Welcome to my stop on the Sisters By Choice blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours! Thanks to TLC for the invitation! I have an excerpt for you today and a synopsis of this exciting book!
About the Book:
Cousins by chance, sisters by choice…
After her cat toy empire goes up in flames, Sophie Lane returns to Blackberry Island, determined to rebuild. Until small-town life reveals a big problem: she can’t grow unless she learns to let go. If Sophie relaxes her grip even a little, she might lose everything. Or she might finally be free to reach for the happiness and love that have eluded her for so long.
Kristine has become defined by her relationship to others. She’s a wife, a mom. As much as she adores her husband and sons, she wants something for herself—a sweet little bakery just off the waterfront. She knew changing the rules wouldn’t be easy, but she never imagined she might have to choose between her marriage and her dreams.
Like the mainland on the horizon, Heather’s goals seem beyond her grasp. Every time she manages to save for college, her mother has another crisis. Can she break free, or will she be trapped in this tiny life forever?
Told with Mallery’s trademark humor and charm, Sisters by Choice is a heartfelt tale of love, family and the friendships that see us through.
She looked up and saw a tall, barrel-chested man walking into the warehouse. He had gray hair and a tanned face and wore a plaid shirt tucked into jeans. He held a folder in one hand.
Sophie scrambled to her feet. “Can I help you?”
“Bear Gleason.” He crossed to her and shook her hand.
She was five-five and he was at least eight inches taller. She would guess he was in his midfifties.
“How can I help you, Mr. Gleason?” she asked, hoping he wanted a job and that he had experience she could use.
“Bear, please. I heard you were moving your business to town. CK Industries.”
“My wife and I lived in Eastern Washington all our lives. I managed one of the largest fruit storage companies in the country. When we got bought out by an international conglomerate last year, they brought in their own people. Then our daughter turned up pregnant with triplets and my wife wanted to move over here to be close to the new grandkids and help her out.”
Sophie felt a whisper of hope and anticipation. She had a feeling it was the same sense of expectation other women got when they heard about a designer shoe sale. Let them fight over size whatever Jimmy Choo shoes—she just might have found herself a warehouse manager.
“I thought I’d try retiring,” Bear continued. “That lasted two whole months. Truth is, I’m going crazy at home. My daughter is eight months pregnant and on bedrest. My wife is gone all the time and I’m rattling around in our new place like a lost puppy. I’ve done every home project I can think of and my wife swears if I mess with her kitchen, she’ll kill me in my sleep.”
He looked around. “I’m not sure what all you’re buying or selling, but if it needs to be brought in, accounted for and then shipped out to customers, I’m your man.”
He handed her a slim folder. “My résumé and references.”
Yes! Sophie did her best not to break into a happy dance.
“How’d you find out about me renting the warehouse?” she asked.
“In a town this small, it’s all anyone’s been talking about. If I were you, I’d get the date of your job fair circulating real quick. Otherwise, folks are going to be drifting in at all hours.”
He flashed her a grin. “Exactly like me.” The smile faded. “I heard about the fire. You had insurance, right?”
“Making sure your paycheck is going to clear?”
“I’m sure as hell not working for free.”
“I can respect that.”
She was about to start the interview when an eighteen-wheeler pulled into the parking lot and began backing up toward the loading dock.
Bear looked from the truck to her warehouse. “You don’t even have shelves yet. Or desks. Does anyone work here but you?”
“No, but they will. Better to have product and nowhere to put it than not.”
Bear didn’t look convinced. Still, he moved to the loading dock door and helped guide the truck into place.
It took nearly an hour to get the order moved from the truck to the warehouse. Sophie stopped several times to add to her list of needed supplies. Handcarts, for one. A forklift. Gloves, safety glasses, cones.
When the UPS guy pulled out, Bear stared at the stacked boxes.
“Cat food. Cat litter. Cat toys.” He glared at her. “What is this?”
“What we sell. What did you think was going on here?”
“It’s CK Industries. I didn’t know what it was.”
She grinned. “CK stands for Clandestine Kitty. I started the business when I was in college.”
