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August 6, 2015

Sisterhood + Paper Routes: The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak
Fairham Island 1
Romance | Mystery
Mira
July 28, 2014

Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these years? Why?

After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the North Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who’s asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother she escaped years ago.

Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone else she’d prefer to avoid—Rafe Romero, the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at sixteen. He’s back on the island, and to her surprise, he’s raising a young daughter alone. Maisey’s still attracted to him, but her heart’s too broken to risk…

Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers a box of photographs that evoke distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must’ve been their sister, but their mother claims there was no sister.

Maisey’s convinced that child existed. So where is she now?



Sisterhood of the Newspaper Route


I have three older sisters (and had one older brother) and plenty of stories I could tell about when we were growing up, but we were definitely not a Leave it to Beaver type of family. There was a lot of contention in our home, which is probably why I remember this one incident so fondly. It happened with the sister closest to me in age. 


Debra was tall and skinny (nearly six feet in middle school), which drew quite a bit of attention. Some of it was positive and—you know how kids can be—some of it was negative. Back then a tall girl wasn’t quite as admired as she would be today, so Debra was the victim of some name-calling—Daddy Long Legs, Big Bird, etc. When she got a little older, she became very beautiful and popular and was called Twiggy after the model of the same name, but she had it a little rough before the blossoming. I tell you this so you can get an accurate mental picture of her and me. We have the same mother but not the same father, so I didn’t inherit her “tall” genes. I’m 5’6”, which isn’t short, but being three years younger in addition to not having the same genes made me quite a bit shorter when we were growing up.

When I was ten and she was thirteen, we were offered the opportunity to deliver papers by a friend of my mother's. Excited by what we could earn, we signed on to deliver two hundred newspapers each. On the first day of our paper route, we each received a canvas bag filled with the papers, and because we were too young to drive and the place where we were supposed to deliver was pretty far away, my mother dropped us off.

It was summertime in Chandler, Arizona (just outside of Phoenix). I don’t remember how hot it was exactly. I just remember that it was HOT, and Debra and I could barely stand up beneath the weight of those gigantic bags. We didn’t have any water with us, either (that would never happen in this day and age, right? LOL), so it didn’t take long before we were really struggling. We became so terribly thirsty that we even tried to drink out of a puddle because we were too afraid to knock on a stranger’s door! And yet we kept pushing forward--until I could no longer go on. At that point, Debra said, “Let me take your bag.” She slung it over her tall, willowy body opposite the one she already carried and literally staggered beneath the weight as we moved from house to house, where I would run each paper up to the door so she wouldn’t have to walk any more than necessary.

For all of you who are now thirsty, and waiting for me to say we got a drink--my mother returned before too long, and she had some cold Gatorade in the car. It was the first time in my life I’d ever tried Gatorade, and I don’t think anything has ever tasted so good. The only thing sweeter was the self-sacrificing act of my older sister. :-)

I think observing and experiencing the complex relationships in my own family prepared me to write characters who aren’t overly idealized. Maisey’s family in THE SECRET SISTER isn’t a Leave it to Beaver type of family either. But there aren’t a lot of us who’ve had perfect lives. Most people can relate, so when I saw a Dateline episode that featured a sister and a brother with dim memories of a sibling their mother denied ever existed—I knew I’d just hit upon the idea for my next story.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Tea and cucumber sandwiches, anyone?
Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts



New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she’s won The National Reader’s Choice, The Bookseller’s Best, The Bookbuyer’s Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com. To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.


Follow Brenda
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43 comments:

  1. I have one younger sister and one older brother. I'm close to both, but more my sister since I get to see her more. Our childhood was filled with some fun times as well a lot of hard ones. My sister suffered from epilepsy (that's what the docs said back then) so she stayed in the hospital a lot and my mom never left her side. Now, as adults, she is battling an neurological/autoimmune disease and my mom isn't here to be with her and I'm filling that role. I think siblings, especially sisters, are great to have and the moments spent together should be cherished. I'm adding this one to my list and it'll be my first Novak read!

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    1. Oh wow, thanks for sharing that here, Lekeisha. You and your family are warriors, you're sister is lucky she has all of you.

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    2. Your sister is so lucky to have you. You are obviously a wonderful sister! Thanks for adding my book to you TBR. I can't wait to hear if you like it!

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  2. Awww that's a sweet story :) The Secret Sister sounds like an interesting read. Adding it to my TBR :)

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    1. I love it when these authors get personal with their guest posts.

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    2. Thanks so much, Lily! I'm excited that you're going to give my book a try!

