Category Archives: Susan Mallery

Review: The Summer Getaway by Susan Mallery

Title: The Summer Getaway by Susan Mallery
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 418 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


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 Summer Getaway by Susan Mallery is a touching novel of self-discovery and new beginnings.

Robyn Caldwell is a divorced mom of two adult children who work in their father’s business. Eighteen-year-old Austin has recently graduated from high school and Robyn is frustrated he is not going to college. Twenty-two-year-old Harlow is a college graduate who is planning her upcoming wedding to fiancé Kip. Robyn is concerned Harlow is marrying too young and her daughter is always upset with her about one thing or another. With one drama too many and overwhelmed by thoughts of her future, Robyn decides to accept her beloved ninety-four-year-old Great-Aunt Lillian Holton’s invitation to visit her in California.

Robyn is a caring mom and friendwho suddenly realizes she has to make some choices about her future. She is also very irritated by Harlow’s immature and hurtful behavior. Robyn is tired of seeing her boss and friend Mindy inch closer to the brink of marital disaster. Fed up and needing space, she impetuously travels from her home in FL to a stunning surprise at Lillian’s.

Austin and Harlow are very close and both of them are becoming increasingly annoyed with their father. Austin is usually fairly easy-going but once he makes a decision, he sticks to it. He has been assuring his mother he has a plan for his future and he is on the verge of finalizing it. Already upset with her recent encounter with her mom, Harlow’s rock-solid certainty in her fiancé is suddenly on shaky ground. Hoping to put some distance between them and their problems, brother and sister head to Lillian’s to decide what to do next.

The Summer Getaway is a delightful novel with (mostly) appealing characters. Lillian’s eccentric home is the perfect place to distract Robyn, Austin and Harlow from their individual troubles. In addition to making plans for her future, Robyn has the opportunity for love if she is willing to risk her heart again. Harlow undergoes the most character growth when she is confronted with some hard truths about herself. Austin’s laidback attitude is the perfect foil for his sister’s melodrama. With a wonderful blend of humor and seriousness, Susan Mallery brings this marvelous novel to a heartwarming conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, HQN Books, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Susan Mallery, The Summer Getaway, Women's Fiction

Review: The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery

Title: The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery pens a love story of a different sort…a heartfelt tale of friendship between two women who used to be sisters.

Once upon a time, when her dad married Sage’s mom, Daisy was thrilled to get a bright and shiny new sister. But Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.

Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts—she had to go back a grade to enroll in the fancy rich-kid school. So she used her popularity as a weapon, putting Daisy down to elevate herself. After the divorce, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final, improbable straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled California.

Eighteen years, two kids and one troubled marriage later, Daisy never expects—or wants—to see Sage again. But when the little sister they have in common needs them both, they put aside their differences to care for Cassidy. As long-buried truths are revealed, no one is more surprised than they when friendship blossoms.

Their fragile truce is threatened by one careless act that could have devastating consequences. They could turn their backs on each other again…or they could learn to forgive once and for all and finally become true sisters of the heart.


The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery is a thought-provoking novel about family, forgiveness and self-discovery.

Daisy has her hands full between her job, two wonderful children and one checked out husband. So, the last thing she wants or needs is to reconnect with her former stepsister Sage or her half-sister Cassidy.  At first, Daisy can ignore the fact Sage is back in town. However, this changes after her father asks her to allow Cassidy to stay with her while she recovers from a hiking accident. Suddenly Sage is around more often and both she and Cassidy are connecting with Daisy’s kids. Over the course of several weeks, Daisy, Sage and Cassidy move from an uneasy détente to a surprisingly close relationship. Their bond is tenuous and an unconscionable decision might destroy their newfound closeness.

Daisy and Jordan have been married for over a decade.  She has no inkling he is unhappy until he abruptly moves out and refuses to tell her why. Although Daisy is willing to put in the work to save her marriage, a reconciliation is far from certain. With Cassidy in residence and Sage dropping by to spend time with her, their paths cross on a fairly regular basis. Daisy has every reason to be wary of both women, but she gradually lets down her guard. She is grateful for their support during such an uncertain period in her life.

During high school, Sage was popular but that did not stop her from deliberately hurting Daisy. After graduating, she impetuously leaves for Paris and continues living in various European countries. Three divorces later, Sage decides to return to Los Angeles to start over. Forced to live with her mother, Sage is working in a high-end boutique while she decides  her future. She reconnects with Adam, an old friend whom she lost contact with long ago. Sage accepts responsibility for her previous behavior and she is trying to end her self-destructive impulses.

