Spotlight Review: THE FRIENDSHIP PACT by Jill Shalvis

June 14, 2022

The Sunrise Cove Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis returns to Sunrise Cove with a powerful, moving story about a young woman on a quest to find the truth about her father who learns the meaning of true love along the way.

Alone in the world, Tae Holmes and her mother April pretty much raised each other, but as Tae starts asking questions about the father she’s never met, April, for the first time in her life, goes silent. To make matters worse, Tae is dangerously close to broke and just manages to avoid financial meltdown when she lands a shiny new contract with an adventure company for athletes with disabilities and wounded warriors.

Her first big fundraiser event falls flat, but what starts out as a terrible, horrible, no-good night turns into something else entirely when Tae finds herself face-to-face with Riggs Copeland. She hasn’t seen the former Marine since their brief fling in high school, and while still intensely drawn to him, she likes her past burned and buried, thank you very much. Hence their friendship pact.

But when April oddly refuses to help Tae track down her father, it’s Riggs who unexpectedly comes to her aid. On a hunt to unlock the past, the two of them find themselves on a wild ride and learn a shocking truth, while also reluctantly bonding in a way neither had seen coming. Now Tae must decide whether she’s going to choose love … or walk away from her own happiness.

Calling all Gilmore Girls fans! Although the publicity I saw never mentioned my favorite show (well, one of them for sure) that was my first thought as I learned that April got pregnant when she was 15 years old, got no support from the baby daddy or her own family, and raised Tae on her own with very little money. Or Tae raised herself and helped raise her mother! Eventually, the two of them land in Sunrise Cove, each of them living on their own (sort of) in an adjoining duplex. April has struggled with men all her life, and it saddens her to see that Tae is following in her footsteps.

Tae knew that her father was a soldier who died overseas, but not much else as she never met him. When she accidentally stumbles across her birth certificate, she is shocked to see no father listed. Tae and April are extremely close, but Tae is afraid to ask her mother about it and instead, decides to do a little investigating of her own.

Meanwhile, her event planning business is finally doing really well. Her biggest and best client, Adrenaline HQ, is run by a veteran in a wheelchair and helps other wounded warriors. When his brother, Riggs, comes home for the summer, Tae is shocked – they had a one-night-stand when she was in high school and never expected to see him again. Riggs is actually a partner in the business, but this is the first time he’s actually working there. The chemistry between them is intense, but Riggs is very closed off. He and his brother lost their mother when they were young, and their father was abusive. Riggs has just gotten out of the Marines, has a lot of guilt about his brother’s injuries, and is just waiting for his new job in Washington D.C. to start.

This story had so many layers that really drew me in. I loved these characters and couldn’t help but root for their happy ending. This book stands alone beautifully – I had forgotten I read the first book in the series, The Family You Make, but never felt like I was missing a thing. Shalvis is a great storyteller and really knows how to keep those pages turning. This is a perfect beach read; don’t miss it!

6/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE FRIENDSHIP PACT by Jill Shalvis. Avon (June 14, 2022). ISBN:‎  978-0063095465. 384p.






Spotlight Review: THE MESSY LIVES OF BOOK PEOPLE by Phaedra Patrick

June 7, 2022

From the publisher:

The house cleaner of a famous author must carry out her employer’s shocking last wish in this delightful new novel from beloved author Phaedra Patrick.

Mother of two Liv Green barely scrapes by as a maid to make ends meet, often finding escape in a good book while daydreaming of becoming a writer herself. So she can’t believe her luck when she lands a job housekeeping for her personal hero, megabestselling author Essie Starling, a mysterious and intimidating recluse. The last thing Liv expected was to be the only person Essie talks to, which leads to a tenuous friendship.

