The California sunshine’s not quite so bright for three sisters who get dumped in the same week…
Finola, a popular LA morning show host, is famously upbeat until she’s blindsided on live TV by news that her husband is sleeping with a young pop sensation who has set their affair to music. While avoiding the tabloids and pretending she’s just fine, she’s crumbling inside, desperate for him to come to his senses and for life to go back to normal.
Zennie’s breakup is no big loss. Although the world insists she pair up, she’d rather be surfing. So agreeing to be the surrogate for her best friend is a no-brainer—after all, she has an available womb and no other attachments to worry about. Except…when everyone else, including her big sister, thinks she’s making a huge mistake, being pregnant is a lot lonelier—and more complicated—than she imagined.
Never the tallest, thinnest or prettiest sister, Ali is used to being overlooked, but when her fiancé sends his disapproving brother to call off the wedding, it’s a new low. And yet Daniel continues to turn up “for support,” making Ali wonder if maybe—for once—someone sees her in a way no one ever has.
But side by side by side, these sisters will start over and rebuild their lives with all the affection, charm and laugh-out-loud humor that is classic Susan Mallery.” -Goodreads synopsis
California Girls is full of feel-good sister moments that center around starting again and taking responsibility for your own happiness. Finola, Zennie, and Ali are all dealing with the aftermath of breakups and what it means for their future. Susan Mallery meshes romance and women’s lit in this story.
Finola, wrecked by her husband’s infidelity with a pop star, feels like her life is over. She questions how she will ever be able to move on while in the public eye. Her story is relatable to anyone facing starting over. She’s been married for years and had envisioned the rest of her life with her husband by her side. She has to try and redesign her entire future. Finola does not have another romantic arc during the story and I loved that. She was able to allow herself to be angry and messy after her break up. She was granted the time she needed to focus on herself and find her inner strength.
Ali is dumped months before her wedding day and her soon-to-be husband isn’t even the one that breaks up with her. His brother has to deliver the message. From the beginning it’s clear that Ali and Daniel, her ex’s brother, have some chemistry brewing. Ali’s storyline focuses on finding love and being loved. She has spent so much time in the shadow of her sisters and hasn’t thought much of herself. She was holding onto her ex’s love because she felt like someone had finally seen her and appreciated her. She finally realizes she deserves more and doesn’t have to settle. Her romance with Daniel was incredibly sweet, slightly steamy, and so worth the build up!
Zennie has the most minor breakup. She is dumped by a guy she’s gone out on a few dates with. She worries more about what it means for herself that she’s never had a long term relationship and doesn’t feel any interest in one. She expresses that she’s not really interested in sexual relationships but the term “asexuality” is never used in the book. I wish this was something that could’ve been explored more since it’s not featured much in romances/women’s lit. Zennie’s major storyline is centered around her decision to become a surrogate for her best friend. Her friends and some family members disagree with her decision and worry about her, but ultimately Zennie knows she’s made the right choice for her.
The California based sisters all grow throughout the pages of the novels and each eventually learns that they have the power to create happiness in their lives. Each deals with a situation that they can’t control and they learn to change the things they can. This book focuses on accepting self-love along with romantic love and it’s a message many readers need to see. Susan Mallery wrote a quick, light-hearted book that readers with or without sisters will love!