July 10, 2018
Standalone Women's Fiction
Becoming a family will take patience, humor, a little bit of wine and a whole lot of love.
After life knocked Delaney Holbrook sideways, she didn’t get down—she got busy. She went back to school, determined to reinvent herself. She even swore off men in suits. But then one particular man in one very fine suit proves too tempting to resist—Malcolm Carlesso, CEO of a family-owned food company. Malcolm’s life has been complicated by the arrival of two half sisters he’s never met…and isn’t sure he wants around. How can Delaney trust a man who keeps his own sisters at such a distance?
Alone in the world, Callie Smith never expected to find a family. Suddenly she’s living in a house the size of a small country with her stuffy and aloof new brother and streetwise sister, wondering whether this place—and these people—will ever feel like home. Just as she’s beginning to get settled, a new opportunity presents itself, daring her to dream of more…until her past threatens to take it all away.
Friends brought together by chance, Delaney and Callie will soon discover the closest families are bonded by choice—not by blood—in this uplifting story from the consistently unputdownable Susan Mallery.
"Best-selling romance author Mallery presents a heartwarming stand-alone novel about a family brought together under unusual circumstances... a compelling contemporary fairy tale that culminates in a satisfyingly happy ending. Readers will snap up this escapist summer read."
"A lovely work of fiction about the complexity of family relationships, what it takes to make lasting connections, and overcoming past insecurities and issues, When We Found Home was wonderfully touching and absolutely heartwarming...Tender and poignant, but with some lighthearted scenes that will make a reader smile ear to ear"
"The exploration of complex family dynamics is really the heart of this novel...the perfect blend of lightness and depth, plenty of heart and humor but also intrigue and even a light mystery too."
"[H]eartwarming...will appeal to readers who enjoy the intricacies of family drama."
"This story is about three broken people who are thrown thrown together because of DNA and end up finding the family they need. This is a wonderful story about family that I highly recommend."
From the TBR Pile
When We Found Home has won the Fresh Fiction Award in the Women's Fiction category! This award was voted on by thousands of readers.
"I totally and absolutely without a doubt got lost in this book...in the BEST way possible...I found myself hanging on to every word, every sentence, every feeling."
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
"When We Found Home was such a beautiful story of family, second chances and a little bit of sweet romance."
Jen's Book Obsession
5 Paws Up! "Another book by this author I could not put down! I loved the family dynamics..."
"Dear Ms. Mallery...I want to come out of [a book] full of warm fuzzies, wearing a huge smile, and bursting with joy. Your book gave that to me, and I really couldn’t have asked for much more than that."
4.5 Stars "This is a story of finding out who one truly is and what is most important in life. It is about family and friends and trust and caring and sharing and expectations (personal and external) and well…just a great book that was difficult to put down."
5 Stars! "I know when I start a Susan Mallery novel I am in for some awesomeness, but I When We Found Home could be one of my favorites from her ever...I am always amazed with the amount of depth that Susan packs into her novels...a fantastic blend of romance and women’s fiction and is a total standalone."
Steph and Chris's Book Reviews
"When We Found Home is a heartfelt and uplifting novel of new beginnings. The siblings’ attempts to navigate their new relationships are realistic and the problems they encounter ring true. The romantic relationships are beautifully incorporated into the storyline and add to the various characters’ growth. Old and new fans of Susan Mallery will greatly enjoy this charming story of healing."
Book Reviews and More by Kathy
"I love that I can count on Mallery to write books that have dynamic characters that make me feel and great plots that make me think . . . When We Found Home was one of my favorite books she has written so far. A great summer read!"
Mrs. Mommy Book Nerd
Escape Rating: A- "When We Found Home had just the right amount of fun and froth while having a bit of meat on its bones and plenty of heart...They do a lot of self-examination, they lift each other up, and they figure out that they are a family after all. And that’s how they earn their happily ever after."
"Yet another fantastic stand-alone novel by Susan Mallery! When We Found Home is an engaging story about finding one’s self through a blended family and unexpected friendships... Every character in this novel is well-developed and has their own interesting narrative."
