about the mayor, her best friend puts Hallie’s name on the ballot and the race is on.

Hallie may be many things, but a politician she is not. Her opponent, Fitz Montgomery, is his family’s heir apparent. The Montgomery’s own many of the businesses in town, live in a huge home, and have basically run things in this small town for over a hundred years. Fitz is the latest Montgomery to become mayor, after his uncle retired and moved to Florida. Turns out there is more to that story, but no spoilers here.

Fitz sincerely welcomes the competition. He is not comfortable being mayor, but tries to do a good job anyway, and wants a fair fight. At their first event, Hallie’s fact spouting doesn’t earn her any admirers and she knows it. Fitz offers to help her learn to be a politician and Hallie eventually acquiesces. That forces them to spend some time together and they both realize they are developing feelings for one another.

This is a really fun, contemporary rom-com with some nice surprises along the way. Both of these characters have more depth than meets the eye, and as they learn about one another, we can see they are meant to be together, despite Hallie’s being born on the wrong side of the tracks. Librarians will love this for sure, and so will readers who enjoy small town romances with an enemies to lovers vibe.

7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HOTTIE ON HER SHELF by Christi Barth. Entangled: Amara (July 11, 2022). ASIN: ‎B0B1BWBH5F. 325p.





July 8, 2022

Majestic Maine, Book 1

From the publisher:

A shy woman. Her outdoorsy crush. And the bet that could bring them together…or implode spectacularly.

Nell Delaney will do almost anything for her parents and her two sisters. But enter a marriage of convenience to save the family’s coffee shop? Too far. So Nell and her sisters strike a deal: whoever hasn’t found love in thirty days has to step up to take one for the team. The good news? Nell knows the perfect guy to fall in love with. The bad news? She’s going to have to pretend she likes the outdoors…a lot.

Adventure guide Grant Williams knows immediately that Nell is not exactly Little Miss Outdoorsy. She’s a walking natural disaster―an amazingly adorable disaster. And whoa, their chemistry is unbelievable. Everything between them is so perfect, he’s not even a little bit shocked when he starts thinking of forever…

Right up until he catches the town gossiping about the Delaney sisters’ bargain and realizes she’s just using him to win a bet. His family’s unreliable reputation means he can’t just dump one of the town’s sweethearts. No, she needs to dump him. If she’s going to pretend to be the perfect doting bride, well, he’ll just pretend to be the worst bachelor on the market.

Let the games begin…

Each book in the Majestic, Maine series is a STANDALONE:

1. First Bride to Fall

2. Second Bride Down


The premise of this series is a bit farfetched, but it’s such a good romance that it didn’t matter. Three sisters are told by their parents that the only way to save their family business and home is for one of them to marry the son of their former business partner who screwed them over. So the three girls decide whoever isn’t married or engaged within 30 days will have to be the bride.

Nell is the oldest of the sisters, and she has always taken care of her siblings to the point where she still makes them lunch! These women are all adults, in fact Nell is pushing 30 so she really needs to take a step back. She has always prioritized taking care of her family and friends over herself, but she doesn’t want to the bride of anyone except Grant. The only problem is Grant doesn’t know she’s alive.

Grant was a couple of years ahead of Nell in high school, and a popular, well liked boy who always had a girlfriend. Nell was a bit of a loner with typical high school low self esteem. They both still live in this small town in Maine, but she works for the family coffee business, and he owns an outdoor adventure store and guide business. With the clock ticking, Nell decides it’s now or never. She signs up for a “moderate” hike with Grant and arrives late and inappropriately dressed for the hike. But there is definite chemistry between them.

When Nell’s fear of heights throws her into a panic, Grant stays behind to help her down. But then she lands badly and twists her ankle, the skies open up and they are in a deluge which wipes out the bridge and the road back. Luckily, Grant has a fishing cabin nearby, so he helps her get there to dry off and wait out the storm. Since they can’t get back until the bridge and road is repaired, they get to spend the night together; Grant takes the couch and gives Nell the bed. He takes good care of her sprained ankle, makes her dinner, and really makes her feel special.

