KNOCKED UP IN ALASKA by Samanthe Beck

May 20, 2022

Captivity, Alaska: Book 3

From the publisher:

Everyone in Captivity, Alaska now knows Lilah Iquat’s big (and getting bigger) secret. She’s knocked up. Pregnant. All it took was a foolish decision with lasting consequences. Now Lilah’s going it alone—with the help of the town. But with one particular craving getting stronger, Lilah has her eyes on just one thing: too-sexy Ford Langley.

Ford may be out of the army, but his Special Forces sense of honor and duty hasn’t disappeared. Which is exactly why Lilah is fully off-limits, hands-off, and don’t even think about it, Ford. She’s too young and too bright for a man who’s seen too much, too soon. He’ll hold to his code—even if it kills him. And it just might.

Now Lilah is showing Ford how much light and life and love he’s missing out on, testing every last shred of his resolve. But with a baby on the way and the whole town involved, Ford and Lilah are about to learn the hard way that life never goes according to plan…especially when it comes to love.

https://amzn.to/3lITBK5

It’s amazing to me how an author can create characters in a location that somehow stays with me for months and months. The second book in this series, Playing Dirty in Alaska, came out in January, yet when I took a dive into this new book, I felt right at home. It was great catching up with my not-so-long-lost friends from Alaska.

This time, the story centers around Lilah, who is best friends with Bridget and Izzy (from the first two books in the series.) Lilah grew up at the Inn that is the center of this tourist supported town. Her mother, Rose, worked her way up from housekeeping to hotel manager, and it seems Lilah is following in her footsteps in more ways than one.

Rose was a single mother, and she drummed it into Lilah’s head not to follow that same path. She was a very strict mother, and Lilah is a very good girl and almost always obedient. Except for that one night in the hot tub with Shay…

That was Lilah’s only sexual experience. When she found out she was pregnant, she immediately told Shay. The next day Shay was in a fatal plane crash, leaving the very scared and pregnant Lilah on her own. She hides the pregnancy as best as she can, but eventually she gets too big to hide it. When her mother finds out, she is incensed, and throws Lilah out. She ends up bouncing around between Bridget’s house and Ford’s. She is strongly attracted to Ford, and he to her, but he realizes how young she is, only 21, and inexperienced, especially compared to a Special Forces veteran. He puts her on a pedestal, but she really would rather be in his bed.

There are lots of ups and downs before the relationship heats up, including another baby-turned-teenager showing up to turn Ford’s life upside down. This is a sweet, sexy romance that really took me on an emotional ride. I couldn’t help but empathize with both Lilah and Ford. And one of my favorite four-legged characters makes an appearance as well.  

I mentioned this in my review of Wild in Captivity, the first book in this series. A giant Husky/Malamute mixed dog named K’eyush, or Key for short, is one of the more memorable characters. The dog is brilliant and talks – he somehow says his favorite peoples’ names. Anyone who has spent any time poking around my website knows that I am a cat person, but I also love dogs. Well, animals, in general, although I am afraid of birds. My husband has gotten me a tiny bit obsessed with this dog: K’eyush the Stunt Dog and I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the dog in the book and the dog in the video. So I reached out to the author, who confirmed she is also a K’eyush fan and was inspired to use a dog with similar traits in the book. I love when my worlds collide like that!

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

KNOCKED UP IN ALASKA by Samanthe Beck. Entangled: Amara (May 16, 2022). ASIN: B09Y479G6V. 360p.

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Spotlight Review: ACROSS THE AISLE by Stephanie Vance

May 10, 2022

From the publisher:

Tough as nails DC lobbyist Dallas McGrath can’t believe she’s being ordered to reach a legislative compromise with the opposition. And not just with anyone…with the most arrogant, obnoxious lobbyist in DC, Grant Pierce. He always finds a way to get under her skin, and it usually starts with that kissable mouth of his turning up into an annoying smirk. Well, this is one negotiation she plans to win at any cost.

