Monday, February 25, 2013

Three Sisters (Blackberry Island # 2) by Susan Mallery

After Andi Gordon is jilted at the altar, she makes the most impetuous decision of her life – buying one of the famed Three Sisters Queen Anne houses on Blackberry Island. Now the proud-ish owner of the ugly duckling of the trio, she plans to open her own pediatric office on the first floor, just as soon as her hunky contractor completes the work. Andi's new future may be coming together, but the truth is she's just as badly in need of a major renovation as her house.
When Deanna Phillips confronts her husband about a suspected affair, she opens up a Pandora's Box of unhappiness. And he claims that she is the problem. The terrible thing is, he's right. In her quest to be the perfect woman, she's lost herself, and she's in danger of losing her entire family if things don't change.
Next door, artist Boston King thought she and her college sweetheart would be married forever. Their passion for one other has always seemed indestructible. But after tragedy tears them apart, she's not so sure. Now it's time for them to move forward, with or without one another.
Thrown together by fate and geography, and bound by the strongest of friendships, these three women will discover what they're really made of: laughter, tears, love and all. ( Synopsis from

Three Sisters is the follow up book to Barefoot Season, the first book in the Blackberry Island series. The story centers on Andi, a pediatrician who buys one of the three Queen Anne houses known as the Three Sisters. The other two are owned by Boston, a free spirited artist and her husband and the last by Deanna, a perfectionist housewife with five daughters and an unhappy husband.

Andi comes to the island after being left at the altar and buys a rundown house that she plans to rehab to use as offices and living quarters. What is interesting is that the house is a mess and so is her life. Aside from the fact of her disappointing love life, Andi would seem to have it pretty good.  She is a doctor after all and can afford to redo the house and start a new life. In reality, she comes from a family of super doctors who look down on her for “bandaging kid’s knees”. She has no trust in a man being able to commit to her or even in her finding another man after wasting ten years on her previous guy. She meets Wade, who is the brother of her contractor Zeke.  Sparks fly but he has trust issues as well from his previous marriage and a 12 year old daughter to protect from being hurt. He and Andi keep letting their past rule their present.
Boston is another who seems to have it all with a career she loves and a handsome loving husband in Zeke.  Zeke is Wade’s brother.  But behind her eclectically artistic house, she is trapped in a cycle of sadness and loss that she can’t break.  Her marriage is at a breaking point and both parties are unable to reach out to the other.
Deanna has the perfect house and sees herself as the perfect mother by cooking organically, not allowing sweets or regular TV.  She rigidly controls her whole life but it is like balancing plates on a pole and they are starting to drop. Her husband has reached his point of no return and wants to see her make some changes. Deanna can’t see why she needs to change except to pacify her husband, not because she needs to for herself.
I think that Ms. Mallery has shown a great deal of insight into the issues of low self-esteem, loss of a child, and the devastating long term effects of being a child of an alcoholic. She doesn’t gloss over the negative aspects of the three women’s emotional makeup but even at their worst, they are sympathetic. Their friendship has a natural progression. The two spouses behave badly on some level but it is understandable.  Even Wade has reasons for his negative behavior. All six people need to grow emotionally and Ms. Mallery doesn’t make it look easy, going as far as including the fact that professional help is sometimes the only answer. The ending is totally believable and satisfying.
Just a note, I totally loved the “shoutout” to the series The Kings of California by Maureen Child.

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