THE SHAADI SET-UP by Lillie Vale

September 21, 2021

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From the publisher:

In this witty and heartfelt rom-com debut for fans of Jasmine Guillory, Emily Henry, and Tessa Bailey, an Indian American woman signs herself and her boyfriend up for a matchmaking site to prove they’re a perfect match, only to be paired with her ex instead.

High school sweethearts Rita Chitniss and Milan Rao were the golden couple, until the day he broke her heart. Now, six years later, Rita has turned her passion for furniture restoration into a career and has an almost-perfect boyfriend, Neil. The last thing she needs is for Milan to re-enter her life, but that’s exactly what happens when her mother, an unfailing believer in second chances, sets them up. Milan is just as charming, cocky, and confident as he was back in school. Only this time, he actually needs her business expertise, not her heart, to flip a hard-to-sell house for his realty agency. 

While Rita begrudgingly agrees to help, she’s not taking any risks. To prove she’s definitely over him, she signs herself and Neil up on MyShaadi.com, a Desi matchmaking site famous for its success stories and trustworthy enough to convince everyone that she and Neil are the new and improved couple. Instead, she’s shocked when MyShaadi’s perfect match for her isn’t Neil…it’s Milan. Ignoring the website and her mother is one thing, but ignoring Milan proves much more difficult, especially when she promises to help him renovate the beach house of her dreams. And as the two of them dive deeper into work—and their pasts—Rita begins to wonder if maybe her match wasn’t so wrong after all….


Milan dumped Rita in a voicemail while she was flying to meet him for their trip to Europe during college. He never shows and she is heartbroken, but determined to go on their trip anyway. Six years later, Rita met Neil on Tinder and they hit it off. It’s been a few months of him spending the night a couple of times a week. But his life is ruled by his mother, and she wants him to find a wife, an Indian wife.

In a weird coincidence, Rita’s mom was a young woman when she fell in love with a man. But his family arranged a marriage for him and he broke her heart. Rita thinks her mother never got over him, and it turns out Neil’s father is that man. Rita doesn’t want to get any more involved with Neil that what they already are; he has marriage on his mind. She finally figures out that she can make this all public if the Indian marriage/dating app matches her with Neil. They coordinate their answers, but the 100% match for her is not Neil, it’s Milan.

Meanwhile, Neil’s mother “wrestles” his password to the app from him (she asks him for it) and starts arranging dates for him with the women from the site. And he goes. Rita is pissed but doesn’t really care and isn’t the least bit jealous. And Rita’s mom conspires with Milan’s mom to bring them back together. He is a very successful real estate agent, and she loves decorating and woodworking – she takes other people’s junk and turns the junk into treasures.

Milan has been sitting with a listing for this ultra-modern house for close to a year. No one wants it. So when the moms decide that Rita can fix up the place so he can sell it, they both agree to give it a try. It is very successful, and the house sells almost immediately for above list price. Milan had purchased an old B&B on the beach and has been renovating it to flip. He asks Rita to do the decorating and she agrees. The more time they spend together, the more they both realize that they are still in love. But Rita is leery; she knows she’s not the same girl he fell in love with, and she wants to make sure they are both going into this with their eyes wide open.

This was a really fun read. The families lent a lot of humor to the story, and the characters were all interesting and believable. I am looking forward to her next book – this was a debut novel (for adults; she writes children’s books, too!)

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE SHAADI SET-UP by Lillie Vale. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (September 7, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593328712. 368 pages.

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THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS by Ali Hazelwood 

September 20, 2021

From the publisher:

When a fake relationship between scientists meets the irresistible force of attraction, it throws one woman’s carefully calculated theories on love into chaos.

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

A BuzzFeed Best Summer Read of 2021


This is a terrific rom-com; smart characters, interesting storyline, great secondary characters and an interesting setting – Stanford University. Specifically, in the biology department. The first meet-cute happens a few years before the actual story. Olive was trying to decide if she wants to pursue her PhD in biology, but she is an impoverished student wearing contact lens that expired years earlier. It has made her vision blurry and she can’t stop crying, so she heads to the nearest restroom where she meets a man who she assumes is a grad student. She really can’t see him, he is just a very tall, very large blur. Olive isn’t sure academia is really for her, but he asks her a couple of good questions that help her decide.