Bear looked horrified. “You sell cat stuff? You need all this square footage to sell cat stuff?”
“You don’t like cats?”
“Not really. I’m a dog person. Damn. Clandestine Kitty. I never would have guessed that. I hope no one from back home ever finds out I work here.”
“Technically, I haven’t hired you yet.”
“You will. You’re not going to find anyone more qualified. Plus, I’m local now and that helps. If there’s an emergency, I’m six minutes away.”
He looked at the stacks of boxes, then at the warehouse. “Stuff comes in, you repackage it and ship it out to customers. I get it. We’re going to need shelves and a shipping station.”
“I’ll need you to talk me through your current workflow. It’s probably not as efficient as it could be but we’ll start with that and change it as we go. It would help if I could see purchase orders for the last six months to give me an idea of space. We’ve got to get a forklift for sure. I’ll need a computer, a stack of purchase orders and a company credit card to get started.”
“Still not hired.”
He sighed heavily. “Fine. What do you want to know? She had his résumé, which would cover the duties he’d performed and what he’d been responsible for. What Sophie was more interested in was who Bear was. She’d been told she was, ah, difficult to work for. Could he handle her?
“Tell me about your best day and your worst day.”
His gaze narrowed. “You’re talking about work stuff, right? Because if you want to discuss my feelings, we are not going to get along at all.”
She laughed. “Bear, I swear to you I will never ask about your feelings and I certainly won’t discuss mine. I just want to know if you’re good at what you do and if you have a problem working for a woman.”
“Do you bring a cat to work?”
Sophie thought about how CK had been a part of her world for nearly eighteen years. How her soft meows and gentle purring were as familiar as Sophie’s own heartbeat. She remembered holding CK at the very end and how she still couldn’t believe her sweet girl was gone.
“No,” she said quietly. “I won’t be bringing a cat to work.”
“Then I don’t care if you’re a woman or a zombie. Let’s have an interview and get this settled. If it seems we’ll suit, then I’ll get going on writing up a proposal on what I’m going to need.”
“I’ve already picked out shelves and tables.”
“Uh-huh. Like I said, I’ll write up a proposal and we can go over it together. I’ll use my home computer until you get the new ones for the warehouse and offices. All right. Worst day. That’s easy. Some jerkwad brought in a bunch of fruit from his mom’s place up north of here. Brought it into the warehouse without stopping to think it might have apple maggots. And it did. Damn fool. Do you know what a couple dozen breeding apple maggots can do to a warehouse full of prime quality crop?”
Something she really didn’t want to think about. “It was bad, huh?”
“Bad doesn’t begin to describe it. We lost millions. I’ve always believed stupid is forever. No idea where that kid is now but he’s sure as hell never working for me.” He thought for a second. “Best day. If you like what you’re doing, then they’re all good days.”
Sophie’s entrepreneurial heart gave a little ping of happiness. “I’m going to read through your résumé and check your references,” she said. “Want to start unloading the boxes?”
He looked at the stacks of merchandise and sighed. “Cats. I never would have guessed cats. Hell of a thing.”
About the Author:
#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming and humorous novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. She’s best known for putting nuanced characters into emotionally complex, real-life situations with twists that surprise readers to laughter. Because Susan is passionate about animal welfare, pets play a big role in her books. Beloved by millions of readers worldwide, her books have been translated into 28 languages.
Critics have dubbed Mallery “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!” It’s no wonder that her books have spent more than 200 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list.
Although Susan majored in Accounting, she never worked as an accountant because she was published straight out of college with two books the same month. Sixteen prolific years and seventy-four books later, she hit the New York Times bestsellers list for the first time with Accidentally Yours in 2008. She made many appearances in the Top 10 before (finally) hitting #1 in 2015 with Thrill Me, the twentieth book in her most popular series, the Fool’s Gold romances, and the fourth of five books released that year.
Susan lives in Washington state with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Her heart for animals has led Susan to become an active supporter of the Seattle Humane Society. Visit Susan online at www.SusanMallery.com.
Have you read Sisters by Choice, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR