May 19, 2023

From the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookstore on the Beach

There are secrets that bring friends together, and others that drive them apart…

Mariners Island is barely ten miles long, but when Ivy, Ariana and Cam were teenagers, it was their whole world. Beyond the pristine beaches and iconic lighthouse lies the beautiful old library that belongs to Ivy’s family. While that bound Ivy to the island as an adult, Ariana could not leave Mariners behind fast enough. The town holds too many…memories. Not only her unrequited feelings for Cam, but the tragedy that left a scar on the community.

When a young girl went missing, a teenage Cam was unthinkably the prime suspect. Ariana and Ivy knew he couldn’t have hurt anyone, and they promised to protect him—even if it meant lying on his behalf.

Now, twenty years later, Ariana returns to Mariners just as new evidence emerges on the case, calling into question everything the three friends thought they knew—and everyone they thought they could trust. What really happened that night? Over the course of one eventful summer, Ariana, Ivy and Cam will learn the truth—about their pasts, their futures and the ties that still bind them as closely as the pages of a book…

“Filled with mystery and drama, coupled with themes of family ties and secrets. This page-turner will not disappoint.”—Booklist

An old mystery brings three old friends together, but their stories are about to change. A young girl had gone missing on this small island twenty years earlier. Ivy and Ariana stretched the truth a tiny bit and said that Cam was with them until almost midnight when in fact, they had separated an hour earlier. But they were best friends, and that’s what friends do for one another. Besides, they were positive Cam had nothing to do with the missing girl.

With no evidence, the case is put to rest until the body of a young girl is found at the beach. The case is reopened, and once again Cam is a suspect. Ivy never left the island; her family founded a library there and she still runs it. Ariana is back visiting when all of this comes to a head. A romance is brewing while the mystery starts to unravel. This is a pageturner for sure, with enough red herrings to keep the suspense going until the very end.

This was a fast-paced story with interesting characters and all the circumstantial evidence a mystery needs – until it gets solved. Novak is a great storyteller, and this novel of romantic suspense is a terrific beach read. Hello, summer!

5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE SEASIDE LIBRARY by Brenda Novak. MIRA; Original edition (April 11, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0778333517. 400p.







March 31, 2023

Wyoming Wilde, Book 3

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ryan returns to the Wyoming Wilde series as the third Wilde brother finds himself entangled with his ex-girlfriend after she’s witness to a murder and the killer’s next target. Perfect for fans of authors like Maisey Yates, Joanne Kennedy and Carolyn Brown as well as Diana Palmer, Linda Lael Miller, and BJ Daniels.

They’re tough, tenacious, and sometimes tormented; they’re the Wildes of Wyoming, three brothers whose family ties are as strong as their wills.

And when Max Wilde reunites with his lost love, he’ll do anything to keep her safe and in his arms…

Max Wilde lived up to his last name and then some. Years ago, he fell hard and fast for Kenna Baker, thinking they had a love that would last for all time. When a horrible misunderstanding drove them apart, Max thought his chance to find the kind of love his brothers have is gone forever. He changed his bad boy ways, but he never got over the one who got away.

Now, their lives have collided once again, as Kenna is the only witness to a murder and needs a place to hide while in protective custody. Max is determined to keep her safe on the ranch, and also maintain an emotional distance, but as they spend more time together, the lies and half-truths that once drove them apart are also uncovered, bringing them closer than ever.

Kenna has always laid claim to Max’s heart—and soul—but will he be able to save her…and their love…before it’s too late?

The first two books in his series were fast, fun, and suspenseful reads, and this one lives up to those.

The last Wilde brother to be single is also the youngest, and the one everyone thought would be married first. His high school sweetheart, Kenna, and he were bound for long-term, happily ever after, until she accused him of cheating on her. He was so hurt that she could even think that, he walked away without a fight. They were both young and hot-headed, and that was that. Until Kenna witnesses a murder and is now in protective custody. She needs a place to stay, and his ranch is offered up as a safe place for her. Max wants to protect her, but he is still angry with her.

Max has spent three years trying to forget Kenna by basically sleeping with every woman around. But he realized that wasn’t helping at all, and stopped. But now that Kenna is under his roof, his feelings are really mixed up. Of course, he wants her safe, but it is killing him to be so close to her yet not be with her.

