Title: Butterfly Sisters
Author: Jenny Hale
Publisher: Harpeth Road Press
Publication date: February 22, 2022
Genre: Women’s Fiction Romance
One Sentence Summary: Sisters Leigh and Meredith haven’t been in the same room for years, but, several years after their nan passed, their mother has asked them to return to her cabin with news that could shake their small family to its very core.
Butterfly Sisters is absolute perfection to me. It presents a story of sisters with one sister fumbling as she tries to get back on track and figure herself out all over again. Leigh and Meredith are polar opposites and their headbutting was fun to read, but their journey to truly becoming sisters was gorgeous and mature. Then there’s the sweet romance that never overshadowed or overtook the story, instead adding something indefinably lovely. I loved everything about this novel, from the characters to the stunning Southern small lake community and even to Elvis, Colton’s sweet dog. Butterfly Sisters is a beautiful and sweet story of sisters, family, and growth with a delightful dash of romance. It’s full of mature characters and relationships and a deep love under the surface.
As children, sisters Leigh and Meredith spent summers and vacations at their nan’s cabin at Old Hickory Lake. But, a few months after Leigh leaves for college, their nan dies and Leigh leaves behind not just the painful memory of losing the one family member she had been closest to, but also Colton Harris, the boy she’d always loved.
Years later, Leigh is a successful commercial property manager, or so she thinks until she’s summarily fired. At least she has a trip to Old Hickory Lake planned since her mother has called both her and Meredith back with news that could shatter the fragile family as Leigh and her mother have never seen eye to eye with wild spirited Meredith.
Butterfly Sisters took all my expectations for the story and absolutely annihilated them. What I thought would simply be a beautiful, heartwarming story of love and sisterhood was so much more in the best way possible. It’s exactly the kind of women’s fiction I always seek out, the kind where the growth of the woman in question is the main focal point and the romance is sweet, but more in the background. In terms of my idea of the perfect women’s fiction novel, Butterfly Sisters is pure perfection. Beyond that, it offers a gorgeous story of family and sisterhood, of creating new dreams and finding new paths, of taking a journey into self-exploration, of sweet and pure romantic love. This is a beautiful novel that sucked me in, and that I wasn’t ready to let go of.
At the forefront of Butterfly Sisters is the story of the sisters. Leigh and her younger sister Meredith have always been polar opposites. Where Leigh is academically successful, career-oriented, and an absolute doer, Meredith goes with the wind, always roaming and never sitting still enough to excel in school. Leigh also enjoyed a close relationship with their nan, while Meredith was always out and about. There’s such a sharp difference between them that it predictably sets them against each other. The tension and conflict between them felt real and marked by years of misunderstanding and jumping to conclusions. I really felt both of them and the pains they both endured over the years. This novel gives them the chance to reconnect, and watching them together was absolutely wonderful.
The story is told from Leigh’s perspective, and I really enjoyed it as I felt myself identifying more and more with her. She takes the conventional path, working hard and putting her all in everything. She’s meticulous and always reaching to do her very best. It’s a shock when she’s fired, and watching her paddle around, groping for shore, gave me pangs in my heart for her. But it gave her the perfect opportunity to grow and learn. Her journey wasn’t smooth, but it forced her to grow and change and reconsider what she wanted out of life. I loved every bit of it. It was realistic and logical and I could believe Leigh was a real person.
Then there’s the romance. It’s sweet and pure and in the background. It has it’s important part of play, but, while it’s an integral part of the story, it never overshadows the story of Leigh’s growth and the story of the sisters. Colton was fantastic in every way, even when he was being a bit hot headed. I adored him and how down to earth he was. His and Leigh’s dance around each other was so gorgeous and so mature I wanted to cry. I loved how they didn’t just jump at each other, but took the time to get to know each other again, to really figure out how they felt about each other. It was note perfect and honey sweet.
But the place where Hale really shines for me is the Southern setting. Butterfly Sisters is set in a close-knit lake community in Tennessee. With it’s small town charm and warm Southern hospitality, Old Hickory Lake manages to feel like both a warm home and a lovely vacation spot I wouldn’t mind visiting. The sense of place is embedded into every detail and every bit of it is naturally woven into the fabric of the story. From the way the characters spoke and behaved to the gorgeous physical locale, everything about it screamed Southern to me.
Butterfly Sisters is a gorgeous story of sisters first and foremost. It’s heartfelt with both difficult and good times. Hale didn’t make things easy for them, which made everything between them flow naturally with all it’s messiness and beautifulness. The romance, too, is wonderfully sweet. But I must take a moment to talk about Elvis, Colton’s dog. I don’t usually enjoy reading about dogs since I’m a cat person, but Elvis was so much more than just a dog. He was wonderful and I loved him so much. There was the perfect amount of him on page, but he was always there, always hovering at the edges, patiently waiting and watching.
Butterfly Sisters could not have given me a more perfect blend of women’s fiction and romance. It was stunningly gorgeous, full of love and old hurts. Leigh’s journey broke my heart a little since I identified so strongly with her. Needless to say, I loved everything about Butterfly Sisters. I was not ready for it to end when it did. The characters lived and breathed in my mind, Old Hickory Lake came to life, and I was quite happy to drown in this story.
How many cups of tea will you need?
5 cups, and a slice of pie
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Thank you to the author, Jenny Hale, for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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