Career lobbyist Grant Pierce knows he shouldn’t enjoy ruffling the feathers of the opposition this much, but he can’t help it. Almost no one leaves him without a witty comeback—except Dallas McGrath. Maybe it’s her sharp mind, or maybe it’s the sexy way she bulldozes his every argument. Either way, he’s got the perfect plan to put her off her game. He suggests they negotiate at baseball games, jazz clubs, and nap studios—but even he’s not prepared for what happens next…

https://amzn.to/3P8LpzV

I was very excited to read this as it is set in the political world of Washington D.C. It doesn’t feel like there are many romances in that setting for some reason, and I find it interesting. Maybe romance writers don’t want to dip their toes into politics because of how divided this country is today, but Vance really nailed it. There is no discord or references to all the division and, let’s call it what it really is, insanity that is going on in this country right now, so that alone made this a pleasurable read.

I didn’t know a whole lot about how lobbyists work (other than by throwing money at every person who could possibly help them achieve their ends) and now I feel a little better informed, albeit in an entertaining way. And isn’t that the best way to learn?

Dallas McGrath and Grant Pierce and two lobbyists on opposing sides of an agricultural issue. Naturally, they hate one another. Dallas has the additional stress of a father who is heavily invested in the outcome. So when they are forced to work together to reach a compromise (I did mention this is fiction, yes?) they also fall in love. Trust, on the other hand, remains an issue that ultimately can cripple the fledgling relationship.

The only downside to this novel is that it may be hard to follow how the American political structure works if you are not already familiar with it, as in all you international readers. I think Vance does a really good job with it, but I am very politically aware so take that under advisement. Vance works in that world so her point of view is from the inside. Need I say a happy ending is achieved?

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ACROSS THE AISLE by Stephanie Vance. Entangled: Amara (May 9, 2022). ASIN: B08X3DV4KY. 240p.

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BIRTH OF A BABY DADDY by Piper Rayne

May 6, 2022

The Baileys, Book 3

From the publisher:

If you’re having fun living your bachelor life in your Alaskan hometown and out of nowhere a woman shows up holding a baby she insists is yours, you need a plan-a birth plan.

BP Step #1 – Lift your jaw off the floor.

BP Step #2 – Figure out the baby’s age-do the math.

BP Step #3 – Try to remember the woman and with any luck, her name.

BP Step #4 – Double check that she’s not confusing you with your twin brother.

BP Step #5 – Ignore your five sister’s scowls as your entire family watches the drama unfold. There’s only one thing you shouldn’t do.

BP Step #6 – Don’t assume she’s there because she wants your daughter to call you Daddy. You’ll only end up disappointed.

Time to figure out a new plan-one that changes her mind.

https://amzn.to/3kMq1Tn

Piper Rayne and Hoopla – a marriage made in heaven! I found the third book in this series through my library and it looks like they have the rest.

I’m not usually that big a fan of oops babies creating a romance, but Rayne does it so well she’s changed my mind. Denver and Rome Bailey are twins. When Harley shows up with 2-year-old Calista in tow, she’s looking for the baby daddy, who told her his name was Denver. Denver was involved in a wilderness accident, where he saved his client, a famous music producer. The story goes viral and Harley is convinced she’s found her one night stand. Calista has a medical condition, so Harley wants the family medical history. She figures she’ll show up, get what she needs, and take off again. Little does she know that Denver wasn’t her one night stand – Rome was. And he wants to be a proper father to his daughter, not at all what Harley had planned for.

The Baileys are a large family and an important one in this small Alaskan town. Harley and Rome try to work things out, and one thing leads to another and they become a family – and it is a lot of fun until they get there! Looking forward to book four.

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

BIRTH OF A BABY DADDY by Piper Rayne. Piper Rayne (May 1, 2019). ISBN: ‎978-1987925524. 290p.

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LESSONS FROM A ONE NIGHT STAND by Piper Rayne

April 29, 2022

The Baileys, Book 1

From the publisher:

If you’re a guy like me, and you find yourself having banged your sexy new boss—the school principal—in the back of your Jeep one drunken night, here’s a few takeaways based on my experience…

Lesson One: Always get her FULL name.

