FIRST COMES LIKE by Alisha Rai

June 6, 2021

Modern Love, Book 3

From the publisher:

The author of The Right Swipe and Girl Gone Viral returns with a story about finding love in all the wrong inboxes…

Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.

There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.

The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…

When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life? 


I really liked The Right Swipe, so I’m not sure how but I missed Girl Gone Viral. I will be looking for that soonest! Because I liked this book a lot as well.

Rai writes charming, sweet romances set in her Muslim culture, which I find very interesting. In this story, our heroine, Jia, is a wannabe beauty influencer. She’s getting to where she wants to go and isn’t in the market for love. Except her family is driving her crazy, and she may have met someone.

Dev is Bollywood royalty, and when he DMs Jia, she falls fast and thinks he has, as well. She pushes for a meeting but he’s holding her off. Then she ends up at an event where she finally meets him – except he has no idea who she is. Apparently she’s been catfished. But there is an attraction there, so when Jia asks Dev to be her fake boyfriend to keep her family off her back, he agrees.

Fake relationships always turn into the real thing – it is a classic trope of the romance genre and one that I enjoy. On the other hand, I’ve never known anyone who was in a fake relationship or fake engagement, but I’m not one to rule it out. I choose to believe.

I like the strong, feminist characters here and the sweet romance that is culturally appropriate. An excellent addition to the Modern Love series.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FIRST COMES LIKE by Alisha Rai. Avon (February 16, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062878151. 432 pages.

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THE DATING PLAN by Sara Desai

May 28, 2021

From the publisher:

Even with a step-by-step plan, these fake fiancés might accidentally fall for each other in this hilarious, heartfelt romantic comedy from the author of The Marriage Game.

Daisy Patel is a software engineer who understands lists and logic better than bosses and boyfriends. With her life all planned out, and no interest in love, the one thing she can’t give her family is the marriage they expect. Left with few options, she asks her childhood crush to be her decoy fiancé.

Liam Murphy is a venture capitalist with something to prove. When he learns that his inheritance is contingent on being married, he realizes his best friend’s little sister has the perfect solution to his problem. A marriage of convenience will get Daisy’s matchmaking relatives off her back and fulfill the terms of his late grandfather’s will. If only he hadn’t broken her tender teenage heart nine years ago…

Sparks fly when Daisy and Liam go on a series of dates to legitimize their fake relationship. Too late, they realize that very little is convenient about their arrangement. History and chemistry aren’t about to follow the rules of this engagement.


The fake fiancée is at the forefront of this terrific romcom. Daisy and Liam go way back; they were childhood friends. But they haven’t seen each other in years. Daisy is career driven, but her traditional family is making her crazy – they want to see her married. Liam is in even deeper trouble. His inheritance is contingent on him marrying, so these old friends decide that they are the answer to each other’s problem. So the fake fiancée is born.

Daisy and Liam need to learn more about one another as adults, plus they need to date to have everyone believing their story. Falling in love was never the plan, but of course that’s what happens.

I loved Desai’s last book, The Marriage Game, and this new one lived up to my expectations. A super fun romance – don’t miss it!

A LibraryReads Pick!

One of…

SheReads’ Most Anticipated Romance Books of 2021
GoodReads’ Hottest 2021 Romances
Marie Claires Best New Romance Novels of 2021 (So Far)
PopSugar’s Best New Romance Books of March 2021
HelloGiggles’s Best New Books to Read in March

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE DATING PLAN by Sara Desai. Berkley (March 16, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593100585. 352 pages.

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HANA KHAN CARRIES ON by Uzma Jalaluddin

May 23, 2021

From the publisher:

One of Amazon’s Best Romances of the Month!

For fans of “You’ve Got Mail,” a young woman juggles pursuing her dream job in radio while helping her family compete with the new halal restaurant across the street, in this sparkling new rom-com by the author of Ayesha at Last

Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighborhood of Toronto. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening her mother’s restaurant.

When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighborhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant–who might not be a complete stranger after all.

As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be.


Once I saw the comparison to “You’ve Got Mail,” this became a must read for me. The comparison is apt so I was pretty sure I knew what was going on fairly early in the story, but that in no way lessened its appeal. Plus it revolves around restaurants, always in my wheelhouse, and in addition to a wonderful love story, there is a gentle look at hate crimes and this book makes it personal, always a good thing.

Hana loves radio and found her dream internship with the local NPR station. Set in Toronto, a new to me setting, in an Indian neighborhood called the Golden Crescent, it just adds depth to the story. I loved learning about the culture, the food, and these characters, and we get to know them well.

There are some complications at work that make Hana’s life a little bit stressful. But when she is attacked for her ethnicity, things really take a turn for the worse. What could have been a dark turn, instead the author uses it in a more gentle way which I really appreciated.

Aydin is a wonderful hero, young, good looking, but most of all kind and generous. But his father! Every good story needs a bad guy and while he has a small role, it is a memorable one. The other secondary characters all play their parts in making this an interesting book, but it is the sweet romance at the heart of things that really drew me in.

This was a wonderful read from the author of another fabulous book, Ayesha at Last. Don’t miss it!

