Release date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction
From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes the first novel in her all-new series, The Hudson Sisters, following a trio of reluctant sisters as they set out to fulfill their father’s dying wish. In the process, they find not only themselves, but the father they only thought they knew.
When celebrated and respected agent Fritz Hudson passes away, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended in a tragic overdose. Meanwhile, Fritz was falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa Pratt—they had a daughter together, Cara, and while Fritz loved Susa with everything he had, he never quite managed to tell her or Cara about his West Coast family.
Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce, allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals, and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend—but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old, decrepit theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Guided by Fritz’s closest friend and longtime attorney, Pete Wheeler, the sisters come together—whether they like it or not—to turn their father’s dream into a reality, and might just come away with far more than they bargained for.
The inspiration behind this novel fascinated me, so I thought I would share the preface of the book before my thoughts.
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.
Crazy, right?! When Last Chance Matinee begins, we’re introduced to three very different women; sisters Allie and Des and Cara. Allie and Des have no idea Cara exists and Cara wasn’t aware that her father had another family either. When their father, Fritz dies, the women are all present at the reading of his will. Pretty compelling way to start a book, and when they’re told the only way to receive their inheritance is to move to Hidden Falls and renovate an old family theater, to say they’re shocked, angry, and blindsided is a huge understatement.
Cara is recovering from a divorce, her husband Drew cheated with one of her bridesmaids and is now engaged and expecting his first child. Ouch. Her mother, Susa is also gone having passed a few years ago. Susa and Cara live in New Jersey and his other family lived in California. Cara has no idea if her mother was aware her father was already married to another woman and she’ll probably never know. Allie and Des have a strained relationship and rarely speak to each other. Their mother, Honora is also deceased so the opportunity to move back to their fathers hometown may be the only chance for the women to unlock old family mysteries.
This is the first in a new series and it sounds like each book will mainly focus on one sister, but the other two will still play a heavy role in the plot. This one is Cara’s story and she was an endearing character. She’s a free spirit and very loving, once the initial shock of her fathers betrayal wears off, she’s excited to get to know the sisters she never knew existed. She bonds with Des fairly easily, and she was another character that I quickly warmed to. Allie is a bit trickier, she’s also divorced and pretty bitter, and she has secrets of her own. Though she was pretty cold and standoffish, I was still completely interested in who she was. Aunt Barney was Fritz’s estranged sister and she was probably my favorite character of the bunch. She’s the town matriarch and seems like a really good person, and she has a pretty sparkling personality to boot. Nikki is Allie’s teenaged daughter and she breathed so much life into the story, she’s a vibrant and excitable kid.
I’m a sucker for family secrets and though there are still definitely some secrets waiting to be unearthed, Stewart revealed enough about the Hudson family to capture my attention. The town of Hidden Falls is a character unto itself and had so much magic and old school charm. There was a real sense of a simpler way of life, a throwback to the good old days. The Sugarhouse is the family theater the women have to restore and the descriptive writing was so rich and vivid, it sounds amazingly gorgeous. This is the perfect, solid start to a new series, Stewart really lays the groundwork for so many possible storylines, there is a ton to be explore. I can’t wait for the second book, it will be told from Des perspective and I’m eager to see what the Hudson family will get up to next.
Overall rating: 4/5
Thanks to Gallery Books for my review copy.
About the Author:
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.