Spring forward and Olive is a couple of years into her graduate program. She doesn’t really date, but did go out with Jeremy a couple of times, but there was no spark there. So when her best friend Anh and Jeremy realize that they really like each other, Olive is in a quandary. Her best friend won’t date Jeremy as long as she thinks Olive is interested, and no matter what Olive says, she isn’t changing her mind. So Olive tells her she has a date with someone else, but when Anh shows up, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is professor Adam Carlson, a MacArthur genius and Stanford legend, feared by his students and respected worldwide. Olive is mortified, but he is very kind. Once she explains why she did it, they decide to fake date. It will keep Anh dating Jeremy, and help Adam as well. The dean has frozen some of his grant money because he’s afraid Adam is going to leave Stanford; he’s considered a “flight risk.” But if Adam is dating someone, then maybe the dean will think he’s staying and release the funds. That is the premise behind the fake dating, and if you’ve ever read a romance or seen a romcom, you know what happens. I especially love the tongue-in-cheek references to other romcoms.

The competitive school setting was terrific, with all its politics and chicanery, and Olive is as quirky a character as I could love. Adam is the quiet type, but enough hints are dropped that you know this is more than fake dating for him. And eventually for Olive as well, but there are a lot of complications that get in the way. Title IX, the sexual harassment laws that govern colleges and universities, comes into play here, pretty much paving the way to the happy ending.

The humor and the characters really make this book, and there is a bit of steamy sex which is well done. I loved this book – don’t miss it!

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS by Ali Hazelwood. Berkley (September 14, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593336823. 384 pages.

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A LOT LIKE ADIOS by Alexis Daria

September 15, 2021

From the publisher:

The national bestselling author of You Had Me at Hola returns with a seductive second-chance romance about a commitment-phobic Latina and her childhood best friend who has finally returned home.

Hi Mich. It’s Gabe.

After burning out in her corporate marketing career, Michelle Amato has built a thriving freelance business as a graphic designer. So what if her love life is nonexistent? She’s perfectly fine being the black sheep of her marriage-obsessed Puerto Rican-Italian family. Besides, the only guy who ever made her want happily-ever-after disappeared thirteen years ago.

It’s been a long time.

Gabriel Aguilar left the Bronx at eighteen to escape his parents’ demanding expectations, but it also meant saying goodbye to Michelle, his best friend and longtime crush. Now, he’s the successful co-owner of LA’s hottest celebrity gym, with an investor who insists on opening a New York City location. It’s the last place Gabe wants to go, but when Michelle is unexpectedly brought on board to spearhead the new marketing campaign, everything Gabe’s been running from catches up with him.

I’ve missed you.

Michelle is torn between holding Gabe at arm’s length or picking up right where they left off—in her bed. As they work on the campaign, old feelings resurface, and their reunion takes a sexy turn. Facing mounting pressure from their families—who think they’re dating—and growing uncertainty about their futures, can they resolve their past mistakes, or is it only a matter of time before Gabe says adiós again?


Michelle is a talented graphic artist and one of her marketing campaigns went viral. Gabe’s partner in the gym they own is pushing hard to expand to New York, and wants to hire her. He doesn’t know about Gabe’s previous relationship with Michelle. When his partner can’t go to NY, Gabe has to do it. And the only way Michelle is going to help them is if he agrees to stay with her. She has an apartment in the city, and Gabe agrees.

They have unfinished business. Best friends all through school, their relationship intensified the summer after they graduated. Except unbeknownst to Michelle, Gabe is planning on going to college in California, not NY where they both live. When she finds out she is livid. Feeling her temper got the best of her, Michelle reaches out occasionally over the years. She really misses her friend and can’t understand why he won’t respond.

But her apartment is being renovated and shockingly, the date to finish has past and there is no toilet in the apartment. Since her parents are away, Michelle moves back home to the Bronx, next door to Gabe’s family. But when she brings him to the Bronx instead of Manhattan, he freaks out.

What Michelle doesn’t know is that Gabe had a big falling out with his parents. He told them he was going to California, on scholarship, but his father wants him to stay and help out in the stationary store he owns. They have a big fight, and Gabe hasn’t been back or even talked to his parents for nine years. This is really Gabe’s story; he needs to resolve the issues with his family and his business, and learn who he really is. With Michelle’s help, he does that.