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HANA KHAN CARRIES ON by Uzma Jalaluddin. Sourcebooks Casablanca (January 19, 2021). ISBN: 978-1728226316. 384 pages.

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DIAL A FOR AUNTIES by Jesse Q. Sutanto

April 27, 2021

From the publisher:

One of PopSugar’s “42 Books Everyone Will Be Talking About in 2021”!

What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2 thousand wedding guests, and then toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family? 

You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming to the rescue! 

When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for the family wedding business—”Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!”—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?


This is a top ten favorite on the April Library Reads list, and as far as I’m concerned, it should have been number one! Part mystery, part romance, part family drama, but mostly laugh-out-loud funny, this book hits it out of the park. And I’m super excited that Netflix is on board.

Meddy is the good girl in her family. There is a family curse where all the men leave, leaving her mom and her sisters to make up her family. Even her boy cousins have all moved away, but as much as Meddy wanted a different life, she just could not bring herself to leave her mom and her aunties, so she breaks up with the love of her life as he has been offered his dream job across the country. It just about kills Meddy, but she goes on with her life, settling into the family wedding planning business and trying not to think about the one who got away.

Her mom decides Meddy needs to meet someone so like all overly involved, well meaning moms, she sets up a fake profile for Meddy on a dating app, and pretends to be Meddy. There are red flags aplenty, but her mom, who is not a native English speaker never mind a keen reader of emojis, doesn’t realize what she’s done when she sets Meddy up on a blind date with a man she met online. It turns out he is as bad a guy as one could meet online, and Meddy accidentally kills him in self defense. I’m not spoiling anything here, this happens at the beginning of the book.

Meddy panics, dumps him in the trunk of her car, and takes him home to her mother, who calls in the aunties. These are the kind of relatives everyone should have, the kind who help you get rid of a body. But what ensues is just chaos, and it is hilarious. In between the insanity though, Meddy runs into the love of her life. Turns out he’s moved back and is now running the hotel where the family is running their biggest wedding yet.

Lots of over the top situations and slapstick humor, and it really works here. This book had me laughing out oud several times, and I I enjoyed every page. Honestly, it reminded me of the first few Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich) books only with a happy ending, and that is high praise! I also really liked learning about Chinese/Indonesian culture. This one is sure to make my best books of the year list – don’t miss it.

4/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

DIAL A FOR AUNTIES by Jesse Q. Sutanto. Berkley (April 27, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593333037. 320 pages.

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ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWN by Talia Hibbert

April 24, 2021

The Brown Sisters, Book 3

From the publisher:

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In Talia Hibbert’s newest rom-com, the flightiest Brown sister crashes into the life of an uptight B&B owner and has him falling hard—literally.

Featured on Parade, PopSugar, Marie Claire, Oprah Mag, Bustle, Shondaland, CNN.com, Kirkus Magazine, Bookpage, USA Today, Bookish, Bookriot, and more!

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong. So she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore… and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.


This has turned into one of my favorite series, but I’m afraid I’ve reached the end. I’m pretty sure there are only three sisters, and honestly it’s hard to say whether they’ve saved the best for last. I’ve loved all these books!

Eve may be a mess, but she knows she is the most “normal” one in the family. Her two sisters are on the autism spectrum, so she recognizes Jacob’s issues immediately and better yet, knows exactly how to treat him. But he’s not going to be that easy.

After Eve accidentally hits him with her car, giving him a broken arm and a nasty concussion, she feels guilty enough to stick around and help out. Jacob doesn’t really want her there but he doesn’t have any other options. To his shock, his customers love her, her food is amazing, and he can’t help but like her too, as much as he fights it.

Meanwhile she has pretty much dropped off the face of the earth to her family, which suits her just fine. She is determined to prove them wrong about her and her flightiness by sticking with this job, even if Jacob is fighting her at every turn.

I loved these characters so much and I especially loved how Eve grew and learned about herself. The romance – enemies to lovers – was great, but it was the story and these characters that really drew me in. These books do not have to be read in order, but I highly recommend reading them all – they are really terrific! Can’t wait to see what Hibbert does next.

4/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWN by Talia Hibbert. Avon (March 9, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062941275. 400 pages.

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ACCIDENTALLY ENGAGED by Farah Heron

April 3, 2021

ACCIDENTALLY ENGAGED by Farah Heron. Forever (March 2, 2021). ISBN 978-1538734988. 368 pages.

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IF THE BOOT FITS by Rebekah Weatherspoon

November 17, 2020

IF THE BOOT FITS by Rebekah Weatherspoon. Dafina (October 27, 2020). ISBN 978-1496725417. 288 pages.

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LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT by Suzanne Park

November 9, 2020

LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT by Suzanne Park. Avon (August 18, 2020). ISBN 978-0062990693. 368 pages.

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SPOILER ALERT by Olivia Dade

November 6, 2020

SPOILER ALERT by Olivia Dade. Avon (October 6, 2020). ISBN 978-0063005549. 416 pages.

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JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson

October 27, 2020

JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson. One World; Reprint Edition (August 18, 2015). ISBN 978-0812984965. 368 pages.

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