January 30, 2020


From the publisher:


When little-known writer Taylor Scott is granted two weeks to interview a famous reclusive author, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. So is the chance to rekindle her friendship with Mike Greene, who happens to be the author’s assistant. But as feelings deepen and time winds down, Taylor will have to choose between the story that could launch her career and an unexpected chance at love.

A Touch of Heaven

As Regan Amerson makes the emotional decision to sell their family home, her mother wins a home makeover from a reality TV show. Regan is furious, and jaded host Sawyer Bennett isn’t thrilled either. That is, until he meets Regan–and finds himself enamored by the fiercely independent beauty. She may want nothing to do with him, but Sawyer isn’t one to give up easily…

This book is a reissue of two previously published stories by Samantha Chase: Exclusive and A Touch of Heaven.  I enjoyed Chase’s Shaughnessy Brothers series and eagerly awaited each new title.  However, her other works have tended to be hit or miss with me.  Unfortunately, this collection was a miss.  Each of the stories is more of a novella length.  I find the novella to be a difficult format for romance.  The compressed nature of novella doesn’t really give enough time for the characters to develop or the story to breathe.  Both Exclusive and A Touch of Heaven shared this issue with both relationships feeling superficial.  The plots felt rushed and there was really no pay off with the couples in either story.  Both just sort of instantly fall in love and it’s a little unclear to the reader why.

Of the two stories I enjoyed Exclusive the least.  There was little tension to the plot and the mystery was very straightforward and easy to guess.  While neither Taylor nor Mike clicked with me as characters, I found Mike to be a difficult romantic lead to like.  He came across as very manipulative of Taylor and petulant when he didn’t get his way.  Taylor is passive throughout the story and one dimensional.  The story also wrapped up much too quickly with a tidy ending that did not seem earned.  A Touch of Heaven is slightly better, if only because neither lead is as unlikeable as Mike.  The premise of Regan and her mother appearing on a home makeover show had potential but again the plot felt underdeveloped and very straightforward.  Regan and Sawyer fall in love instantly, but do not seem to communicate well.  They talk about what a deep connection they have, but this is told to the reader not shown.  Like Exclusive there is a rushed and tidy ending to the story.

Overall, skip this collection as the stories lack substance or likeable characters.  Try Chase’s Shaughnessy Brothers series instead.

1/2020 Caitlin Brisson

EXCLUSIVE/A TOUCH OF HEAVEN by Samantha Chase. Sourcebooks Casablanca (November 6, 2018). ISBN 978149262268. 416 p.


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.

WHAT YOU BREAK by Reed Farrel Coleman

March 27, 2017

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A Gus Murphy Novel, Book 2

Setting a thriller out in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York immediately drew my attention. I went to high school in that area and still have friends there. Nelson DeMille may own Nassau County, Long Island, NY (love the John Corey books and all his earlier thrillers) but now Coleman owns Suffolk. It’s always fun to see places you know pop up in a book and it adds another level of enjoyment. Of course, if you’ve never been to New York you get an interesting overview of an area even most visitors don’t see.

When I got married (in Nassau County) one of my bridesmaids was my roommate from the University of Miami. She was from Kansas City, Missouri and had never been to New York. She was shocked at Long Island. She thought all of New York was like the city, Manhattan, which is heavily featured in most NY films and TV shows. And in reality, Manhattan is only 23.7 square miles while the state of NY is 54,556 square miles, so you can see it is just a drop in the bucket. But I digress.

Gus Murphy is a retired Suffolk County detective who lost a child and never really recovered from it. His marriage fell apart, and he took a job as security at the Paragon hotel near MacArthur Airport in Islip, a sleepy little airport that mostly shuttles snowbirds back and forth to Florida. He also runs the shuttle to and from the airport and the train. In exchange for his services, he lives for free in a hotel room, a rather dreary existence but one that suits his needs.

Gus’s friend, former priest Bill Kilkenny, introduces him to a wealthy businessman, Micah Spears, whose granddaughter had been murdered and he wants to know why. Having lost a child himself, and being offered remuneration that would help keep his son’s name alive, Gus can’t say no despite not liking or trusting the man.

Gus is friendly with another hotel employee, Slava, who has a shadowy past that comes to the forefront. Gus delivers a new hotel guest to the Paragon and something about him just sets off Gus’s cop spidey-sense. When he sees the guest go off with Slava, he follows them to Brooklyn.

Gus parks down the street and watches as they talk to a man outside a house there and leave, and the man is brutally assassinated immediately after. After witnessing the cold blooded execution, Gus ends up protecting his friend from a Russian mercenary, street gangs and even some cops.

The pages fly in this ultimately dark and violent thriller. I didn’t read the first book in the series, but didn’t feel like I missed anything because Coleman offers enough back story to fill in the blanks. Coleman delivers another very good thriller.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WHAT YOU BREAK by Reed Farrel Coleman. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (February 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-0399173042. 368p.


