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Jameson O’Halloran never asked for her life to be so complicated and unpredictable. She never asked for a cheating husband, never asked to be in charge of her father-in-law’s life, and indeed never asked for her brother-in-law to show up looking so irresistible. Since her recent divorce, Jameson has focused on rebuilding her life without the dream family she always wanted. Her toddler, Jackson, takes up most of her time, and when she isn’t caring for him, she is helping her sisters run the family pub in Mayhem, Minnesota, after the death of their father. Jameson is NOT looking for love, not now, maybe not ever again. Still, when her ex-father-in-law suffers a stroke, she is forced into the very delicate position of health proxy for the seriously ill man she still considers family. However, she isn’t alone. Big Win Clarke named a co-proxy, his estranged second son, Scott. Scott, a Project Peace employee, has spent the last ten years abroad, running from his father and from himself, but when he is called to his unconscious father’s bedside, he knows those years spent abroad were a mistake, one he may never get to correct if his father doesn’t recover. When he lays eyes on his beautiful ex-sister-in-law, he can’t deny the attraction drawing him to her. Together they must uncover the truth behind the mystery that sent him running years earlier and hopefully find themselves along the way.
The family bond is a strong theme within this novel. The contrast between the close-knit O’Hallaron sisters and the volatile Clarke brothers is significant to every part of the plot. The “Whiskey sisters,” Hennessy, Jameson, Walker, and Bailey, function as a solid unit. Named by their pub-owning father, these girls share more than their unique names; they have solidarity, which is touching and profound. Even when they argue, they know the immense love they have for each other will never fade. Pulling together to run the family business after their father’s death, these women willingly sacrifice for the legacy left them by their parents. Having lost their mother, the girls have been both mother and sister to each other. They celebrate triumphs and mourn their loss as one, filling in the gaps in their lives with sibling unity. Jameson can’t fathom going days without seeing her sisters, holding them, confiding in them, let alone years.
On the other hand, Scott and Win Clarke (junior) have never had and likely never will have that bond. The brothers have spent their lives at odds with one another, keeping secrets and driving a wedge in what could be the most enduring relationship of their lives. For Win, jealousy pushes him to exploit Scott’s weaknesses, and Scott’s need to escape keeps him from discovering the truth behind his family history and from forging a bond with his ill father. Just like the Whiskey sisters, the Clarke brothers have also lost their mother, but where that draws the women closer, it only serves as the catalyst for pushing the men apart. It isn’t until Scott begins to lean on Jameson that he finally sees what family should be. The Whiskey sisters show Scott the strength behind sibling loyalty and help him face the revelation that changes his life.
Like most novels of this genre, this second installment of this series is chocked-full of romance but with a refreshing burst of humor that will leave the reader LOLing! Scott Clarke is sigh-worthy on every level, and like most male protagonists in a romance novel, he struggles with the notion of settling down and committing to any woman. He’s unsure he can give up his nomadic life while feeling drawn to the idea of a home of his own, a family to come home to every night. Jameson has been hurt in a way only adultery can hurt. She feels unworthy of love and bitter that her picket-fence dream has been shattered by the only man she’s ever loved. In many respects, the plot is traditional for the genre, but the light-hearted nature of Scott and Jameson’s budding relationship is the real gem. In scene after scene, these two–and many of the other characters as well–will leave the reader in stitches. One of the novel’s best parts is Scott’s interaction with Siri, a novelty he has just discovered since his return to civilization after years in remote locations with Project Peace. Numerous chapters end with Scott’s philosophical discussions with his voice-activated assistant, and his first experience with Facetime is priceless! With scenes that will leave you swooning mixed in, the reader will not be disappointed with this clean, wholesome romance.
Character building, not just for the protagonist but with the entire cast of Mayhem, is a strength of the whole Whiskey Sisters series. From psychic baker to gossipy priest to celebrity cat sweater maker, the characters shine. Each of the O’Hallaron women has her own distinct personality, offering a promising glimpse of what is to come in the series. The reader will love her visit to this picturesque town and long for the cozy comfort of O’Halloran’s pub. The entire town is a unique tapestry with love woven into every scene. [Read our review of Blame it on the Bet the first book in the Whiskey Sisters’ series.]
Mischief and Mayhem won First Place in the CIBAs 2019 Chatelaine Awards for romantic fiction.