Lesson Two: Consider asking what she does for a living.

Lesson Three: Find out why she’s moved to town. Get details. Details are crucial.

Lesson Four: Don’t alter her bio in front of an auditorium of high school students unless you know she has a sense of humor for that sort of thing.

Lesson Five: If you ignore Lesson Four, apologize instead of flirt when you’re sent to the principal’s office.

Lesson Six: NEVER sleep with her again.

Lesson Seven: Pay attention to this one—it’s the most important of them all.

Don’t fall for your one-night stand.

Class dismissed.

https://amzn.to/35HKncD

I’m still enmeshed in Piper Rayne’s world. I read the second book of this series, Advice From a Jilted Bride, then went back to find the first. Her books are all one night reads for me and my guilty pleasure of late! I love books set in Alaska, and while the setting is fun, it’s the characters that make this series.

The plot is fairly straight forward; Holly is the new principal at the high school, filling in for the principal on maternity leave. Shortly after she arrives in town, she meets Austin Bailey, for all intents and purposes the male head of his household. The Bailey family lost their parents in a snowmobiling accident, and Austin stepped up to take care of everyone. He blows off steam by having one night stands with tourists, and Holly is just his type.

What he didn’t realize was that she isn’t a tourist, but a new resident. All sorts of problems arise, not the least of which is he a coach at the high school and she is his boss. Things go from bad to worse before they get better, and there is a lot of sexy fun along the way.

Looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

4/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LESSONS FROM A ONE NIGHT STAND by Piper Rayne. Piper Rayne Incorporated (February 6, 2019). ISBN: ‎978-1987925487. 340p.

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ADVICE FROM A JILTED BRIDE by Piper Rayne

April 22, 2022

The Baileys, Book 2

From the publisher:

What’s a girl to do after being ditched at the altar by text message? That’s right. Text. Message. How does she pick up the pieces and move on? I’m no Dear Abby but here’s a little free advice…

Advice #1 – First, purge your apartment of all things him—by tossing his belongings off the balcony.

Advice #2 – Do not, I repeat do not, throw anything out into the hallway because you’ll injure your hot new neighbor.

Advice #3 – When said neighbor brings over Chinese food do not let him stay and keep you company. It’s awkward when you realize he’s your boss.

Advice #4 – Accept his offer to help you with your side business but think twice before using a date to his sister’s wedding as collateral.

Advice #5 – Investigate who your mystery neighbor really is. Don’t trust his word even if he’s the world’s best kisser.

If you listen to nothing else, pay attention to that last one. It’s the most important and will save you a lot of heartache.

Xo,

LOVESICK IN LAKE STARLIGHT

https://amzn.to/35HKncD

After reading two of Piper Rayne’s series, I’m still looking for more. I found this book on Hoopla, and hope to find the rest of the series from my library. I am really enjoying Rayne’s writing style and it doesn’t seem to matter where the books are set. They are just fun, sexy reads, and this is no exception. This book stands alone just fine, but I still want to read the rest of the series.

Brooklyn Bailey is our jilted bride, whose fiancé sent her a text message breaking things off while she was literally at the altar. Luckily, her big family is there to support her and when she goes back to the apartment she shared with her fiancé, he is nowhere to be found. Luckily, he left all his stuff though, and Brooklyn releases some stress by tossing it all off the balcony of the apartment she is now stuck with. At one point she throws a book and it flies through the open door of the apartment, hitting Wyatt, her hot new neighbor, in the face. There is an instant attraction there, but Brooklyn is just coming off a bad breakup, and Wyatt is only in this small Alaskan town temporarily, as the new manager of the hotel where Brooklyn is a housekeeper.

There is some fake dating and other fakery going on here, and there are a lot of laughs before they reach their happy ending. The overly large Bailey family makes for what looks like a good series, so I’m on the hunt for more of the Baileys. A super fun, one night read for me; if you are looking for some light entertainment, look no further.