The more time they spend together, the more Kenna and Max realize they still have those deep feelings for one another. Eventually, they figure out what happened to break them up and things start moving towards a happy ending – except for the little issue of someone trying to kill her.

Lots of action and suspense plus some sexy times make this a fast, fun read – especially since the happy ending is guaranteed. If you like second chance romances, cowboy romances, and romantic suspense, then this is your book, and it’s a terrific ending to the trilogy.

Wyoming Wilde Series:




3/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MAX WILDE’S COWBOY HEART by Jennifer Ryan. Avon (August 23, 2022). ISBN:‎  978-0063111424. 384p.






March 31, 2023

Wyoming Wilde, Book 2

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ryan returns to the Wyoming Wilde series as a by-the-book lawman tangles with a stubborn young woman. Perfect for fans of authors like Maisey Yates, Joanne Kennedy and Carolyn Brown as well as Diana Palmer, Linda Lael Miller, and BJ Daniels.

They’re tough, tenacious, and sometimes tormented; they’re the Wildes of Wyoming, three brothers whose family ties are as strong as their wills.

The last thing lawman Hunt Wilde ever dreamed he’d do was fall hard for a purple-haired troublemaker like Cyn Wilson. While Hunt believes in law and order, Cyn lives life fast and loose—with fast cars and wild nights. But when Cyn’s sister disappears, she surprisingly turns to him for help. Never let it be said that a Wilde man turned down a woman in distress—and on a mission.

It takes a lot for Cyn to swallow her pride and ask Hunt for anything. The man never gives her a break and is always staring at her with those perceptive eyes. But beneath Cyn’s tough exterior beats a heart as wide and beautiful as Wyoming itself—and soon she finds herself surrendering to the overpowering attraction simmering between them and partnering with him in the search for her missing sister.

She won’t rest until she learns the truth, even if that means putting herself in harm’s way. And when Hunt discovers how much danger Cyn is in because of him, he’s even more determined to take down the man who would take her out of Hunt’s life—forever.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and with the third now available, I realized I missed this one! No harm, no foul – I already had it on my Kindle (thanks, Netgalley!)

The three brothers Wilde are the connection between these books. This one focuses on Hunt, a cop who is always on the right side of the law. That’s why he keeps ticketing Cyn for speeding – he gave her a warning the first time, which she took to mean nothing at all. She is a wild woman, the anti-Hunt if you will, but he can’t help but be drawn to her. Especially as he gets to know her.

Cyn’s sister is in an abusive relationship. While it’s not all that graphic, it could be triggering to anyone who has lived with that. Ryan does a good job showing how women can get caught in a bad relationship, and how difficult it can be for them to get out. Cyn is a successful hairdresser with her own shop, and she’s even opening a second location in the next town over. She has a house big enough for her and her sister and her baby niece, if she can ever convince her sister to move out. She finally reaches that point but then her boyfriend loses his job and of course, blames her. When she disappears, Cyn is frantic and turns to Hunt for help.

The more time they spend together, the more Hunt realizes that there is way more to this woman than her wild reputation. She is a deeply caring, compassionate and empathetic person and he truly admires her. She is drawn to the steadiness Hunt exudes as he helps her to find her sister and the baby. With such a tumultuous story, somehow Cyn and Hunt find their way to one another, even as they follow the leads to her missing sister. There is a lot of suspense here, some appropriate violence (it’s never gratuitous) and some steamy sex, too. This was a quick, unputdownable read and the perfect jumping off point to read the next book in the series.

3/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SURRENDERING TO HUNT by Jennifer Ryan. Avon (August 23, 2022). ISBN:‎  978-0063111424. 384p.





IN ISABEAU’S EYES by Lora Leigh 

March 24, 2023

Kentucky Nights, Book 1

From the publisher:

The first novel in a new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh—you’ve met the Mackays; now it’s time to meet their friends.

Danger is stalking Isabeau Boudreaux. After the deaths of her parents ten years ago during a violent attack that left her blind, remnants of her vision are returning. But a series of accidents has convinced her friends the Mackays of Somerset, Kentucky, that someone wants her dead. When a roadside blowout proves to be almost fatal for Isabeau and her good friend Angel, Angel’s brother mercenary Tracker Calloway knows this was no accident.

