WELL MATCHED by Jen DeLuca

November 19, 2021

Well Met, Book 3

From the publisher:

A pretend relationship gives two friends more than they bargained for in a Renaissance Faire rom com filled with flower crowns, kilts, corsets, and sword fights.

Single mother April Parker has lived in Willow Creek for twelve years with a wall around her heart. On the verge of being an empty nester, she’s decided to move on from her quaint little town, and asks her friend Mitch for his help with some home improvement projects to get her house ready to sell. 

Mitch Malone is known for being the life of every party, but mostly for the attire he wears to the local Renaissance Faire—a kilt (and not much else) that shows off his muscled form to perfection. While he agrees to help April, he needs a favor too: she’ll pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming family dinner, so that he can avoid the lectures about settling down and having a more “serious” career than high school coach and gym teacher. April reluctantly agrees, but when dinner turns into a weekend trip, it becomes hard to tell what’s real and what’s been just for show. But when the weekend ends, so must their fake relationship. 

As summer begins, Faire returns to Willow Creek, and April volunteers for the first time. When Mitch’s family shows up unexpectedly, April pretends to be Mitch’s girlfriend again…and it doesn’t feel so fake anymore. Despite their obvious connection, April insists they’ve just been putting on an act. But when there’s the chance for something real, she has to decide whether to change her plans—and open her heart—for the kilt-wearing hunk who might just be the love of her life.


As someone who has never been to a Renaissance Faire, despite there being a huge one [http://www.ren-fest.com/] just a few miles from my home, I really love this series. I still have no desire to go, but I’ll read anything Jen DeLuca writes.

This book is less about the Ren Faire and more about this small town. The story centers around April, whose daughter is going off to college in a few months. April has been a single mom for a very long time, and she is determined to change her life once she becomes an empty nester. She wants to sell the house and move out of this small town into a city, and while she’ll always have a place for her daughter, she wants to start living her own life.

Mitch is quite a bit younger than April, and while he is a very good looking man, she can’t imagine him being interested in her. So when he offers to help her out with fixing up her house to sell it, she is grateful for the help. But he needs a favor in return; he wants her to come to a family dinner with him. His family are all high achievers and think being a teacher and coach is not much of a career. He figures if they see him in a relationship with a woman like April, all professional looking and older, they will back off. But the dinner turns into a weekend at a hotel, and one thing leads to another as it usually does with fake dating!

I loved the May-December romance, mostly because it is the woman who is older, yet it seems that Mitch is the more mature one in this relationship a lot of the time. April is dealing with some insecurities about her age and her body and simply cannot believe that this man could truly want a relationship with her. She pretty much dumps him because of that, but luckily, he’s not giving up.

There are a lot of laughs here and witty dialogue, a hallmark of DeLuca’s writing, plus some steamy scenes. I’ve loved all three of these books and would be hard pressed to pick a favorite. But it’s probably this one. These do not need to be read in order, they each stand alone pretty well, so if you haven’t tried DeLuca yet, I urge you to do so now. I loved it.

11/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WELL MATCHED by Jen DeLuca. Berkley (October 19, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593200445. 336 pages.

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MOST VALUABLE PLAYBOY by Lauren Blakely 

October 26, 2021

Ballers and Babes Series, Book 1

From the publisher:

Hands down, my favorite thing in the world is to score. Touchdowns. Don’t let the fact that I’m the leading pick in the Most Valuable Playboy charity auction fool you.

These days, I’m only a player on the field. I’ve kept my pants zipped all season long because nothing’s more important than leading my team to victory every week. Except maybe escaping from the team owner’s recently-widowed and handsy-as-hell sister who’s dead set on winning more than a date with me.

Enter Violet and a well-placed Hail Mary. She’s my best friend’s sister with a smile as sweet as cherry pie and a mind that runs quicker than the 40-yard-dash. After Violet saves the day with the highest bid, I don’t even give her a two-minute warning before I kiss her in front of the whole crowd and then announce that she’s my girlfriend. Which would be fine except my agent tells me we have to keep up the act while he’s negotiating my contract.

Violet takes one for the team and pretends to be mine, but our boyfriend-girlfriend scrimmage quickly turns into a full contact sport, and I want it to go into overtime. The problem is–I’ve been riding the bench for years. How can a guy like me, who finally has a chance to prove his worth on the field, convince the girl she’s most valuable to his heart?