4/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ADVICE FROM A JILTED BRIDE by Piper Rayne. Piper Rayne Inc. (March 18, 2019). ISBN: ‎978-1987925517. 380p.

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THE SUMMER GETAWAY by Susan Mallery

April 22, 2022

From the publisher:

One woman takes the vacation of a lifetime in this poignant and heartwarming story about the threads that hold a family together from #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery.

Single mom Robyn Caldwell needs a new plan for her future.  She has always put her family first.  Now, with her kids grown, she yearns for a change. But what can she do when her daughter has become the most demanding bride ever, her son won’t even consider college, her best friend is on the brink of marital disaster and her ex is making a monumentally bad decision that could ruin everything?

Take a vacation, of course. Press reset. When her great-aunt Lillian invites her to Santa Barbara for the summer, Robyn hops on the first plane to sunny California.

But it’s hard to get away when you’re the heart of the family. One by one, everyone she loves follows her across the country. Somehow, their baggage doesn’t feel as heavy in the sun-drenched, mishmash mansion. The more time Robyn spends with free-spirited Lillian, the more possibilities she sees—for dreams, love, family. She can have everything she ever wanted, if only she can muster the courage to take a chance on herself.

“The perfect escape for readers wanting to get away.”—Booklist

https://amzn.to/3xK1BBG

Mallery has the skill to take an almost unbelievable situation and turn it into something that is clearly happening, with characters you can’t help but root for, and she does it really well. In this case, Robyn is fed up with her life. Her cheating ex is too reliant on her, her kids are growing up, and she is coming up on a balloon mortgage of sorts that she has not prepared for.

Robyn’s daughter has turned into bridezilla, and there is little she can do about it other than persevere. Her ex is dating their daughter’s fiance’s twin sister (read that again) and making life uncomfortable for everyone. Her boss and good friend is contemplating an affair and won’t listen to reason. Her doctor boyfriends lets slip that he doesn’t have much respect for her, and at this point, Robyn doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for herself. When her favorite great great aunt invites her to stay with her for as long as she wants, Robyn packs her bags and runs off to the other coast, shocking her family.

Once there, she meets Mason, a long lost relative of her deceased uncle, who is set to inherit the crazy mansion where they are all staying. Robyn learns she is to inherit the furnishings of the home which includes many priceless pieces of art and other ephemera, not to mention antiques galore. Cataloging it all alone could take a year or more. There is something about Mason that draws Robyn in, and he is completely smitten with her.

Meanwhile, her family starts following her across the country and before long, everyone she ran away from is there with her. Lots of craziness ensues, but love always prevails. This is a wonderful, feel good story with a lot of laughs and some tears shed along the way. If you like family fiction with a touch of romance, then you should love this book as much as I do.

4/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE SUMMER GETAWAY by Susan Mallery. HQN; Original edition (March 15, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-1335479990. 416p.

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UGLY LOVE by Colleen Hoover

April 15, 2022

From the publisher:

Number-one New York Times best-selling author Colleen Hoover returns with a new heart-wrenching love story.

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she doesn’t think it’s love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her:

Never ask about the past.

Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.

Promises get broken.

Rules get shattered. Love gets ugly.

https://amzn.to/366Qkjj

I thought I had read all of Hoover’s adult books, but somehow I missed this one. I’m very happy I stumbled across it from my library.

Tate is a nurse pursuing a graduate degree, so she moves in with her brother while she is in school. She meets Miles on move-in day when he is dead drunk and passed out at the front door of the apartment. Miles is a good friend of her brother, and is very good looking, and the chemistry between Tate and Miles is off the chart. They start a sexual relationship as he is not interested in getting involved – his rules: ‘Don’t ask about my past, and never expect a future.’ Tate is all in as she doesn’t have time for anything more than work and school. So win-win. Until things change.

There is another storyline set in the past about Miles and Rachel’s relationship, which is what causes him to avoid relationships at all. It takes some time to get there, and all I’ll say is the “ugly” in the title may refer to the “ugly crying” this book caused! But it is also heartwarming, heartwrenching, and all in all, a terrific read.

Hoover is definitely one of my favorites. Her books are all well written with characters that come to life on the page. If you love emotional romances that really draw the reader in, then this is your book. I loved it.

4/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

UGLY LOVE by Colleen Hoover. Atria (August 5, 2014). ISBN:‎ 978-1476753188. 336p.

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ONE-TIMER by Teagan Hunter

March 25, 2022

Carolina Comets: Book 3

From the publisher:

“I’m pregnant.”

That’s what my teammate’s sister-in-law told me after our one-night stand. I didn’t expect to see Hollis again, let alone end up raising a child with her.

We set some ground rules—we’ll raise the baby together, but that’s it. No relationship, no future, and definitely no kissing.

But the more time we spend together, the harder it is to keep track of where the lines were once drawn.

I’m known for my one-timer on and off the ice, but this game with Hollis just got a lot more complicated…

ONE-TIMER is a standalone hockey romance. There is a one-night stand, an accidental pregnancy, wit, steam, and lots of fun!

https://amzn.to/3wEmr4L

I am loving this series! I am not usually a fan of the pregnancy romance, but Hunter does such a good job with it she’s made me a convert.

Hollis recently got divorced after finding out her husband was cheating on her. Her sister is getting married to a hockey player, so Hollis has to be in the wedding even though all she wants to do is go off by herself and cry. Pity party for one, please! But an understandable pity party for sure.

Lowell is her future brother-in-law’s teammate and a man who has been burnt once himself. His girlfriend told him she was pregnant and he was ready to marry her until he found out she was lying. He is determined to avoid relationships and stick to one night stands where his heart won’t get involved.

Hollis and Lowell have a one night stand at the wedding, and a big oops occurs. When she finally gets hold of Lowell to tell him, he feels like history is repeating itself. Except Hollis doesn’t seem like the type to be after his money or his fame. He cautiously agrees to be involved with the baby but insists on them just co-parenting. No relationship allowed!

Best laid plans and all…Hollis and Lowell spend a lot of time together. He falls in love with his baby almost from the get go but is cautious around Hollis, and she is cautious as well. She loves the support he is giving her – the emotional and physical support because she is having a pregnancy that sends her sex drive roaring, and he is happy to help out.

You can guess what happens but this was such a fun, sexy read it didn’t matter. I wanted them to find their happily ever after, and they do. Looking forward to the next book in the series, Sin Bin, publishing in July.

3/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ONE-TIMER by Teagan Hunter. Independently published (March 24, 2022). ASIN: B09QH91PQN. 263p.

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ALWAYS ON MY MIND by Samantha Chase

March 25, 2022

Magnolia Sound, Book 10

From the publisher:

Returning to Magnolia Sound was never part of the plan. Then again, Parker Bishop rarely had one. Yet after confessing her love to her best friend right before his wedding, she needs time to lick her wounds from the disastrous scene that unfolds. After the unsympathetic welcome she receives from her parents and siblings, Parker finds herself absentmindedly driving through town in search of a place to stay.

That’s when she spots the flier and a familiar name…

Ethan Harlow enjoys the peace and quiet. Unfortunately, finding a moment of it becomes impossible when the flier he posts for a roommate brings Parker crashing into his life. Of course, he remembers her from high school. It’s impossible to forget little miss popular who was always the center of attention. All he wanted was to split the rent and keep to himself. Instead, Parker transforms his home and makes him question the dreams he gave up out of fear of stepping out of his comfort zone.

The attraction they feel to one another makes crossing the line from roommates to lovers seem inevitable. But the more Parker encourages Ethan to pursue his dreams, the less likely it becomes that they can have any kind of future together. Can they find a way to claim their happily ever after or will their individual paths make a future impossible?

https://amzn.to/36ey6vZ

I have read several books by this author and I always like the book and hate the cover. I didn’t hate this one! It is probably the best cover for one of her books that I’ve seen, so feel free to judge this book by its cover.

