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Monday, March 6, 2023

The Sister Effect by Susan Mallery

The Sister Effect by Susan Mallery
Published by HQN ISBN 9781335448640
Hardcover, $28.99, 416 pages

Susan Mallery always writes characters that the reader cares about, and the characters in her latest novel, The Sister Effect, just might be her most compelling ones yet.

Finley works installing plumbing in new homes and is the legal guardian to her sister Sloane's eight year-old daughter Aubrey after Sloane was unable to care for her daughter. Finley and Sloane know what it's like to be abandoned; their mom Molly frequently left the girls in the care of her father Lester while she chased dreams of an acting career that never panned out.

Sloane and Finley loved their grandfather but when he petitoned for full custody of his granddaughters and lost, he disappeared from their lives for twenty years. Now Lester is back, elderly and infirm, and asks to move in his daughter Molly, Finley, and Aubrey. Finley is adamantly opposed, still hurt and angry after his disappearance all those years ago, but Molly insists on taking her father in. 

Jerico owns the construction business building the homes that Finley is working on. His marriage ended when his wife declared that she was in love with his brother Gil and wanted a divorce. Jerico was stung by this betrayal and wants nothing to do with either of them, though his mother pushes him to reconcile with his brother.

Jerico and Finely are drawn to each other, sharing their family drama and traumas. They listen to each other's problems and debate what they owe to family members who have disappointed and betrayed them.

Mallery really draws the reader into these characters's complicated family lives, and she handles Sloane's addiction issues with such realism and empathy. Everyone here is trying to do the best they can within their limitations.

I really felt for Finley, the responsible one who always tries to do the right thing and feels that it gets her nowhere. Finley's love and care for her niece is so moving. I also adored Antonio, Jerico's interior designer and best friend since high school. His loyalty to Jerico is touching.

I've read many of Susan Mallery books and The Sister Effect is one of her best books yet. She drew me in right away with characters that are relateable, and a story that engages you from beginning to end. I highly recommend The Sister Effect.

Thanks to Harlequin for putting me on Susan Mallery's Blog Tour.

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