Cassidy is a bit immature when she first arrives at Daisy’s. But as she heals from her injuries, she enjoys getting to know her niece and nephew. Cassidy also starts to understand exactly what happened to destroy her relationship with Daisy when their father and her mother divorced. After a lifetime of running away, Cassidy has a decision to make about the man who loves her.

The Stepsisters is a heartfelt novel of healing, new beginnings and self-discovery.  Daisy, Sage and Cassidy are well-drawn characters with untapped strengths and relatable flaws. The storyline is engaging with realistic issues and emotional baggage to overcome. Each of the characters undergo phenomenal growth as their relationship strengthens. Individually, they each begin to recognize and understand the motivation for their actions.  Susan Mallery brings this family-centric novel to an uplifting and surprising conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mira, Rated B+, Review, Susan Mallery, The Stepsisters, Women's Fiction

Review: The Vineyard at the Painted Moon by Susan Mallery

Title: The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 361 pages
Book Rating: B+


Step into the vineyard with Susan Mallery’s most irresistible novel yet, as one woman searches for the perfect blend of love, family and wine.

Mackenzie Dienes seems to have it all—a beautiful home, close friends and a successful career as an elite winemaker with the family winery. There’s just one problem—it’s not her family, it’s her husband’s. In fact, everything in her life is tied to him—his mother is the closest thing to a mom that she’s ever had, their home is on the family compound, his sister is her best friend. So when she and her husband admit their marriage is over, her pain goes beyond heartbreak. She’s on the brink of losing everything. Her job, her home, her friends and, worst of all, her family.

Staying is an option. She can continue to work at the winery, be friends with her mother-in-law, hug her nieces and nephews—but as an employee, nothing more. Or she can surrender every piece of her heart in order to build a legacy of her own. If she can dare to let go of the life she thought she wanted, she might discover something even more beautiful waiting for her beneath a painted moon.


The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery is an emotionally compelling novel of new beginnings.

Mackenzie Dienes lives and works with her husband Rhys Barcelona and her in-laws at his family’s vineyard. She is best friends with his sister Stephanie and she considers her mother-in-law Barbara to be a substitute mother. All seems well with everyone until Barbara becomes engaged at the family’s annual summer solstice celebration. The newly engaged couple radiate love and Stephanie volunteers to help plan the nuptials. By all appearances, Mackenzie and Rhys seem to be happy with each other, but they separate not long after the party. Mackenzie hopes to continue working at the vineyard, so she is absolutely stunned by Barbara’s reaction. Not wanting to work for someone else, will Mackenzie find a way to open her own vineyard and winery?

Mackenzie does not have any relatives of her own and she always feels like she is part of the Barcelona family. She is a big reason  the vineyard has become so successful. And yet, she has no stake in the business so she is essentially an employee. She and Barbara have always gotten along, but her mother-in-law has not been open to many of the changes Mackenzie has proposed over the past sixteen years. Although in agreement their marriage is over, she struggles to process how quickly their divorce is moving along. With so many changes occurring in her life, Mackenzie is pleasantly surprised when she and a longtime acquaintance become business partners and friends.

Stephanie is trying to figure out what she wants for her future. She is unfulfilled and unappreciated in her current position at the vineyard. But with limited career options in the area, she is uncertain what she will do next. Stephanie also needs to decide what to do about her relationship with her ex-husband. They are long divorced and she is trying to break free of the habit they have fallen into over the years.

Barbara firmly holds the reins of the family business. She is very happy with her new fiancé but she is a little uneasy that he does not realize how much the vineyard means to her. When she lashes out at Mackenzie, she puts the vineyard’s future in jeopardy as they search for her replacement. Her caustic remarks toward her children are initially tolerated, but Barbara is in danger of alienating everyone around her.

The Vineyard at Painted Moon is captivating novel with an engrossing storyline. Mackenzie is a wonderful character who makes the best of a horrible situation as she prepares for life after divorce. While most of the secondary characters are likeable, Barbara is an absolute harridan who treats everyone in her life with little regard. With some heartwarming twists and unanticipated turns, Susan Mallery brings this charming novel to a very uplifting conclusion. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Mackenzie emerge from divorce stronger and happier than she could have imagined. Highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, HQN Books, Rated B+, Review, Susan Mallery, The Vineyard at Painted Moon, Women's Fiction

Review: Happily This Christmas by Susan Mallery

Title: Happily This Christmas by Susan Mallery
Happily Inc Series Book Six
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 283 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Susan Mallery, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fool’s Gold romances, proves there’s no place like Happily Inc for the holidays…

There’s no place like Happily Inc for the holidays…

Wynn Beauchene has a thriving business, a great kid and a mildly embarrassing crush on the guy next door—local cop Garrick McCabe. She’s a strong, independent woman who can’t help dreaming what-if about a man she barely knows. Until he needs her help…

Garrick’s pregnant daughter will be home for Christmas, and his house needs a woman’s touch. Garrick and his little girl were tight once and he’s hoping a small-town Christmas will bring her back to him. But thawing his daughter’s frosty attitude will take more than a few twinkle lights. Maybe sharing the holiday with Wynn and her son will remind her of the joy of family.