*MOST VALUABLE PLAYBOY is a brand new standalone sports romance written in the guy’s POV!*


I love sports romances, and this is a good one. Told from the guy’s point of view, Cooper is the quarterback for a fictitious San Francisco NFL team. He was backup quarterback for a few years, but now is leading the team and he takes that very seriously. As his best friend Trent says, he is married to football. It is the most important thing in his life and he, along with a few friends on the team, started off the season losing. But then things started clicking and they are on their way to a wildcard spot in the playoffs. Many athletes have their little superstitions and this crew certainly does. Cooper hasn’t had sex since they started winning, and his friends also have their supersitions – one hasn’t cut his hair all season, another is wearing the same dirty socks every game.

Cooper is also a big believer in helping out any charities that deal with children, so he is happy to be part of the bachelor auction to benefit a local children’s hospital. Except he has one little problem; in previous years when he was “won”, he bedded the winners. This year he is not having sex until they make the playoffs, which could be difficult, especially when the owner’s sister is determined to win him and have her way with him. Panicky, he begs Trent’s sister Violet to help him out. She is a hairdresser and is at the auction to make all the guys look good. But her work is done, and since she and Cooper have been friends since they were little kids, she doesn’t mind helping him out – especially since he’s paying for it. So she outbids everyone else and to her surprise, and his, he kisses her in front of the crowd and tells the local news reporter covering the event that they are an item.

Meanwhile, Cooper’s agent is in negotiations for his contract with the team, due to expire at the end of the season. He tells Cooper he needs to keep dating his hometown childhood sweetheart as it will help with negotiations. Turns out Violet needs to keep dating him as well; her landlord wants to raise her rent, but if her customers think they are dating, business will pick up for sure. So they agree to fake date, and as anyone who has ever read a romance knows, fake dating always leads to a happily ever after.

What is interesting here is seeing it all from his point of view instead of hers. We quickly learn that Cooper is falling for Violet, but he isn’t sure if she feels the same or is just good at acting. It was refreshing to see a man be a bit insecure about a relationship for a change. Violet is as well, and we learn that she has always had a crush on him. As things progress, their relationship certainly feels real to him but things come up that make him doubt that Violet is.

This was a terrific read, fast and sexy and fun, especially if you like football – and I do. There is also some sweetness here, which I really appreciated, along with some laugh out loud moments and some very steamy sex. Lauren Blakely is self published, which I often have issues with, but she is a pro. Her books are reliably well edited, and I highly recommend!

NOTE: This is the first book of a series, and I got it for free through BookBub. If you weren’t sure they were legit, well, they are. I got this book a couple of weeks ago and it was free, but today it is $3.99 so I’m glad I jumped on that when I did! (Unfortunately, my library doesn’t have the rest of the books in this series so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get to them. I feel guilty buying books when I literally have hundreds of books still to read on my Kindle!)

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MOST VALUABLE PLAYBOY by Lauren Blakely. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 1, 2017). 978-1545373941. 286 pages.

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THE BILLIONAIRE IN BOOTS by Julia London

October 24, 2021

The Princes of Texas, Book 3

From the publisher:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia London delivers a sexy new contemporary western, where a lonesome rancher and a no-nonsense cowgirl learn that you don’t choose who you fall for–love lassos you….

As the firstborn son, it’s been drilled into Nick that he is the heir apparent to the Prince family empire. But cattle ranching has never been his true passion. Nick wants to be a pilot.  However, when his father dies, leaving Nick to clean up the mess, he knows he must do his duty before following his heart.

Charlotte Bailey can’t believe that Nick is back to run the ranch. As the office manager, she knows it’s her responsibility to help him. If only he wasn’t so brooding and cranky–and so hot it’s a wonder his chaps don’t melt right off him. But when sparks fly between them, she’s adamant about staying away from a cowboy on his way out the door.

Nick knows the ranch’s pretty, smart, and capable office manager is off-limits, but he needs her. And working in such close proximity to Charlotte every day is making Nick crazy. She smells good, she looks good, she makes him laugh, but most of all she makes him want to stay….


I’ve read Julia London’s historical romances and loved them, so I don’t know how I missed her contemporary ones. This is the third book of the series and my first foray into The Princes of Texas, but I think it stands alone just fine. It never felt like I was missing anything.

Nick is a young, good looking curmudgeon. He’s always grumpy and for some reason, Charlotte enjoys his company. It might have something to do with the wild, slightly drunken night they shared almost a year earlier. She distinctly remembers that night as the best sex she ever had.

