Friday, June 18, 2021

The Stepsisters

  The Stepsisters
Author:  Susan Mallery
Publication Information:  MIRA. 2021. 400 pages.
ISBN:  0778312038 / 978-0778312031

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley and a publisher's blog tour free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "'Mom, I think I'm going to throw up.'"

Favorite Quote:  "What she hadn't counted on was the fact that she couldn't see a way out. Which would have been something she could manage if only she'd been able to pretend that she wasn't the problem. Because her being the problem implied the only thing standing between her and happiness was herself, and how on earth was she supposed to fix that?"

***** BLOG TOUR *****


Daisy lost her mother as a child. Her father Wallace married Joanne, who was mother to Sage. Together, Wallace and Joanne are parents to Cassidy. Wallace and Joanne divoerced when the girls were still kids. 

Daisy is a trust fund baby and lives in a large mansion in Los Angeles. She is married to Jordan and mother to two children. An original Monet (really!), a live-in housekeeper who is more family than the family, and an LA mansion - Daisy is that kind of rich. Her husband Jordan dated Sage first. Daisy and Jordan are now having problems and are separated.

Sage has travelled the world and been married and divorced three times. She is back in LA and living with her mother, who is on the hunt for the next rich guy.

Cassidy has seen the world as a travel writer but has no lasting bond. An accident brings her to LA to recover as Daisy takes her in at her father's request.

Daisy, Sage, and Cassidy are the stepsisters. They are not adults but with a whole of unprocessed, unsaid, unacknowledged baggage from their childhood.

This story is all about the resolution of that baggage, and the rediscovery of sisterhood. There is laughter. There is crying. There are arguments. For some, there is also romance. There is betrayal. There are devastatingly bad choices. Through it all, there is also a discovery of love and of genuine liking.

Although at times a soap opera, this book is an escape and a summer beach read. Joanne ends up the villainous one, with no redeeming qualities demonstrated in the book. The men in the book are almost completely one-dimensional - selfish and hurtful or pretty near perfect. The focus is truly the three sisters, who are each in their own way flawed and hurt. The book is about coming to terms with those flaws, seeking and giving forgiveness, and love despite the flaws.

All that being said, I am surprised the direction in which the drama of this book went. It is unexpected and, to me, unnecessary. The fact that it is quickly resolved after is even more surprising. Let's just say that I don't know that I could be as forgiving as the characters in the book were. I don't know many (or any!) people who would. Perhaps, though, that is the lesson of the book. Forgiveness is as important, if not more so, for the one giving it as the one receiving it.

About the Author

#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives―family, friendship, romance. She's known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages. Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at

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.

Q&A with the Author

Love the cover of THE STEPSISTERS. Summer Sun! 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.

Any tips for wanna-be writers?

Never give up. The world is full of incredibly talented writers who didn’t want it enough to keep going no matter what. The middle of a book is always hard, which means you’ll never finish a book if you can’t get through the middle. You’ll never sell a book if all you can write are great beginnings. You have to keep going, keep learning, keep improving. Try different methods so you can figure out what works for you. Write a great story, and readers will find you. And then write another. And another.

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