Title: The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery
Mischief Bay Series Book Two
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, romance
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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.
The Friends We Keep is another hard-hitting and incisive installment in Susan Mallery’s dramatic yet heartfelt Mischief Bay series. A wonderful mix of old and new characters keeps the series fresh and makes it very easy for both old and new fans to delve into this newest release with ease.
One of the characters from the first novel in the series is Nicole Lord. Nicole has recovered her equilibrium following her divorce and she is easily juggling her career and life as a single parent. She has been able to cut back on her hours at her Pilates studio which allows her to spend extra time with her young son Tyler. While Tyler seems well adjusted and happy, Nicole is worried about her ex-husband’s apparent lack of interest in their son. Just as she is trying to get a handle on the growing chasm between Tyler and her ex, she finds herself attracted to a very unlikely newcomer to her life. When their relationship becomes more serious than she is comfortable with, will Nicole allow her fears to ruin her chance at happiness?
Gabby Schaefer is a happily married stay at home mom to five year old twins Kenzie and Kennedy and her moody fifteen year old stepdaughter Makayla. Just as Gabby is on the verge of returning to work when the twins begin kindergarten, a shocking revelation throws her life and marriage into turmoil. Although she and her husband Andrew have a rock solid marriage, their differing opinions on how to handle the situation create unexpected tension between them. For the first time, Gabby refuses to defer to Andrew’s wishes and their marriage grows strained as they try to find a compromise that works for everyone.
Hayley Batchelor and her husband Rob have been dealing with infertility for several years now. Numerous miscarriages and hormone treatments have taken a terrible toll on her body but she refuses to give up her dream of giving birth to a child of her own. Hayley is still trying to recover from another devastating miscarriage when her doctor gives her a very troubling diagnosis. Her desperation leads her to taking drastic steps to continue her treatments, but she is stunned by Rob’s reaction once he learns about her plans. In danger of losing both her chance at motherhood and her husband, Hayley must make a decision about what is most important: a biological child or saving her marriage.
As Hayley, Nicole and Gabby face very different challenges, they provide one another with emotional support and valuable advice. They offer each other unconditional love and support but they do not let their close friendship stop them from always being honest when discussing their problems. Fortunately, their friendships are strong enough to withstand brutal honesty during these discussions and oftentimes, hearing another viewpoint provides much needed clarity that helps them as they work through their individual issues. While each character is immensely appealing and for the most part, likable, it is very easy to grow frustrated (and sometimes angry) with some of their personal decisions.
Heartwarming yet poignant, The Friends We Keep is an engrossing addition to the Mischief Bay series. With realistic characters facing true to life problems, Susan Mallery has once again written an emotional and perceptive story that is sure to resonate with readers. It is an absolutely beautiful novel of friendship and family that old and new fans of this uplifting series are sure to love.