The only part of the book I didn’t love were the “interstitials;” snippets of fanfiction they had written together when they were in high school. I could have lived without that, it reminded me of my least favorite parts of Rainbow Rowell’s books. But it did play a big part of the ending, and I did like that!

This is a terrific romance with some humor and interesting, diverse characters. There isn’t a whole lot of sex but it is steamy. If you like the friends to lovers trope (and I do) then this is your book! It is the sequel to You Had Me at Hola, but while I highly recommend you read it (I loved it) you don’t have to for this book to work. Enjoy!

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A LOT LIKE ADIOS by Alexis Daria. Avon (September 14, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062959966. 416 pages.

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BATTLE ROYAL by Lucy Parker

September 13, 2021

Wilder, Book 3

From the publisher:

Beloved author Lucy Parker pens a delicious new romantic comedy that is a battle of whisks and wits.

Ready…

Four years ago, Sylvie Fairchild charmed the world as a contestant on the hit baking show, Operation Cake. Her ingenious, creations captivated viewers and intrigued all but one of the judges, Dominic De Vere. When Sylvie’s unicorn cake went spectacularly sideways, Dominic was quick to vote her off the show. Since then, Sylvie has used her fame to fulfill her dream of opening a bakery. The toast of Instagram, Sugar Fair has captured the attention of the Operation Cake producers…and a princess.

Set…

Dominic is His Majesty the King’s favorite baker and a veritable British institution. He’s brilliant, talented, hard-working. And an icy, starchy grouch. Learning that Sylvie will be joining him on the Operation Cake judging panel is enough to make the famously dour baker even more grim. Her fantastical baking is only slightly more troublesome than the fact that he can’t stop thinking about her pink-streaked hair and irrepressible dimple.

Match…

When Dominic and Sylvie learn they will be fighting for the once in a lifetime opportunity to bake a cake for the upcoming wedding of Princess Rose, the flour begins to fly as they fight to come out on top.

The bride adores Sylvie’s quirky style. The palace wants Dominic’s classic perfection.

In this royal battle, can there be room for two?


This is the perfect amalgam of romcom and British Bakeoff; no wonder it garnered starred reviews all around. It’s also the classic enemies to lovers trope of romance, and done really well.

Sylvie lost on “Operation Cake” when her unicorn cake blew up and attacked the judge, Dominic. He had no patience for her quirky, sparkly cakes anyway. Dominic is the classically trained pastry chef whose cakes appeal to the Royal family. Sylvie opened her own cake shop right across the street from his, but there customers don’t really overlap. Except for the princess who is now planning her wedding. Her parents want Dominic, she wants Sylvie and both are invited to submit cake designs for the wedding, adding another layer of discord between them. Then one of the judges on Operation Cake leaves, and Sylvie is invited to be a judge. She can’t afford not to do it, plus it will give her shop tons of exposure. Of course, she’ll have to work with Dominic, but maybe it won’t be so bad.

Turns out Dominic isn’t exactly the stuffy ogre Sylvie always thought him to be. And she’s not the flighty miscreant he thought her to be. Eventually, they realize they have a lot more in common than they thought and team up in a variety of ways – even romantically.

This was a really fun read with a lot of emotional resonance. Romcoms don’t get much better than this! Don’t miss it.

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

BATTLE ROYAL by Lucy Parker. Avon (August 17, 2021). ISBN: 978-0063040069. 416 pages.

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THE HEART PRINCIPLE by Helen Hoang

September 7, 2021

The Kiss Quotient, Book 3

From the publisher:

A woman struggling with burnout learns to embrace the unexpected—and the man she enlists to help her—in this heartfelt new romance by USA Today bestselling author Helen Hoang.

When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too.

Translation: She’s going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.

That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex—he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she herself has just started to understand. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.


This is the latest entry into one of the best contemporary romance series. While there are three books in the series, I think that each stands alone. To prove my point, the second book in the series is from 2019, and honestly, I don’t remember a whole lot about it other than the main points – a main character on the autism spectrum and an emotional journey to the happily-ever-after. And that I loved the first two books, so I was thrilled to find this new one. There is an author’s note at the end of the book explaining why there was two years before publishing, and I must insist that if you read this book, and you should, you should also read that note.