Charlotte has been the office manager for the Prince ranch since way before Nick took over. His dad ran the place with Charlotte for many years. Nick has his pilot’s license and dreams of flying big jets for commercial airlines, but his dream is put on hold when his father dies and names him to take over the ranch. Turns out his father had some serious gambling issues, and the coffers are bare. Every day is a struggle to turn the business around. The only highlight is getting to spend time with Charlotte. She is often maddening but he can’t help how he feels about her, try as he might. He is diligent about keeping their relationship professional, but eventually lust wins out.

Charlotte has feelings for Nick, but he constantly pushes her away. She tries online dating as her friends keep pushing her, but without much success. Even Nick gets in on it, helping her pick out a couple of guys to date. Turns out that wasn’t the best idea he ever had, but it doesn’t matter, Charlotte knows where her heart belongs. Except she has a dream too, and it’s to get married, have lots of babies, and make a home in this small town.

Nick doesn’t believe she would want to be with him unless he can give her those things, and after her best friend has a baby he becomes convinced he doesn’t want any children – ever. This is a major hurdle for Charlotte, but this is a romance so you know they reach their happy ending.

I really liked spending time with these characters and this is a charming romance with a tiny bit of heat and a lot of laughs. I will be looking for the earlier books in this series – and the next one!

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE BILLIONAIRE IN BOOTS by Julia London. Berkley (March 3, 2020). ISBN: 978-0451492395. 368 pages.

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THE TAKEOVER by T L Swan

October 22, 2021

The Miles High Club, Book 2

From the publisher:

Wall Street Journal bestseller.

In bestselling author T L Swan’s second hot installment to the Miles High Club series, he’s sexy, rich, and her mortal enemy. Hate never felt so good.

I first met Tristan Miles at a meeting where he was trying to take over my late husband’s company.

He was powerful, arrogant, and infuriatingly gorgeous, and I hated him with every cell in my body. In the shock of the century, he called me three days later and asked me on a date.

I would rather die than date a man like him―though I do have to admit it was good for the ego. Turning him down was the highlight of my year.

Six months later, he was the guest speaker at a conference I attended in France.

Still arrogant and infuriating―but this time, surprisingly charming and witty.

When he looked at me, I got butterflies.

But I can’t go there.

He’s just a player in a hot suit, and I’m just a widow with three unruly sons.

I just need this conference to be over. Because everybody knows that Tristan Miles always gets what he wants…and what he wants is me.


Tristan Miles is in charge of acquisitions for Miles Media, the conglomerate he owns along with his brothers. They are all billionaire playboys, except for Jameson, who recently married. Tristan is determined to take over Anderson Media, which is in serious financial jeopardy. The owner died and his widow, Claire, has been running the company for five years, but things are not going well. When Tristan shows up in her office with an offer to buy her out, she is incensed and throws him out. A few days later, he asks her out. Saying no felt good. Tristan is rich and gorgeous and has never heard “no” before, but he respects her wishes and keeps his distance.

About six months later, Claire’s assistant and best friend, Marley, convinces her to attend a motivational retreat in France. Claire fights it at first, but soon realizes she really needs a break and off she goes. The opening speaker at the conference is none other than Tristan Miles. He singles her out, repeatedly, and eventually she decides to she could use a fling and since their chemistry is off the charts, why not.

Claire is a few years older than Tristan and they are in very different places in their lives. She married young and was widowed, and has three sons who are not always easy to deal with. He is single and a player with his whole life ahead of him. After the conference, he invites her to spend the weekend with him in Paris, and she goes. The sex is amazing, he makes her feel like the most beautiful woman in the world, and is funny and charming. But then she ends things.

Tristan has never been dumped and he isn’t sure what to do about it. He has had a few serious relationships in his life, but with a distinct type; young, blond, beautiful. Claire is older and comes with a lot of baggage, namely her kids. But he can’t stop thinking about her. One day he shows up at her house on Long Island, and meets her three sons in one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever read. Her oldest Fletcher, is just cold to him and asks him to leave. He is very protective of his mother. The youngest, Patrick, isn’t sure what to think. But it’s the middle child, Harry, who goes ballistic on him.

Seeing a billionaire playboy lock horns with teenagers is hilarious, and the relationship he develops with these boys is funny but also heart warming. Meanwhile Claire keeps breaking up with him then taking him back. Repeatedly. She can’t seem to stay away, and he is determined to make a life with her. That leads to some serious issues and another really bad breakup. But these two cannot stay apart, and they all find their happily ever after.

