Reading Roundup: “Sisters By Choice”

Susan Mallery, who resides in Seattle, is a New York Times bestselling author. She writes romance and women’s fiction books.  Some of her most notable books are the “Fools Gold” series.  

“Sisters By Choice” follows Mallery’s tradition style of writing. I have read nearly every book written by Susan Mallery and fallen in love with many of her characters. 

“Sisters By Choice” is the fourth book in the Blackberry Island series.  “Barefoot Season”, “Three Sisters” and “Evening Stars” are also part of this series.  Even though these are a series, they can also serve as stand alone novels.

The setting, Blackberry Island, has been described in great depth throughout the series.  Susan Mallery has even created a website devoted to the town and its history that will help readers become more captivated by the location.  You can view that information at

Girl Power.  That is the overall theme of the story.  Three cousins who are each embarking on a journey of self-discovery and realization.  Each cousin has their own problems and must learn how to overcome these problems while growing as a person. 

Sophie Lane had left the island to build her business empire.  A fire causes her to lose everything, and she must rebuild from the ground up.  Relocating to Blackberry Island has provided her with the opportunity to be closer to family but proves challenging when none of her employees want to move with her.  She has to start over from scratch, which forces her to look at herself and her leadership style.  Can she relinquish control and give up her “I am always right” attitude in time to save her business?

Cousin Kristine is a stay-at-home mom of three boys.  She married her high school sweetheart, but lately has been feeling like she needs something more.  However, in chasing her dreams, she is being forced for choose between them and her husband.  His lack of support has Kristine reevaluating everything about their relationship.

Heather is the daughter of Sophie and Kristine’s first cousin Amber. Amber is a manipulative, controlling woman who has left Heather to take care of both herself and her mother.  Heather has worked since she was 16 to support the both of them, and in the process has lost her dream. 

The characters, even the minor characters, all provide complexity and depth to the story.  Kristine is the character I most resonated with. She is wrestling with the idea of what she wants out of her life, while still trying to stay true to her family.  I feel she also had the most growth in the story.

Amber is the character I liked the least.  She is manipulative, narcistic, and controlling.  Everything that happens to her is someone else’s fault and she cannot take responsibility for herself.  She had no growth in the story, and I disliked the way that everyone always caters to her.

While I always love reading Susan Mallery’s books, this one was not one of my favorites, but was still a good read. The overall rating that I would give this book is a 3.5 out of 5. I think the issue for me was the controlling and manipulating relationships that were entangled in the story line.  The ending left me wanting to know more about each of the characters and how their lives end up.

I think that the relationship dynamics between Amber and Heather, as well as Kristine and her husband could be triggering to someone who has been involved in controlling and emotionally abusive relationships. 

 “Sisters by Choice” has a February 11, 2020 publication date from MIRA Publishing.  It can be purchased from amazon in Kindle format for $9.99, paperback for $11.59 and hardcover for $18.99.

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