The next morning, Grant decides to see if he can get through on the back road, and by clearing a fallen tree, he makes it back to town to her family’s cafe. He is truly smitten and wants to surprise Nell with her favorite coffee and breakfast pastry. But while he’s there, her sisters let slip the bet and somehow think he and Nell are engaged. Instead, he is enraged by hides it well. He cooks up a plan to act like a Neanderthal so that Nell will break up with him. Instead, she realizes that something’s up, Grant is not the same man she has loved from afar all these years.

They manage to really piss each other off and Nell quickly plans to become the bride to save her family. I was so involved with this romance that I couldn’t put the book down and was totally invested in their happily ever after. I imagine the other two books in this trilogy will be about the other sisters, and I am looking forward to their stories.

7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FIRST BRIDE TO FALL by Ginny Baird. Entangled: Amara (June 28, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-1649372109. 352p.





MY DOUBLE LIFE by Angela Pearse 

June 24, 2022

From the publisher:

A witty, entertaining rom-com about an introverted librarian with a wild side

Emma McTavish likes nothing better than curling up with a good book. But sometimes she just wants to be a little bit naughty

Struggling to make ends meet, librarian Emma McTavish takes on a side gig as a life model to earn some extra cash. Knowing her straitlaced realtor boyfriend won’t approve, she keeps it quiet.

But her spur-of-the-moment decision starts making life complicated. Suddenly she’s juggling her job, her boyfriend, her sexy new flatmate, and posing nude for a bunch of strangers. Then, one night, she accidentally overhears a conversation that changes everything.

As her life begins to fall apart in spectacular fashion, Emma realises that giving her alter ego the reins isn’t such a bad idea. Actually, it could be the perfect way to get out of the mess she’s in.

A high-spirited heroine who can’t help getting into trouble. Expect shocking secrets, hilarious mix-ups and a heartfelt romance!


I really enjoyed this contemporary romance set in Edinburgh, Scotland. I feel like most of the romances I read that are set in Scotland are historical, so this was a nice change. And having a heroine who is a librarian is just the icing on the cake.

Emma has been in a relationship with Callum for two years. They met when she went to his real estate office to find an apartment. He got her a great apartment in an upscale neighborhood, and they’ve been seeing each other ever since. But the relationship is tepid at best; their sex life has morphed into quickies a few times a week, leaving Emma deeply unsatisfied. It seems like they are just staying together out of habit more than anything.

When Emma’s rent goes up and she is turned down for a promotion yet again, Callum decides she should take on a roommate and arranges meetings with several women. Emma’s closest friend at the library knows someone who needs a place to stay, but he’s a guy and Callum would never approve. Emma decides to meet him anyway, and he is by far the best of the lot of possible roommates. Plus he is hot and there seems to be instant chemistry there. Emma decides to intimate to Callum that Nathan is probably gay, and he goes along with it to an extreme.

Meanwhile, Emma decides to become a “life model” which I believe we call a nude model here in the states. She poses nude for art classes and makes good money doing it. But she knows Callum would never approve so she keeps it from him. It turns out Callum has some secrets of his own, leading the way to a breakup and new relationship with Nathan.

Emma starts off as a wishy-washy type character to me, but she grows and becomes stronger and more independent. Her relationship with Callum was doomed from the start, but I liked that way the story flowed and that Nathan had his own issues as well. There were some very steamy scenes, a lot of witty banter, and some truly funny moments, making this a fast read and a fun one.

6/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MY DOUBLE LIFE by Angela Pearse.  Clamp Ltd (May 4, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-1914531941. 379p.





