I stumbled across Susan Mallery while browsing through my local library’s shelves and I picked up the first of the Marcelli sisters series. I was hooked and sped through the book, returning to the library only a few days later to pick up the remaining four books. While each book can stand on its own, I suggest that you read them in order since the series spans a number of years.
This series consists of five books: A trilogy about the oldest three sisters of the Marcelli family (The Sparkling One, The Sassy One, The Seductive One) and two companion books (The Marcelli Bride, The Marcelli Princess). They all take place in and around the family-owned vineyard, Marcelli Winery, located in California.
Book One (The Sparkling One) introduces you to the Marcelli family and concentrates on the oldest sister, Katie. Her family has begun to dispair that she will ever marry since the family tradition is to marry at 18 and she’s reached the ripe old age of 28 without a prospect in sight. Katie owns a small but successful party planning business and is waiting for her big break. It comes in the form of Zach Striker, a high-powered, high-priced divorce lawyer who hires her to plan the annual fund-raising party for his law firm. He’s not only highly successful and the youngest partner in the largest law firm in Los Angeles, but he’s also gorgeous and has a reputation of being a heartbreaker. Their initial meeting makes Katie’s heart flutter and other body parts react as well. Little does she know that Zach has an ulterior motive for hiring her for the job.
After leaving the meeting, she travels to the winery for a family dinner and is immediately accosted by the Grands, her Italian grandmother, Grandma Tessa and her Irish grandmother, Grammy M. She’s barely through the door before she’s being interrogated about her lovelife and in desperation, she mentions that she’s met a very handsome lawyer. The Grands take the news and run with it, already planning the wedding and reception, despite Katie’s attempts to downplay the whole thing. Luckily, her youngest sister, 18 year-old Mia makes an announcement that quickly puts Katie’s ‘new love’ on the back burner. Mia has just become engaged to 18 year-old David, a fellow UCLA student and the Grands are ecstatic. David and his father have been invited to join the family for dinner and wedding planning.
Things only become more embarrassing for Katie when she discovers that David’s father is Zach Striker and the Grands start matchmaking. Zach is adamantly opposed to the marriage, believing David and Mia are too young. He knows first-hand how difficult marriage can be at such a young age because he was married and a father at 17. When his wife left him shortly after David’s birth, he put himself through college and law school while raising David as a single parent. His own experience with marriage and his career as a successful divorce attorney make him too cynical to believe that David and Mia can make a go of it. While Katie doesn’t realize it at first, Zach hired her for the party planning, hoping he could get her on his side and convince his son and her sister to wait before marrying.
Since I don’t want to give too much away, I’ll simply tell you that everything works out to everyone’s satisfaction in the end.
Book Two in the series (The Sassy One) focuses on Francesca Marcelli. Francesca followed the family tradition and married at 18 in a double ceremony with her fraternal twin sister, Brenna. Five years into her marriage, she is widowed and since then she’s struggled to put herself through school, finally nearing the end of her Ph.D. program in psychology at the age of 27. During one of her ‘research experiments’ in which she’s disguised as an unattractive, very pregnant lady, she meets Sam Reese, the CEO of a very successful security company who also happens to be devastatingly handsome. After Francesca nearly faints because her blood sugar is low, Sam insists that she relax and eat something. During the course of their conversation, Francesca is forced to confess that she’s in disguise and is doing research for her Ph.D. Sam then invites her to dinner and she accepts because she’s very attracted to him and she hasn’t had a date in a very long time.
Life takes an unexpected turn for Sam when a 12 year-old girl shows up on his doorstep claiming to be his daughter. Sam was divorced years ago and, unbeknownst to him, his ex-wife was pregnant when she left him and never told him. Now she’s remarrying and has sent their daughter to live with him. Over the course of the book, Francesca helps Sam cope with his newfound daughter and responsibilities but they break up over a terrible misunderstanding.
Once again, I don’t want to give away the entire book but of course there’s a happy ending.
Book Three (The Seductive One) is about Brenna, the other twin. After being married for nearly ten years and working two jobs to put her husband through medical school, Brenna finds herself dumped for a younger woman and she struggles to rebuild her life. She’s the only one of the Marcelli children who’s shown interest in the winery and she begins running the operation. Unfortunately, Grandpa Lorenzo is adamant that she’ll never inherit the family business. Brenna decides that she’ll start her own winery and, after trying to get a million-dollar loan from the local banks, she turns to Nicholas Giovanni, the Marcelli’s next-door neighbor and owner of the Wild Sea Vineyards. Brenna and Nic had fallen in love before Brenna’s marriage but a family feud, dating back 60 years interfered with the two lovers. Nic has never forgotten Brenna but he has also vowed revenge against her and her family for hurting him. When Brenna asks for a loan, he sees another way to further his plan of buying Marcelli Winery and finally getting his revenge.
The story ends happily and the secret of the long-ago family feud is solved along with another secret being revealed.
The Marcelli Bride follows The Seductive One and tells the love story between the younger daughter of the President of the United States and a Navy SEAL. I can’t say more without giving away the story. The Marcelli Princess is the youngest sister, Mia’s story.
I liked every one of these books and enjoyed reading about the large, loving Marcelli family with all their quirks and interesting family traditions. If you’re looking for a fun series of books, I can definitely recommend these.