Title: The Last Chance Matinee: A Hudson Sisters Novel
Author: Mariah Stewart
Publication: Gallery Books, Trade Paperback, March 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Fritz’s untimely death brings the sisters together for the first time, and they learn from their father’s close friend and lawyer that his will requires them to join forces to restore an old theater in the small Pennsylvania town he came from or forfeit their large inheritance. His hope is that they will grow to love his childhood home and understand the mystery he left behind and never felt able to tell them.
Audience: Fans of Nora Roberts’ “sisters” series; readers of books by Jill Shalvis, Kristan Higgins, and Susan Mallery. A reading group guide is included in the back of book material if you'd like to read it with your book group.
My Impression: This was an enjoyable launch of a new series by a New York Times bestselling author, and those who enjoy a quirky, small town setting and fresh starts will like unassuming heroine Cara and her more complicated half-sisters. Required by their father’s will to spend a year in Hidden Falls, PA, they are welcomed by a hitherto unknown aunt and by the community, despite learning secrets about their father and the reason he rarely returned to his home. Each sister begins to come to terms with their father’s secrecy and the adjustment to a new family. The sisters are helped in this effort by the warmth of the community and by an unexpected visit from Allie’s daughter, a bubbly teen who is improbably unspoiled by her LA upbringing. Although Cara is the focus of this book, segments are told from her sisters’ point-of-view, and there are three very different male characters who will provide a second chance at love for Cara and Allie and a first opportunity for Des. Another appealing character is Fritz’s sister, an aunt the sisters did not know existed but become fond of quickly. I also enjoyed the descriptions of renovating the Sugarhouse Theater, which has fallen into disrepair, based on a theater the author knew.
My biggest concern with the book is the back story which requires much suspension of disbelief. I don’t doubt that it is possible in this day and age for a man to have two families at opposite ends of the country and keep them in the dark about each other, but it would have been more plausible if he had not been a celebrated Hollywood agent and I wish the author had created a scenario which was more convincing. How could Cara have never read an article about him, which would certainly have mentioned his other family? Never Google your own father? No one in Devlin’s Light, NJ was ever curious enough about its part time resident to research him? No coverage of her own wedding, which might have revealed her to her West Coast sisters? When she traveled with her father to London, none of his colleagues there ever asked her about his famous wife Honora or his famous daughter Desdemona? She never saw her half sister’s TV show Des Does herself and remarked that the star shared her surname? And, by the way, despite traveling with her former husband, she never knew that New Jersey is one of the few states that bans self serve gas? It is also surprising that Allie, financially down on her luck when the story begins, would not have asked her father to help her get work. I know they weren’t close but surely he wouldn’t have wanted her to lose her home. These issues could have been explained away, perhaps, or Stewart could have set the book back in a pre-Internet era.
There is a hint that Cara’s mother knew all along that her husband was a bigamist, and perhaps she didn’t mind, due to her laid-back personality, but wouldn’t she have been upset for her daughter to learn she’d been the victim of deceit and was illegitimate or is that so passé no one cares anymore?
Recipe: At one point Cara makes her mother's homemade granola, which is a big hit with her new family. Stewart includes the recipe at the end of the book. I don't think that would replace chocolate chip cookies in my house but it fits with the image of Cara's hippie mother. Stewart includes the recipe in the back of the book.
Giveaway: Thanks to Gallery Books, I have a copy of this book to give away. Please leave a comment by 4/23/17 if you are interested - tell me your favorite book about sisters - and I will pick a name. U.S. only, please!
XOXOAfterDark on Twitter (@xoxoafterdark) on Mondays in April to see which other blogs are hosting giveaways for The Last Chance Matinee on April 3, 10, 17, and 24! #MondayMatinee
About the Author: Mariah Stewart is an award-winning and bestselling author of numerous novels as well as several novellas and short stories, including the Chesapeake Diaries series, one of which I reviewed previously. She lives with her husband and two 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.
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. Despite the quibbles above, I enjoyed The Last Chance Matinee and am looking forward to the next two books in the series, focused on Allie and Des. Author photo credit to Nicole Leigh.