Having recently moved back to her hometown of Magnolia Sound, Parker is bouncing from one relative to another until she finds Ethan’s flier in the library. Her whole family lives here, and while she vaguely remembers Ethan from high school, her cousin, the librarian, vouches for him. She basically steamrolls Ethan into renting her a room in his house, and he isn’t sure this is going to work at all.

The funny thing was I had no idea this was part of a series when I read it, never mind the tenth book! Looking back I can see it, so kudos to Chase for doing such a good job with that.

Ethan is an introvert, a nerd, and completely intimidated Parker when they were in high school together and he was class valedictorian. Parker has the lowest self esteem of anyone I’ve read about in quite a while, but is so charming and self-deprecating that I couldn’t help but root for her. Ethan and Parker become roommates, then friends, then more while Parker tries to figure out her life.

Small town charm is abundant here, as are a lot of laughs from Parker’s crazy large family. I really enjoyed watching both these characters grow and bring out the best in one another. Not much sex either, if that is a factor for you. All in all, a very enjoyable read and yep, I’m looking for the earlier books in this series.

3/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ALWAYS ON MY MIND by Samantha Chase. Chasing Romance, Inc. (March 22, 2022). ASIN: B09QD5FV3C. 277p.

 

 

 

 


SADIE ON A PLATE by Amanda Elliot 

March 18, 2022

From the publisher:

A chef’s journey to success leads to discovering the perfect recipe for love in this delicious romantic comedy.

Sadie is a rising star in the trendy Seattle restaurant scene. Her dream is to create unique, modern, and mouthwatering takes on traditional Jewish recipes. But after a public breakup with her boss, a famous chef, she is sure her career is over—until she lands a coveted spot on the next season of her favorite TV show, Chef Supreme

On the plane to New York, Sadie has sizzling chemistry with her seatmate, Luke, but tells him that she won’t be able to contact him for the next six weeks. They prolong their time together with a spontaneous, magical dinner before parting ways. Or so she thinks. When she turns up to set the next day, she makes a shocking discovery about who Luke is….

If Sadie wants to save her career by winning Chef Supreme, she’s going to have to ignore the simmering heat between Luke and her. But how long can she do that before the pot boils over?

https://amzn.to/3MHLZDE

Sadie was working as a sous chef for her boyfriend, who dumps her and fires her. Just when she thinks she’ll never get another job, she gets something even better; a call from Chef Supreme (think Top Chef) and the opportunity to be on national TV and get her reputation back. Sadie knows if she can make it through to the semifinals, everything will be golden – she may even get the opportunity to realize her dream of opening her own restaurant.

On the flight from Seattle to New York City, where the show is filmed (one of the small variations on the Top Chef formula) she is seated next to Luke, a good looking man who has the hands of a chef. Sure enough he is a chef, and they really get to know one another on the long flight. When they land, he goes with her to Queens where she will be staying and takes her to a Korean speakeasy of sorts. They have a magical date, but she is going to be untouchable for the next six weeks. She promises to call when she can, and she heads off.

Turns out Luke’s father is one of the most celebrated chefs in New York, and Luke has been tapped to judge on the TV show when the regular judge has a medical emergency. Sadie is shocked to see him there, and even more shocked when he calls her “Sandy” as if he doesn’t remember her.

Sadie is of Jewish descent, and her goal is to let people know there is more to Jewish food than just bagels and latkes. She puts a gourmet spin on many of the most familiar dishes, and works her way towards her goal. Meanwhile, spending time with Luke is hard on her, and as it turns out, on him as well. But no worries, there is a happy ending in sight for both of them.

I loved this book so much! I am a huge Top Chef fan, and this felt like a peek behind the curtains of that iconic show. Having a Jewish protagonist was also a plus for me, not something I see very often in romcoms but that seems to be changing, very slowly for sure, but I’m always hopeful. While this is the first “Amanda Elliot” book and the author’s debut novel for adults, the author has several Young Adult books under the name Amanda Panitch. This was a terrific, one night read for me and I look forward to seeing what “Elliot” does next.

3/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SADIE ON A PLATE by Amanda Elliot. Berkley (March 15, 2022). ISBN: 978-0593335710. 352p.

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