After a particularly bloody job, the last thing Tracker wants to do is get involved. But whoever is after Isabeau almost hurt his sister, and Isabeau is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. Tracker is determined to protect her but knows staying away from Isabeau is impossible. He begins a steady seduction to tempt the innocent woman into a world of hunger like she could have never imagined. And keeping her is the only option—if he can save her from an unknown enemy as her sight begins to slowly return.

This was a different sort of read for me; the best way I can describe is that it’s an erotic romantic thriller! Isabeau is blind, and her brother and his best friends treat her as a fragile object. Isabeau was blinded when her father killed her mother, shot her in the head, then killed himself. She has had several “accidents” since the murder, and has escaped each time. But when her friend Angel’s driving her to a party, someone shoots out the tire, but somehow Angel manages to keep the car on the road until it is safe to pull over.

Angel’s brother Tracker is a mercenary and has experienced enough horror in his life to protect his heart at all costs. Until he meets Isabeau. He is very observant, and quickly realizes that she is not completely blind. He also thinks she is beautiful and wants her in his bed. He quickly seduces her, but it goes beyond sex. She feels safe with him. She is warned to protect her heart as he is not the type to stick around. and she tries. But as her sight slowly returns, more “accidents” keep happening, and Tracker realizes the killer is closing in.

Isabeau could never understand how her father, who was so loving and kind to her and her mother, could have done what she was told. But even Tracker doubts the story – why would someone else be trying to kill her if the man who shot her was already dead? It makes no sense but he will figure it out – eventually.

There is violence throughout the story and a lot of very explicit sex. I finished the book, but I doubt I’d read another in this series; it’s all a bit too much for me but it is a page-turner for sure.

3/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

IN ISABEAU’S EYES by Lora Leigh. Berkley (March 21, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0399583872. 288p.





Spotlight Review: JOHANNA PORTER IS NOT SORRY by Sara Read

March 7, 2023

From the publisher:

The headlines dubbed it the art heist of the decade…

Twenty years ago, Johanna Porter was a rising star in the art world. Now she’s an unknown soccer mom. When an invitation arrives for an elite gallery opening for her former lover, the great Nestor Pinedo, Johanna wants to throw it in the trash where it belongs. But with some styling help from her daughter, she makes an appearance and comes face-to-face with the woman she was before the powerful and jealous Nestor ruined her.

La Rosa Blanca is a portrait of Johanna herself, young and fierce and fearless—a masterwork with a price tag to match. When she cuts it out of its frame, rolls it up and walks out, Johanna is only taking back what was stolen from her.

Hiding out with La Rosa Blanca in a shack on the Chesapeake Bay, Johanna digs into the raw work of reviving her own skills while battling novice-thief paranoia, impostor syndrome and mom guilt. But Johanna doesn’t just want the painting—she wants to paint again. To harness her powerful talent, she must defy everyone’s expectations—most of all her own—for what a woman like her should be.

“Debut novelist Read has created a thoroughly sympathetic character in this witty, quick, and emotionally turbulent tale that will have readers cheering for Johanna well after the last page.”

I am almost hesitant to call this a debut as I’ve been burned on this before, but that’s what the publicist said so I’m going with it. I do not want to find out that this is just a pseudonym for someone who writes in other genres or used to write young adult and has pivoted to adult fare or whatever crazy reason the publisher decided to make this a debut. If you call it a debut, it better be their very first book of any kind (short stories don’t count.)

So this was a hard book to quantify. It starts off with Johanna complaining about how she used to be an artist twenty years earlier, and now she has been invited to some fancy, snooty art show featuring her mentor/lover, Nestor Pinedo, of the past. Since his daughter, Pilar, invited her, she decides to go as she has some kind of score to settle with the two of them – and she does.

One of Pinedo’s most famous paintings is of Johanna when she was just 23 years old, and it’s called La Rosa Blanca. At that party, Johanna manages to steal the painting. She just doesn’t want him to have it anymore. This is kind of a problem since the painting is valued at several million dollars. She starts panicking almost as soon as she does it, and she decides to go on the lam, of sorts; she and her ex share custody of their 16-year-old daughter so she can’t really disappear. But she can drive out to her dad’s old house on the lake. He moved to Florida and she has been taking care of the house for many years, but it’s not in great shape.

Johanna is very frustrated with her life. She’s teaching art at her daughter’s high school instead of making art. She’s been divorced for a few years with no great men in sight. Until she moves into that old house and meets the doctor next store, so to speak.

Mitchell had a bad fall and suffered severe nerve damage to his hand, rendering him unable to operate anymore. He has separated from his wife, and is living in their large, lavish vacation home. He asks Johanna if she would go out sailing with him; he’s afraid the useless hand will make him a useless sailor, and off they go, a new relationship in the making.

Meanwhile, Johanna can’t decide what to do with the stolen painting. Cops and private detectives are sniffing around, and Pilar is absolutely sure she stole it – but has no proof. The good doctor has some issues that weren’t readily apparent, and that relationship goes sideways for a while. Johanna gets back to her art, and while everything still seems all topsy-turvy, things finally start going right for her.

Part mystery, part romance, this is a complex story that probably could have used a bit more filling out, but it is a tight, fast-moving story with intriguing characters that would really work well for a book discussion group. It was a one day read for me, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next for Sara Read.

3/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

JOHANNA PORTER IS NOT SORRY by Sara Read. Graydon House; Original edition (March 7, 2023). ISBN:‎   978-1525899980. 320p.





Spotlight Review: STONE COLD FOX by Rachel Koller Croft

February 14, 2023

From the publisher:

A perfectly wicked debut thriller about an ambitious woman who, after a lifetime of conning alongside her mother, wants to leave her dark past behind and marry the heir to one of the country’s wealthiest families.

Like any enterprising woman, Bea knows what she’s worth and is determined to get all she deserves—it just so happens that what she deserves is to marry rich. Filthy rich. After years of forced instruction by her mother in the art of swindling men, a now-solo Bea wants nothing more than to close and lock the door on their sordid partnership so she can disappear safely into old-money domesticity, sealing the final phase of her escape.

When Bea chooses her ultimate target in the fully loaded, thoroughly dull and blue-blooded Collin Case, she’s ready to deploy all of her tricks one last time. The challenge isn’t getting the ring, but rather the approval of Collin’s family and everyone else in their 1 percent tax bracket, particularly his childhood best friend, Gale Wallace-Leicester.

Going toe-to-toe with Gale isn’t a threat to an expert like Bea, but what begins as an amusing cat-and-mouse game quickly develops into a dangerous pursuit of the grisly truth. Finding herself at a literal life-and-death crossroads with everything on the line, Bea must finally decide who she really wants to be.

“This delicious, twisty tale of deception and daughterhood will have everyone holding onto their wallets.” —Good Morning America

“This is excellent writing for a debut author and is a must-read for fans of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl or Lisa Unger’s Confessions on the 7:45.” —Library Journal

“An absorbing story that plays with ideas of good and evil, keeping readers guessing who is the hero and who the villain.” —Kirkus (starred review)

This book was completely unputdownable! It starts off one way then takes you over a cliff. It appears to be a story about a woman who is the epitome of a gold digger. Bea knows she’s gorgeous, smart, and sexy and she’s determined to marry rich. Filthy rich. She dates several older men, the type who want trophy wives, but no proposals come from them and the relationships fizzle out. Then she meets Collin.

Collin isn’t just rich, he’s generationally wealthy, heir to a family fortune that is incredibly appealing to Bea. This is the type of character, the type of woman, I would generally have no use for whatsoever, so I have to give credit to this author who somehow made me care about her and root for her to fool Collin enough to get her wed. Part of it is that she is so good to Collin; she listens to him when he speaks, and even though she won’t allow herself to fall in love, she cares enough about him to want to make him happy. Her methods work; he is completely besotted.

Things take a slightly darker tone with intermittent chapters that harken back to Bea’s childhood, but it takes a while before we realize how egregious her mother, and her upbringing, truly were. There is additional turmoil with Collin’s best friend, Gail, who he not only relies on, but his entire family and her family are all very close friends. These are the 1%, the uber-wealthy who stick together and are not very welcoming to outsiders, to say the least. But Collin goes to bat for Bea, standing up to his parents and his best friend. Things get dicey when Bea recognizes an enemy in Gail, and Bea is sharp enough to realize that Gail is in love with Collin. Luckily for Bea, Collin has zero romantic interest in Gail so that makes Bea and Gail enemies.