I don’t know a ton about autism. That the main character in this series is on the spectrum means that I learn more about it and I think that is a very good thing. For instance, I learned that Asperger’s Syndrome is no longer a diagnosis; instead, the diagnosis is “autism spectrum disorder.” But more importantly, I learned how this woman lives with her autism and deals with it. Interestingly, the author is also on the spectrum and that just makes it more real.

Anna is a concert violinist in San Francisco. She started learning as a child, but was no prodigy – but a viral video turns her into a sensation, and a famous composer even writes her own piece for her. But Anna has taken a leave of absence from her job because she is stuck. She can’t play her own piece all the way through. In fact, she can’t play anything all the way through other than scales. As soon as she makes any kind of mistake, she has to start over, leaving her playing in a loop and very, very frustrated.

There is also frustration in her personal life. For one thing, Anna has spent her life trying to fit in with her family and even with her boyfriend of five years. Julian tells her he wants to marry her, but first wants to sleep around a lot to make sure he’s not missing anything. He wants an open relationship. Anna isn’t happy about it, and then she gets angry and decides what’s good for the gander is good for the goose and downloads a dating app, She decides to have a one-night stand or even better, a bunch of one night stands. The first guy she finds is just perfect – Quan is very good looking in a very bad boy way. But when she goes to meet him at a bar, she has a panic attack.

Quan has his own issues as a cancer survivor. He’s not looking for a relationship; he just wants to get back in the saddle again, as it were. Anna is sweet and beautiful and quirky, and as all she wants is a one night stand, kismet. It doesn’t work out like either one of them planned, so they decide to try again. Meanwhile, they talk and text and watch documentaries together while texting. The second try also fails, but they are both enjoying each other’s company and keep it going. And for the first time in her life, Anna is being herself and not just trying to please someone else.

Anna has been in therapy for a while to try and deal with her violin issues, and it’s not helping. On the other hand, she tries very hard to tell her therapist what she thinks she wants to hear. It’s not very useful and eventually the therapist tells her she believes Anna has been “masking”, trying to fit in, and gives Anna articles and a book about women on the autism spectrum.

Then Anna’s father has a massive stroke. Despite the fact that the doctors want to call in hospice, her mother and her much older, very dominating sister decide to bring him home and take care of him themselves. Anna moves home and is assigned an eight hour shift. She hates living there, hates taking care of her father not because she doesn’t love him, but because it is just so hard for her to try and fit in 24/7. To make matters worse, she thinks her father hates living like this and wants to die. He has a feeding tube, diapers, he can’t talk at all and it just breaks her heart.

Her sister thinks that autism diagnosis is crap and that Anna just needs to work harder. She also is planning a big birthday party for their father and wants Anna to play her violin at the party. Anna has fallen in love with Quan, but her wealthy Chinese family is not thrilled with this Vietnamese non-professional man. Julian is a doctor and his parents are good friends with Anna’s parents so they are invited to the party. But nothing goes right for Anna, and her struggle is real.

This is the type of book that is almost impossible to put down. That said, the crisis point of the story got me so emotional that I had to put it down and just cry. I avoided going back for a couple of hours, but then steeled myself to keep going and get to the happy ending I knew was coming.

Caretaking is a big issue in this story. In fact, the book is divided into three sections; before, during, and after [the stroke.] These characters wormed their way into my heart and there they stay, especially after reading the author’s note. I loved this book so much – I think it is the best book of an already excellent series, and everyone should read it. This is a wonderful romance with lots of humor, pathos, and hot sex, but it is the emotional journey that means everything here. It was worth the two year wait! Don’t miss it.

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE HEART PRINCIPLE by Helen Hoang. Berkley (August 31, 2021). ISBN: 978-0451490841. 352 pages.

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THE MIXTAPE by Brittainy Cherry

August 28, 2021

From the publisher:

Since the death of his twin brother, Oliver’s caught between pleasing his fans and finding himself. Emery finds him first.

