THE FRIENDSHIP LIST – Susan Mallery
HQN Books
ISBN: 978-1-335-13696-1
August 2020
Contemporary Fiction

Willowbrook, Washington – Present Day

Single mom Ellen Fox has spent the past seventeen years raising her son, Coop, but now he's about to embark on a trip to decide which college to attend. She has been apprehensive about letting the apron strings go, but when she overhears him tell a friend that he feels he can't leave her because he doesn't want her to be alone, she realizes she needs to take action. Ellen's best friend, Unity Leandre, lost her beloved husband three years ago and is still in mourning. After she is “kicked out” of a senior citizen group (Unity is the same age as Ellen at thirty-four), she decides to join Ellen in making a “to-do list” of things to experience.

Ellen will be joining Coop on a university bus tour to Southern California as a chaperone alongside her fellow teacher (and friend), football coach Keith Kinne. She figures she might be able to do some of the things on her list, such as get a tattoo, but what about the biggest item on her list: have sex? She hasn't been with a guy since she was with Coop's dad, who left after he found out she was pregnant. Will she meet a guy on the trip? Or is he right in front of her?

Unity's elderly friend invites her to a meal one day, but when she arrives, she discovers that she has been set up with her friend's nephew, Thaddeus, as a possible dating interest. Unity feels she isn't ready to date yet, so abruptly leaves. Later, she regrets her decision, feeling that it was rude, and Thaddeus was only trying to be friendly. To even her surprise, she contacts him and agrees to do some things with him that she's never done before, like rock climbing. But Unity still has no intention of getting romantically involved with Thaddeus.

Two longtime friends realize that they need to upgrade their boring life and decide to make a pact to experience new things. For Ellen, it's all about changing the baggy clothes she wears to those that fit her. She sees Keith as a friend only at first, but as the only two adults on the trip with several high school kids, including Keith's daughter, it's inevitable that he ends up on the top of her list of potential sex partners.  For Keith, he never saw Ellen as anything more than a friend, but after seeing her sexy new clothes, his libido is soon revved up. Meanwhile, Unity continues her friendship with Thaddeus. He's nice and easy to talk to. But she continues to keep any thoughts of romance out of their friendship, even though he makes it clear that he's interested in her.

THE FRIENDSHIP LIST is perfect for anyone looking for a wonderful summer read. Ellen and Unity have stood by each other through the years, always being there for the other. But after realizing they're in more than a little bit of a rut, they decide that to make some changes. Why not challenge—and encourage—each other to experience something new? Both Ellen and Keith are single parents and are currently questioning their abilities as parents. Keith's daughter, Lissy, is sullen, and he can't seem to talk to her. Ellen tries to put on a happy face to Coop to convince him that she won't care if he decides to go to school in California.

Do Ellen and Unity get what they hoped for in THE FRIENDSHIP LIST? Will their mundane lives change for the better? What does the future hold for them? Find out the answer in the fun-to-read THE FRIENDSHIP LIST.

Patti Fischer