After a summer and fall foray into Happily Inc. Susan Mallery now returns us to Mischief Bay. Harper and her sister Stacey couldn’t be more different. Harper was a full time wife and mother, happily making home a haven for her family. Until her husband decided he SLUwanted a divorce. Harper wasn’t educated or trained to be anything other than a wife and mom and she had to scramble to put food on the table for her daughter. She opened a business as a virtual assistant and is now overworked and underpaid. Just like most personal assistants, 😉
Stacey is a brainiac nerd, who’s more comfortable in her medical research lab than with most real people. She’s pregnant with her first child and is terrified. She’s scared she won’t bond with the baby, that she won’t know what to do, that her husband will love the baby more than he loves her.
Harper and Stacey are opposites, but they stand together against their overbearing mother. Harper’s teenage daughter, Becca, is also a viewpoint character.
The three women navigate life and change in their own ways.

I loved this one! The characters are archetypes in some ways. Harper is the perfect homemaker, Stacey is the nerd, Becca is the temperamental teenager. But in Mallery’s world, they’re also real people I feel like I know. Harper knows she’s on a hamster wheel of perfection, but she can’t see how to climb off. I’ve been on that wheel a time or two myself.

There are some familiar characters who return from the previous Mischief Bay books. Lucas, the guy we’ve gotten to know for his penchant for dating twenty-year-olds, is back and even showing signs of maturing. Lulu, Pam’s Chinese Crested dog, has a cameo appearance.

Sisters Like Us is both new and familiar. In the best way. I highly recommend it!

I received a free copy of the book in return for a honest review. We both kept our side of the bargain.


Wednesday Wanderings: Westport House

Friday, September 8

After our visit to Kylemore Abbey, we arrived back at our lovely host/niece’s home. I wasn’t quite over the time change so I took a nap. But then it was time to party. My pictures didn’t turn out very good, but I’ll post them here.

Cory, our niece, and I drove to Westport House for a concert. It was the first event of the annual Westport Festival of Chamber Music.

Taken from the Westport House website. This is a much better picture than mine of the room the concert was in. 

The program:

Beethoven: Piano Trio in D major Op.70 No.1 ‘Ghost’
Leon McCawley, Jack Liebeck, Guy Johnston

Penderecki: Cadenza for solo viola 
Jennifer Stumm

Schubert: String Quintet in C major D. 956
Navarra Quartet, Guy Johnston

The Beethoven and Schubert selections were my favorite. The violist was excellent, but the music was a bit too … strident for my taste. Although I enjoyed the whole evening immensely.


Before the concert and during the break we were able to walk around Westport House, which is a local historic home and is now an event center with many attractions. The house itself is full of art, sculpture, and memorabilia from the original family and the community.

The house was built on the foundations of one of Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley‘s 16th century castles.

We had a blast dressing up and going out, just us big girls, for a night on the town.


After the concert, we went to a local hotel’s pub for some more live music and a nightcap. We heard a duo, maybe brothers, who played an eclectic mix of folk, contemporary, and 20th century pop music.

It was a satisfying, if contextually confusing, end to a great day.

Next week: More random pictures and thoughts about Ireland, the sights, the people, and our farewell dinner.


Wednesday Wanderings: Ireland, Day 3

Our amazing niece procured some vouchers for us to use while we were in Ireland. Today we headed to Kylemore Abbey.


Kylemore Abbey is a beautiful castle built by an Irishman, Henry Mitchell, who lived in Manchester, England.  He had inherited a fortune from his cotton merchant father and built the home for his wife and family and it included amazing Victorian gardens.

In World War I, it became the home of a Belgian order of Benedictine nuns. The gardens were neglected and fell into ruin. The nuns ran a boarding school until 2010. We met a woman in England whose sister-in-law had attended the school as a local day student. They had a long and honorable history of educating young students.

In 1995, a restoration project began in the gardens. They aren’t quite to their full Victorian glory, but they are gorgeous and you can certainly get a taste of what they were like.

After buying our tickets with our vouchers, we walked about .75 mile to the gardens. In the garden’s prime, there were 21 glass greenhouses. Only one has been restored, but you can see where the others sat. The gardeners grew bananas and other tropical fruit and flowers for the family.

As we finished our tour of the gardens, the heavens opened and it poured! There was a tea house nearby, so we hurried in, but we weren’t the only ones with that idea. It was too crowded and too loud, so we walked a short distance and caught a shuttle that returned us to the main entrance.

The rain had pretty much stopped by then so we walked on to the Abbey itself. It’s a beautiful castle, with displays about the family who built it, Irish history, and the Benedictine nuns who lived there.

Mrs. Mitchell died unexpectedly from dysentery while on a Christmas trip to Egypt in 1874. She was 45 years old and left behind her husband and nine children. Mr. Mitchell built a neo-Gothic cathedral in her honor and a mausoleum nearby where they are both interred.

We left Kylemore Abbey and headed back to Westport. But we were hungry. We stopped in Leenaun, a village on our way, and had lunch at Hamilton’s Pub. It was a true local pub. An old timer at the bar was drinking coffee. Another couple soon joined him with a dog who settled at their feet. We shared fish and chips which were good. I started to wonder if I really like fish and chips or if I just eat the fish in order to eat the chips. We each had a diet Coke. An 8 oz. can of Diet Coke was 2.75 Euro. That’s about $3.37 at today’s exchange rate. Yes. We paid over $6 for two sodas. Yes, we’re crazy and yes, we were thirsty.

