So I ended up enjoying this first book so much I went and bought books #2 and #3 and finished them this weekend. I love books that go back to either the same character over time and or the same community and you get to follow up with characters. "Rainy Day Sisters" is the first book in the Hartley-by-the-Sea series by Kate Hewitt.
"Rainy Day Sisters" follows two main characters, half sisters Juliet and Lucy. Juliet is older than Lucy by about 10 years I think. Juliet and Lucy are not close. Their famous artist mother, Fiona, moved to Boston more than two decades ago with Lucy and left Juliet behind to fend for herself. Lucy is going through a terrible time after a horrible review (written by her own mother) comes out in the press before her first gallery showing. Juliet offers her a place to stay in Hartley where she can lick her wounds and hide for a bit. Problem is that Juliet almost wishes Lucy gone as soon as she arrives. Both sisters definitely have a lot to learn about each other.
I honestly loved both characters so much while reading this. Juliet is reluctant to let anyone in. When your mother tells you she never wanted you and does her best to not acknowledge your existence it's hard. And Juliet is resentful from all of the love she sees that Fiona gave Lucy when she was a child that she never got. Juliet is running a bed and breakfast and has her two shelter dogs and she thinks that may be enough. When Lucy comes to stay a lot of old wounds for her open up.
Lucy is reeling from her mother's betrayal as well as the ultimatum she gave her boyfriend blowing up in her face. Getting a temporary job at the local school should help Lucy keep things together, however, she finds herself crushing on the head of the school who makes Mr. Darcy look downright pleasant.
I loved the conversations that Juliet and Lucy eventually have. It takes a while for them to open up to each other though so don't expect things to just be fantastic a few chapters in. I think Hewitt did a good job showing how hard it would be to connect to someone you don't really know, but are expected to be close to due to blood ties.
The secondary characters were great. We are introduced to Rachel Campbell (she's one of the characters in book #2) in this one along with the love interests that I really did enjoy. We get introduced to many people in this one that are followed up in books #2 and #3.
I really enjoyed the writing and the flow of the book. Each chapter alternates between Juliet and Lucy. We also get some of the characters using Cumbrian words/dialect like areet for are you all right? I wish that we had more of that in this book with maybe a dictionary in the back, but for the most part you definitely got the gist of what people were saying.
Hartley-by-the-Sea is a pretty cool setting. It's a lake district in Northern England. Most of the townspeople have known each other for years and you get to read about the prior history of some of the residents that gets followed up in subsequent books.
I really loved this ending. Hewitt could have made it schmaltzy, but refrained. She was quite realistic that both sisters relationship was not going to magically get better. If you have a terrible mother through your childhood, chances are she's still going to be terrible when you're an adult as well.