When Essie passes away suddenly, Liv is astonished to learn that her dying wish was for Liv to complete her final novel. But to do so Liv will have to step into Essie’s shoes. As Liv begins to write, she uncovers secrets from the past that reveal a surprising connection between the two women—one that will change Liv’s own story forever…

“Fans of lively fiction will be instantly drawn into the world Patrick creates with her signature charming, breezy style which is further enlivened with nods to popular literature.” Booklist

Patrick is known for her charming books, and while this one was a bit light on the charm, it delivered it other ways. Liv is an interesting, multi-dimensional character. Married for 20+ years with two sons, the youngest of which will be starting university in the fall. Her husband is working with his sister to take over their parents’ bookbinding business, and it is keeping him busy for more hours than anyone likes. Liv is working as a maid at three jobs; a young family who really take advantage of her, on a commercial cleaning crew where she is completely ignored, and her favorite job, cleaning Essie Starling’s apartment a few afternoons a week.

Essie is a bestselling author who happens to be Liv’s favorite. She really identifies with her main character, who has been in 19 books already, and Essie is working on her 20th. She is a bit of a strange bird, but is very kind to Liv. When Essie dies rather suddenly, her solicitor contacts Liv with a startling bequest; Essie has asked Liv to complete her final novel. It is all handwritten but ends about 8 chapters too soon. In other words, Liv is going to have to finish it herself. The solicitor also tells her that Essie’s death must be kept secret until November 1, giving her 6 months to complete the book. Liv has always wanted to be a writer, but when her father passed away, money was too tight for her to go to college and she started cleaning houses instead, like her mum. So this presents an amazing opportunity for her, plus it is a full time job so bye-bye crappy other employers.

There is some tension when a journalist tries to find Essie for an interview, and apparently has been talking to as many of Essie’s personal and professional contacts as possible. There is more tension as Liv attends a book fair for the publisher, and is feverishly trying to figure out how to finish the novel. There is a connection between Essie and Liv that goes beyond the obvious, and it takes some time to get there., adding another layer to this remarkable story.

This was a gentle, engrossing read and the pages really flew by. I couldn’t help but root for Liv to get everything she wanted. Patrick gives us another entertaining read, this time set in the book world, which always holds appeal for me.

6/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE MESSY LIVES OF BOOK PEOPLE by Phaedra Patrick. Park Row; Original edition (May 31, 2022). ISBN:‎  978-0778312000. 352p.






Spotlight Review: TALK FLIRTY TO ME by Livy Hart

May 31, 2022

From the publisher:

I’ve got ninety-nine problems and my brother’s snarky, smart-mouthed best friend Sam is tangled up in every last one of them.

When it comes to firefighter Sam O’Shea, absence―and a regime of tactical avoidance―has been working for me just fiiiine. But when the audition of a lifetime falls in my pathetically broke lap, and he’s the only one who can help me land the job, I’m willing to make a deal with the devil if it means I can kickstart my career as a narrator for audio books.

The problem? We’d have to actually do the job. Together. And then we’re told it’s for an erotic romance. Narrating steamy lines in a tiny studio with a man who lights a fire under your skin? An occupational hazard. Accidentally inciting a town scandal when your erotic audiobook clips wind up on the radio? A crisis. And falling for the one man I promised my brother―and my heart―I wouldn’t touch?

A disaster―and temptation―I can’t resist.

Piper is the only girl among eleven children in her family, and of course she falls for her older brother’s best friend, Sam. They date for a couple of years in high school, but as Sam is getting ready to graduate, Piper decides the best thing she can do for him is to let him go away to college without her hindering his decision. She tells Sam she needs a break; he hears she is breaking up with him. A few days later she walks in on him making out with another girl.

Devastated doesn’t begin to cover how Piper feels. She gets angry, and when Sam is falling down drunk a few nights later, she videos his shameful evening and posts it all over social media. It’s embarrassing to him, but it’s not like it was a fake video or anything; it was all on him and he owns it. To her credit, Piper pulls the video down a few days later.

Piper’s family rallies around her, and even her older brother, Caleb, stops talking to his best friend. It takes six years for them to reconcile, and the only way they can is to avoid talking about Piper no matter what. Her whole family supports her and Sam becomes a pariah to them all.