SAY NOTHING by Brad Parks

March 20, 2017

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When will I learn not to start a thriller at 11:00 at night when I have to be at work at 7:30 the next morning?! Using every ounce of self discipline I have (which isn’t very much, I’m sorry to say) I read a little more than half of this book by 2:00 a.m, when I forced myself to go to bed. Sleep was slow in coming and I found myself waking at 3:45 and again at 5 to check on my daughter. No, she’s not a young child, but she’s mine and apparently this plotline was weighing heavily on my mind.

This is a hybrid domestic/legal thriller, two of my favorites mashed up together. Judge Scott Sampson is the happily married father of young twins. Wednesday afternoons he picks up the kids and they go swimming, so he’s really disappointed when Allison, his wife, texts him and says she forgot they have a doctor’s appointment that afternoon so she would pick them up.

Except she didn’t. And he didn’t. But someone who resembles Allison and was driving a gray Honda minivan did and both kids are now missing.

The judge is told to say nothing and how to rule in a case coming before him the next day. They are both frightened and freaking out, to say the least. The judge’s first impulse is to call the courthouse cops, but Allison is adamant they follow instructions exactly. But that first instruction is only the beginning. It turns out a much bigger case is in play.

The tension is almost unbearable at times in this fast paced, emotionally riveting read. This is Park’s first standalone thriller. I loved his Carter Ross mystery series but this is a big departure and extremely well done.

Parks’ Say Nothing got the trifecta of starred reviews, an enviable feat, from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. And if I starred reviews, he’d get mine, too. Don’t miss it.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SAY NOTHING by Brad Parks. Dutton (March 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-1101985595. 448p.


KILLER CHEF by James Patterson

February 19, 2017
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Click to purchase

Contributor: Jeffrey J. Keyes

James Patterson is hands down the world’s most prolific, traditionally published, adult fiction author. I’ve read many of his early Alex Cross books, and it is my understanding that he stills writes those. I also read the first half dozen Women’s Murder Club books. But all the other books over the years, the Women’s Murder Club, Private, Michael Bennett series and most of the standalones carry another author’s name. I am not finding fault here, in fact Patterson has turned many midlist authors into international bestsellers, and that is a good thing. Another good thing is his new imprint, BookShots.

BookShots were conceived as a way to get people who don’t read to pick up a book. I pulled this from the BookShots website:

Welcome to BookShots by James Patterson. Life moves fast—books should too. Pulse-pounding thrillers under $5 and 150 pages or less. Impossible to put down. Read on any device. Visit BookShots.com

Last summer, Alexandra Alter wrote an interesting piece about it in the New York Times, and she said, “Mr. Patterson’s plan: make them shorter, cheaper, more plot-driven and more widely available.” The books are all less than 150 pages and less than $5. If he’s right, and so far it looks like he may be on to something, more people will be reading books, and that makes this librarian (and former bookseller) happy.

So I decided to try one out. Killer Chef is set in New Orleans where a serial killer is targeting upscale couples and somehow poisoning their dinners at different restaurants. But the Killer Chef is not the murderer; he is the detective in charge of solving the crime, who works a second job as a partner/chef of a food truck.

The story moves quickly, the hallmark of all James Patterson books. Likewise, the undeveloped characters and plot, also trademark Patterson, but it feels almost deliberate. The book is entertaining in the way of a mediocre TV show, which I think was kind of the point.

I have recommended these Bookshots to high school students through adults who are reluctant readers, and have gotten mixed feedback. But I really like the idea of these books, and there are already quite a few available, and in every genre from romance to mystery to sci-fi to thrillers.

Not sure what the difference between co-author and contributor is, but it doesn’t matter. It has the Patterson name on it and it will sell.

2/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

KILLER CHEF by James Patterson. BookShots (November 1, 2016).  ISBN 978-0316317245. 144p.



July 6, 2016
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Click to purchase ebook

A Maiden Lane Novella

Hippolyta Royle has just escaped from a kidnapper. This is no ordinary kidnapper, however. No ransom was involved; instead the kidnapper, a Duke, wants to marry the wealthy heiress, but she’s not interested. More to the point, she wants out and with the help of a kind maid, makes her escape, wearing borrowed, ill fitting clothes and running through the rainy woods, the hounds after her.

Eventually she makes it to the road, a mud splattered mess, where she flags down a passing coach, begging a ride. The occupant, Mr. Matthew Mortimer, takes pity on her, thinking her to be a poor beggar girl or perhaps even a prostitute.

They have quite the adventure as they travel to London, where they each find out the other’s true identity and realize they are meant to be together.

This is a novella and available as an ebook or audiobook only, so I can’t say how long it is exactly. I can say I read it in an hour or so and enjoyed it. Hoyt is a good storyteller, and that comes across even in this abbreviated format.

7/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ONCE UPON A MOONLIT NIGHT by Elizabeth Hoyt. Forever Yours (July 5, 2016). ASIN: B01CDDAF88. 464p.


Audio CD