Yay! Welcome to Susan Mallery Appreciation Day, celebrating the romance writer who got me back into the romance genre a little over two years ago! I’m happy to spread the love and share a review of her latest, Evening Stars. (Spoiler alert: it’s really good.) To Susan, thanks for all the fun and I look forward to more sweet and sexy moments in your books!
Evening Stars by Susan Mallery ( web | tweet )
Part of the Blackberry Island series. (For reference I did not read Book 2.)
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Target audience: Adult romance
Keywords: sisters, mother/daughters, old romance, moving forward
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: At thirty, Nina is tired of having to take control of everything like her Peter Pan syndrome mother and her younger sister, Averil, who she is always fighting with. When Averil returns to Blackberry Island for an undisclosed amount of time, escaping a life that should make her happy but doesn’t for some reason, everything starts to hit the fan. Add in two mysterious men from Nina’s last, an antique store hanging by a thread, and an unexpected treasure and this family is forced to make some decisions about their futures and their connection to one another.
You have to be the queen of your own life.
This is a theme in Evening Stars, and I loved it. While Mallery’s latest does give a reader a great fill of romance, this book is really about different generations of women in one family owning their mistakes, taking responsibility for their futures, and finding the confidence to stand by their decisions and accept happiness.
The truth is it can be downright annoying for the people in your life and for yourself when you just cannot make a decision. Why are you unhappy in your career or your marriage? Why can’t you reevaluate the roles with the people in your family and just lean on each other? When people are stuck in this purgatory of indecision, there are a lot of repetitive excuses, actions, and conversations until someone decides to take the plunge and move forward. Nina, Averil, and their mother, Bonnie, ping pong between past and future a lot during Evening Stars but it only helps them to breakdown their weaknesses and discover what it is that they need.
Nina and her family own an antique store on Blackberry Island, and it was one of my favorite settings in the book. I get so caught up in places in books that need a little TLC and it was great to read about the progress of the store once they made a new hire, and even after a certain, unassuming painting makes a big splash. This painting catapults Nina and her family into unexpected conflict and it was a great catalyst, as it brought many truths to light.
Evening Stars does switch POV between Nina and Averil, who is taking a break from her marriage and trying decide what she needs to make her life feel more fulfilled. Her and Nina fight like cats and dogs because they continue to go back to the big sister / little sister dynamic and fail to really grasp on to some kind of friendship. It was interesting to see them work through this, and this is what I like about the Blackberry Island books over the Fool’s Gold series — we get a better glimpse into familial relationships and fuller pictures of the characters.
In addition to all the above, Nina is balancing a romance with a surprising guy from her past (he’s super suave and charming) and the return of her first love, who totally broke her her heart. It’s rare to see this kind of pseudo-love triangle (I say this because it was very calm and not like she was actively going between the two. It was more emotional.) in a novel like this and I was very curious how Mallery would wrap it up. (Unsurprisingly, there was one guy I was rooting for the whole time.)
Evening Stars was definitely full of high drama but it was well-balanced by a cute puppy, relatable insecurities, that awesome antique store, and the adorable community of Blackberry Island.
The lovely folks at Harlequin are providing a copy of Evening Stars to a U.S. or Canadian resident! Be sure to enter below!