This is the third book this year that I expected to love, should have loved, but then didn't. As with [b:The Museum of Extraordinary Things|18144053|The Museum of Extraordinary Things|Alice Hoffman|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1392575125s/18144053.jpg|25491380], I had high hopes for this one. I mean, look at that cover! And it's about sisters! Sisters who have to find the brother they JUST found out existed after their father died and left them a letter saying, "Oh, by the way, girls, you have a brother. He lives in NYC. You should go find him." AND this takes place in the '20's! What is NOT to love?
I'll tell you what is not to love: Mira's need to get quick reads out fast. I've never been friends with this imprint, nor with Harlequin in general. I'm bothered by their willingness to sacrifice quality for the sake of a quick buck. I think that's why I was so surprised by [b:I'll Be Seeing You|16160079|I'll Be Seeing You|Suzanne Hayes|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1363049845s/16160079.jpg|18341426] - it was much better crafted than what I've come to expect from Mira.
This one, though, this was more along the lines of "Hit these marks and then get it on the shelves" which is unfortunate.
Here's what worked for me:
-The title page is gorgeous. I must have looked at it for a solid five minutes. It just struck me.
-The idea behind the story is awfully compelling.
-There are some honest, strong moments of self-realization in both Ivy and Rose.
But I kept getting hung up on so many other things.
-I never believed Rose and Ivy were sisters. They didn't feel related at all. I could have believed they were sisters-in-law...like maybe Ivy had been married to the brother instead of being his sister and maybe he'd left her and she went to find Rose for help and they didn't get along and this story was the result? I don't know but I never bought their relationship. None of the complexities or depths that you find in a love/hate sister relationship were there.
-The timeline. Everything happened so quickly that there was no buildup. Instalove, instacareer, instaacceptance, instaeverything. I couldn't see any character growth because there was no time for growth.
-Too many characters. This winds up being a plot-driven story though it should be character-driven. However, many of the characters are weak and most of them are unreliable so it's easier to focus on the end goal of the tale rather than the moments and people. Too often, the sisters seemed interchangeable which made their difficult sisterly relationship even harder to believe. Nell's personality shifted from chapter to chapter. I couldn't really grasp Sonny, Lawrence, Claudia, the rest of the Empire Girls, or even Cat who was probably the most fleshed-out. That just left the storyline and, in this case, it wasn't strong enough to carry my attention or affection.
While this was a disappointment to me because I'd had such high hopes, I can't say it's not worth reading. It really is an ok story; there are some lovely passages and pretty moments. If you're a skimming reader and not prone to break things down, this is a fast read. It's a good airplane or beach book and will have its own audience. I just can't be part of that group this time around.