Emery has never felt more alone. Raising her daughter is both her pleasure and her pain as she struggles to hold on to her job as a bartender and keep a roof over their heads. With no one to help them―no support system―any unexpected expense or late bill could turn their whole world upside down.

Reeling from the death of his twin brother and bandmate, rock star Oliver Smith is trying to drink his problems away. Apparently he isn’t very good at it; they follow him wherever he goes. Also in hot pursuit are the paparazzi, who catch Oliver at his lowest low.

He could have walked into any bar in California, but he walked into hers. Emery helps Oliver lose the crowd, and they find themselves alone: two people whose paths are marked with loss and pain. However, they hold an unshakable hope for healing. They find solace together, but can their love withstand the world?


I haven’t heard about mixtapes for decades, so I was intrigued. It is used as almost a device for communicating by these characters.

Oliver is drowning in guilt about his twin brother’s death and after six months of mourning, he is convinced it is time to get up on stage and perform again. Except he has a panic attack, takes off and ends up in a nearby dive bar. But once the crowd realizes who he is, things get ugly and the bartender, Emery, hustles everyone out and sneaks him out the back door. The only problem is that Oliver is completely wasted, but Emery gets him into her car, figuring she’ll just take him home. But after he pukes, he passes out and she has no idea where he lives. She brings him home with her, and when he wakes up in the morning with a mother of a hangover, she takes him home. That’s the meet-cute and while it wasn’t super cute, it was super effective.

Emery has a young daughter and her life revolves around her. Money is super tight, and even more so when the bar owner fires her for closing early and not collecting on all the tabs. Oliver finds out and offers her a job as his personal chef for an obscene amount of money, and things start looking up.

Emery has an interesting back story. Her family is super religious, but they are intolerant people, to say the least. Her sister is her best friend, but she’s been off “finding herself.” Emery struggles without that support, but Oliver quickly steps in to become that person for her.

Oliver has a girlfriend, but she is beyond awful. He is too depressed to do anything about it for a while. Meanwhile, Oliver and Emery become friends – and then more.

This was a really good romance with lots of angst and drama, which really makes the pages fly. It is not your typical romance novel, but has a lot more depth to it. I loved it.

8/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE MIXTAPE by Brittainy Cherry. Montlake (July 1, 2021). ISBN: 978-1542018364. 335 pages.

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THE DATING PLAYBOOK by Farrah Rochon

August 25, 2021

The Rajes, Book 3

From the publisher:

When a personal trainer agrees to fake date her client, all rules are out the window in this “fun, heartfelt, and totally relatable” romantic comedy (Abby Jimenez, NYT bestselling author of Life’s Too Short).

When it comes to personal training, Taylor Powell kicks serious butt. Unfortunately, her bills are piling up, rent is due, and the money situation is dire. Taylor needs more than the support of her new best friends, Samiah and London. She needs a miracle.

And Jamar Dixon might just be it. The oh-so-fine former footballer wants back into the NFL, and he wants Taylor to train him. There’s just one catch—no one can know what they’re doing. But when they’re accidentally outed as a couple, Taylor’s game plan is turned completely upside down. Is Jamar just playing to win . . . or is he playing for keeps?

  • PopSugar: Best Summer Reads of 2021
  • BookBub: Best Romance Books of Summer
  • Washington Post: Romance Novels to Read This Summer
  • Oprah Daily: Most Anticipated Romances of 2021

This is the second book of a no-named series, although it works well as a standalone, too. Although I loved the first book so much, I shouldn’t even tell you that, but if you can, please go read The Boyfriend Project. It made my best books of the year list for 2020.

This book has an added bonus for me; it’s a sports romance, which I love. Jamar has been booted from the NFL after his first year due to a serious injury. None of the teams want to take a chance on him, despite his surgeon’s clearing him to play. Determined to get back to the sport he loves, but wanting to avoid publicity about it, he decides to find a trainer to work with him from outside the NFL bubble. Jamar has seen Taylor’s boot camp style workouts online and besides thinking she’s pretty hot, thinks she is just the woman who can kick his butt back to the NFL. He shows up at one of her popup classes and impresses her when he can do one armed burpees. They chat after, and eventually he talks her into being his personal trainer.