This is my favorite book of the series. The sex is steamy as in all the books in this series, but it’s the humor that really made this special. Single moms will appreciate how protective Claire is of her children, and will swoon at Tristan’s relationship with her boys. These books all stand alone so if you want to try one, I highly recommend this book; it is equal parts super sexy, heartwarming, & hilarious! I loved it.

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE TAKEOVER by T L Swan. Montlake; 8/1 edition (August 27, 2020). ISBN: 978-1542017336. 479 pages.

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THE STOPOVER by T L Swan

October 19, 2021

The Miles High Club, Book 1

From the publisher:

A memorable night of passion refuses to stay just a memory in this sizzling and scandalous romance from bestselling author T L Swan.

I was upgraded to first class on a flight from London to New York.

The food, champagne, and service were impeccable.

The blue-eyed man sitting next to me, even better.

He was suave and intelligent.

We talked and laughed, and something clicked.

Fate took over and the plane was grounded, and we had an unexpected stopover for the night.

With no plans, we made our own.

We danced and laughed our way around Boston and had a night of crazy passion that no woman would ever forget.

That was twelve months ago, and I haven’t heard from him―until today.

I started a new job and met the CEO. You can imagine my surprise to see those naughty blue eyes dance with delight when he saw me across the mahogany desk.

But I’m not that carefree girl anymore. My life has changed, I have responsibilities.

I just got an email.

He wants to see me in his office for a private meeting at 8:00 a.m.

Naughty blue eyes have no place in the workplace.

What kind of private meeting does he have in mind?


I read the third book in this series, The Casanova, first, and immediately went and purchased the first two books in the series. Being that there are four Miles brothers, I’m hoping for one more.

Emily Foster is having a horrible day, topped off by being assaulted at the airport. But that does seem to turn things around for her; the airline upgrades her to first class. Sitting beside her is the sexiest man she’s ever seen. He introduces himself as Jim, and they flirt like crazy for the whole flight from London to New York. Except their flight is rerouted to Boston due to weather, and they end up spending the night together. A steamy, sexy night. But he doesn’t ask her for her phone number, and she shrugs it off. She can’t forget him though.

Emily finally lands her dream job at Miles Media and on her first day is given a tour of the offices. There she meets the CEO, Jameson Miles, who turns out to be none other than her former flying seatmate, Jim. The chemistry between them is palpable, and she cannot believe the man she has been fantasizing about ever since their night together is now her boss.

Billionaire bad boy Jameson has never forgotten Emily, either. Known as the Casanova for the obvious reasons, he has never really felt the need to see a woman once the fling ends. Except for Emily. She doesn’t want to jeopardize her job, but finds it impossible to say no for very long. They end up in a relationship that neither of them planned or thought they wanted, and it is scorching. But more than just heat, there is love and caring and a happily every after.

This is a really fun read with some humor, interesting characters and situations, and a lot of sexy scenes. I was shocked to see this book is over 500 pages, because those pages just flew by. I loved it and The Takeover, book 2 in the series, is up next for me.

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE STOPOVER by T L Swan. Montlake Romance (October 29, 2019). ISBN: 978-1542015875. 523 pages.

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NOT SEEKING MR. RIGHT by Natasha Moore  

October 11, 2021

From the author:

Ginny Colburn can’t believe she’s been dumped by her wedding date.

And everybody knows it.

So when a cute, younger man serving champagne to the guests flirts with her, she decides to really give the guests something to talk about and flirts back.

But the incredible one-night stand gives her more than great memories.

A few weeks later, she’s got a positive pregnancy test and the task of having to tell a guy half her age, “Congratulations, you’re a dad.”

Only he doesn’t react the way she thinks he will at all…


It was a really nice ass.

Firm. Totally bare. Sticking out the back door of a dented yellow Mini Cooper parked in the far corner of the Lakeside Country Club lot. Ginny Colburn wandered over to get a better look. The long legs were muscular with just the right amount of hair. The gravel in this back section of the parking lot had to be hurting his feet.

Opening text, Not Seeking Mr. Right

This was my first read from this author and that opening immediately caught my attention. Ginny is dumped when her boyfriend decides to get back together with his ex-wife, but that happens before the wedding they were going to attend together. Instead, Ginny goes with her two best friends. But when she gets there, she sees a man’s naked backside sticking out of a Mini Cooper. It’s a nice ass, so she decides to investigate. Once he realizes he is being looked at, he dresses quickly. Josh is a bartender/server at this wedding. He thinks the woman eyeing him is beautiful, and they do a bit of flirting out in the parking lot but he has to get to work, and she has to attend her cousin’s wedding.

Her ex is there with his no-longer-an-ex, and her friends try to protect Ginny. But as Josh finishes his shift, he sees her looking very uncomfortable while talking to the man. He decides to ask her to dance, and one thing leads to another. Ginny is 40 years old and has decided she is done with men. They don’t treat her well, and she is too old to be bothered anymore. She decides she will just have one night stands from now on, starting with Josh. He’s all in, and they spend a glorious night together.

It’s a small town, so they run into each other now and then. He would like more, but he respects her wishes so he is surprised when she asks him to come over to talk. Turns out she’s pregnant, and he immediately asks her to marry him. She laughs at him and says that is not necessary. She is quite prepared to be a single mother, but thought he had the right to know.

They decide to be friends. Josh would like more but she is firm on the matter. He wants to be involved with his child but he is young, only 25 years old, and is recently graduated from college. He is working multiple odd jobs while he interviews for his dream job as a landscape architect. While he is waiting for his dream job, he is up front with Ginny that he will be leaving the small upstate New York town of Lakeside soon.

But while he’s still around, he wants to spend time with her. He teaches her to grocery shop and cook, instead of depending on takeout for every meal. He convinces her to try yoga because his pregnant sister swears it helps with morning sickness and delivering the baby. He cares for her and shows her that in every way.

They fall in love, and he asks her to marry him again. And again. But she refuses to admit that she’s in love with him when really she is refusing to stand in the way of his dreams, without ever giving him the option of deciding what he wants for himself.

There is a lot of foreshadowing in this story that makes it pretty obvious what will happen, but somehow, when he finds his dream job and moves away, I found myself crying. And crying again when they reach their happy ending. There is a lot of humor here, too, and I found myself smiling a lot and even laughing out loud a few times. As the kids say, this book has all the feels. I loved the older woman/younger man trope, the small town feel, and these characters. Ginny is a strong woman, and Josh is much more mature than most 25 year olds, probably due to his background. They are a great match, despite all the naysayers and gossip in their little village.

This book was self published but Entangled Publishing is publishing the ebook, which is how I read it. I hope they will publish more of her work; this is an author to watch.

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

NOT SEEKING MR. RIGHT by Natasha Moore. Independently published (October 7, 2021). ISBN: 979-8491232246. 320 pages.

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THE TROUBLE WITH HATING YOU by Sajni Patel

October 5, 2021

The Trouble with Hating You, Book 1

From the publisher:

A fiercely independent engineer walks out on the man her parents have set her up with — only to start working side-by-side with him at her job in this laugh-out-loud debut with “delicious banter, deep wounds, heartwarming friendships, and a path to love that often feels impossibly hard, and [a payoff] satisfying enough to give you a book hangover the size of Texas” (Sonali Dev, USA Today bestselling author of Recipe for Persuasion).

Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents’ latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she’s out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later — the new lawyer hired to save her struggling company. What’s not surprising: he’s not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.

Jay Shah looks good on paper…and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He’s also infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late-night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance?


I read the second book in this series, First Love, Take Two and I loved it, so I dug around my Kindle and sure enough I found this book. I was so happy I did – this was also a really good read and a good introduction to the characters.

This book is all about Liyah. She is a very successful engineer; in fact, so successful, she just got promoted to management. Except what her boss didn’t tell her is that the company is facing a ton of lawsuits, and everyone’s jobs are in jeopardy. Determined to work hard and help push the company past this bump, on her first day she is late to the meeting with the lawyer in charge of settling the lawsuits. He turns out to be Jay, who she met briefly a few days earlier when her parents tried to set her up with him. She has no interest in marriage, much less parent-matched marriage, and she flees. Unfortunately, she crashes into Jay right on the front lawn, taking them both down. She really hates his smirk as she sprawls on top of him, and she just takes off. And now it’s time for payback.

After a few snarky comments about her tardiness, they end up working together to try and save this company. But all they do is argue, and the chemistry between them just can’t be denied. Jay is intrigued for sure, but Liyah is playing hard-to-get – or actually, impossible to get.

Liyah has a terrible reputation. When she was a young teen, she accused the leader of their Hindu church of sexually abusing her. Her father called her a liar, and their relationship has been strained ever since. Her mother may have believed her, but she is completely submissive to her psychologically abusive husband. Not exactly the great role models for a good marriage, and Liyah is really destroyed by her father’s refusal to believe her. She starts sleeping around, moves out of her parent’s house after college which is frowned upon in this community, and she develops this bad reputation. So she has a hard time believing that this man and his good family would be accepting of her.

But Jay isn’t giving up. He has his own issues – his father died in a fire, and he was injured, but he feels responsible for his father’s death. He is very close with his mother and brother, and they don’t blame him but he can’t get past the guilt.

Despite their pasts, they keep growing closer. Jay is patient – extraordinarily patient – with Liyah and eventually he breaks down her barriers. Until the man she accused of molesting her starts threatening her and even tells Jay and his family that she tried to seduce him. It’s a mess, and Liyah takes off. But Jay tracks her down and they work through their issues together.

I loved these characters and learning about the Indian/Hindu culture. The hate-to-love trope works really well here, and there is a lot of humor despite the seriousness of some of the issues. I think everything is handled with sensitivity and that really added a lot to the emotional resonance of this story. I’m looking forward to whatever comes next from Patel – she is on my must read list for sure.

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE TROUBLE WITH HATING YOU by Sajni Patel. Forever (May 12, 2020). ISBN: 978-1538733332. 352 pages.

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FIRST LOVE, TAKE TWO by Sajni Patel

September 29, 2021

The Trouble with Hating You, Book 2

From the publisher:

On the verge of realizing her dream of being a doctor, Preeti Patel should be ecstatic. But between the stress of her residency, trying to find a job, and managing her traditional, no-boundaries family, Preeti’s anxiety is through the roof. Relationships and love aren’t even an option. Fortunately, Preeti’s finally found a new place to stay . . . only to discover that her new roommate is her ex.

Preeti never quite got over Daniel Thompson. Super-hot, plenty of swagger, amazing cook—the guy is practically perfect. And if it weren’t for their families, there might have been a happily ever after. But it’s hard to keep her sanity and libido in check when the man of her dreams is sleeping mere feet away. Can Preeti and Daniel find a way to stand up and fight for each other one last time . . . before they lose their second chance?


The main theme of this book – besides the romance – is racism. Preeti’s family doesn’t approve of Daniel because he’s Black. Daniel’s family doesn’t approve of Preeti because she comes from a poor background and a different culture. Daniel is part of the 1% and his family runs a hugely successful real estate company. He is expected to take it over, but all he does is fight with his father.

Six years earlier, Preeti was at Daniel’s Harvard graduation when his father, sitting next to her, tells her that if she really loves Daniel, she will leave him and let him find his happiness with his family, that she is no good for him and is destroying his career and his life. Her family isn’t much better; her aunties are toxic, call her a slut and spread all kinds of horrible gossip about Preeti and her family, and her mother ends up having a stress related mild heart attack. Those two events led Preeti to just walk away from Daniel, and she never tells him why.

Six years later, they end up sharing an apartment for a few weeks. Preeti has been matched with a man her family approves of, and they have been texting and talking and sharing family meals for six months. Preeti thinks marrying him will make her parents proud and happy, even though she feels nothing for him. In fact, Preeti has some health issues – she suffers from severe anxiety, touch aversion, and at times those things spiral her into depression. Daniel was the only one who really knows about her issues and how to help her through them. Her fiancé-to-be doesn’t understand why she can’t abide his touch, and thinks she should just get over it.

Despite her health issues, Preeti is fiercely competitive and brilliant, and is in the last few weeks of residency, trying to find a job as a full time doctor. She loves the practice she is with, but there is competition for the one opening they have.

As Preeti and Daniel start spending time together, they both realize they still love one another. There are many setbacks, and it takes Preeti a while to realize that Daniel is willing to forgive her for leaving him and they do find their happily ever after.

This was such a charming, sweet story and I fell in love with these characters. I did realize while reading this that there must have been a book before this one, and sure enough there is – The Trouble with Hating You. I can’t wait to read it, and whatever else Sajni Patel writes next!

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FIRST LOVE, TAKE TWO by Sajni Patel. Forever (September 21, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538733363. 336 pages.

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THE MATZAH BALL by Jean Meltzer

September 28, 2021

From the publisher:

Oy! to the world

Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.

But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy—Jacob Greenberg.

Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah—and Jacob—in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze. 

A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK SELECTED BY * POPSUGAR BUSTLE BUZZFEED * BOOKPAGE * GOODREADS MEMBERS

“The Matzah Ball had me laughing out loud…an all-around terrific read.”—Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author


Finally a terrific Jewish holiday romance! Rachel is a Jewish writer who happens to love Christmas and writes Christmas romances. But as the daughter of a rabbi, she is afraid of anyone finding out, so she writes under a pseudonym. Her publisher wants to diversify, and asks Rachel to write a Hanukkah romance.

Truth be told, Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday that gets so much attention primarily because of its place on the calendar, aligned as it is with Christmas. Rachel is very much aware of this, and can’t imagine how to go about writing a romance around Hanukkah. Then she finds out that her first love and summer camp nemesis, Jacob, is hosting a big fancy party on the last night of Hanukkah, called the Matzah Ball.

Thinking this event will give her the inspiration she needs, Rachel tries to get a ticket but there are none to be had. Jacob offers to let Rachel volunteer for the week before the event; volunteers get a ticket so she agrees. Some of the funniest, laugh out loud moments happen while she’s volunteering. As they work together, they grow closer, but one thing after another happens to cause them both heartbreak.

Rachel also suffers from a debilitating, chronic illness called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. It’s also referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome, and the author shares that with Rachel. Witnessing how this disease affects her life adds another dimension to this story.

I read this book the day after I attended a beautiful wedding in Chicago. The mother of the bride, my beloved machatunim (hi Nancy!) spoke about bashert, which I always understood to mean soulmate. But here, another explanation is given, and I loved it.

Bashert literally means destiny…in Judaism, that’s not the point of finding your bashert.”

“So what is the point?”

“Your other half exists to make you better. She exists to complete something you lack, and vice versa. You challenge each other, like chavruta, two blades which sharpen each other. But that’s different than love, Jacob. In some ways, it’s more powerful. Because only your bashert, your other half, can fill up what you lack…and help you fulfill your destiny.”

This is a sweet, very funny romance with a lot of heart. It wouldn’t be a Jewish story without frequent mentions of food, family, and Yiddish expressions, and it does not disappoint. Don’t miss it!

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PERFECT TIMING by Owen Nicholls

September 26, 2021

From the publisher:

From the author of Love, Unscripted. . . . They’re perfect for each other. But what happens when you meet the right person at the wrong time—over and over again?

“A modern-day love story with an old-fashioned warmth.”—Debbie Johnson, author of Maybe One Day

Up-and-coming musician Tom thinks he met the love of his life one night a year ago, but thanks to a made-up girlfriend, he’s pretty sure he’s never going to see her again. If it weren’t for the painkillers the doctor had given him for his dislocated shoulder, he could’ve explained what really happened. But now the moment for explanations has gone, so he just keeps writing songs about her in the wild hope that she’ll hear one on the radio and understand.

Jess thinks she met a cheating liar one night a year ago, but much to her chagrin, she can’t seem to stop thinking about him. When she finally decides to take it upon herself to tell Tom’s girlfriend what happened that night, she finds out that the truth isn’t quite what she thought it was. But by then it’s too late—she’s headed to the other side of the world to launch her comedy career.

As the years go by, Tom and Jess are never far from each other’s thoughts. But every time it seems that there might be a way for them to move forward, something else conspires to keep them apart. In life and in love, timing is everything—but will Tom and Jess ever manage to get it right?


This was an interesting concept for a romance. Tom and Jess meet serendipitously on a train, have a fabulous date, and then he ghosts her. It haunts Jess, she really felt like they had a connection. So when she runs into him again, she’s very angry.

Tom offers her a reasonable explanation and she decides to believe him. But this time, she hears from his best friend that he has a girlfriend. Angry again that he lied to her about that, she leaves.

They go back and forth like this for years. Almost too many years, it seemed a little dragged out for me. But eventually, they are both single at the same time and realize that they love one another and that’s the end.

I enjoyed this story but I would have liked to see them together more than was presented. There’s no heat at all here, other than when they fight. I need more than that in a romance. This is a romance of missed opportunities, in more ways then the author probably intended.

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

PERFECT TIMING by Owen Nicholls. Dell (September 7, 2021). ISBN: 978-1984826893. 384 pages.

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