June 24, 2022

From the publisher:

Dawson Shay could never be accused of being a bubbly ray of sunshine. Like, not ever. But her outlook on life has only gotten worse since she moved across the country for her dream job rebuilding motorcycles…only to lose the job to someone else. Now her run of bad luck includes a wilderness retreat with the entire company—including the asshat who stole her job. Fortunately, Tully Faulkner’s bearded, tattooed hotness is pretty much the perfect distraction.

Except, Tully isn’t just Mr. Hometown Hero, he’s also said asshat who stole her job. And if he thinks he can win her over with his ability to charm the pants off everybody else, he’s got another thing coming. But Dawson can’t avoid him forever… or the seriously hot sparks between them. Somewhere between the breathtaking northern lights and teaming up to win their company’s scavenger hunt, Dawson starts to think that Tully’s magic touch might be just what she’s been missing.

But even sexy gearheads have their secrets. And Dawson’s about to discover that falling for the too-perfect-to-be-true Tully might just backfire on her completely…


Dawson is not your typical heroine. She’s a bad ass, motorcycle gear head with a troubled family past. She is offered the job of managing a motorcycle shop, so she packs up and moves from California to the east coast. But when she arrives, she finds out the apartment she was supposed to be renting has burned to the ground. And the job she was promised was given to someone else; Tully, one of the locals. They offer her a job of managing the car side of the business and she not-too-happily takes it. To pile on to the misery, her new bosses are mandating everyone attend a week long team building exercise, camping in the mountains and doing all those forced “fun” activities designed to get everyone on the same page.

It’s a good premise for an always fun enemies-to-lovers romance, except there are a lot of rough edges here. I kept thinking a good editor could have turned this book from a pretty good read to an outstanding one, (but no one asked me!) I liked these characters, and their banter is a lot of fun to read. There are some steamy scenes as well, for those who need to know that. I loved how the author dealt with body issues as well, it was reminiscent of early Jennifer Weiner, which is high praise indeed.

This was a fun, funny romance and a quick read that was most enjoyable. Perfect summer fodder!

6/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

TINKERING WITH LOVE by Aliyah Burke. Entangled: Amara (June 20, 2022). ASIN: ‎B0B1BV4MR7. 269p.




EVERY SUMMER AFTER by Carley Fortune

June 17, 2022

From the publisher:


Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right.

They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past. 

Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic story of love and the people and choices that mark us forever.

Named One of the Hottest Reads of Summer 2022 by Today ∙ Parade ∙ PopSugar ∙ USA Today ∙ SheReads ∙ BuzzFeed ∙ BookBub ∙ Bustle ∙and more!


This is a second chance romance, and a really good one. In fact, I haven’t read this good a debut novel since Lyssa Kay Adams’ Bromance Book Club. While this isn’t the most original plot, the writing is superb and the story builds beautifully.

Written in chapters that alternate from Percy and Sam’s meeting as children and every summer they spent together to the current timeline makes this a slow building romance with quite a bit of tension underlying it all. We know something happened to break them up many years earlier, but first we have to see how their romance developed over those summers spent at the lake. While Sam’s family lived in their cottage year round, Percy’s family used their cottage for summers and occasional holidays. Teen romances rarely make it through adulthood, (my own is an exception – our 41st anniversary is this month!) so it’s not really a surprise that they broke up. But it is fun watching the romance develop as they grow up, and then wondering how it all fell apart.

Percy is a one night stand or short relationships sort of girl. Her latest was her longest and it was only a few months before she was dumped – for good reason. She doesn’t let anyone in; she zealously guards her heart.

The story really starts to unfold when Charlie, Sam’s older brother, calls her to say that their mother has passed away. Percy loved her like a second mother, but hadn’t known she was sick since they’d been out of touch for so long. She hasn’t seen Sam for ten years, but it doesn’t take much convincing for her to pack up and go to the lake. The funeral isn’t for a few days, but she wants to be there for the brothers. And even though it’s been such a long time, Percy is still heartsick when she meets Sam’s knockout of a girlfriend of over two years.

This is a sweet story with a bit of heat now and then, and I was totally invested in these characters and their story. I was torn between wanting to keep turning the pages, but knowing as I kept going that I also didn’t want it to end. There are many funny moments, but also some that had me crying – this is an emotional rollercoaster of a read, and I loved it. My favorite book of the summer so far!

6/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

EVERY SUMMER AFTER by Carley Fortune.  Penguin Publishing Group (May 10, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593438534. 320p.





BY THE BOOK by Jasmine Guillory

June 17, 2022

A Meant To Be Novel, Book 2

From the publisher:

Sometimes to truly know a person, you have to read between the lines.

Isabelle is completely lost. When she first began her career in publishing after college, she did not expect to be twenty-five, still living at home, and one of the few Black employees at her publishing house. Overworked and underpaid, constantly torn between speaking up or stifling herself, Izzy thinks there must be more to this publishing life. So when she overhears her boss complaining about a beastly high-profile author who has failed to deliver his long-awaited manuscript, Isabelle sees an opportunity to finally get the promotion she deserves.

All she has to do is go to the author’s Santa Barbara mansion and give him a pep talk or three. How hard could it be?.

But Izzy quickly finds out she is in over her head. Beau Towers is not some celebrity lightweight writing a tell-all memoir. He is jaded and withdrawn and―it turns out―just as lost as Izzy. But despite his standoffishness, Izzy needs Beau to deliver, and with her encouragement, his story begins to spill onto the page. They soon discover they have more in common than either of them expected, and as their deadline nears, Izzy and Beau begin to realize there may be something there that wasn’t there before.

Best-selling author Jasmine Guillory’s achingly romantic reimagining of a classic is a tale as old as time . . . for a new generation.

“Endearing….A sweet read.” Kirkus Reviews


This is the second book of a series, but in an interesting twist a different author, Julie Murphy, wrote the first book, If the Shoe Fits. That book was a modern day retelling of Cinderella; this books is the modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It’s a great premise for a series (see the Fairy Tale Series by Eloisa James for an historical retelling of these stories and more.)

Isabelle has always wanted to be a writer, but realistically, she takes a job in publishing. As a Black woman, she is definitely in the minority at work, a not uncommon phenomenon in the publishing industry. But she keeps her head down and works her butt off as an editorial assistant. One of her responsibilities is to stay on top of authors to make sure they meet their deadlines. Or as their million dollar child star author, Beau Towers, demonstrates, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by,” generally credited to Douglas Adams. Beau is so far past his deadline that they are inches away from giving up on the project.

Isabelle has been sending him reminder emails weekly with no response. Phone calls never get through, either. It’s gotten to the point where she is convinced no one is actually reading her emails; not the early earnest ones, and not the latest snarky ones. Not Beau, and not her boss who she copies on every email. When her boss takes Izzy to California for a book convention, Izzy gets the idea that she should go visit their reclusive author and maybe if she gives him a pep talk, in person, he will get writing.

Izzy arrives at his Santa Barbara estate and is shocked when he throws her out of his house. His assistant follows her out but slips and twists her ankle. Izzy helps her back inside and when Beau sees her, they have a bit of a showdown. He demands that she start giving him pep talks immediately.

Beau ends up asking her to stay for a few days, and she works hard at breaking through his tough shell. Those few days turn into a few weeks, and their relationship starts softening and growing as they get to know one another. Izzy still has to do all her regular work remotely, but Beau is the priority as she gets him to actually start writing.

I loved spending time with these characters and their snappy, often laugh out loud funny moments. The romance develops slowly, making that happy ending all the more heartfelt. This was a fun read, and I can’t help but wonder which author will be writing the next book in this series. I’m looking forward to it. And since the publisher is Disney, I can’t help but wonder if movies will be made!

6/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

BY THE BOOK by Jasmine Guillory. Hyperion Avenue (May 3, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-1368053389. 320p.