Taylor loves what she does, but the business end of things sucks. She is losing money hand over fist and desperately needs an infusion of cash to pay her bills. She hasn’t gotten a couple of jobs she really wanted because she never went to college. It becomes apparent fairly quickly that something is up about that.

These characters were so well developed that I couldn’t help but care about them. Taylor has all kinds of family drama and Jamar has some serious guilt going on in his backstory. Even though they agree that they cannot be romantically involved, they end up in a fake relationship for the media attention. Which of course eventually turns into a hot romance.

I loved this story and these characters and I can’t wait for the next book in this series! Just wish it had a name.

8/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE DATING PLAYBOOK by Farrah Rochon. Forever (August 17, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538716670. 384 pages.

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PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA by Jenn McKinlay

August 23, 2021

From the publisher:

A thirty-year-old woman retraces her gap year through Ireland, France, and Italy to find love—and herself—in this hilarious and heartfelt novel.

It’s been seven years since Chelsea Martin embarked on her yearlong postcollege European adventure. Since then, she’s lost her mother to cancer and watched her sister marry twice, while Chelsea’s thrown herself into work, becoming one of the most talented fundraisers for the American Cancer Coalition, and with the exception of one annoyingly competent coworker, Jason Knightley, her status as most successful moneymaker is unquestioned.

When her introverted mathematician father announces he’s getting remarried, Chelsea is forced to acknowledge that her life stopped after her mother died and that the last time she can remember being happy, in love, or enjoying her life was on her year abroad. Inspired to retrace her steps—to find Colin in Ireland, Jean Claude in France, and Marcelino in Italy—Chelsea hopes that one of these three men who stole her heart so many years ago can help her find it again. 

From the start of her journey nothing goes as planned, but as Chelsea reconnects with her old self, she also finds love in the very last place she expected.

One of Popsugar’s Best New Books for Summer 2020


I recently read this author’s newest book, Wait for It, which I liked a lot so I poked around my Kindle and found this book that somehow I missed last year. Have I mentioned that I have over 5000 books on my Kindle? So easy for stuff to get lost. I try and keep it organized as best as I can, but sometimes books fall through the cracks. As this one did.

Chelsea has had a really hard time managing her grief after her mother’s death from pancreatic cancer. It’s been several years and she is still mired in it. When her father announces he is remarrying, she doesn’t handle it well, to say the least. Her family points out that she has lost her joy and she decides the best way to find her old self again is to return to Europe.

Seven years earlier Chelsea had taken a gap year and worked in several different countries in Europe, before being called home when her mother became ill. She fell in love three times; in Ireland, Paris, and Italy. She hasn’t been able to get in touch with any of the men other than Marcellino from Italy, but she decides to take a leave of absence from her job and see if she can find her joy with these men.

It’s an interesting trip, especially when her nemesis from work shows up. Jason is helping on a big account but she never expected him to show up in person. They don’t get along at all and have very different working styles. But come together they must for this new client.

Meanwhile, her European romances are not at all what she was expecting, but luckily, Jason is helpful with all that. Much to her surprise, Chelsea realizes he is not the bad guy she thought he was.

This is an enemies-to-lovers romance and a very good one. There is a lot of humor here, as well as bits that made me cry, or as they say, it has all the feels. Highly recommend!

8/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA by Jenn McKinlay. Berkley (July 21, 2020). ISBN: 978-0593101353. 352 pages.

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LOVE AT FIRST FIGHT by Mary Jayne Baker

August 21, 2021

From the publisher:

Love-cynic Bridie Morgan is holding a last hurrah to the ‘dating’ stage of her life; shes going on twenty dates in twenty days. If this ‘love’ thing really is a numbers game, then surely she’ll find the one. And if not? Well at least the memory of her date with the Spice Girls’ biggest fan will be enough to put her off for life. She’ll never again wonder what she was missing.

But being love’s biggest skeptic is a challenge in the face of best friend Hattie’s upcoming nuptials. And as Maid of Honour, she really has to give it a chance. That is until Bridie’s lifelong nemesis Ben Kemp returns home to join the wedding party.

Ben Kemp who left her waiting outside their Leaver’s prom, in her nicest dress, alone. Ben Kemp who triggered the sorry state of affairs that has been Bridie’s love life. Ben Kemp the Best Man to her Maid of Honor.

