The Goodbye Café
Book 3 of The Hudson Sisters Series
By Mariah Stewart
Read by Joy Osmanski
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
(March 26, 2019)
Runtime: 13 hours and 42 minutes
I voluntarily reviewed an “reader’s” copy of this audio book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
From Mariah Stewart, New York Times bestselling author of The Chesapeake Diaries series, comes the next book in her popular Hudson Sisters series, which follows a trio of reluctant sisters who set out to fulfill their father’s dying wish and discover themselves in the process in this “sweet reminder of the importance of family” (First for Women).
California girl Allie Hudson Monroe can’t wait for the day when the renovations on the Sugarhouse Theater are complete so she can finally collect the inheritance from her father and leave Pennsylvania. After all, her life and her fourteen-year-old daughter are in Los Angeles.
But Allie’s divorce left her tottering on the edge of bankruptcy, so to keep up on payments for her house and her daughter’s private school tuition, Allie packed up and flew out east. But fate has a curve-ball or two to toss in Allie’s direction—she just doesn’t know it yet.
She hadn’t anticipated how her life would change after reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, or meeting her previously unknown half-sister, Cara. And she’d certainly never expected to find small-town living charming. But the biggest surprise was that her long-forgotten artistry would save the day when the theater’s renovation fund dried up.
With opening day upon the sisters, Allie’s free to go. But for the first time in her life, she feels like the woman she was always meant to be. Will she return to the West Coast and resume her previous life, or will the love of “this amazing, endearing family of women” (Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author) be enough to draw her back to the place where the Hudson roots grow so deep? https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Goodbye-Cafe/Mariah-Stewart/The-Hudson-Sisters-Series/9781508285564
This is a pretty clean romance novel. There may be a few words of the four-letter variety but no more than you would hear normally in a PG-13 movie. But there is less steam than there is in an R-Rated movie. That is not to say the book is not entertaining, uplifting, timely, and even meaningful.
I like how this particular story focuses on Allie, the queen bitch of the series. Through interaction with her sisters, the way her 14, almost 15 year-old daughter Nikki, adapts and thrives in her new family situation, and by finding meaningful expression and appreciation Allie is becoming a kinder gentler person. She has also curtailed her dependence on alcohol and doesn’t see herself as a victim anymore.
A snarky, bitchy Allie however provided a certain tension, so it’s a good thing she has maintained a sense of humor and remains a fierce mother-bear.
The sisters have been working for six months to fulfill the conditions of their father’s will which has required them to renovate a theater owned by the Hudson family. What is weird is how their father managed his life and kept his kids from other family. The story is a little idealistic: A dysfunctional family becoming all hunky dory in the space of 6 months under the contrivance of a forced situation. The anachronistic, hunky dory, Mayberry RFD-ishness of the series, has been the hardest aspect of the book. It feels like the 1960s or 1950s were yesterday.
This book has it’s own storylines, but those include, and help tie-up, previous story lines. The introduction of new characters into the series allows the possibility of future books or a spin-off. The timeliness involves an important part of the plot with Nicki. It felt correct in time and place. There are also some plot twists I did not see coming, but which enhance the story.
The romances in the story are also still there and pretty much everyone but Allie is in love at he start of the story. I cannot recall if any of the previous books were steamier, but this one is short in the steam department; you can read it pretty much anywhere and give it to anyone.
Osmanski does a good job with the voices, accents and emotional content. Since she has narrated the series it feels like she belongs with it.
This is series is best read in order. There is a lot of backstory and even if the facts of it were related the emotional impact would be lost.
If you want an uplifting, feel good novel; a nice beach read. It’s bit out of time and place but I enjoyed it. I actually felt this is the best book in the series because it brings about a real change in a character who needed personal growth.