California girl Allie Hudson Monroe can’t wait for the day when the renovations on the Sugarhouse Theater are complete so she can finally collect the inheritance from her father and leave Pennsylvania. After all, her life and her fourteen-year-old daughter are in Los Angeles.
But Allie’s divorce left her tottering on the edge of bankruptcy, so to keep up on payments for her house and her daughter’s private school tuition, Allie packed up and flew out east. But fate has a curve-ball or two to toss in Allie’s direction—she just doesn’t know it yet.
She hadn’t anticipated how her life would change after reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, or meeting her previously unknown half-sister, Cara. And she’d certainly never expected to find small-town living charming. But the biggest surprise was that her long-forgotten artistry would save the day when the theater’s renovation fund dried up.
With opening day upon the sisters, Allie’s free to go. But for the first time in her life, she feels like the woman she was always meant to be. Will she return to the West Coast and resume her previous life, or will the love of “this amazing, endearing family of women” (Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author) be enough to draw her back to the place where the Hudson roots grow so deep?
Allie Hudson Monroe is a divorced mother of a 14-year old daughter, Nicole, and currently struggling financially now that she’s lost her job in Los Angeles. If not for her current money situation, she wouldn’t have felt the need to comply with her late father’s terms to receive her inheritance, which is to join her two sisters in Hidden Falls, Pennsylvania and restore the family’s former Sugarhouse Theater. Allie’s got a few issues, including her late mother’s problems with alcohol, though she’s not ready to own that, and a not-so-great relationship with her ex. It’s all combined to make her brittle and abrasive, especially when it comes to Police Chief Ben Haldeman who is aware of her predilection to alcohol.
This was the story I was least looking forward to but ended up possibly being my favorite! Allie wasn’t very likable, by her own admission, but over the past months in Hidden Falls had begun to transform. When the Goodbye Café becomes a major factor in her life, she discovers the breadth of her skills and talents. Where she previously believed she needed to prove herself to others, the café became the place where she began to believe in herself, especially as a mother. I loved being part of her developing self awareness, so wonderfully gradual that I couldn’t help but liken it to a blossoming flower. I admired the woman underneath all that armor who didn’t create all that on her own. She was a victim but also a survivor even though it didn’t wear so well.
I often hate it when a story ends but this time, it felt painful to let this one go. Allie is a well crafted character with so many dimensions I enjoyed exploring. Her relationship with Ben transitioned just as slowly, as it should have, and I was surprised at my own patience with them. The newly formed family dynamics involving her sisters and aunt just added more flavor, too. I thought this might be the last book in the series but I believe we were given a lifeline at the end for at least one more book!!! I know I’ll be waiting for it, rather impatiently. This is a wonderful series and this story is exceptional.
Allie swung her bag over her shoulder, preparing to start her descent, thinking how much her life had changed since she’d arrived in Hidden Falls. There were days when she felt like a different person from the one who’d boarded the plane at LAX and flown to Scranton, Pennsylvania, rented a car, and driven to this tiny nowhere town. At first she’d hated it. Now she was growing accustomed to the slow pace and the fact that everyone in town knew who she was and where she came from simply by virtue of her being Barney Hudson’s niece.
She dropped one leg over the side, singing softly to herself, “Don’t look down, girl, just don’t look down. Everything’s okay as long as you don’t look down,” when she did exactly that.
She bristled at the sight of the man who stood at the foot of the scaffold staring straight up.
“What are you doing here?”
“I was looking for Des. I stopped over at the house but no one answered.” His arms were crossed over his chest, and instead of wearing his usual chief of police uniform, Ben Haldeman—the very bane of Allie’s existence, the gigantic thorn in her side—was dressed in cutoff jeans and a light blue tank top, flip-flops on his feet. He didn’t bother to smile at her—why pretend he liked her any more than she liked him?—but he didn’t blink when she stared down at him, either.
“I’ll let her know when I see her.”
“Then I’ll just leave this little guy here and you can take him home with you. How ’bout I just tie his leash up to the scaffold?”
“What little . . .” Allie leaned over the side of the platform, just far enough to make her head spin and her stomach flip. She pulled back, but not before she saw the little black dog on the red leash that Ben was tying to the bottom rung. “Wait, where’d that dog come from? You can’t leave it here.”
“Found him out on the highway running loose. Tell Des to give me a call.” Ben patted the dog on the head and turned toward the door.
“Wait. Ben. No, don’t . . .”
He waved as he walked away. “Have a nice day.”
With a deep sigh of exasperation, Allie sat back on the platform.
- Release Date: March 26, 2019
- Series: The Hudson Sisters #3
- Page Numbers: 416
One print copy will be given away (US only). To enter, simply leave a comment before April 6. The winner will be selected randomly.
About the Author
Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel.
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(I received an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review)