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  3. Wow Braine, well this will definitely make this particular novel climb higher on my tbr pile. I have an arc from the publisher. What a premise. I love Brenda's novels and I think this will be another hit!
    thanks for the contest and the great post!

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    1. I hope you enjoy the novel!

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    2. Debbie, I really hope you enjoy it--and thanks for your support of my work in the past. :-)

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  4. Had this on my TBR pile for a while - huge Novak fan.

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    1. Heather, you're awesome! Thanks for your tremendous support!

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    1. Did you join the giveaway? Good luck, Jodi!

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    2. I hope you'll give it a shot, Jodi!

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  6. I had a paper route as a kid but luckily it was in my neighborhood so if I got that thirsty I could run home! I am the oldest of 5 kids and the next below is 5 years younger and a boy. So I wasn't very close to my siblings until we became adults. I was more of a parental figure since my parents worked and I was home with them. I agree that most families aren't a Leave it to Beaver kind, but I guess we deal with what we get.

    Thanks for hosting a tour stop Braine!

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    1. You sound like you gave them a good example, Candace.

      Thank you for the invite ;)

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    2. We definitely had different experiences, since I was the youngest. Sounds like you were a big part of your dynamic. And you're right--we deal with what we've got. :-)

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  7. Thanks so much for hosting me!

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    1. Thank you for sharing that personal anecdote with us :)

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  8. What a lovely, personal post! A pleasure to read her thoughts. I'll check out the book :)

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    1. Thanks, Ramona! I hope you really enjoy the story!

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  9. Great guest post! I love her big sister's act of love!
    Thanks so much for sharing this and the giveaway!

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    1. Thanks, Kindlemom. Hope you enjoy THE SECRET SISTER!

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  10. An amazing story and a lovely unselfish act by Debra. Love the book and brag about you at every opportunity. Thanks for sharing a special piece of your childhood.

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    1. You are the sweetest, Anna-Marie. Thank you for your fabulous support of me and my work. So glad you enjoyed the Debra anecdote. :-)

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  11. An amazing story and a lovely unselfish act by Debra. Love the book and brag about you at every opportunity. Thanks for sharing a special piece of your childhood.

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    1. You are wonderful, Anna-Marie. Thank you for your support. XO

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  12. Ooh, a mystery. A sister that may or not be...alive. Did the mother kill her? Did the girl die and the mother just doesn't want to remember her? Maybe she sold her for money? lol Sounds interesting.

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    1. Mary, I hope you're going to give it a shot. Would love to hear what you think of the story.

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  13. Novak is another author I have yet to try

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    1. What? Are you trying to break my heart? (Kidding--but I saw we remedy that ASAP. LOL)

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  14. I loved the story The Secret Sister, Braine! I thought it was realistically and well done, and I loved the characters - flaws, ugliness and all... The mystery kept me on my toes until the very end, too. My review will be up on Monday, so stay tuned ;)
    Happy reading!!

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. I forgot to say that I loved that hungry hearts quote, Braine... Josephine was making my eyes roll pretty hard most of the times she showed up... and at the same time, at that instant, I could understand here - put the food on your plate, sit down, and THEN eat it!! ;)

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    2. Lexxie, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed THE SECRET SISTER. Yay! Can't wait to read your review!

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  15. Love the story. funny how things impact us like that.

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  16. I haven't read this story, but have been a fan of Brenda Novak for years and she's so down to earth. Every one of her novels has something interesting to say and this one sounds right on point. Mystery and romance in a novel is always wonderful. I love the real life story that goes with it, too. Thanks for the post and big hugs...Ro

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    1. Hi RO--

      Thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate your support of me and my career--and I hope you get the chance to try this particular story. Would love to hear what you think of it. XOXO

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  17. *ha* I was just telling stories of my childhood to my children this morning. I'm the oldest, having a younger brother. But I have an uncle who is just 7 years older than me and we lived close to my grandparents, and him, so I essentially had an older brother...in all that that implies. :) I loved The Secret Sister and am a big fan of yours, Ms. Novak. Thanks for sharing a little something of your childhood.

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    1. Meaning he drove you nuts, Brandee? LOL I'm so glad you enjoyed THE SECRET SISTER. Thanks for your nice comments. It was fun to reminisce with you. :-)

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  18. I'm an only child and I was always fine with that until recently. Now that I'm older and my parents aren't around anymore it would be nice to have someone with shared memories of childhood.

    I do have my husbands four sisters around though so that helps. They treat me like one of their own :-)

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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  19. This is on my list, reviews have been wonderful and I have enjoyed other books by Brenda. Thanks for sharing!

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