Susan Mallery makes a second visit to her Mischief Bay series in The Friends We Keep, which follows three best friends living in a sunny California town as they confront questions about motherhood, marriage and love. Reading a Mallery book is like catching up with old friends, and her latest has all the warmth her readers have come to love.
Pilates instructor Nicole, whom Mallery acolytes will remember from The Girls of Mischief Bay, the first book of the series, is fresh off a divorce and wondering if she should risk her heart—and the heart of her young son—on a promising new romance. Gentle Hayley is desperate for a baby, but her near-sighted drive to get pregnant is putting a strain on her health, her finances and her relationship with her very concerned husband. Meanwhile, Gabby is gearing up for a return to the workplace after spending the past five years raising her twins and playing the role of bad cop with her 15-year-old stepdaughter, Makayla. Gabby has spent those five years putting other people first, and she’s looking forward to having some time away from the house, the pets, the husband and the kids as a working woman. Gabby’s relationship with the difficult Makayla has always been strained, but when Makayla reveals a shocking secret, Gabby worries that she's about to be pushed well beyond her breaking point.
Some of the strings of this story are tied up a little too neatly, but Mallery isn’t one to shy away from the realities of day-to-day life—love handles, sick kids, laundry woes and all. Luckily, even when in a crisis, these three women can always count on each other to tell the difficult truths, look out for each other's best interests, and, of course, they're always available for a chat over milkshakes.