I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery
Series: Mischief Bay #2
Published by MIRA on February 23, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Romance
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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.
In this second installment of the Girls of Mischief Bay series, three characters come to the forefront to tell their stories in alternating viewpoints. Nicole was a main character in book #1, The Girls of Mischief Bay, Hayley was a secondary character in book #1, and Abby is a new character that’s connected to these women.
Gabby Schaefer is a stay-at-home mom to twins about to enter kindergarten and the step-mother to a temperamental, spoiled fifteen-year-old girl. While Abby prepares to go back into the working world as a lawyer when the twins start school at the end of summer, she feels that she’s not quite fulfilled or challenged enough as a wife and mother, staying at home with the kids. But when an unexpected crisis hits one of her family members, immense pressure is put on her to do things that she doesn’t want—to fill a position that she doesn’t want to hold any longer by giving up her dreams. She’s resistant to her husband’s demands, and I really rooted for her as she stood her ground with respect. She also supported the family member in trouble with such love and protectiveness, I just knew that she was a great mother!
Nicole Lord is still reeling from the abandonment and resulting divorce from her husband Eric in the first book. While she’s fine financially since she runs her own exercise studio and her ex’s screenplay sold for a lot of money and is about to hit the big screen, she wonders why the divorce isn’t affecting her more emotionally—why Eric never really left much of a stamp on her life except for their wonderful son. When a surprising new guy comes into her life, she’s reluctant to start dating—especially when her son instantly takes a liking to him. Can conservative Nicole take a leap of faith and put her heart on the line—possibly for the first time ever? Especially when Jairus is such a surprising man, and he certainly stole my heart.
Hayley Batchelor has just suffered another miscarriage, and this time her doctor is saying she shouldn’t get pregnant again—she should get a hysterectomy or else she could die. But Hayley won’t give up her single-minded dream of being a biological mother, even if she winds up driving her devoted husband away—or making her health deteriorate even further. Since she was adopted, she’s always thought that her adopted parents loved their biological daughter more than her, so she needs a baby that she can love the way that she wanted to be loved.
While I don’t mind these rotating three person point of view stories, in this book it seemed like one person’s POV shined while the others were a bit repetitive. Gabby’s story was one of sticking up for yourself and not rolling over and doing what your spouse expects you to do. She and her entire family had great character growth throughout the book with their emotional and stressful storyline.
Hayley was stuck in quite the rut, not wanting to budge one bit for most of the book. She just would not give up her quest of becoming and staying pregnant—even if it killed her. It became quite annoying after a while, especially when she was clearly so physically weak and ill. No one could talk any sense into her—not even her husband who was so worried about her. Nicole waffled back and forth about dating Jairus and letting him get close to her son. It took a lot of pressure and pointing out the obvious by her friends to get her to take the plunge, even though she’d seen so much good in Jairus with her own eyes. It was a lot of two steps forward – one step back.
I give The Friends We Keep a four out of five. While the three stories didn’t interweave as much as in the previous book, the three women we follow here deal with events that are life changing by seeking advice from their family and friends when they don’t know where to turn. Susan Mallery has such a gift to make you feel like you know the characters and setting. I always feel right at home in her books and they just come to life, flowing very easily from page one. The characters are so real you get frustrated with several of them, especially Hayley and Nicole, and Gabby’s husband, step-daughter, and ex-wife. I love when an author’s writing pulls these emotions out of me, though, so I definitely enjoyed this book and look forward to a book three if there is one.