Sunshine and Reading
5 Stars! "An amazing story about the power of family and friendship."
TBR Book Blog
5 Stars! "Top shelf entertainment...well paced and adroitly plotted while equally balanced with levity and heart-squeezes."
Books and Bindings
"A quick and enjoyable read...I really enjoyed watching this new family become more than just a family by name but also a family who loved and cared for one another."
Not in Jersey
5 Stars "A great romantic read."
"Susan Mallery explores relationships...so, so well...siblings, parent-child, romantic relationships, grandparent-grandchild, coworkers, and even the complicated relationships between staff and their bosses. There are also wonderful and complex friendships."
In the Hall of Books
"Susan Mallery's books never disappoint... This amazing story contains different kinds of love stories. Romantic and familial and I want more! If you enjoy a fast paced unique story that keeps you enthralled in the lives and loves of Malcolm, Keira and Callie, I highly recommend When We Found Home!"
Forget Housework, I'm Reading
"When We Found Home, is a touching story about second chances and blended families... three-half siblings learning to trust one another, grow emotionally, and become a family. This well-written and heartwarming tale is sprinkled with romance, forgiveness, and love."
"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... a heartwarming and uplifting story that drew me in with the Seattle and somewhat foodie setting."
"I know I'm biased because I am such a fan of Susan Mallery but I absolutely loved this book. It's such a great summer read, you'll find yourself flying through it like me!"
Stranded in Chaos
"When We Found Home is a pure delightful read!"
Cheryl's Book Nook
"These characters come together to form a family with a lot of issues, and the storylines are masterfully woven together...an excellent read and a fabulous book to take to the beach."
"What an incredibly well written story about family... This is a story of family and its power. And it is outstanding...a saga that is captivating and emotional and heartfelt and joyous, that you just don’t ever want it to end."
"Focusing on three half-siblings who share a father and don’t know each other exist, When We Found Home explores the meshing of strangers who are brought together by blood but must overcome distrust, broken hearts, abandonment to finally find common ground and become a true family... Susan Mallery brings the engaging story lines, humor, realistic dialogue and situations, as well as the emotional hits—and I enjoyed every minute spent reading this one."
"Oh Susan Mallery, as usual you gave me a feel good book with romance, family, and what we’ll do for the ones we love...With great supporting characters and some really sexy scenes, this book will make you feel good and is a great novel to bring along to the beach or the pool!"
Why Girls Are Weird
"Wow. Just Wow! I know we live in a world where sex is about sex and not about love but to find out that your family has increased by 2 half sisters would blow your world apart but that is what has happened to Malcolm. There is so much to this book. Romance, of course, because it is Susan Mallery but also family dynamics, love and understanding as well as misunderstanding. This is so real."
Kimberly, Books n Kisses
"When We Found Home was sweet, quick read about family and love and finding yourself, and I really enjoyed the story."
The Reader Bee
"A ‘kick back and enjoy the words’ adventure . . .a good beach read, or wonderful escape, or a nice look at family dynamics and traditions."
5 Hearts "This was fantastic! I was hooked right from the start watching 34-year-old Malcolm try to figure out how to integrate a pre-teen into his life. I expected him to be the arrogant, aloof, workaholic type. But he was genuinely motivated to care for Keira but entirely clueless about how to do that."
The Neverending TBR
As Delaney Holbrook watched the man in the suit approach, she did her best to remind herself she’d given up on men in suits—in fact all men and most suits, when it came to that. She was a different person, with new and improved goals, although she could still admire excellent tailoring. And nice blue eyes. And a firm jaw. And his walk. He had a very purposeful walk that was incredibly appealing. She sighed. So much for giving up on men in suits.
She waited until he was directly in front of her before giving in to temptation and saying, “It’s been six weeks and this is getting pretty serious. Don’t you think I should know your name?”
She had no idea how he was going to respond. She half expected him to give her an icy stare and turn away, because this particular man in a suit had an impressive icy stare. She’d seen it more than once, albeit directed at others. But he didn’t glare. Instead he smiled. No, that was wrong. He didn’t just smile, he gave her a slow, sexy grin that kicked her in the gut and left her feeling all fluttery and stupid and just a little hopeful.
Talk about opening Pandora’s box.
His voice was low and masculine, with just enough gravel to be give her a happy shiver along her spine.
“Good morning, Malcolm.” She pointed at her nametag. “Delaney, although you already knew that.”
Malcolm was a double shot, extra hot, large latte. Although he arrived every morning at exactly seven forty, he bypassed the busy coffee stand in the middle of the building’s lobby, instead making his way to the special bank of elevators that required a cardkey or a security escort to reach their lofty levels. But sometime midmorning, he would wander down for a morning latte.
Her shift ended at ten and more than once she’d found herself lingering, oh so foolishly, so she could take his order. A ridiculous truth that should have embarrassed her, but didn’t. Instead of telling herself that at twenty-nine she was too old to be crushing on a handsome stranger, she went with a kinder, gentler message. Time did heal and as she’d suspected, she was more than ready to return to normal life…whatever that turned out to be.
“My usual,” he confirmed as he handed over a reloadable gift card to pay for his coffee, along with a tall white mug. She ran the card through the cash register, then walked over to start his drink.
Luzia, her teammate, untied her apron. “I’m going to go to the storeroom for more supplies,” she said. “You going to be okay by yourself?”
Luzia smiled politely at Malcolm before stepping out from behind the counter and walking across the lobby.
Alone at last, Delaney thought, careful not to laugh. No way she wanted to explain what was so funny.
Malcolm slid the coffee card back into his wallet, then returned his attention to her. “You’re new.”
“Relatively. I’ve been here nearly two months.” She tipped the small metal pitcher of milk so she could insert the steamer. The familiar hissing, gurgling sound began. She poured four shots of espresso into the mug he’d brought.
“You’re with Alberto’s Alfresco.” She nodded at the logo on his mug. “Your company owns the building and our little coffee stand is a renter. Hmm, does that make you my boss?”
He grinned. “Don’t go there.”
“Why not? I suspect you like being a boss.”
“Not all the time.”
“Most of the time,” she teased. “Your suit is too nice for that not to be true.”
“What is your experience with people in suits?”
“I used to be one.”
“Unexpected.” One eyebrow rose. “Not anymore?”
“No. I’ve decided to go in a different direction.” She poured the steamed milk into his mug. “I know what you’re wondering, so to answer the question, it was my choice.”
In a manner of speaking, she thought. The decision to change careers had been hers—the circumstances leading to that decision had not.
“What direction is that?” he asked.
“I’m going to be a naturopath.” She waited for the look of confusion before adding, “It’s a—”
“I know what naturopathic medicine is. It emphasizes using the body’s own systems for healing through a combination of Western medicine and natural cures.” One corner of his mouth turned up. “My grandfather’s housekeeper has a niece who graduated from Bastyr University with a degree in acupuncture or something like that. Are you a student there?”
She ignored the bit about his grandfather having a housekeeper—the suit already implied money, so she shouldn’t be surprised. “That’s my plan. I have to meet certain prerequisites in science and math but my business degree didn’t require them so I’m going back to college to make them up.” She shook her head. “It’s been a while since I’ve had to go to class and study. My brain is still unamused and crabby about the whole thing.”
He sipped his coffee. “What classes did you start with?”
“Biology and algebra.”
He winced. “Good luck with that.”
“Thanks. At first I had to read every chapter three or four times to remember anything. Now I’m down to only having to read it twice. The lab work has been interesting, though. In three weeks, we have to dissect things. I’m dreading that.”
“There shouldn’t be blood. Whatever it is has been dead awhile.”
“Still. Knives, cutting, organs.” She shuddered.
His blue eyes brightened with amusement. “Is this where I remind you that you’re basically studying to be a doctor?”
“Yeah, I get the irony. I try not to think about it, but I get it.”
