Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for The Stepsisters, the newest book from Susan Mallery. I was happy to participate in this tour and loved this book. Scroll down for information about the book, my review and a Q&A with the author.
The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery, Tanya Eby (Narrator)
Published May 25, 2021 by Mira, Harlequin Audio
Genre/Themes: Fiction, Family Life, Siblings
About the Book: #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.
5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I really enjoy Susan Mallery’s writing and when this book was offered for review, I grabbed it. Once again, she has penned a book of family, relationships, friendships, second chances, forgiveness and self-reflection. Daisy and her step-sister Sage have been estranged for a long time. When their parents were together, Sage bullied Daisy and made her life miserable, especially at school. After their parents divorced the two, who never really got along, never kept in touch. Daisy’s dad knew what was happening in Sage’s life and tried to keep Daisy filled in. The other sister in this trio is Cassidy. She is the child of Daisy’s dad and Sage’s mom, but when the marriage broke up, Cassidy went to live with her mom, who poisoned her relationship with lies about Daisy. Now, years later, Cassidy was injured in a fall off a mountain and their dad arranged for her to come and stay in the family home while she heals. The problem is that the family home is now Daisy’s home. As well, Sage has returned, fresh from her most recent divorce with plans to remain in California. Not only is Daisy having to deal with the reappearance of these two “sisters” but she and her husband are having issues and he has moved out. How much can one person take?
This was a very interesting and enjoyable story. It was easy to see that Sage’s mother is an insecure woman, who was nasty to Daisy. She was so jealous of her that she wasn’t going to be happy unless her two daughters hated her as well. It was terrible what she did to their relationships. The fallout of the marriage caused all three girls to take different paths in life. Sage headed to Europe where she married three different men, none making her happy. Cassidy became a travel writer who was afraid to commit to a relationship, and Daisy married Sage’s ex-fiancé, had a great job and was the mother to two wonderful children. I loved the sisters (at least at the end) and I began to see why Daisy and Sage’s mom did some of the things she did, but she still rubbed me the wrong way. I did enjoy the way their dad orchestrated a lot of their reconciliation. Then there is Jordan, such a selfish, narcissistic person that I think Daisy is better off without him. As the three sisters are brought together they begin to talk and learn about each other’s feelings. Opening up to one another about their past and the feelings they had, allowed them to put themselves in each other’s shoes. I loved seeing how Daisy’s children were a huge part of that reconciliation. There is plenty of drama, some laughs, touching scenes, second chances/new beginnings and some rekindled relationships that could bring on a true romance. I definitely recommend this one.
I did a read/listen with this book and really enjoyed the narration by Tanya Eby. There are times that her voice is a bit saccharine, but for the most part, her voice, expression and emotion bring this story to life. An enjoyable listen. The publisher generously provide me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.
Q and A with Susan Mallery, author of The Stepsisters
Can you tell us what your new novel is about.
THE STEPSISTERS is the story of two women falling into friendship. Daisy and Sage’s childhoods intersected for a few years, when Daisy’s dad was married to Sage’s mom. The girls were classmates and rivals but never friends, not even when they lived together, and certainly not after their parents divorced. As teens, Daisy had a crush on Sage’s boyfriend Jordan. After graduation, Sage left to live a more glamorous life in Europe, and Daisy married Jordan. The story starts when the stepsisters are in their thirties. Daisy’s marriage is in trouble, Sage is back in LA from a life that was not nearly as glamorous as it appeared from the outside, and their shared half-sister needs their help. As they get to know each other as adults, they uncover long buried secrets, begin to see the events of their past with new eyes and discover they might even maybe like each other. Until one of them does something that could forever sabotage any chance of a forever friendship.
There were so many moments in THE STEPSISTERS that stabbed me right in the heart while writing. Daisy is one of those heroines you root for from page one, a nurturer at heart. She’s such a caring mom, you can’t help but love her. Sage has sharper edges—and a sharper tongue—but she had a harder life. I don’t want to say too much, so I’ll just say that this is the kind of book that’s going to stick with you in the best possible way.
What makes stories about women’s friendships so compelling?
Friendship stories are compelling because they’re relatable, aspirational and infinitely variable because no two women are friends in the exact same way. Most women are hardwired to crave connections. It’s a primal need, to be part of something larger than ourselves. To feel known, cared for and cared about, loved, accepted. Friendship stories feed that need as we’re reading—especially over the past year when so many people have felt isolated during the pandemic. As we read, we recognize ourselves and our own friends, and we internalize lessons about respect and opening our hearts.
Do you have to do any research to write your novels, or is it all living and observing?
I definitely do research, though the amount depends on the book, of course. In The Stepsisters, Daisy is a nurse anesthesiologist as a direct result of conversations I had with a nurse anesthesiologist. My original plan was that Daisy, the daughter of a doctor, would be a doctor herself. But while talking about the realities of an anesthesiologist’s life and schedule, I realized that it wouldn’t work for the character I had in mind. So before I wrote one word, my research took her in another direction. The book is dedicated to the woman who took the time to help me.
You’ve written so many novels. Of course, THE STEPSISTERS is your current favorite novel, but which book do you love the most?
I have many, but two spring immediately to mind because they were so much fun to write—Daughters of the Bride and The Friendship List. Daughters of the Bride was the only book that came to me fully formed. When I got the idea, I knew everything—I knew the mom and each of the sisters. I understood them. That book was a joy from start to finish.
I had to work a little harder to plot The Friendship List, but once I had the plot down and got to the fun part (writing the story), every day was a good writing day. With most books, there are five or ten scenes that I can’t wait to write, but with The Friendship List, it seemed like every day I got to write a scene I was really excited about. When I write, it’s almost like a movie playing in my head, so it’s very entertaining for me to see what the characters say and do as the scene comes to life.
THE STEPSISTERS was a different kind of pleasure—more internal conflict between the characters because of their history with each other, which led to such a heartwarming, soul-satisfying ending. I couldn’t do anything for a couple of days after finishing this story because my mind and my heart were still in it too deeply. I think it will stick with you, too.
About the Author: #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming and humorous novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. She’s best known for putting nuanced characters into emotionally complex, real-life situations with twists that surprise readers to laughter. Because Susan is passionate about animal welfare, pets play a big role in her books. Beloved by millions of readers worldwide, her books have been translated into 28 languages.
Although Susan majored in Accounting, she never worked as an accountant because she was published straight out of college with two books the same month. Sixteen prolific years and seventy-four books later, she hit the New York Times bestsellers list for the first time with Accidentally Yours in 2008. She made many appearances in the Top 10 before (finally) hitting #1 in 2015 with Thrill Me, the twentieth book in her most popular series, the Fool’s Gold romances, and the fourth of five books released that year.
Susan lives in Washington state with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Her heart for animals has led Susan to become an active supporter of the Seattle Humane Society.
#2 – 20 Books of Summer