A hilarious and uplifting romantic comedy perfect for fans of 10 Things I Hate About You and The Hating Game.


Bridie has had a lot of bad dates. Really bad dates. She decides to give it one more chance; well, 20 more chances as she attempts 20 dates in 20 days. Then if there are no second dates, she is giving it up and resigning herself to a life of singledom.

Bridie’s best friend Hattie is getting married and Bridie is her maid of honor. Unfortunately, the best man is Ben Kemp. Ben and Bridie were childhood friends and did some fooling around in high school, but were never girlfriend/boyfriend. Ben invited Bridie to a school dance and stood her up, and she has never forgotten or forgiven, so needless to say she is not happy she has to work with him on the wedding.

This is an enemies to lovers story, and a really funny one with lots of laugh out loud moments. Eventually, Ben and Bridie work out their problems and get to their happy ending, but it is the journey that is all the fun. A terrific read from this new-to-me author. I will be looking for more of her books!

8/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LOVE AT FIRST FIGHT by Mary Jayne Baker. Aria (March 1, 2022). ISBN: 978-1800246164. 352 pages.

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HEARTBREAK FOR HIRE by Sonia Hartl

August 18, 2021

From the publisher:

A smart, sexy, and witty romantic comedy—perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne—about a twentysomething who lives out every woman’s fantasy: getting paid to give men who do us wrong a taste of their own medicine. But when a previous target unexpectedly shows up at her office, she’s forced to rethink her life as a professional heartbreaker.

Brinkley Saunders has a secret.

To everyone in the academic world she left behind, she lost it all when she dropped out of grad school. Once a rising star following in her mother’s footsteps, she’s now an administrative assistant at an insurance agency—or so they think.

In reality, Brinkley works at Heartbreak for Hire, a secret service that specializes in revenge for jilted lovers, frenemies, and long-suffering coworkers with a little cash to spare and a man who needs to be taken down a notch. It might not be as prestigious as academia, but it helps Brinkley save for her dream of opening an art gallery and lets her exorcise a few demons, all while helping to empower women.

But when her boss announces she’s hiring male heartbreakers for the first time, Brinkley’s no longer so sure she’s doing the right thing—especially when her new coworker turns out to be a target she was paid to take down. Though Mark spends his days struggling up the academic ladder, he seems to be the opposite of a backstabbing adjunct: a nerd at heart in criminally sexy sweater vests who’s attentive both in and out of the bedroom. But as Brinkley finds it increasingly more difficult to focus on anything but Mark, she soon realizes that like herself, people aren’t always who they appear to be.

With Sonia Hartl’s “bitingly funny” (Publishers Weekly) prose, Heartbreak for Hire is a clever romcom you and your girlfriends won’t be able to stop talking about.


This was an interesting premise; women for hire to take down whatever man did you wrong. Not cheap, but possibly therapeutic? The woman who started the company found her employees crying in coffeeshops or bars etc. She offers them a way to work out their demons, and Brinkley certainly has some. She was in a psychologically abusive relationship for several years while she was in college. In fact, the breakup led her to drop out of her masters program at Northwestern, where her mother is a professor.

Brinkley and her mom do not get along. Her mother was determined that Brinkley follow her footsteps into a career in academia. But when Brinkley changes her major to art and then drops out, her mother is just beside herself. They meet up every week for lunch where her they end up fighting. Every week. Her mom thinks she is an administrative assistant in an insurance company because Brinkley never tells anyone what she really does for a living.

Then she meets Mark. The woman who contracted for his takedown is a nightmare, and Brinkley isn’t sure she even believes what she says, but a job is a job so off she goes. Except when she meets him, she likes him. A lot. They end up back at his place but she panics and runs out on him. Then they keep bumping into each other, and soon a relationship is keeping them both busy. But when he is hired by her company in their attempt to add men to the roster, none of the staff are happy, to say the least.

This was a laugh out loud book for me, lots of crazy situations along with the romance and some hot sex. Total fantasy, but what’s wrong with that!

8/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HEARTBREAK FOR HIRE by Sonia Hartl. Gallery Books (July 27, 2021). ISBN: 978-1982167783. 320 pages.

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