They looked at each other. She felt…something. Tension maybe, or awareness. Whatever it was, she appreciated the confirmation that she was alive, relatively healthy and moving on with her life. The world kept turning and dragging her along with it.
“I need to get back to work,” Malcolm told her.
She wanted to believe there was a hint of reluctance in his voice, but she couldn’t be sure. Still, it was nice to think about.
“Me, too.” She glanced at her watch. “Or rather, head home and study for a few hours before class. Enjoy the rest of your day, Malcolm.”
“You, too, Delaney.”
He hesitated a second before turning toward the elevators. She watched him walk away and let herself imagine that he would spin back and ask her to lunch. Or dinner. Yes, dinner on his yacht. Or maybe they could helicopter to somewhere nice, although she wasn’t sure where a helicopter ride from Seattle would get them. Portland? Vancouver. Oooh, an international destination!
Regardless, he would ask her to dinner and they would…
She laughed as she rinsed out the milk pitcher and made sure everything was in order for Luzia and the next shift. She and Malcolm would what? Go to dinner? Kiss? Fall in love?
Hardly. They had nothing in common. Years ago, maybe, when she’d been on the fast track in finance. Only then she’d been engaged to Tim. She wouldn’t have noticed Malcolm at all.
“It doesn’t matter,” she told herself as she slipped off her apron. She had plans and dreams and hopes for the future. Not anything she would have imagined, but now, after everything she’d been through, they felt right. She would learn to heal others and if she got through that, she might have the chance to heal herself, as well.
Alberto’s Alfresco corporate offices occupied the top three stories of the twenty-story building. The company leased out the rest to tenants that ranged from a dentist, three law firms and Amazon. The latter had six floors where people came and went at all hours of the night and didn’t talk to anyone who didn’t work for their company. Malcolm Carlesso hoped they were building drones with artificial intelligence. He enjoyed sci-fi movies. Seeing one lived out in real time would be fun. Or not, he thought as he headed up to the top floor of the building. He didn’t want to go out in a hail of angry drone gunfire.
Malcolm stepped out of the elevator. It was the middle of the workday and people were everywhere—walking in the halls, having meetings, taking calls in their offices. Alberto’s Alfresco was a vibrant, multinational, multibillion-dollar enterprise.
While the company had always been successful, until a few years ago, it had been much smaller. Malcolm had come on board right after he’d graduated from college. He’d been determined to grow the firm and make his grandfather—the Alberto in Alberto’s Alfresco—proud. Two years ago, Malcolm’s mission had taken on an urgency he couldn’t seem to shake.
He passed his own office and went into that of the chief financial officer. Santiago Trejo had joined Alberto’s Alfresco eighteen months ago when Malcolm had stolen him from a successful hedge fund. Together they made a formidable team.
Malcolm nodded a greeting at Santiago’s assistant, sitting guard outside the open door, then entered the large corner office and took a seat. Santiago was on the phone. He smiled when he saw Malcolm and quickly wrapped up his call.
“Quarterly numbers from the East Coast are messed up,” Santiago said cheerfully. “Our friends down in accounting are scrambling. I had to explain our ‘fool me once’ philosophy here at the company. It won’t happen again.” He paused. “What?”
Malcolm pulled his gaze from the view of the vast Seattle skyline and Puget Sound and looked at his friend.
“What do you mean what?”
“There’s something. What happened? You look…” Santiago frowned, as if trying to figure something out. “Different. What’s happened? Did you discover some new truffle oil vendor?”
“Nothing happened,” Malcolm told him, then held out his mug. “I just went for coffee.”
He’d talked to an attractive woman about something other than business. While unusual for him these days, it was hardly noteworthy.
Okay, maybe it was a little noteworthy, but not anything he was going to discuss with Santiago.
His friend was a “get back on the horse” kind of guy. Should a woman ever break Santiago’s heart, a very unlikely event considering how many women came and went in his life, he would simply find one who was smarter, prettier or both, and make them both very happy. Malcolm had chosen another way to deal with his ex-fiancée’s betrayal, and that had been to withdraw into work.
