The focus in this fourth installment of Mallery's "Mischief Bay" series is on Harper, a divorced mom who is trying to keep her business afloat, and her sister, Stacey, who is feeling trepidation about being pregnant at 40 after being career-minded for so long. Their overbearing mother and her impossible standards adds tension to the sisters' already stressful situations, but luckily the men in their lives give them the help and support they need. Sweet and solid, Lucas is Harper's client-turned-friend with whom she becomes romantically involved, but she wonders if their romance has lasting potential. Harper also worries about not being there for her teenage daughter, Becca, who is going through trials of her own. Although the chapters from Becca's POV are heavy on the teen melodrama, Mallery (Girls of Mischief Bay) delivers another character-driven story of female friendships with women who are flawed but endearing. Marking this series is an uplifting tone and complex characters. VERDICT Another compelling, thought-provoking, and big-hearted story from Mallery that will please readers of this series and also can be read as a stand-alone.—Sonia Reppe, Stickney-Forest View P.L., IL
Two very different sisters deal with children, relationships, and their overbearing mother in the latest entry in Mallery's Mischief Bay series (A Million Little Things, 2017, etc.).Harper Szymanski and Stacey Bloom may be sisters, but they couldn't be more different. Harper married young, had a child, and dedicated her life to crafting, cooking, and decorating. Stacey researches multiple sclerosis and really only feels at home in her lab or with her husband, Kit. But both sisters are dealing with some unexpected blows. After divorcing her cheating husband, Harper is left with a teenage daughter and a house she can barely afford. For the first time in her life, she has to earn a living. And while she's good at running her virtual assistant business, it isn't quite paying the bills. She also has to deal with her client Lucas, an attractive cop in his 50s who dates much younger women. Meanwhile, Stacey is six months pregnant and consumed by the fear that she'll be a terrible mother. She's never felt like the other women in her family, and she's afraid she won't be able to feel a connection to her baby. Both women have to deal with their bossy mother, Bunny, who thinks all women should focus on their families and be subservient to their husbands. Although the relationships between the female characters are central to the story, Lucas and Harper's relationship has the most spark. It's clear that they're going to end up together, and it's fun watching their back and forth. Unfortunately, their happily-ever-after is hurried and not completely satisfying. At around 400 pages, the story feels too long and a little repetitive at times—Harper's fears of motherhood and Bunny's overbearing nature are brought up often. Overall, though, it's refreshing to see sisters who get along in fiction; Harper and Stacey always support each other no matter what drama happens in their personal and professional lives. Mallery's fans will no doubt love the chance to revisit Mischief Bay.An emotional and humorous look at the bonds between the women in an endearingly flawed family.