I always find that reading a good book, a really good book, is like finding a friend who understands you and takes you on a mental journey of discoveries and wonder. My love for reading began at such a young age that my parents at that time would practically have to force me to go outside to play. I would rather sit on the floor with fluffy pillows around me and immerse myself completely in the book I was reading than run around with other kids playing games. And while I tend to read certain genres I will from time to time pick up a book from a genre I don’t necessarily read from. I think it’s important to expand one’s horizon when it comes to learning and reading books and when you find a new author to add to your favorites list, books make life even more enjoyable.
As a Net Galley blogger, I was given the opportunity to review and help promote Mariah Stewart’s newest book, The Last Chance Matinee. Award-winning and bestseller author Mariah Stewart’s newest series begins with The Last Chance Matinee and the Hudson Sisters series and chronicles the delicate lives of three sisters – two by pure blood relation, the other a half sister through an unknown and hidden relationship by their father. And that’s the only thing the three sisters have in common with each other – the bond through their father. Cara, Allie, and Des couldn’t be more different if they tried and that’s what the reader is led to believe from the beginning. But as I read through the chapters and slowly became immersed into the worlds of the Hudson sisters, it became apparent that the three siblings are actually more similar than they themselves believe. And as any siblings who rarely got along while growing up let alone finding out a total stranger is related to you, there are challenges and hurdles and lots and lots of hurt feelings. But as the author takes us through each of the sister’s lives, we find that they are discovering each other as each layer of their private lives get peeled away slowly and delicately. Through an unexpected and sad knowledge the sisters learn about the secrets of their father and the intricate lives of the Hudson empire. And the aftermath of the secret leads the sisters on a journey of self discovery, friendship, and loyalty.
Here’s my personal take on the book:
This is my first time reading a book by Mariah Stewart as contemporary women’s fiction is not usually a genre I will read, but will from time to time pick up a good book if it captures my interest. Well, I can honestly say I understand why Ms. Stewart was a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her book, The Last Chance Matinee draws you in immediately from the first paragraph as you’re thrust into the diverse lives of Cara, Allie, and Des. Cara seems to be the major component in this first series as the writer tends to put her foremost throughout the story. I’d like to think it is because Cara is the child from a “secret” marriage or not-quite-marriage since their father was still married to Des and Allie’s mom at that time.
To me, Cara seemed to be more of the forgiving one out of all the three sisters. Although she went through a painful divorce with a cheating ex-husband, she was brought up with unconditional love and nonconformity as the daughter of a free-spirited “hippie” mom. Des is Allie’s younger sister and was a child actor who made fame and fortune at a very young age. Allie though, was my favorite sister out of all the three because she was misunderstood and outcasted in a way by her rich friends from her previous marriage. She had a teenage daughter who adored her but was growing apart as I suppose many teenage girls would eventually. And it’s because the three sisters were quite different in personality and values was what made the book interesting from the start. It was a joy to discover the ticks of the sisters, what they went through individually and what they’ll go through together towards the end of the book.
The synopsis of the story is that Cara, Allie, and Des are bound together for some time until their father’s will is fulfilled to the letter. Sent to the quaint town of Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, the sisters must unify to restore a decades old movie theater that had been quite the hot trend at that time. In order for the sisters to receive the generous estates left by their father, Fritz Hudson – who was a famous and wealthy talent agent – the siblings have to finish remodeling the old movie theater and bring it back to life before the reserved deposit for the remodel runs out. Having no experience in renovations or running a movie theater, the Hudson sisters must rely on each other as well as the kindness of the sleepy town of Pocono Mountains.
There is a bit of light romance and comedy throughout the book as each sister’s personality shines through – different in every way possible and yet very much alike in others. It’s through their mutual confusion and disbelief over the deception of their father’s secret marriage and secret child that at first separates them, but also inevitably bonds them in a way that siblings should do. The mystery of what their father did leads them to discover other mysteries of the Hudson empire as well. The Hudson’s was a founding family of the small town and had brought in much needed revenue and business for the growing yet tucked away suburb in the mountains. While I do love a good mystery, I did feel as though the author was dragging out the parts a bit but that’s just me, for if you’re going to involve mysteries into a story that’s not quite a mystery, it needs to have a big and shocking revelation that I never expected. Ofcourse that little drawback didn’t deter from reading the book. No, the entire book was engaging, intriguing, and the words flowed smoothly. The pacing was about right and one could tell that this book was written by an experienced writer.
The Last Chance Matinee is the first book in the series and I hope Ms. Stewart will write about Allie next. Something about her just drew me to her. Allie was deeply hurt and mistrusting but you did see her shine and soften when her daughter Nikki came to visit her and her sisters. Nikki, her teenage daughter was one of the bright spots in the story as was the sweet moment when Des rescued some stray dogs. While the sisters worked alongside each other to restore the old theater, it was Cara who discovered a deeper secret that connected her father to the town and certain residents at that time. What that secret was I’m assuming we’ll find out in the next installments.
The Last Chance Matinee is definitely one of those “feel good” kind of books. Although it’s listed as women’s fiction, I think it would be fine for anyone over age 16 to read. There aren’t any explicit contents in there and the pacing is engaging enough for young readers who want something that is light-hearted, has a bit of mystery, and some interesting sibling rivalry.
*You can order The Last Chance Matinee on Barnes and Noble’s website and Amazon. For direct links to purchase the book, click here for B&N. And click here for Amazon. And of course wherever books are sold. The book is released as of today so please go to either websites to read an excerpt of The Last Chance Matinee and pick up a copy for yourself. You will not be disappointed!
About The Last Chance Matinee:
When celebrated and respected agent Fritz Hudson passes away, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended tragically. As his relationship with Honora unraveled, Fritz was falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa Pratt—but, while Fritz loved Susa with everything he had and fathered daughter Cara with her, he never quite managed to come clean about his West Coast family.
Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had, one that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce; allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals; and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend—but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Will the sisters come together to turn their father’s dream into a reality—and will they come away with far more than they bargained for?
The Last Chance Matinee is published by Gallery Books an imprint of Simon & Schuster and is categorized under Contemporary Women’s Fiction.
Thank you to Net Galley and Gallery Books for the ARC of The Last Chance Matinee.
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