Life is meant to be savored, but that’s not easy with no family, limited prospects and a past you’d rather not talk about. Still, Callie Smith doesn’t know how to feel when she discovers she has a brother and a sister–Malcolm, who grew up with affection, wealth and privilege, and Keira, a streetwise twelve-year-old. Callie doesn’t love being alone, but at least it’s safe. Despite her trepidation, she moves into the grand family home with her siblings and grandfather on the shores of Lake Washington, hoping just maybe this will be the start of a whole new life.
But starting over can be messy. Callie and Keira fit in with each other, but not with their posh new lifestyle, leaving Malcolm feeling like the odd man out in his own home. He was clever enough to turn a sleepy Seattle mail-order food catalog into an online gourmet powerhouse, yet he can’t figure out how to help his new sisters feel secure. Becoming a family will take patience, humor, a little bit of wine and a whole lot of love. But love isn’t Malcolm’s strong suit…until a beautiful barista teaches him that an open heart, like the family table, can always make room for more.
In this emotional, funny and heartfelt story, Susan Mallery masterfully explores the definition of a modern family—blended by surprise, not by choice—and how those complicated relationships can add unexpected richness to life.
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (July 10, 2018)
I have only read a few of Susan Mallery books (this is the last one I reviewed) and they are generally feel-good books that are perfect for summer reading. Heavier subjects are touched on, but ultimately they are about love, friendship, family, and relationships. When We Found Home follows suit with the story of three half-siblings Malcolm, Callie, and Keira who are brought together by their grandfather--each looking for love and acceptance. The trio grew up differently with Malcolm brought into the fold as a pre-teen and then Callie--who needs a fresh start after a big mistake, and Keira--a twelve-year-old in foster care, are discovered later (after their deadbeat, woman-in-every-port father passes away and Grandfather Alberto learns of their existence).
The book is set in Seattle, where the family owns Alberto's Alfresco, a successful high-end food distribution company that Malcolm runs, along with his best friend Santiago who is the company's CFO. In the building that houses the company's headquarters is a coffee bar with an attractive part-time barista named Delaney, a former finance executive who is now pursuing a new life by becoming a Naturopath after losing her fiance. Malcolm is attracted, Keira be-friended, and Delaney's story is a big focus of the book, both her own story and her romance with Malcolm. Callie and Santiago are a second potential couple and they, Keira, Grandfather Alberto, and his housekeeper (and perhaps more) Carmen make up the rest of the main and secondary characters. The romances are fine (although Callie and Santiago seemed a bit too insta-love to me), but it is in the family dynamics, the building relationships between the siblings, and the second chances for characters that are seeking and/or hurting that When We Found Home excels.
There is good humor--especially from Keira and poignant moments (also many from Keira) that made the book enjoyable and made me care about the characters. There are no big surprises here, but a heartwarming and uplifting story that drew me in with the Seattle and somewhat foodie setting. The 400+ pages were enjoyable from start to finish and I think anyone who likes family dynamics, romance, and second chance and start-again books will like this one.
Author Notes: #1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives-family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages. Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at SusanMallery.com.
Connect with Susan on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
Susan Mallery books never seem to have a shortage of food in them and with the family being food purveyors there were plenty of food mentions that included coffee and espresso, pasta--rotini and fusilli, marinara sauce, macrons, biscotti, cinnamon rolls, jelly donuts, and a children's party offering of PB & J sandwiches, carrot, cucumber and celery sticks, organic apple juice, punch, mac-n-cheese, mini hot dogs made into cars with tomato and cucumber wheels, There was oatmeal, poached eggs and fruit, an antipasto plate, cookies, steak, dark chocolate, expensive hot cocoa mix and mixes for minestrone soup and spicy sangria (from the food company's gift baskets), macadamia pancakes with bacon and fresh fruit, sandwiches, brownies, pizza and salad, tea with scones and tea sandwiches, wine, Dr. Pepper, chocolate cake, brandy, stuffed mushrooms, prime rib, mashed potatoes, and cheesecake, puff pastry appetizers, Cosmos, Shrimp & Crab Louie and BLT salads, mini mushroom quiches, salmon, potato casserole, martinis, egg and sausage sandwiches, chocolate croissants, Mexican food, and ice cream with chocolate sauce.