Collin and Bea seem like their happily ever after is in the bag. She gets the enormous engagement ring, the wedding of her in-laws’ dreams, and the ultra-wealthy family she’s always wanted. Then things get really dark. No spoilers here – let’s just say there are twists I never saw coming, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. This was a totally intriguing book with an unusual storyline that really works. Incredible debut – don’t miss it!

2/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

STONE COLD FOX by Rachel Koller Croft.  Berkley (February 14, 2023). ISBN:‎  978-0593547502. 368p.






February 3, 2023

The Finlay Donovan Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

From USA Today bestseller and Edgar Award nominee Elle Cosimano, comes Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun―the hilarious and heart-pounding next installment in the beloved Finlay Donovan series.

“Fresh, heartfelt and witty, Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun is a twisty page-turner, and its relatable heroine Finlay Donovan is irresistible!” ―Janet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series

Dating. Diapers. And dodging bullets. Who said single moms can’t have fun?

Finlay Donovan has been in messes before―after all, she’s an author and single mom who’s a pro at getting out bloodstains for rather unexpected reasons―but none quite like this. After she and her nanny/partner-in-crime Vero accidentally destroyed a luxury car that they may have “borrowed” in the process of saving the life of Finlay’s ex-husband, the Russian mob got her out of debt. But now Finlay owes them

Still running the show from behind bars, mob boss Feliks has a task for Finlay: find a contract killer before the cops do. Problem is, the killer might be an officer.

Luckily, hot cop Nick has started up a citizen’s police academy, and combined pressure from Finlay’s looming book deadline and Feliks is enough to convince Finlay and Vero to get involved. Through firearm training and forensic classes (and some hands-on research with the tempting detective), Finlay and Vero have the perfect cover-up to sleuth out the real criminal and free themselves from the mob’s clutches―all the while dodging spies, confronting Vero’s past, and juggling the daily trials of parenthood.

“Fasten your seat belts . . . murder most madcap.”―Kirkus Reviews

“Finlay’s strong narrative voice carries the reader . . . This is good, fast fun.”―Publishers Weekly

“Readers who love fast-paced, action-packed mysteries should pick this up.”―Library Journal

One of CrimeReads’ “Most Anticipated Crime Fiction of 2023”
One of Bookbub’s “Winter’s Most Anticipated Mysteries and Thrillers”
One of SheReads’ “Most Anticipated Thrillers Coming in 2023”
One of Novel Suspects’ “Most Anticipated Crime Fiction Coming in Early 2023”
One of BookRiot’s “New Year New Mystery & Thrillers to Read in January”

I loved the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, but I had to stop reading them. They became so formulaic and silly that it just wasn’t fun to read them anymore, as much as I miss those crazy characters. But in a few short years and three books, Finlay Donovan has filled that void for me.

Finlay is an author who writes romantic suspense, but her latest endeavor has her editor up in arms. She hates the book, and Finlay knows why. But she just can’t seem to make herself write the sex scenes that are necessary to complete the story. Finlay’s sister is a cop, and she suggests that Finlay and Vero, her best friend and nanny, go to this citizen’s police academy training camp. It’s for a week, they would live in dorms, and her ex will keep the kids. Maybe she’d pick up some useful information for her books, plus she’d get to spend some time with Nick, the hot cop she can’t stop thinking about.

Each of these books ends on a cliffhanger, so this one picks up where the last one left off. There are Russian Mafia, too many dead bodies. and lots of money at stake which just amps up the suspense even while we can’t stop laughing – truly a gift. These books are a little bit darker than the Stephanie Plum series, but they lean more black comedy than anything else. I found myself ripping through the book as I just couldn’t put it down.

These books really need to be read in order; the first two are available in paperback now. If you enjoy a fast-paced, laugh-out-loud mystery with a touch of romance, you will love this series. I certainly do.

1. Finlay Donovan is Killing It

2. Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead

3. Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun

2/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FINLAY DONOVAN JUMPS THE GUN by Elle Cosimano. Minotaur Books (January 31, 2023). ISBN:‎  978-1250846037. 304p.





NEVER MEANT TO MEET YOU by Alli Frank & Asha Youmans

October 7, 2022

From the publisher:

From the authors of Tiny Imperfections comes a riotously funny, emotionally real look at race and religion, love and heartache, and the realities of parenting through it all.

Self-appointed fixer of other people’s woes Marjette Lewis is uncharacteristically determined to keep to her side of the driveway when it comes to her flawless neighbor Noa Abrams. Professionally, Marjette has her hands full as she prepares for a new class of kindergarteners and her first year of teaching without her best friend, Judy, as campus “Black-up.” And at home, her son’s budding manhood challenges her expectations, and her vexing ex-husband continues to be a thorn in her side.

But when tragedy strikes Marjette’s street, and an unexpected child shows up on the first day of school with an uncle who has all the class moms aflutter, Marjette is forced to contend with both her neighbor and her own heartache over losing the life she once thought was guaranteed. Through laughter, tears, and the gift of found family, Marjette and Noa navigate the rituals of loss together and discover the strength to remake their lives―whether they meant to or not.

Alli Frank & Asha Youmans follow up Tiny Imperfections with this story about a friendship that develops between a young, Jewish widow and the Black single mom next door.

Marjette is unhappily divorced; even after five years she hasn’t let go of her anger, hasn’t even attempted dating, and her life revolves around her teenage son. Her best friend just retired from the private school where they taught kindergarten together, and her next-door neighbor moved away, leaving Marjette feeling a bit lonely. Her new neighbor, Noa, has just lost her husband and has a daughter who is in Marjette’s class, bringing them together in a variety of situations.

A friendship slowly emerges between the two women and they learn to rely on one another and appreciate their cultural differences. Noa’s good looking brother, Max, often picks up his niece at school, and all the class moms take notice, but he only has eyes for Marjette. She’s oblivious to the attention until she starts spending more time with him, and a friendship is formed that eventually leads to more.

Verdict: Friendship and romance go hand in hand in this warm, engaging story that should appeal to readers who enjoy Susan Wiggs and Debbie Macomber.

©Library Journal, 2022

10/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

NEVER MEANT TO MEET YOU by Alli Frank & Asha Youmans. Montlake (October 1, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-1542034104. 319p.





Spotlight Review: SCANDALIZED by Ivy Owens

August 23, 2022

From the publisher:

A one-night stand between two old childhood friends turns into something more, but when a scandal threatens to tear them apart, they must decide how hard to fight for love—a steamy romance debut perfect for fans of Tessa Bailey and Kennedy Ryan​.

Exhausted and on deadline with a story that could make or break her career, investigative journalist Georgia Ross is on the verge of a meltdown when a cancelled flight leaves her stuck in the airport overnight. But when a familiar face appears—the older brother of her childhood friend—and offers help, Gigi seems to have caught a break.

Alec Kim is handsome, humble, and kind—exactly the sort of man that Gigi has forgotten existed after her own painful heartbreaks. An evening of reconnection followed by a night of no-strings-attached passion with Alec feels like a gift—that is, until Gigi finally realizes that their childhood connection isn’t the only reason he seems so familiar to her.

Alec is determined to prove to Gigi that he is truly the man she thinks he is, even if it means coming clean about his fame—and his family’s connection to the story Gigi’s been working so hard to break. But as their feelings for each other grow deeper, Gigi and Alec must navigate a new reality…one where both of their hard-won careers are put directly in the path of an international scandal.

“Ivy Owens’s debut brings the perfect amount of humor and heart to the story of childhood friends reunited under unusual circumstances. Scandalized imbues a fraught situation with more humor than angst, and readers will fall instantly for the charming, charismatic characters. The heated love scenes and intense emotional connection between the leads are sure to win Owens legions of fans.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Owens’s spectacular debut is beautifully written and a fun read. Fans of Suzanne Park’s So We Meet Again and Katie Delahanty’s “Brightside” series will have a hard time not consuming it in one sitting.” —Library Journal (starred review)

I love finding a debut novel that is this good – it’s rare and wondrous, especially when it is also a super steamy romance! The chemistry between Gigi, a badass journalist, and Alec, a movie star, is so hot I’m surprised the book didn’t just incinerate in my hands.

