I am very honored to welcome Susan Mallery today with an excerpt from her new book, The Summer or Sunshine and Margot. My review of the book will appear on July 1oth so be sure to come back to read my thoughts. I thank TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy at no charge for my honest review.
SUNDAY MORNING, JUST BEFORE ELEVEN, SUNSHINE walked into the restaurant. She’d curled her hair, put on makeup and had even worn a dress. Not that she was trying to impress— she was meeting her sister, not anyone who would judge her. Instead, her reasons were more about self-preservation. Whatever Margot showed up wearing, she would be gorgeous and while Sunshine knew she couldn’t compete on the beauty front, she didn’t want to be the cautionary tale. Or just the sexy one. She gave her name to the hostess. There were at least a couple dozen people waiting for tables, mostly multi-generational families. Sunshine watched grandparents corral toddlers and new mothers fret over babies.
Most of the families looked happy, which she liked to see. Kids deserved to be raised in a home where things went right more often than they went wrong.
Margot walked in and spotted her. The sisters hugged. When they stepped back, Sunshine held in a sigh. Yup, her fraternal twin was stunning in a navy short-sleeved sheath dress. The woven material skimmed her body and fell just to her knee. The neck was high, the cut conservative. Nothing about the dress, the mid-heel navy pumps or her plain clutch screamed look at me, and still people did. Looked and gawked. Sunshine knew she got her fair share of attention but it was for the wrong reasons. She was all boobs and butt with a little jiggle thrown in for good measure. Margot was the cover of Vogue while Sunshine was more like a billboard for a gentleman’s club. And people said God didn’t have a sense of humor.
Margot linked arms with her. “How are you? How’s work? Are you nervous about school starting tomorrow? Don’t be. You’ll do great. You’re smart and determined. I’m so proud of you. Look at how quickly you got your life together.” “Together might be a slight overstatement,” Sunshine murmured as the hostess waved them over. “Tables for two are easy today,” she said with a smile. “It’s tables for eight that are the problem. If you’ll follow me, please.” They were shown to a small table tucked in by the window. After they were seated, Margot leaned toward her. “You’re really okay?” Sunshine smiled. “You take the older sister thing way too seriously. You only beat me into the world by eight minutes.”
“I can’t help it. You’re my family and I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Sunshine pulled a slim envelope out of her handbag and passed it over. “Proof that I’m perfectly fine. Installment one.” Margot opened the envelope and wrinkled her nose. She pulled out the check. “You didn’t have to do this.” “You loaned me the down payment for my car.” When Sunshine had returned to Los Angeles four months earlier, she’d had zero money but surprisingly good credit. After getting a job as a waitress and a second gig as a clerk at a drug- store, she’d borrowed money from her sister and had managed to swing a car loan. Margot had insisted Sunshine get a couple of thousand into a savings account before paying her back. Thanks to her new nanny job, she was doing much better financially, and could finally start repaying her sister. Margot sighed. “I didn’t want you to pay me back.”
“Sorry. That was the deal. I’m not a moocher.” Margot grinned. “You make me crazy.”
“That’s part of the job description. I’m doing good. I love the kid and I start school tomorrow and this is right. I swear.”
“Well, if you swear.”
Their server appeared and told them about the specials, then took their drink orders. “Champagne,” Margot said firmly. When the glasses were delivered, Sunshine reached for hers. “To Francine, on her birthday. We love you and miss you and hope that in heaven you’re surrounded by beauty queens.” Margot touched glasses with her. “To Francine. I know we’re not exactly what you were hoping for, but we love you and appreciate all you did for us.” They each took a sip in honor of the great-grandmother who had raised them. She’d been gone over a decade, but Sunshine could still hear Francine’s voice in her head. Sit up straight. Don’t cross your legs at the knee. Think tall thoughts. Elegance is always the right choice.
“I was such a disappointment,” she said lightly, having long since accepted the inevitable truth. “We both were,” Margot murmured. “At least you tried. I was a trembling, whimpering mess.” “Don’t forget the projectile vomiting.” “Always a pretty memory.” They smiled at each other. “How’s work?” Sunshine asked. “Weren’t you interviewing for a new client?” “I was and I got it. Should be an interesting one. She’s a mass of contradictions. I have to live in, which I don’t usually love, but the house is great.” Sunshine knew better than to ask too many questions. Margot was very discreet about her clients and never talked in specifics. “Where will you be living?” “I’m staying in Pasadena, so not far from you.”
“Nice. Let me know if you want me to check on your condo. You know my schedule is mostly flexible.”
“Thanks.” The server returned and they placed their order. When he was gone, Margot picked up
her champagne. “So how’s your newest heartbreaker?” Sunshine laughed. “Connor is totally adorable. He’s such a good kid. He’s still dealing with losing his mom, but he’s so brave. We’re going to be getting an ant farm.” Margot shuddered. “Why?”“He wants one. I think it’ll be fun. Do you know the people who sell them refer to the ants as animals? Connor was right there, so I couldn’t laugh, but jeez, really. Animals? So are they ant ranchers or something?”
Margot chuckled. “And the man of the house?”
“I’m still getting to know him. He seems like a good dad. He’s involved with Connor.”
“A nice change.”
Be sure to check out the rest of the EXCERPT TOUR
The Summer of Sunshine and Margot will be released on June 11, 2019
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You can pre-order The Summer of Sunshine and Margot:
About The Summer of Sunshine and Margot:
The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny…
As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?
Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.
About the Author:
Susan Mallery is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of books about the relationships that define women’s lives—romance, friendship, family. With compassion and humor, Susan keenly observes how people think and feel, in stories that take readers on an emotional journey. Sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, and always uplifting, Susan’s books have spent more than 200 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list, thanks to her ever growing legions of fans.
Critics, too, have heaped praise on “the new queen of romantic fiction.” (Walmart) Booklist says, “Romance novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor, and superb storytelling,” and RT Book Reviews puts her “in a class by herself!”
Be sure to come back in July for my review. I’ve enjoyed reading Ms. Mallery’s books in the past; you can read my reviews of When We Found Home, Secrets of the Tulip Sisters, and California Girls. They make for perfect summer reading. So put The Summer of Sunshine and Margot on your list and check out some of these others for your beach/picnic/deck or whatever reading ahead: