HIGHLAND WOLF by Lynsay Sands

February 18, 2022

Highland Brides, Book 10

From the publisher:

New York Times Bestselling Author Lynsay Sands delivers another sexy historical romance set in the wilds of the Highlands

In all her daydreams about her wedding day, Lady Claray MacFarlane never once imagined being dragged to the altar by her greedy uncle and forced to marry a man she didn’t know. But that’s what happened, or would have, had a Highland warrior not snatched her up at the last minute and ridden off with her in his arms. . .

They call him the Wolf. The mercenary’s courage and prowess in battle are known throughout the Highlands, and with his handsome face and black-as-sin hair, he is as intelligent and deadly as the wolf he was named for…

But the Wolf is also Claray’s betrothed. Thought to have been killed as a child, he’s been in hiding all these years. Now he’s determined to earn enough coin to rebuild his home, reclaim his birthright, and honor his marriage contract to Claray. For he’s fallen for the tender-hearted lass…and he will do anything to protect her and their future together. 

https://amzn.to/3oNEOzw

My reading history with this series is odd, even for me! I’ve read books 6, 7, & 8 and now this tenth addition. I’ve liked them all a lot, so I don’t know why I haven’t read the entire series, but if my library has them, I will rectify this soonest.

Claray is being forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, and at the last second, the Highland warrior known as The Wolf rescues her and takes her away. No one really knows who he is, but he is well respected and Claray is thrilled to be free of her impending marriage. They head towards her home, several days away, and along the way she gets to know the Wolf, and they are strongly attracted to one another. She also picks up some stray animals that need some help, aggravating the Wolf but also adding to his attraction to the sweet, caring woman.

It turns out this couple was meant to be, but it won’t be easy. Too many people are trying to kill the Wolf and Claray, or at least marry her for her property. But love will prevail, with some nice twists in the storyline to keep things interesting.

This was another good addition to this series. I love anything set in Scotland, and the Highlands in particular. The history and culture is always interesting, as it was here. I used to read Scottish romances as sort of place holders for the Outlander series, but it’s gone beyond that now. I enjoy them for themselves, if that makes sense. I am off to hunt down the earlier books in the series. Men in kilts are just too much fun!

The series in order:

  1. An English Bride in Scotland

2. To Marry a Scottish Laird

3. The Highlander Takes a Bride

4. Falling for the Highlander

5. Surrender to the Highlander

6. The Highlander’s Promise

7. The Wrong Highlander

8. Hunting for a Highlander

9. Highland Treasure

10. Highland Wolf

2/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HIGHLAND WOLF by Lynsay Sands. Avon (January 25, 2022). ISBN: 978-0063212428. 288p.

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HOW TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR by Sophie Sullivan 

February 18, 2022

From the publisher:

Enemies-to-lovers meets HGTV in this frothy, effervescent romantic comedy from Sophie Sullivan, author of Ten Rules for Faking It.

Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check.

Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up―and live in―a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he’s found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door–the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is.

https://amzn.to/33pOWHj

When her long estranged grandmother dies and Grace inherits her beach house, she is thrilled. She longs for a connection to family; her mother is wrapped up in herself and whatever money she can squeeze out of Grace, but the house means something. Except her next door neighbor, Noah, assumes he can just buy it out from under her. He wants the land to put in a pool to complete his dream house on the beach, but Grace is not interested in selling. Not that he gives up that easily.

Grace is also steps away from completing her interior design degree so she relishes the chance to fix up the long neglected cottage. On the other hand, Noah is busy hiring people to fix up his home, and there is a national magazine interested in featuring it. Except they want a bit more than a photo spread; they want to do a video series showcasing the house as the work is done, and they want the up-and-coming designer, Grace, to take over the project. The chemistry between Noah and Grace is obvious to everyone, and eventually they find a way to get together.

Grace is all hands on; Noah is all about the money. Until Grace puts a paintbrush in his hand. Opposites do attract here!

If you enjoy all those fixer-upper type TV shows as much as I do, then this is the book for you. It’s a lot of fun and an easy, thoroughly enjoyable read.

2/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HOW TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR by Sophie Sullivan. Griffin (January 18, 2022). ISBN: 978-1250624185. 352p.

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Spotlight Review: THE REBOUND by Catherine Walsh 

February 15, 2022

From the publisher:

An absolutely hilarious romantic comedy set in Ireland

A newly single girl. A tall dark handsome stranger. What could go wrong?

It’s 7 a.m. on a Monday morning and Abby Reynolds isn’t where she wants to be. She wants to be in her beautiful loft apartment in Manhattan, drinking a coffee with her fiancé.

Instead, she’s heading back to the childhood home in rural Ireland she swore she’d never return to, with some big old secrets. Namely that she’s suddenly found herself unemployed, homeless, and absolutely 100% single.

She’s feeling all out of luck. Until the first person she meets after she touches down is an absurdly hot guy called Luke, who offers her a lift home. Gazing deep into his sparkling emerald-green eyes, Abby knows instantly that he’s exactly what she needs to take her mind off everything. The perfect rebound.

It’s a flawless plan. Until the next day, when Abby realizes who he actually is. Not just a stranger. He is, in fact, Luke Bailey, aka the boy next door. Luke Bailey who—so help her God—she’s pretty sure she once shared baths with, back when they were kids. Not that she can allow herself to imagine him in a bath now, not without blushing from head to foot.

And judging by the smirk on his face, the same Luke Bailey who’s known exactly who she was the whole time… And who, like everyone in the village, still thinks she’s a high-flying New Yorker… who’s getting married next year.

Abby is certain getting under Luke will help her get over her ex. But the truth is stopping her. Can she admit to everyone back home that she’s single and has lost everything? Because, if she wants the boy next door, she may just have to…

The perfect feel-good romantic comedy that will make you laugh until you cry and fall completely in love. Fans of Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, and Emily Henry won’t be able to put this down!

https://amzn.to/3oNEOzw

Abby has been dumped. Her fiancé has decided that he doesn’t want to get married. Luckily, the mega financial company she works for has some apartments, generally used for new hires, available so at least she has a place to live.

Abby has always been driven, leaving the small town of Clonard, Ireland for college and never looking back. She loves the Manhattan lifestyle afforded her by her years with the company, and has all her funds tied up with them. So when they go under, she and thousands of others find themselves out of work and broke. Plus she’s now homeless as well. The only solution she sees is to go home to Ireland.

Abby’s sister is living in their family home and while they don’t really get along – she is a strong environmentalist/activist while Abby is working for the epitome of corporate greed, she knows her sister will take her in. But she’s embarrassed to admit she is no longer engaged on top of everything else.

Luke gives Abby a ride home when she is stranded at the airport. He remembers her well – he always had a crush on her. Abby flirts the whole way home without realizing that this hot man is actually the neighbor she grew up with. Once she figures it out, and he figures out she is engaged, things get complicated between them in spite of their growing attraction.

There are a lot of laughs and some angst before they reach their happy ending. Abby is a strong woman and Luke is an honorable, honest man, and I really liked them both. The setting and secondary characters were quirky and fun, and altogether this was a terrific, heart warming read.

2/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE REBOUND by Catherine Walsh. ‎ Bookouture (February 9, 2022). ISBN: 978-1800195677. 324p.

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Spotlight Review: LEASE ON LOVE by Falon Ballard

February 8, 2022

From the publisher:

Sadie wasn’t looking for love until it landed on her doorstep.

After getting passed over for an overdue—and much-needed—promotion, Sadie Green is in desperate need of three things: a stiff drink, a new place to live, and a one-night stand. But when an accidental mix-up lands her on the doorstep of Jack Thomas’s gorgeous Brooklyn brownstone, it’s too bad Sadie is more attracted to the impressive real estate than she is to the man himself.

Jack, still grieving the unexpected death of his parents, has learned to find comfort in video games and movie marathons instead of friends. So while he doesn’t know just what to make of the vivaciously verbose Sadie, he’s willing to offer her his spare bedroom while she gets back on her feet. And with the rent unbeatably low, Sadie can finally pursue her floristry side hustle full-time. The two are polar opposites, but as Sadie’s presence begins to turn the brownstone into a home, they both start to realize they may have just made the deal of a lifetime.

https://amzn.to/3J48y2K

This story really stretches the boundaries of suspension of disbelief, but it was worth it just for the scene where Sadie loses her job – one of my favorite scenes, ever! She says what anyone in that position would think but probably never say and I loved it. The rest of the story was good, too, just a little bit over the top.