We headed back to our niece’s home where I took a nap and then she and I went out for the evening.

More about that next week!

Wednesday Wanderings: Ireland and the UK

We took a big trip last year. We had big reasons. A niece who lives in Ireland we wanted to visit. A 40th anniversary to celebrate. History to learn about.

DSC02504 (2018-01-07T18_27_08.717)
In front of the manor house at the Museum of Country Life in Turlough Village, near Castlebar, Ireland. Sept. 7.

We didn’t go without some serious planning and talking. Stud Muffin, being former law enforcement, was concerned about terrorist activity abroad. I understood, but thought it was a small risk in proportion to the potential payoff.

We checked our budget, contacted the fantastic Cheryl at Hey Wanna Go, and renewed out passports. We left our home September 4, visited family on the way to LA, and flew out September 6. Stud Muffin had traveled overseas before, but this was my first time. I was unsure how I’d handle the long flight, but it wasn’t too bad. It helped that we had a layover in Chicago, so what could be a twelve-hour flight was divided up into a five-hour and an eight-hour. Not bad at all. We won’t mention the layover was supposed to be about 90 minutes but ended up at four hours. So we were tired when we boarded the second flight. And tired when we arrived in Ireland.

A quote from a display inside the museum.

I’ll be blogging some about the trip, posting pictures, and sharing memories for the next few months. This will help me get my thoughts and memories in order so I can compile our scrapbook.

A better view of the manor house.

Book Talk Tuesday: NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT by Kristan Higgins

I’m a huge Kristan Higgins fan. I love her romance novels and her women’s fiction novels have been even better.

Higgins.NTYMINow That You Mention It is about Nora, an ugly duckling from a small Maine island who has turned into an amazing swan/doctor/aunt/human being. After getting hit by a truck and waking in the ER to hear her boyfriend flirting with a nurse, she decides it’s time for some changes and moves back to her island to recuperate with her mother and niece.

Nora’s backstory about what brought her to this place in her life is carefully dribbled out, a little at a time. There have been some awful things happen to her. But she not only survived, she learned to thrive.

I loved this book. The characters feel like people I’d hang out with. As Nora heals and as spring turns to summer, she learns a lot about herself as well as her hometown and her family.

I highly recommend this one!

Book Talk on a Thursday: Troubled Waters

Troubled Waters is the fourth in Susan May Warren’s Montana Rescue series. There’s also a prequel novella and a mid-series novella. Whew! She’s a busy writer. And an excellent one.

Troubled Waters is Ian and Sierra’s story. We’ve been following them and hoping for them to work out their issues in the previous books. Finally, this is their time.

Warren.TWIan Shaw is a billionaire. A driven and focused billionaire. Sierra Rose started as his assistant, became his friend, and then he fell in love with her. And she with him. But they couldn’t get past the secrets between them. She knew his niece ran away with her boyfriend and didn’t tell him. He spent millions of dollars searching for his niece, intent on finding her and bringing her home. In the previous books, Ian and Sierra’s relationship devolved and when Troubled Waters begins, they’re barely speaking, barely friends, and definitely not working together.

Now, Sierra has another secret: she found Ian’s niece. She agrees to keep the young woman’s location private for another month, to give her a chance to call her uncle.  In the meantime, Ian is facing huge governments fines for a drilling accident that decimated a town. He needs cash and decides to sell his properties and holdings, including his Montana ranch and his yacht.

Sierra’s working for the PEAK Rescue team at their base. A helicopter crashes and there’s no money for repairs or a new chopper. She appeals to Ian and some of his wealthy friends and they head to the Caribbean for a “three-day cruise,” so she can convince them to donate funds for a new helicopter. Just like Gilligan’s “three-day cruise,” Ian’s and Sierra’s trip ends badly, hence the troubled waters of the title. I won’t give away what happens, except to say it’s gripping and not-put-down-able.

Pete and Jess’s story has also been slowly evolving through the three prior books, and they continue in Troubled Waters. When we get to their story, it promises to be a doozy. I can’t wait!

I love Troubled Waters and I highly recommend it! Another winner from Ms. Warren’s smoking keyboard.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in return for an honest review. I honestly loved it!


I love love love this book! The attention to historical accuracy and detail makes it a cut above most historical romance. The Victorian mores and attitudes are captured perfectly. But instead of being dry or superficial, The Unseducible Earl is full of emotion, poignancy, and heart.

UnseducibleEarlVictoria Thorne is a Nightingale nurse recently returned from the Crimea and hired by the Earl of Cheriton to nurse his brother, also a Crimea vet, back to health. As Victoria cares for Jamie, she is also able to deal with her own issues that linger from living and working in a war zone. At Cheriton Court, she expected to work hard, to help patients with her skills, and to face some opposition. She never expected the intense attraction she feels for the earl–the betrothed earl.

Robben Merrick is betrothed to a woman who is perfect for him. On paper. He doesn’t love her, but he expects affection will come. It is time for him to marry and produce an heir. He’s grateful his fiancee is willing to postpone their announcement while his brother is still battling for his life, even though he’s out of battlefield danger and safe at home at Cheriton Court. His growing feelings for his brother’s nurse are not part of his plans. And he cannot act on them, even if it feels like he is sentencing himself to a loveless marriage and a broken heart.

Humphreys is a wonderful writer. I felt every bit of Victoria and Robb’s attraction and brokenness.

There are a couple of sub-plots that added to the depth of the story and made the ending even more satisfactory.