As the season works its magic on these wounded souls, Wynn realizes it’s time to stop punishing herself for a painful secret, while Garrick remains haunted by the ghosts of past mistakes. Will he allow Wynn to open the only gift she truly wants—his heart?


Happily This Christmas by Susan Mallery is a deeply affecting romance that is quite captivating. Although this latest release is the sixth romance in the Happily Inc series, it can be read as a standalone. But I highly recommend the entire series.

Thirty-four year old Wynn Beauchene is a successful business owner and mom to fourteen year old Hunter. She is raising her son on her own and she has not been in a relationship for quite some time. But since her easy on the eyes neighbor Garrick McCabe moved in,  Wynn cannot stop thinking about him. When he asks for her help preparing his house for his estranged pregnant daughter to stay with him, she is delighted to assist him. As they spend time together, an easy friendship forms between them. Soon Wynn is fighting a serious attraction to him, but does he just view her as a friend?

Garrick was always very involved with his daughter Joylyn and they once shared a tight bond. So he was absolutely crushed when she abruptly stopped wanting to see him when she was a teenager. He never stopped trying to reconnect with her, but since he was making no progress, he changed careers. Garrick’s new job meant long stretches of time away from home and the gulf widened between him and Joylyn.  Garrick is hoping he and Joylyn can mend the rift between them but he is somewhat shocked at the changes in her personality.

Joylyn is at the miserable stage of her pregnancy and she misses her husband. She makes absolutely it absolutely clear to her father that she wants nothing to do with him.  But Wynn’s sunny personality and positive outlook help temper some of Joylyn’s unhappiness. As Joylyn begins to thaw her frosty attitude toward her father, will they recapture the close relationship they once shared?

Wynn is enjoying getting to know Garrick and including him and Joylyn in her and Hunter’s life.  Their evenings together are light and fun but underlying the easy camaraderie is her growing attraction to him.  Wynn is uncertain whether or not he returns her desire and she is reluctant to ruin their friendship by pushing for anything else. Garrick is not quite as cautious and once he makes the first move, they act on their passion for each other.  Wynn is ready to settle down, but does Garrick feel the same way?

Happily This Christmas is an enchanting holiday story of family, forgiveness and love.  Wynn and Garrick are vibrantly developed characters who are well-rounded and three-dimensional.  Joylyn is a frustrating character whose unhappiness is self-made. Garrick and Wynn’s relationship is fun to watch develop as they face realistic challenges trying to juggle family life with their budding romance.  With a late in the story conflict,  Susan Mallery brings this heartfelt romance to a joyous conclusion. Old and new fans of the delightfully charming Happily Inc series are sure to love this holiday romance.

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Filed under Contemporary, Happily Inc Series, Happily This Christmas, HQN Books, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Susan Mallery

Review: The Friendship List by Susan Mallery

Title: The Friendship List by Susan Mallery
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 327 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


[ ] Dance till dawn
[ ] Go skydiving
[ ] Wear a bikini in public
[ ] Start living

Two best friends jump-start their lives in a summer that will change them forever…

Single mom Ellen Fox couldn’t be more content—until she overhears her son saying he can’t go to his dream college because she needs him too much. If she wants him to live his best life, she has to convince him she’s living hers.

So Unity Leandre, her best friend since forever, creates a list of challenges to push Ellen out of her comfort zone. Unity will complete the list, too, but not because she needs to change. What’s wrong with a thirtysomething widow still sleeping in her late husband’s childhood bed?

The Friendship List begins as a way to make others believe they’re just fine. But somewhere between “wear three-inch heels” and “have sex with a gorgeous guy,” Ellen and Unity discover that life is meant to be lived with joy and abandon, in a story filled with humor, heartache and regrettable tattoos.


The Friendship List by Susan Mallery is a warm and inviting novel of friendship, new beginnings and love.

Thirty-four year old Ellen Fox and Unity Leandre are lifelong best friends who support each other in good times and bad. But sometimes that support can contribute to clinging to unhealthy habits and decisions. Ellen gets a wake-up call from an overhead discussion between her seventeen year old son Cooper and one of his friends. So, the women put their heads together and devise a series of challenges that will force them out of their regular routines. But will Ellen and Unity overcome the habits that are keeping them from living life to its fullest?