Gigi is on her way back to Los Angeles from London, where she broke a story about an exclusive club where the owners/members drug women, rape them, and video the whole thing. Her connecting flight from Seattle to L.A. gets canceled. Gigi is so tired, and all she really wants is a shower and some clean clothes. Then she spots Alec, and with a flash of recognition, she realizes he is her middle school best friend’s older brother. She approaches him, and he remembers her as well. When the closest hotel to the airport is full, he offers her the use of his shower. Turns out Alex has the presidential suite and lots of room to share.

You can guess where it goes from here, but there is also a lot of intrigue about that London club. Turns out Alec may know something, but eventually, it all goes sideways despite the connection these two have. This book really does have it all; suspense, a sweet connection between these characters, not to mention some seriously steamy scenes. I loved it and if you can handle the sex, trust me when I say you will not regret reading this book. I couldn’t put it down and I hated turning that last page. Can’t wait to see what this debut author does next.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SCANDALIZED by Ivy Owens. Pocket Books (August 23, 2022). ISBN: 978-1982199852. 320p.



HONOR ‘N’ DUTY by Tee O’Fallon

July 22, 2022

Federal K-9, Book 6

From the publisher:

Two years after his brother’s murder in jail, Department of Homeland Security K-9 Officer Kade Sampson is still haunted by guilt. No man should ever have to arrest his own brother, even if he is laundering money for a drug cartel. Fortunately, Laia Velez—his brother’s gorgeous widow—never learned the truth about Kade’s involvement. But when she asks him for help, he knows that trouble with the cartel is far from over…

Kade is the last person Laia wants to call. But between her house being thoroughly trashed and the uneasy sense that she and her young daughter are being watched, Laia isn’t taking any chances. The cartel wants something from her. And Kade and his K-9 partner, Smoke, are her only chance to survive whatever fresh hell is coming their way…

Now Laia and Kade are trying to stay one step ahead in a game that’s growing more deadly by the minute. But what the cartel wants, the cartel gets. And Kade is running out of time to save the woman he loves from the same fate that killed his brother…

I read the first book in this series but missed the rest until this one. I’m sure they are better read in order, but from what I can tell from the two books I’ve read, they easily stand alone. This is a fast paced book with lots of suspense, a bit of violence, and at the heart of the story, a romance.

Kade and Laia met when they were stranded in an elevator for forty minutes. There was such a strong attraction that Kade asked her out, but when they step off the elevator, he finds out why she said she can’t. Laia was engaged to Kade’s brother, Josh.

Kade figures the best way to handle his attraction to his sister-in-law is to avoid her. He attends the wedding, and he’s there for his brother’s funeral, but other than that, he ghosts her. He spends as much time as possible with his niece when she visits her grandparents, and that seems to work for him.

Six years have gone by and Kade still struggles with his guilt over his brother. Josh was a successful accountant, but turned out that much of his success came from laundering money for a drug cartel. Eventually he gets caught, but is killed on his first day in prison. The cops take everything they own, leaving Laia and her daughter to struggle on their own.

All these years later, Laia comes home to find that her house has been trashed. Every piece of furniture is destroyed, and she can’t understand why nothing is missing. She calls the cops, but she also calls her brother-in-law, Kade, thinking he probably won’t come. But he does.

Kade shows up in full protector mode, along with his K-9 partner, Smoke. He hustles Laia and her daughter out of there, quickly realizing that this wasn’t an ordinary robbery. The cartel is after something.

I don’t want to give anything away, so let’s just say the pages fly by as the attraction between Laia and Kade reaches the boiling point, with each of them thinking the other just isn’t interested. Plus the cartel is obviously interested in Laia, so Kade hides her as best as he can. But spending all that time together is just making it harder and harder to pretend they don’t have strong feelings for one another.

I really enjoyed this fast paced romantic thriller. I was very invested in these characters and their story. Highly recommend!

7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HONOR ‘N’ DUTY by Tee O’Fallon. Entangled: Amara (July 18, 2022). ASIN: B0B54LBPD2. 356p.