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Susan Mallery is one of those authors that I can count on to deliver an awesome read every time.

*****

California Girls

by Susan Mallery

Hardcover: 432 pages

Publisher: MIRA; Original edition (February 26, 2019)

Blurb:

The California sunshine’s not quite so bright for three sisters who get dumped in the same week…

Finola, a popular LA morning show host, is famously upbeat until she’s blindsided on live TV by news that her husband is sleeping with a young pop sensation who has set their affair to music. While avoiding the tabloids and pretending she’s just fine, she’s crumbling inside, desperate for him to come to his senses and for life to go back to normal.

Zennie’s breakup is no big loss. Although the world insists she pair up, she’d rather be surfing. So agreeing to be the surrogate for her best friend is a no-brainer—after all, she has an available womb and no other attachments to worry about. Except…when everyone else, including her big sister, thinks she’s making a huge mistake, being pregnant is a lot lonelier—and more complicated—than she imagined.

Never the tallest, thinnest or prettiest sister, Ali is used to being overlooked, but when her fiancé sends his disapproving brother to call off the wedding, it’s a new low. And yet Daniel continues to turn up “for support,” making Ali wonder if maybe—for once—someone sees her in a way no one ever has.

But side by side by side, these sisters will start over and rebuild their lives with all the affection, charm and laugh-out-loud humor that is classic Susan Mallery.

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*****

Review:

Mallery’s newest is definitely more women’s fiction than romance, so you need to be prepared for time spent with the sisters but hardly any with their respective men.

Well, two of the sisters – one of them definitely has a bit more of a love story going on, without shortchanging any of her personal growth and development.  There is a new(ish) man in Ali’s life and he helps her see herself differently.  She listens and learns and finds her true self buried behind years of doubt.  I really like the woman she becomes and where her life is heading.

Finola has to do a lot of self-evaluation.  With the betrayal by her husband it is easy to lay the blame totally on him but every relationship has two people in it.  No one wants to hear that some of the fault is their’s when a spouse cheats and Finola is no different.  But time and a few tough conversations has her looking at herself and exactly how much she’s invested in the people around her.

Zennie is probably the hardest for me to connect to.  I get where she’s coming from and really you can’t understand what pregnancy does to you until you actually experience it (man, those hormones!), but it’s such a unique situation.  I did enjoy how Mallery explores, at least for a while, the idea that not everyone wants or needs to be coupled up.  That is the most interesting part of Zennie’s story – her comfort with her life as it is, with friends, family, work, and hobbies.

My only real complaint is that, with three sisters all having a big part of the story, there is a lot of back and forth between them.  It is kinda hard to really get into one part of it knowing you are going to be pulled out and into another.  After a while I got used to it but I don’t think that I was ever fully able to commit.

Charm, though, is always a mainstay of Mallery’s stories and this one is no different.  There is plenty to smile about but she also delivers on the harder emotions as the sisters evaluate themselves and their lives.  It’s not easy when you have to face your shortcomings but these women manage to come out of it stronger.

*****

Author Info:

#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 SusanMallery.com.

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*****

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