“Prepare to fall in love with this amazing, endearing family of women!” — Robyn Carr, #1 NYT’s and USA Today bestselling author
THE LAST CHANCE MATINEE (The Hudson Sisters: #1) Written by Mariah Stewart
March 21, 2017; 432 Pages (Gallery Books)
Genre: contemporary, romance, fiction, series, small-town
(I received an ARC from the PUBLISHER via NETGALLEY)
Fritz Hudson, a respected agent in Hollywood, quietly passes away leaving behind many family secrets. The biggest one being that he was living a double life. In California, he is the agent and husband to Nora, and father to their daughters, Allie and Des. He later meets Susa in New Jersey. They marry and have a daughter, Cara. Fritz goes the cowardly route and never confesses to his daughter. Instead he leaves it to his best friend and lawyer, Pete to reveal the truth to them at the reading of the will. Pete also has to tell them that their father has left a big condition on their inheritance. They must restore a theater in his hometown, Hidden Falls. The three girls must work together or they get nothing.
Cara, the youngest, runs a yoga studio and is recently divorced. In fact, her ex-husband is getting married to one of her bridesmaid and longtime friend in a few weeks. Hurt and betrayed, Cara is looking forward to being out of town while the big wedding happens in her small-town. Allie, the eldest, i/s angry over her latest show being cancelled and not being able to find any other directing jobs. After her divorce she is seeing less of her daughter, Nikki and is on the verge of losing her home. Allie needs this money so that she can pay her daughter’s private school tuition and save her home. Des, the middle child, is now living off her investments from her time as a child actor. But she could use the money to work on animal shelters, but more importantly spend time with her eldest sister. Both Des and Cara go into this adventure hoping to learn more about their father and one another, while Allie resists everything. As the three women abandon their current lives for their father’s small hometown they will start to bond whether they want to or not.
I have not really been able to read contemporary romance in the past year. I have read a few but it has been authors I know well. I was a bit weary in participating in this blog tour as I was afraid I would not be able to get into this novel. I have read Mariah Stewart’s romantic suspense and have LOVED them. I didn’t want to not like this book. As I hemmed and hawed I realized I needed to start reading this book now or I was going to be lat for this blog tour. I started this book last night and BOOM…I was SUCKED in!
The Last Chance Matinee does have a cliched plot, but it works. You know everything is going to work out in the end, and that is comforting and exactly what I want in my contemporary romance. What makes or breaks a contemporary romance, in my opinion, is the journey to the happily-ever-after. It doesn’t have to be completely realistic, but have plausible situations and some big conflicts. We know that most likely the theater will get finished, but it is how the sisters come together and the things they discover along the way that interests me. Stewart has done a great job in creating the three main characters. I find myself very invested in them and what happens to them. The quirky cast of around them are just as well-written. The story is engaging and has you feeling the emotions right along with the women. I find one of my biggest pet peeves with romance novels is when the humour is forced. The humour in this book is balanced and funny when it should be. I highly recommend this one for any contemporary romance lover…or anyone that enjoys good writing. If you like the Lucky Harbour series by Jill Shalvis you will enjoy this one. Stewart’s writing in this book reminds me of Susan Wiggs, Luanne Rice, Susan Mallery and Robyn Carr.
*Look for Book 2 in 2018 and Book 3 in 2019!
From the Preface, The Last Chance Matinee:
Everyone is familiar with the adage “write what you know”; it’s a saying that has dictated much of my decades-long career in publishing. But this time, it was what I (or rather, my mother) didn’t know that formed the basis for this first book in my new Hudson Sisters series.
When my mother was in her mid-forties, she received a letter from a woman named Alice, the wife of her recently deceased cousin Bill. Alice thanked my mother for the sympathy card she’d sent her, and finished her note by saying, “You do know that Bill was your half brother, right?”
Ah, no. She did not.
…Of course, I was fascinated. My grandfather died when I was four or five years old, and I have very little memory of him other than his deep, hearty laugh. I’ve been thinking for years that this foundation of a love child and secret siblings would make a great story; but not knowing all the facts, I was free to fill in the blanks—and so I did. Years passed before I felt I had the right story in my head. This is that story. I hope you enjoy my version of what could happen under such circumstances.
About Mariah Stewart:
Mariah Stewart is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels as well as several novellas and short stories. She lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors county life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her at mariahstewart.com and follow her on Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart and on Instagram @mariah_stewart_books.