Ellen is a single mom and teaches at the local high school. She and Cooper have a fantastic relationship  but she is stunned and worried that her son believes she cannot live without him nearby. Ellen surprisingly jumps into checking the challenges off her list. But little does she realize how much one of those items on the list is going to change her life.

Three years ago, Unity moved back to her home town following her husband Stuart’s death. She moved into her husband’s childhood home and she is surrounded by memories of him. Unity also begins working her way through the items on her list.  However, she quickly discovers how reluctant she is to deal with some of the issues that are preventing her from moving forward.  With a lot on the line for her, Unity must decide whether or not she will take the necessary steps that will allow her to make peace with her past.

With wry humor and realistic issues, The Friendship List is an uplifting and entertaining novel. Ellen and Unity are vibrantly drawn characters who are charming yet occasionally frustrating. They find themselves in relationships with wonderful men but both women tend to self-sabotage their respective romances. Susan Mallery brings this charming novel to a heartfelt, happy conclusion. I highly recommend this beautifully written story to readers of contemporary fiction.

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Filed under Contemporary, HQN Books, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Susan Mallery, The Friendship List, Women's Fiction

Review: Sisters by Choice by Susan Mallery

Title: Sisters by Choice by Susan Mallery
Blackberry Island Series Book Four
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 448 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


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?


Sisters by Choice by Susan Mallery is an emotionally compelling novel of new beginnings.  This newest release is the forth installment in the Blackberry Island series but can be read as a standalone.

Thirty four year old Sophie Lane returns to Blackberry Island after a fire destroys her business. She is grateful to have the support of her cousin Kristine Fielding but Sophie is struggling with rebuilding her  business.  Overwhelmed by starting over, she impulsively hires her twenty year cousin Heather Sitterly along with Heather’s manipulative mother Amber.  Not long after, Kristine unexpectedly faces a crisis in her marriage when husband Jaxsen vehemently objects to her plans to open a bakery.  Sophie, Kristine and Heather are incredibly supportive as each of them confronts the issues that are standing in their way as they attempt to make needed changes in their lives.

Sophie is a strong-willed, controlling woman who micromanages everyone who works for her.  She has no personal life since she spends the majority of her days at work. Kristine convinces her cousin to join a Tai Chi class where gorgeous instructor Dugan catches Sophie’s eye.  As she resists giving up control at work, Dugan offers thought-provoking advice that often infuriates her. Sophie has serious trust issues that threaten to derail both her business plans and her budding romance with Dugan.  With her goal of expanding her lucrative business into new markets, will Sophie understand she is not the expert she believes herself to be?

Kristine is a stay at home mom to three sons. She also runs a successful baked goods business on the side.  Kristine has long dreamed of opening her own bakery and when the perfect store becomes available, she is finally ready to put her plans into action. However, she is completely stunned by Jaxsen’s reaction when she finally reveals her business plan. Forced to take a hard look at her marriage and her own behavior, Kristine must decide if she will put aside her own aspirations in the face of Jaxsen’s obstinate refusal to support her desire to be more than a wife and mother.

Heather is working several jobs to support herself and her lazy, entitled mother.  Caught in a vicious cycle of wanting to leave Blackberry Island and always giving in to Amber’s demands, Heather is absolutely miserable.  Grateful for the opportunity for valuable work experience, she throws herself into her new job at Sophie’s business. Out of her depth yet determined to succeed, Heather must soon decide whether she will do what is best for her instead of always acquiescing to Amber.  Will Heather find the courage and strength to extricate herself from her toxic relationship with her mother?

Sisters by Choice is a thought-provoking novel with realistic characters and true to life issues to overcome. Sophie is a little overbearing but her rougher edges begin to smooth as she becomes more self-aware of how unreasonable she can sometimes be. Kristine must break her pattern of always giving in during disagreements with her husband. Jaxsen loves his wife, but his intransigence over the bakery  endangers their marriage. Heather is a sympathetic young woman who is facing a tough choice that could have long lasting repercussions for her future.  Amber is a thoroughly unlikable woman who makes no effort to take responsibility for her increasingly despicable actions. With believable character growth and surprising solutions to the characters’ various situations,  Susan Mallery brings this charming novel to an uplifting conclusion. Old and new fans will enjoy this latest addition the Blackberry Island series.

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Filed under Blackberry Island Series, Contemporary, Harlequin, Mira, Rated B+, Review, Sisters by Choice, Susan Mallery, Women's Fiction