Finding a beautiful brownstone in the trendiest section of Brooklyn with a room to rent for some ridiculously cheap rent – no. But it was important to the story so I pretended to believe it. Maybe if there was some sort of explanation about why Jack was willing to rent it so cheap I would have understood it better, but nope. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter except that these decisions set the story in motion.

Jack lost his parents several years earlier and has had a very hard time dealing with it. Sadie loses her job and with the cheap rent she is now paying, she can afford to pursue her dream of starting her own floral business. All that aside, it is the relationship that grows between the mysterious, close mouthed Jack and the outgoing social butterfly, Sadie, that is at the heart of this story. Everything else doesn’t really matter.

This was a very enjoyable read and a sweet romance. I loved these characters and the setting and highly recommend!

2/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LEASE ON LOVE by Falon Ballard. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (February 1, 2022). ISBN: 978-0593419915. 352p.

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CUPID CALAMITY by Kelly Kay & Evie Alexander

February 4, 2022

Evie and Kelly’s Holiday Disasters, Book 1

From the publisher:

Valentine’s day romantic comedy at its finest!

One cupid, two calamities, four uproarious lovers. Insta-love meets insta-disaster in these laugh-out-loud Valentine’s day novellas.

Animal Attraction by Evie Alexander: Overworked, underpaid, and perpetually single, Laurie is stuck in a rut. A birthday on Valentine’s day is bad enough, but when her insensitive colleagues drag her to a secret Safari dining experience, her day hits rock bottom – she’s terrified of animals. Workaholic Ben has just swapped the States for Somerset. He’s on track to fulfil a childhood dream, and the only date he wants on Valentine’s day is a business one. But when his fantasy woman approaches with an offer he can’t refuse, his priorities start to change. Laurie and Ben have an instant connection and their chemistry is wild. Unfortunately so are the animals. When the menagerie goes into meltdown they’re thrown into a Darwinian Hunger Games, fighting for their lives as well as love. Can Businessman Ben unleash his inner Tarzan and save Laurie? Or has this survival of the fittest reached the point of no return?

Stupid Cupid by Kelly Kay: Resourceful Sabrina always puts others’ needs first. She never thought she’d be abandoning a blind date to run off with a stranger. But now she’s got the chance to face her demons and choose happiness – even if it’s just for one night. Charmer Patrick can make any situation work in his favor. But snark and humor won’t be enough to win Sabrina’s heart. He’s got to dig deep, open up, and take on fate as well as New York City. Armed with a fire extinguisher, a cobbler’s hammer, and an EpiPen, can Patrick and Sabrina survive the worst-best date of their lives and find true love? Or will they lose each other as well as the plot?

Evie and Kelly’s Holiday Disasters are a series of hot and hilarious romantic comedies with interconnected characters, focusing on one holiday and one trope at a time. No cheating, no cliff-hangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after (HEA).

https://amzn.to/3L1GjUj

I don’t usually love novellas, but this was such a fun read! Plus there are two novellas, so twice the fun, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Because these are so short, there is not a whole lot of character development or back story, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I was immediately drawn in to both of these stories. They are both set on Valentine’s Day, one a blind date gone sideways, the other a disastrous dinner with friends. I don’t want to give anything away, so bear with me.

The disastrous dinner is set in a restaurant that has wild animals roaming around, including chimpanzees, a talking bird, and an elephant. It is a bit over the top, but the meet-cute is heroic, and the romance is fun.

The blind date goes sideways when Patrick and Sabrina lay eyes on each other. They are each at this restaurant to meet someone else, blind dates, but their attraction is instantaneous and strong. Their rejected dates are not happy about the situation, to say the least. Patrick and Sabrina take off and encounter one problem after another, making this the date from hell that brings them impossibly close in one night.

This is the first book of a series set around holidays. This is the light, frothy, fun read I wanted for Valentine’s Day. It made me laugh out loud several times, which is always a plus. Even though it is two novellas, it is still a very short book (less than 200 pages) and a very easy read. Enjoy!

2/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

CUPID CALAMITY by Kelly Kay & Evie Alexander. Emlin Press (January 10, 2022). ISBN: 978-1914473098. 172p.

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BLIND PASS by Teagan Hunter

January 28, 2022

Carolina Comets: Book 2

From the publisher:

What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay there.

I would know. I’m coming home with a brand-new ring on my finger.

My wife? Ryan Bell. We’re polar opposites. She’s sunshine and happiness. I’m grumpy and scarred—literally.

We could get it annulled and no one would be the wiser. Only problem? We posted about it online, and it’s already making headlines.

I can’t afford to get that kind of attention and tank my career, and Ryan needs my help too. We make a plan: stay married for one year, play our roles, and divorce amicably at the end. No harm, no foul.

Besides, there’s no way the beauty is going to fall for the beast…

https://amzn.to/3fNe4tS

I love sports romances, and this was a good one. You don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate a romance set in that world, however. More broadly, these types of romances can also be considered “millionaire” romances because usually the sports figure is making bank. In this case, the main character is Adrian Rhodes, star of the (fictional) Carolina Comets, a Stanley Cup winning NHL franchise. Hockey, for the uninitiated. You do not have to be a hockey fan to enjoy this, either, although with all the talk about how hockey players have great butts, you may want to tune in for a game!

Adrian and a few of his teammates have gone to Vegas to celebrate their win, along with his teammate Collin’s girlfriend and her best friend, Ryan. Ryan and Adrian have been thrown together a few times and just sort of ignore each other. But this night Ryan gets drunk, and his friends ask him to take care of her. He decides she should have some food before passing out and they end up in a diner. As Ryan sobers up, she is looking at her phone and sees Adrian’s ex-girlfriend is engaged to his former teammate. She tells him, and he takes it hard. Even though he normally doesn’t drink much, he decides it is a good night to start. They end up waking in bed together, married. And they posted a video of their Vegas wedding online.

Ryan is a social media beauty influencer, with almost half a million followers. Rhodes is a hockey star, who is now trending on Twitter. Neither remembers much but they both decide to avoid catastrophe, they will have to stay married until he gets through the next hockey season, so about a year. The only ones who know the truth are their best friends. They even lie to their families about it.

As they spend time together, they are both fighting an attraction to one another. Adrian has a disfiguring scar across his face that he got from a skate while he was in high school. His nickname is the Beast, more for his hockey skills, but he is very self conscious about that scar. He can’t understand why Ryan isn’t horrified by him, and in fact she is one of the few people who actually looks him in the eye. And it doesn’t hurt that he thinks she’s a knockout.

Ryan thinks he is incredibly hot and as she gets to know him realizes he is also very kind. The attraction takes them where you’d expect, and there are several steamy sex scenes. But before they can admit they love one another, Ryan finds out something pretty big that Adrian has neglected to tell her, and she leaves him.

I couldn’t help rooting for this Beauty and the Beast, and they do find their happily ever after. There are a lot of laughs here as well as some angst, making this a terrific one night read for me. I wish I had read the first book in the series, and I am definitely looking forward to the next!

1/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

BLIND PASS by Teagan Hunter. Independently published (January 27, 2022). ASIN: B09JZSS8P3. 320p.

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PLAYING DIRTY IN ALASKA by Samanthe Beck

January 21, 2022

Captivity, Alaska: Book 2

From the publisher:

Bush pilot Bridget Shanahan runs from responsibility like a child runs from a dentist appointment, but when her brother leaves the family’s airfield in her hands, she knows it’s time to step up and behave like a Responsible Adult™. So of course that’s when Archer Ellison III blows into her tiny town of Captivity, Alaska, every inch the hot-as-hell mistake that most definitely belongs in her past. Been there, done that, and didn’t even get to keep the commemorative sweatshirt.

Archer has only ever had two goals. Now that he’s built his own empire outside his father’s company, he can move on to goal #2—winning back the one who got away by whatever means necessary. He knows it won’t be easy. Bridget Shanahan is older, wiser, more self-assured, and jaw-droppingly stunning…and doing everything she can to pretend the scorching chemistry between them doesn’t exist.

But fate is on his side. After an impulsive bet that would have sent Archer packing goes awry, Bridget is officially stuck with him. Which is really inconvenient, since falling for Archer again is the least responsible thing she could do.

https://amzn.to/3HyVem6

I loved the first book in this series, Wild in Captivity, so I was really looking forward to this one. I am happy to say it did not disappoint! Set in the small town of Captivity, Alaska, this book centers on Bridget, younger sister to Trace, the main character in the first book. All we really know about Bridget is that she is the flighty, irresponsible one working at the airport in the family business. She loves to fly, just doesn’t love to fly on someone else’s schedule. But Trace and Izzy are going on their honeymoon, which means Bridget has to step up.

Best laid plans and all that…the honeymooners leave, and Bridget runs into Archer, her college boyfriend who suddenly dumped her and took off. Bridget was heartbroken and dropped out of Stanford to come home. It’s a few years later but she has more to deal with than the jerk who broke her heart. She also lost her twin brother in a horrible accident, and for some reason, he keeps coming back to talk to her. Or his ghost does. It’s not too out there, but rather comforting, I think.

Archer has moved to Captivity on a permanent basis. Finally out from under his father’s thumb, he is determined to win back Bridget, the only girl he ever loved and lost. She doesn’t want any part of him, and they make a bet: if she wins, he’ll keep away from her, if he wins, he gets a kiss. So sweet! But this is not a sweet romance, it is a very steamy one, so if that is not your jam, read something else.

I would call this enemies-to-lovers adjacent. When Archer left, Bridget was devastated and she hasn’t had a relationship since, other than one night stands here and there. So the fact that Archer is back and pretty up front about wanting her back doesn’t sit well with Bridget. Sex, on the other hand, is fine with her. In this romance, sex leads the way back to love, and that worked.

This was a fun read with a lot of laugh out loud moments, and I really liked these characters. I love the small town Alaska setting, as well. Highly recommend this book, and this series. Oh, and Keyush is back, too, that smart Malamute/Husky mix dog that talks.

Which reminds me…there was an article in the NY Times recently about a small town in Alaska and something they are doing in school that I found most unusual. I have never lived anywhere outside of a city or suburb, so rural life is always interesting to me. I am anti-hunting as a rule, anti-guns to be honest, but I’ve read enough to understand why not everyone feels that way. My husband was shocked when I didn’t rage against this but rather embraced it; seemed like a great class for that Alaskan town.

We Shot a Moose, Class. There Will Be a Quiz.
A small group of Alaskan middle-schoolers gets a hands-on lesson in hunting and processing food from the land.

Books are wonderful things – they open the mind and take you places you never dreamed of. Enjoy!

1/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

PLAYING DIRTY IN ALASKA by Samanthe Beck. Entangled: Amara (January 17, 2022). ASIN : ‎ B09JMWPZG4. 372p.

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INNAPROPRIATE by Vi Keeland

January 14, 2022

From the publisher:

A new, sexy standalone novel from #1 New York Times Bestseller, Vi Keeland.

Terminated for inappropriate behavior.

I couldn’t believe the letter in my hands.

Nine years. Nine damn years I’d worked my butt off for one of the largest companies in America, and I was fired with a form letter when I returned home from a week in Aruba.

All because of a video taken when I was on vacation with my friends—a private video made on my private time. Or so I thought…

Pissed off, I cracked open a bottle of wine and wrote my own letter to the gazillionaire CEO telling him what I thought of his company and its practices.

I didn’t think he’d actually respond. I certainly never thought I’d suddenly become pen pals with the rich jerk. Eventually, he realized I’d been wronged and made sure I got my job back. Only…it wasn’t the only thing Grant Lexington wanted to do for me.

But there was no way I was getting involved with my boss’s boss’s boss. Even if he was ridiculously gorgeous, confident, and charming.

It would be completely wrong, inappropriate even. Sort of like the video that got me into trouble to begin with. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But sometimes it’s twice as fun.

https://amzn.to/3r5liid


Keeland writes super sexy romances with a lot of humor, and this is a good one. Ireland is a morning TV journalist. She’s worked hard to get where she is but doesn’t get along with her boss and at the first opportunity, he fires her. She is enraged and shoots a drunken email to the owner of the company. She quickly realizes that was a mistake and sends another email, fighting for her job.