Still, he’d enjoyed talking with Delaney. And looking at her. He’d never had a type before, but as of today, he was definitely into redheads. Maybe he should—
Santiago’s phone buzzed, then his assistant’s voice came over the speaker. “Alberto is in the building. Repeat, Alberto is in the building.”
Santiago looked at Malcolm. “Did you know he was coming? Do we have a meeting? It’s not on my calendar.”
“No meeting.” Malcolm tried to figure out why his grandfather would show up with no warning, then reminded himself the exercise was futile. He would never guess. Alberto didn’t like talking on the phone—if he felt he had something important to discuss during the workday, he would simply drive himself to the office and find the person he wanted to talk to.
The fact that he was here and not at their warehouse in the SoDo—south of downtown—district meant it wasn’t about packaging or food, and wasn’t that lucky. Malcolm still remembered the rotini-fusilli incident from three years ago when Alberto had discovered packaging that had used the two pasta names interchangeably, which might be fine for some but not for a company that prided itself on selling authentic Italian food.
The entire marketing department had been forced to listen to a twenty-minute lecture on the importance of knowing the different types of pasta as they prepared their campaigns. Information they needed to have, but perhaps not delivered by a man in his eighties who still occasionally broke into passionate Italian.
Malcolm set down his mug, then made his way to the elevator bank to wait for his grandfather. Alberto Carlesso had been born in Italy and brought to America when his parents immigrated in the 1930s. During the Second World War the then teenager had put his cooking skills and family recipes to good use in their Seattle neighborhood. Food was scarce and Alberto’s ability to create delicious meals out of whatever was on hand had made him popular. Every summer, he’d made his own marinara sauce with the fresh ingredients grown on neighboring farms. Some of the bottles had made their way to New York where a few Italian grocery store owners had sold them at a tidy profit.
The elevator doors opened. Malcolm smiled at the slightly bent, white-haired man in a suit and tie who walked toward him.
“Malcolm, they still warn you when I’m coming, eh? What is everyone so afraid of? I’m an old man who no longer runs the company. I’m a pussycat without claws.”
“I think you’re more bobcat than house cat.”
His grandfather grinned. “A bobcat? I like that.”
Even though they’d seen each other at breakfast that morning, they hugged. Alberto was a toucher. Thank goodness he’d retired before the new standards for sexual harassment had come into law, Malcolm thought. Not that his straight-as-an-arrow grandfather would ever make a pass at anyone, but he would hug and occasionally clasp hands with whomever he was talking to—regardless of gender. While most of the employees understood that was just his way, a few were less accommodating.
“I saw the new catalog,” Alberto said as they walked toward Malcolm’s office.
Malcolm held in a groan. Catalog releases were always stressful. Would the customers respond favorably? Would the new products be successful? Would his grandfather want to know why they were offering a line of gluten-free pasta?
“Very nice,” his grandfather continued. “I don’t agree with the macarons but I understand they’re very popular and have an excellent profit margin. You have to keep up with the times.”
They walked into Malcolm’s office. The huge space had been Alberto’s, before the old man had retired. Malcolm had replaced the old-fashioned wood paneling and the carpeting but otherwise had kept the room much the same. The desk and credenza, monstrosities from the 1970s, were a reminder of the heritage inherent in the company and Malcolm liked that.
They passed by the desk and made their way to the seating area at the far end of his office. Malcolm preferred to use a conference room when he had a meeting, but he kept the sofas for the same reason he kept the desk—because they belonged.
Malcolm’s assistant walked in with a tray. She smiled at them both, set the tray on the coffee table and left. His grandfather picked up one of the two mugs of steaming black coffee, along with a piece of biscotti. After dipping the latter in his mug, he said, “I found her.”
Resignation, irritation and inevitability battled for dominance. Malcolm realized it didn’t much matter which won—it wasn’t as if he was going to change his grandfather’s mind about any of it. To Alberto, family was everything. A trait to be admired, even if it occasionally made everyone’s life more complicated.