Blackberry Island, Book 4
From the publisher:
From the New York Times bestselling author of California Girls comes an all new original Blackberry Island novel told with Susan Mallery’s trademark humor and charm. Sisters by Choice is a heartfelt tale of love, family and the friendships that see us through.
Cousins by chance, sisters by choice…
After her cat toy empire goes up in flames, Sophie Lane returns to Blackberry Island, determined to rebuild. Until small-town life reveals a big problem: she can’t grow unless she learns to let go. If Sophie relaxes her grip even a little, she might lose everything. Or she might finally be free to reach for the happiness and love that have eluded her for so long.
Kristine has become defined by her relationship to others. She’s a wife, a mom. As much as she adores her husband and sons, she wants something for herself—a sweet little bakery just off the waterfront. She knew changing the rules wouldn’t be easy, but she never imagined she might have to choose between her marriage and her dreams.
Like the mainland on the horizon, Heather’s goals seem beyond her grasp. Every time she manages to save for college, her mother has another crisis. Can she break free, or will she be trapped in this tiny life forever?
These three women, Kristine, Sophie, and Heather, all have interesting storylines that overlap. Heather’s mom, Amanda, is Kristine & Sophie’s first cousin. Heather is the product of a one night stand when her mother was a teenager. Amanda is one of those people who always play the victim, never admits to any wrongdoing and never, ever takes responsibility for her actions. She is completely dependent on her 18-year-old daughter for financial support and everything else. Amanda has an enormous capacity for doing absolutely nothing. All of which makes me insane.
Sophie has built a very successful business but she is a terrible micromanager. If you’ve ever worked for someone like that, it’s not fun. When her business burns down (not a spoiler, it’s what starts the book) she decides to move back home to Blackberry Island. She has a big check from the insurance company so she will start over there. Not surprising, but none of her employees are interested in making the move. She hires Amanda to answer phones, and Heather to work in the warehouse. All Amanda does is complain and occasionally answer a phone call, until she decides she is entitled to more. Heather is going to the local community college but that is put on hold when her mother takes all her money to buy a car she can’t afford, That is the relationship and it is dysfunctional, to say the least. Heather feels trapped and try as she might, she can’t see a way out. Guilt is her constant companion.
Kristine is happily married with three sons. She has always had a dream, to open her own bakery. But that decision hits a major roadblock in her marriage. Her husband is on the Neanderthal side and is incensed that she would even consider such a thing. Their happy marriage isn’t quite so happy it seems. All I could think about when I read her story was how grateful I am, and how lucky, to have a husband who has always supported me in everything and anything I wanted to do, both financially and emotionally. Reading stuff like this makes me feel like I won the husband lottery.
Kristine and Sophie are close, and both adore Heather and want to help her. Kristine drags Sophie to her tai chi class because she thinks her cousin and the instructor will get along. It’s lust at first sight, and Sophie is happy to have a booty call after a long dry spell. But as she gets to know him, she realizes he is not just a pretty face and it pushes all her buttons. Her past with men has not been great, and she is skittish, to say the least.
There is romance here for sure, but it is a subplot. That said, this was my Valentine’s Day read and there was enough love there to make me happy. The book revolves around each of these women and their stories, and I couldn’t put it down. Another excellent addition to a terrific series.
SISTERS BY CHOICE by Susan Mallery. MIRA; Original edition (February 11, 2020). ISBN 978-0778310020. 400p.