Meanwhile, she is hanging out in a coffee shop in the building where she used to work, and meets a very good looking man who asks to share her table. There is definite chemistry there, but he turns out to be the very man she has been emailing, Grant Lexington, the CEO of the company that fired her. He is completely smitten though, and determined to get the girl. So lots of conflict from the get go.

Both of these characters have complex and damaged backgrounds. They will need to work through their own past to find a future together, but while they do, they spend time together until they just can’t fight their attraction anymore.

There are a lot of laughs, some real angst, and some fiery sex scenes as Ireland and Grant find their happy ending. This is a good story that moves fast and was a one night read for me. Highly recommend.

1/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

INNAPROPRIATE by Vi Keeland. C. Scott Publishing Corp. (January 20, 2020). ISBN: 978-1951045043. 364 pages.

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Spotlight Review: WEATHER GIRL by Rachel Lynn Solomon

January 11, 2022

From the publisher:

A TV meteorologist and a sports reporter scheme to reunite their divorced bosses with unforecasted results in this electrifying romance from the author of The Ex Talk.

Ari Abrams has always been fascinated by the weather, and she loves almost everything about her job as a TV meteorologist. Her boss, legendary Seattle weatherwoman Torrance Hale, is too distracted by her tempestuous relationship with her ex-husband, the station’s news director, to give Ari the mentorship she wants. Ari, who runs on sunshine and optimism, is at her wits’ end. The only person who seems to understand how she feels is sweet but reserved sports reporter Russell Barringer.

In the aftermath of a disastrous holiday party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to solve their bosses’ relationship issues. Between secret gifts and double dates, they start nudging their bosses back together. But their well-meaning meddling backfires when the real chemistry builds between Ari and Russell.

Working closely with Russell means allowing him to get to know parts of herself that Ari keeps hidden from everyone. Will he be able to embrace her dark clouds as well as her clear skies?

One of…

Amazon’s Best Romances of January

Apple Books’ Best Books of January

Goodreads’ Hottest Romances of January

Buzzfeed’s Most Anticipated Books of 2022

Popsugar, Parade.com, The Nerd Daily, and Fangirlish’s Most Anticipated Books of 2022

Library Reads top ten books published this month that library staff across the country love

https://amzn.to/3qdRwZo

Rachel Lynn Solomon follows up last year’s terrific The Ex-Talk with an even better story. This is not a sequel, so no worries if you haven’t read her last book. What I loved most about this new book is the added depth to the story – this is so much more than just a frothy romcom. There are plenty of laughs and some steamy love scenes, but it is the way Solomon has imbued her main character, Ari, with a debilitating mental illness, depression, that really resonated with me.

Ari grew up with a mother who suffered terribly from depression, but she refused to admit it or get any kind of help. Even when her father walked out on the family, in Ari’s mind it was because of her mother’s depression, and it partly was. Her mother dated over the years, but the same issues kept coming up, teaching Ari a valuable lesson: don’t ever let anyone know about her depression. Once Ari hit high school, she realizes that she, too, suffers from this disease, but it’s not until college that she finally gets the help she needs. We learn that with medication and therapy, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Ari has her dream job as a TV weather girl in Seattle, working for Torrance Hale, Seattle’s preeminent TV meteorologist and Ari’s idol. Except things at the station haven’t been the bed of roses she’d dreamt of. While she thinks she’s been doing a good job, she hasn’t had a review or any kind of constructive criticism from Torrance in the three years she’s been there. Ari wants to grow and learn, but it isn’t happening.

It turns out the Torrance used to be married to the news director, Seth, but they’ve been divorced for years. Time hasn’t benefitted their relationship though, they are constantly bickering and are at each other’s throats, to the point where it is creating a hostile work environment. Things come to a head at the company Christmas party, when Torrance throws Seth’s Emmy award out the window.