Sam is a firefighter and is running for mayor of their small town. When he runs into Piper at the local bar, things start changing between them. She is still very angry with him, but he decides to help her out when she needs him. Piper is a voice actor, and her big break may be coming when she finds an open audition for a very successful audiobook company. The only catch is that it is a couples read; they want a man and a woman to audition as a team. Sam agrees to do it, much to Piper’s surprise, but she is desperate.

When they are hired to read the audiobook, they soon find out it is an erotic romance. Reading it together is stirring up all sorts of feelings that Piper wishes would go away. But the more they work together, the closer they get to getting back together. And when they are stranded in an old hotel with only one room available, they cross that line for good.

This is a second chance romance and a really good one. Sam and Piper’s lives are so intertwined that it somehow feels inevitable that they will work as a couple, despite all their problems – and more seem to pop up every day. This is a fun, sexy read from an author who is new to me, but I will definitely seek out more of her books. A perfect read to while away a lazy summer afternoon – don’t miss it!

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

TALK FLIRTY TO ME by Livy Hart. Entangled: Embrace (May 30, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-1649373564. 300p.




Spotlight Review: BOOK LOVERS by Emily Henry

May 24, 2022

From the publisher:

An insightful, delightful, instant #1 New York Times bestseller from the author of Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation.

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Oprah Daily ∙ Today ∙ Parade ∙ Marie Claire ∙ Bustle ∙ PopSugar ∙ Katie Couric Media ∙ Book Bub ∙ SheReads ∙ Medium ∙ The Washington Post ∙ and more!

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming…

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

“One of my favorite authors.”—Colleen Hoover

This was such a fun read! Nora is an uber successful literary agent who fights to the death for her clients, earning her a reputation as a real shark. Charlie is an editor with a stellar reputation, but also for one who doesn’t coddle his authors. When Nora’s most successful author loses her editor to maternity leave, Charlie wants to take her on. But he hated her last, most successful book, so Nora doesn’t think he’s a great choice. She meets with him anyway, and it does not go well.

Nora is recently out of a bad relationship, so the only real relationship in her life is with her younger sister, Libby. Libby is married and pregnant again, so when she asks Nora to take a sisters’ vacation together while the publishing industry goes on vacation for the month of August, Nora reluctantly agrees. Libby wants to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, where Nora’s author’s bestselling book was set. They rent a cottage and leave their beloved New York City for the month.

The girls had lost their mother a few years earlier, and Nora feels like she needed to take over that spot for her sister. She tries to fix everything in Libby’s life, even when Libby refuses to ask for help. Libby thinks Nora works too hard and too much, but they agree that Nora will work during the day remotely, but from 5:00 pm on she will be available to Libby. It works out pretty well – except her first day in Sunshine Falls, she runs into Charlie.

Somehow he finagles his way into editing that book, but Nora stipulates that all his notes go through her so she can soften them and not scare her skittish author away. Except when she gets the first ten pages of the book, she realizes that her author has made Nora the villain of the story. She changed the name of course, but Nora recognizes herself on the page and while it isn’t pretty, it is engaging and a phenomenal start to the new book.

Turns out Charlie grew up in Sunshine Falls, and one of the reasons he hated the book that was set there was because it was obvious to him that the author had barely set foot in the place. But the small town takes their fame to glory, loving that they are now on the map and tourists are flocking in.

Charlie has returned home to Sunshine Falls to help out his parents. His dad isn’t well, and his hippy-dippy mom needs help running the family business – a bookstore, of course. As Charlie and Nora start working together, the chemistry between them ignites, but they both push it onto the back burner, as much as they can. Until they realize what they have is special, but to complicate things further, they also have major logistical issues in the way.

Henry is a pro at writing snappy dialogue and finding the humor in a relationship. It goes a smidgeon long in the will-they-or-won’t-they, and it was a bit of a slow start for me, but it quickly turned into a terrific read – warm, sweet, sometimes sexy, and very funny. Highly recommend!

5/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

BOOK LOVERS by Emily Henry. Berkley (May 3, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593334836. 400p.







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.

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.





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…

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.






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.

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.








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.

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.








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.



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.








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

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.