Readers' Favorite

May 20, 2021

The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery ~ an Excerpt

Once upon a time, when her dad married Sage’s mom, Daisy was thrilled to get a bright and shiny new sister. But Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.

The Stepsisters
May 2021; MIRA; 978-0778331803
audio, ebook, print (416 pages); romance
Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts—she had to go back a grade to enroll in the fancy rich-kid school. So she used her popularity as a weapon, putting Daisy down to elevate herself. After the divorce, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final, improbable straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled California.

Eighteen years, two kids and one troubled marriage later, Daisy never expects—or wants—to see Sage again. But when the little sister they have in common needs them both, they put aside their differences to care for Cassidy. As long-buried truths are revealed, no one is more surprised than they when friendship blossoms.

Their fragile truce is threatened by one careless act that could have devastating consequences. They could turn their backs on each other again…or they could learn to forgive once and for all and finally become true sisters of the heart.


“You about ready?” she asked as she stepped into Ben’s room. He was dressed for soccer and holding a backpack.
“Did I pick the right stuff?” he asked, sounding worried. “Dad said to bring clothes for after practice.”
Her stomach lurched. It had already started—the changes in their routine. What next?
She pushed worry away and smiled at her son. “I’m sure you did fine, but I’m happy to check. The thing is, kiddo, you’re going to be what? Twenty minutes away? You can swing by if you forgot anything.”
He visibly relaxed at her words. “You’re right. I forgot.” 
“That’s why you have me.”
She looked inside the backpack. He’d put in athletic shoes, socks, jeans, underwear and a clean T-shirt.
“Perfection,” she told him, ruffling his hair. “Let’s add a couple of bottles of water so you stay hydrated. Remember, if you start to feel woozy or lightheaded, tell Coach. I let him know you’re getting over the flu, so you might not be a hundred percent.”
“I’m not going to faint, Mom.” His tone indicated he found the concept both interesting and horrifying.
“Best if you don’t.”
They went downstairs to where Krissa was in the family room, both dogs stretched out beside her as she carefully tied a large hat on Sheba. Lucky already sported a black bowler hat on his head, giving him a jaunty look. When he spotted Daisy, he gave her a long-suffering look that seemed to say, “Kids. What are you gonna do?”
Daisy smiled at her patient dogs before calling Krissa. “Let’s get going.”
Krissa carefully kissed each dog on the nose, then got up and walked toward her brother.
“Mommy, is Daddy going to remember we need to eat lunch?” Krissa asked.
“I’m sure he will, but you are welcome to remind him.”
“Okay. Can we go somewhere fun?”
“That’s between you two and your dad. I’m sure he wants you to have a good time so if you have somewhere special in mind, you should ask.”
She collected two bottles of water from the refrigerator and put them in an outside pocket of the backpack before opening a drawer and pulling out a cell phone. She waved it.
“I’m trusting you two with this.” 
Krissa’s eyes widened. “The family cell phone?” Her tone was reverent.
Being given the sacred family cell phone was a big deal. Daisy had resisted the pressure to let her kids have their own phones. She and Jordan had agreed that twelve was plenty old enough to get a phone and their children weren’t going to be allowed to have their own social media accounts until they were fourteen.
This being Los Angeles, they were driven everywhere, their school had a security system that rivaled any top-secret military installation, and when they were home, it was a good time to decompress. Cell phones seemed irrelevant.
“Just for the day,” Daisy said, putting it into an inner pocket of the backpack and zipping it closed. “If something happens, you can reach me or Esmerelda.”
Not that she expected anything to happen, but then she hadn’t expected her husband of nearly twelve years to move out, either.
She got the kids into the car. The dealership had fixed some electrical problem and now her car was driving just fine. The detail department had done a great job getting rid of the vomit smell, for which she was incredibly grateful.
She drove to the soccer field, finding one of the last parking places. After giving her a hug good-bye, Ben raced over to join his team while Daisy got Krissa settled on the bleachers, the backpack at her feet. About fifteen minutes later, Jordan approached.
“Can you wait here for a second while I go talk to your dad?” she asked Krissa. “I won’t be long.”
Krissa nodded, more interested in what was happening on the field than in what the grown-ups might be talking about. Daisy walked over to meet her husband, careful to keep them out of earshot of the other parents. 
“There’s a change of clothes for Ben in the backpack,” she said, pointing to where Krissa was sitting. “If you could help him remember it, I’d appreciate that.”
It was only after she spoke that she thought maybe she should have offered some kind of greeting before jumping into the logistics of the handoff.
“I can do that,” he said easily. “I’ll have them back by five this afternoon.”
She nodded. “Krissa wants to go somewhere fun for lunch. With her, that could mean anything.”
He smiled. “I’ll consider myself prepared.”
They stared at each other, then glanced away. Daisy had no idea what else she was supposed to say, or even what she wanted to say. He’d moved out without warning, they hadn’t talked about it once and now he was in an extended-stay hotel. Shouldn’t there be at least one thing for them to talk about?
Worse, she had no idea how she felt. She usually alternated between confused, scared and furious, but seeing him left her feeling only hollow and numb.
“I told Ben to let Coach know if he starts to not feel well,” she added. “It’s only been a few days since he was sick. Oh, and there are a couple of bottles of water in the backpack. He needs to stay hydrated.”
Jordan shoved his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. “Anything else?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Then I’ll see you later.”
The obvious dismissal cracked the wall she’d built around her emotions and they all came flooding out. Mad seemed to be winning but terror was right there behind. Didn’t he miss her? Didn’t their life matter to him?
“Jordan,” she began, only to stop when he shook his head. 
“Not now,” he said quietly, a pleading tone in his voice. “Can we please not do this now?”
“Then when?”
He turned and headed for the bleachers. Krissa waved to him and pointed to the empty seat beside her. Jordan joined her and gave her a hug, then they both turned to watch the game. Daisy walked toward her car.
Once inside, she stared unseeingly out the windshield. Her stomach was a mess and her head hurt and she had no idea how to fix whatever was wrong in her marriage. Even more unsettling, she couldn’t even begin to define the problems, which should probably be the first step. Was it her? Was it him? Had they accidentally created something toxic? How did anyone get through such a rough patch in a relationship?
She only had questions and absolutely no answers. More frightening than that was a nagging sense that she might be the only one searching for a solution and if that was true, could there even be a way back? 

Buy The Stepsisters at  Amazon

Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up today! Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


  1. I'm so excited to read this one! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  2. I am also on this excerpt tour (post goes up tomorrow) and I think the book sounds really good.