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Book CoverVeena’s review of The Friends We Keep (Mischief Bay, Book 2) by Susan Mallery
Women’s Fiction published by Mira 23 Feb 16

I love Ms. Mallery’s light-hearted romances that give me a moment out of time to refresh and re-energize. The Mischief Bay series is very different and appeals to me on a totally different level.  At its core the story has the same characteristics of friendship and strong relationships that characterize Ms. Mallery’s writing, but in this series she hits hard with true-to-life stories of challenges that women face in their everyday lives. These challenges, and the inspiring outcomes as women are able to rely on their strong inner core and friendships to balance their own needs and desires with the demands of work and family, should resonate strongly with women readers. As a woman it’s easy to put yourself in these characters’ shoes while you cry, laugh, and cheer with them.  This is a strong piece of work and I just can’t wait for more of it.

Continuing with her strong women protagonists in Mischief Bay, Ms. Mallery gives us the next chapter in Nicole’s life, while introducing two new friends with their own trials and tribulations.  Nicole, as the youngest of the three women in the first book, found herself left alone with her young son when her husband walked away from them. Even as she worries about her son and his need to have a relationship with an absentee dad, she’s picked up the pieces of her life after her divorce and is happy with that life. When her son finds an idol who wants her as much as the relationship he enjoys with her son, she’s not sure she’s ready to trust again.  This is a sweet and tender romance as Jairus woos her and tries to eliminate the barriers in her heart and mind. Can he overcome her fears of rejection to make a place for himself?

Gabby is my favorite of the protagonists. She’s a career woman who left the workforce to raise her twins after they were born. She so looks forward to getting back into the swing of things, once her babies are ready for school. While she is adjusting to the pressures of getting back to work and trying to keep her head above water at home, life throws her a curve ball. I have to say that I’m just as aghast as she is at her husband’s assumptions. I empathized with her through her trials and tribulations and cheered with her as she took her stand and finally stood up for herself.

I had the most trouble with Hayley. The author does a fantastic job of helping the reader see the trauma of her childhood, which fuels her desire for a child of her own.  It’s hard as a women not to feel as devastated as Hayley feels when she has a miscarriage.  I empathize with her desperate desire to have a child but also sided with her husband Rob when she’s willing to disregard her own life in this pursuit. This is a hard-hitting and emotional piece as Hayley has to lose everything before she truly understands what’s important.

This series strikes very true to home with the strong friendships between these women, which help them lighten the burdens they carry, even as their challenges are so real that readers will relate to the characters in a very personal way.

Grade: A


In this insightful and compelling story from book club favorite Susan Mallery, three close friends test the boundaries of how much a woman can give before she has nothing left

After five years as a stay-at-home mom, Gabby Schaefer can’t wait to return to work. Oh, to use the bathroom in peace! No twins clamoring at the door, no husband barging in, no stepdaughter throwing a tantrum. But when her plans are derailed by some shocking news and her husband’s crushing expectations, Gabby must fight for the right to have a life of her own.

Getting pregnant is easy for Hayley Batchelor. Staying pregnant is the hard part. Her husband is worried about the expensive fertility treatments and frantic about the threat to her health. But to Hayley, a woman who was born to be a mom should risk everything to fulfill her destiny—no matter how high the cost.

Nicole Lord is still shell-shocked by a divorce that wasn’t as painful as it should’ve been. Other than the son they share, her ex-husband left barely a ripple in her life. A great new guy tempts her to believe maybe the second time’s the charm…but how can she trust herself to recognize true love?

As their bonds of friendship deepen against the beautiful backdrop of Mischief Bay, Gabby, Hayley and Nicole will rely on good food, good wine and especially each other to navigate life’s toughest changes.

Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series:
Book Cover