Lost and Found Sisters
I hate the term “chick lit” and often eye-roll at “women’s fiction”, to be completely frank. I’m not sure why books about a heroine’s introspective journey are genre fiction, when a hero’s introspective journey is often just “fiction” – but I digress. When Ms. Shalvis announced that she was trying her hand at women’s fiction, I was intrigued as I’m long-time fan of hers. I’ve read almost everything she’s written, with the exception of some of the Harlequin Blaze novels she’s penned that I’m having trouble tracking down.
My rating system for a non-HEA-centric book is a little different for a standard romance. Because I know the goal isn’t the culmination of a romantic relationship, I’m less interested in the building of chemistry between the heroine and whoever she’s with. I’m much more interested in the journey within her own self, or with the designated significant relationship the book is set up to pursue.
Even more than in a standard romance, I need to connect with and understand the character whose journey we’re supposed to be on. In this book, our focus is Quinn, a chef in northern California who has a fairly settled life. She’s got a steady job as a sous chef in a upscale restaurant, and a routine so defined that the barista at her coffee shop delivers her coffee without an order.
Part of that routine is that she’s walking around in a shroud of mourning. Two years previously, her sister Beth was killed suddenly in a car accident. There are sisters who are bonded simply through blood or family history, and then there are sisters who are bonded through those things as well as their hearts. It’s clear that Beth and Quinn were the latter, and when Beth died, Quinn lost some of herself.
Quinn is shocked out of her fog when a lawyer comes and tells her that the life she knows is wrong. The way Shalvis presents it, it’s as though Quinn’s life is a tree trunk and all of the lawyer’s statements are an axe attempting to fell it.
You’re actually adopted. *whack* Your birth mother was trying to make contact with you, but it was a closed adoption, and she recently died from cancer before you guys could reunite. *whack* Your birth mother left you property in Wildstone, CA, a town you’ve never heard of and you’re now in charge of it. *wack* Which means you have to leave your life for a bit and deal with it. *wack* Oh, and by the way, you have a teenage sister. *timberrrrrrr*
(My italics, my version of events!)
She confronts her parents, who confirm they did adopt her and that Beth was not biologically her sister, but that they didn’t see that as a big deal. Quinn, of course, sees it as a huge deal, panics, and flees to the town of Wildstone to see what this new life is going to look like.
The first person she meets is Mic, a son of Wildstone who hasn’t made his home there for a while, but is back in town to help out his mom. He and Quinn meet on a quiet beach and start a strong connection that carries Quinn throughout the book. She is faced with a lot of decisions in this story, including how much she’s going invest in Wildstone and how she’s going to interact with her newly found sister alongside the parents she’s always known.
It’s a lot to swallow and there is a lot happening in this book. We also get a bit about Mic’s internal journey, a lot of the kid sister’s, and a healthy dose of small-town eccentrics that would put Stars Hollow (from Gilmore Girls) to shame. Quinn spends most of the book feeling disoriented and that sense spills over to the reader at times. I could feel Ms. Shalvis’ romance roots coming out as she tries to convince us that Mic is part of Quinn’s HEA, while at the same time showing us that her HEA is not dependent on Mic but on herself. That tension makes our heroine’s journey rich, but there were a few moments where I wasn’t quite sure quite what story the author was trying to tell.
When I closed the final page, however, I was left satisfied. I could understand and empathize with Quinn’s decisions, could appreciate the journey she was on, and found myself already looking forward to checking back in with these characters. As I said at the beginning of this review, if the book works for me as a non-HEA-centric one, I’m more invested in Quinn than Quinn and Mic and that’s how I felt. This is a story of a woman whose foundations are shattered, and who finds that the self she builds on their ruins is better than she could have imagined. It’s a quiet story of survival, resilience, hope, and family, and how finding your true self is the most rewarding journey of all.
I’d recommend Lost and Found Sisters to anyone who likes Ms. Shalvis’ signature snark and sass (they are both in abundance here) and her ability to create distinctive worlds. Adjust expectations for a different structure and rhythm than usual, and enjoy.