Russell is a sports journalist at the station. He’s the newest member of the team and that makes him the person covering high school sports. He doesn’t mind, he knows he has time to move up in the hierarchy. He and Ari end up being the last ones at the party and are hanging out at the hotel bar, discussing their bosses. They get the idea that maybe if their bosses got back together, things would be calmer and happier at work. And a plot is hatched. If this sounds familiar, think “The Parent Trap,” which is referenced here. There is also a cute Netflix movie, “Set it Up,” that has assistants matchmaking their bosses.

Outmaneuvering Torrance and Seth isn’t too difficult, but the more Ari and Russell spend time together plotting and scheming, the more Ari realizes she likes him. A lot. But that worries her – her dating history isn’t great. In fact, she was engaged but the relationship was doomed to fail because Ari never told her fiancé about her depression or the meds she was on. But with Russell, Ari feels like she can be herself.

Russell has his own baggage. He’s a single dad to a preteen girl, and his life has been wrapped around his daughter since he was a teenager. He hasn’t had a date in years, and as much as he likes Ari, he isn’t sure how to go about dating and being a dad. But this is ultimately a romance, and while there are plenty of hurdles to their relationship, they get their happily ever after.

There is an author’s note explaining how she, too, suffers from depression, which is undoubtedly why that plot line rings true and is handled with such sensitivity. As someone with family members who suffer from depression, I found it comforting to see someone with a similar affliction living her best life. I also loved that these characters are Jewish and living in Seattle, home to so many inspirational and Christmas romances (I’m looking at you, Debbie Macomber!) It’s not always easy being in a minority, and that, too, is handled with grace and dignity.

I loved Weather Girl, and I hope you do, too.

1/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WEATHER GIRL by Rachel Lynn Solomon. Berkley (January 11, 2022). ISBN: 978-0593200148. 352 pages.

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JUST HAVEN’T MET YOU YET by Sophie Cousens

January 7, 2022

From the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of This Time Next Year comes a heartwarming and hilarious tale that asks: What if you picked up the wrong suitcase and fell head over heels for its mystery owner?

Hopeless romantic and lifestyle reporter Laura’s business trip to the Channel Islands isn’t off to a great start. After an embarrassing encounter with the most attractive man she’s ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel and realizes she’s grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation is its irresistible contents, each of which intrigues her more and more. The owner of this suitcase is clearly Laura’s dream man. Now, all she has to do is find him.

Besides, what are the odds that she’d find The One on the same island where her parents first met and fell in love, especially as she sets out to write an article about their romance? Commissioning surly cab driver Ted to ferry her around seems like her best bet in both tracking down the mystery suitcase owner and retracing her parents’ footsteps. But as Laura’s mystery man proves difficult to find—and as she uncovers family secrets—she may have to reimagine the life, and love, she always thought she wanted.

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The imagination is a wonderful thing – except when it leads you away from what is right in front of you. Or rather, who is right in front of you. That is Laura’s dilemma.

After a pretty funny scene with tampons flying everywhere, Laura reaches her destination, a small island in the Channel Islands. But when she opens her suitcase, she quickly realizes it is not hers at all. It’s a man’s suitcase, judging by the clothes. Curious, she digs through and finds a well read book that she also loves, among other things that convince her that is suitcase belongs to the man of her dreams.

The taxi driver who she gives a rather unflattering nickname to – not out loud, at least – is helpful enough to get her back to the airport to see if her suitcase is there. It’s not, so she decides to keep the one she has until she can meet the man who owns it. Her wardrobe is severely limited, leading to a few really funny scenes.

Meanwhile, Ted, the cab driver, is happy to chauffeur Laura all over the island. She is a journalist and her boss has sent her to the island to follow a happily ever after story – her own parents’ story, in fact. As Ted and Laura spend time together, they get to know each other pretty well. In fact, Laura is the first woman Ted has had any interest in for a very long time, and Laura likes him a lot, too. Except she is willing to push him away in hopes of meeting the “dream man” who owns the suitcase.

Never fear, a happy ending is reached but we get to laugh a lot along the way, and even cry a bit. But maybe that’s me. This is a very sweet romance with a lovely locale and characters that leap to life off the page. Don’t miss it.

1/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

JUST HAVEN’T MET YOU YET by Sophie Cousens. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (November 9, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593331521. 400 pages.

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