In determining what to make for my book-inspired dish, I considered the two recipes in the back of the book--Shrimp with Lemon Linguine and Triple Chocolate Biscotti Brownies, but neither really fit my current eating habits and gluten-limiting. I decided to go with the macadamia pancakes that Carmen serves for breakfast with bacon "and a lovely little fruit garnish." I wasn't going to have the bacon and gluten-limiting seems not to fit pancakes, but then I thought of the 2-ingredient, gluten-free banana-egg pancakes I make sometimes (like here, or this peanut butter variation). A new friend (Kamala of KamalaWellness) just posted a pic of egg & banana pancakes with chia seeds on Instagram and I thought they looked delicious, and it would be easy to add chopped macadamia nuts to the banana, egg, and chia seed mix. I was going to use maple syrup with fresh fruit and chopped mac nuts to top my pancakes, but I thought I'd play around with the container of coconut sugar I had in the pantry and make a quick coconut simple syrup instead.
Macadamia Nut, Chia Seed & Banana Pancakes with Fruit & Coconut Syrup
Adapted & added to from The Kitchn
(Makes About 6 pancakes)
2 medium-ish ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp chopped macadamia nuts (I used roasted)
dash of vanilla
large pinch of cinnamon
coconut oil for pan
coconut syrup (recipe below) and chopped mac nuts, fresh blueberries and other fruit as desired to serve
Mash the peeled banana with a fork until no large lumps remain and stir in egg until well-combined. Add chia seeds, mac nuts, vanilla and cinnamon and whisk until it forms a slightly loose, liquid-y batter. Let sit for about 10 minutes so chia seeds gel a little which helps hold the pancakes together.
When ready to cook, heat pan or griddle over medium heat and add a small amount of coconut oil to prevent sticking. When pan is hot, drop about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan--if it doesn't sizzle slightly, turn up heat.
Cook until the bottom of the pancake looks golden brown when you lift a side--about 1 minute or so. The edges should also be looking set but the middle will still be a bit loose.
Carefully lift the pancake by gently working a thin spatula about halfway underneath the pancake, and carefully turning over to the other side. If any loose batter spills when you turn the pancake, lay the pan cake on top of the spill and move any excess back under the pancake. Cook the pancake for another minute or so until it is golden brown on each side--flipping back and forth as needed to get them evenly browned.
Set pancake aside (keep warm) and cook remaining batter/pancakes.
Serve immediately while warm with coconut syrup, fresh blueberries or other favorite toppings.
Coconut Simple Syrup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1/2 cup)
1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
Place the coconut sugar and water into a small sauce pan and bring to a light boil, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes--until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture starts to thicken.
Remove pan from heat and allow to cool and thicken. Use warm, or store in a glass jar in the fridge.
Notes/Results: I was happy with both the pancakes and the syrup. The pancakes have a nice texture with the addition of the chia seeds (which also some extra protein, fiber and Omega 3-s) and the macadamia nuts. The chia seeds give the pancakes a poppy seed-like texture which I like and they, along with keeping the pancakes on the smaller size, hold things together pretty well. I know not everyone likes bananas, but if you do and you are looking for a paleo-friendly or gluten-free pancake option, these are winners. The syrup has a toasty coconut and molasses-like flavor that worked well with the pancakes and fresh fruit--I used blueberries, raspberries and diced pineapple, as well as the dry roasted mac nuts on top. Eat them for breakfast or for a satisfying dinner, as I did. I will happily make both the pancakes and the syrup again.
I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.
When We Found Home is my Sixth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the July 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.
The publisher is doing a fun tour-wide giveaway for this book with a great foodie prize pack:
This Taste of Seattle Gift Bag includes:
- An “I [Heart] Happy Books” tote bag
- Starbucks Pike’s Place ground coffee
- Seattle Chocolates gift set (3 truffle bars)
- Cucina Fresca marinara sauce
- Sahale Snacks (6 packs)
- Maury Island Farms jam (2 jars)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: A review copy of "When We Found Home" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.