Cover Image: Relative Strangers

Relative Strangers

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Member Reviews

Awww I just loved this charming story.
A.H. Kim is the author of A Good Family and in Relative Strangers has created a contemporary twist on Sense and Sensibility. Amelia Bae-Wood is struggling when she is called home by her sister to assist. Due to new family legal troubles the sisters and their mother need to live in a cottage on the grounds of a Cancer Retreat Center.

At the Center, Amelia begins to find her way. There is romance, love and secrets and lots and lots of pastries. Truly fun and satisfying.
#harlequintradepublishers #relativestrangers #ahkim

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First off, thank you NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing, Graydon House for granting me access to this book in exchange for an honest review.

What a charming modern day retelling of Jane Austen's classic Sense and Sensibility! The story is told from Amelia's viewpoint (Marianne in the original) rather than Eleanor's (Elinor/original) and is filled with humor, drama, love, mystery, romance, sisterhood, family secrets, inheritance disagreements, society expectations and delicious fresh pastries! You have been warned ⚠️to have goodies close by to eat while reading this book‼️ I am happy to say that Relative Strangers adheres to the original plot and characters with a twenty-first century twist. I thoroughly enjoyed this book very much!!

Amelia's life is falling apart all around her including being newly single, unemployed and completely broke. She finds herself hitchhiking across California to deal the fallout of her mother's eviction from the family estate. Amelia needs somewhere to live and figure out her life so she decides to move with her mother and sister to the cancer retreat center where her sister, Eleanor, volunteers. There is a long lost brother who is trying to inherit their estate. At the center, love triangles develop among the sisters and people working at the center. I struggled with there not being much chemistry between these couples. I just need a little more in order for the relationships to feel authentic and believable.

Overall, it a a fun and lighthearted women's fiction read that I do recommend! If you love Jane Austen or Bridgerton then you will enjoy this book!!⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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This book was ok I thought it was one thing and it was ,Completely different but once I started to read more I found it just wasn’t what I thought it was. I believe this is about two sisters and their family issues.

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I'm a sucker for a Jane Austen retelling of any stripe; the tone of this particular riff was not to my taste but I hope and expect it will find its audience.

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An intriguing modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility that's set at a cancer retreat center in California. The story is told exclusively from Amelia's perspective, who is Marianne's modern-day counterpart, and while I found her complicated culinary past and doomed love affairs to add narrative meat, I thought it made it more difficult to connect with Eleanor as a character. As well as to buy into their sisterly bond. They were distant and disconnected throughout most of the novel. Kind of like two planets orbiting each other. And that's fine, just different than what I was expecting. I think I kept waiting for them to exude that undercurrent of warmth, affection, and want of closeness with one another that Marianne and Elinor had in Austen's original text, but they didn't.

I appreciated the emphasis on the sisters' relationships and personal conflicts, though. Just as I liked that they were older (30's/40's) rather than adults in their late teens, early 20's. I think their maturity added gravitas to some of the issues they were facing, what with Eleanor still grieving over Edward all these years later and Amelia trying to figure out how to jumpstart her life. I must admit the romances fell flat for me. They blurred together at times because it wasn't always clear whom was attracted to whom and why.

That said, this was still a light and engaging retelling.

Thank you to NetGalley and Graydon House for the ARC in exchange for my review!

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I could not finish enough of this book to be able to leave a comprehensive review, but I hope it finds its audience and I am grateful to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advance copy.

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I thought this book was very sweet and cute but what confused me was the lack of chemistry between the couples who get together at the end. I especially didn't feel the chemistry between Brandon and Amelia mainly just because the wedding picture situation confused me in the earlier parts of the book so I spent a majority of my time reading believing that Brandon was married to Leo who transitioned after the wedding. I enjoyed the plot and the storyline as well as the female relationships in this ARC but I do think the connections within the book could be explained in a little more depth.

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A pleasant read! It was an easy one to get through. I forgot about the premise by the time I cracked this one open, so it took me a little while to be like... wait... Sense and Sensibility? I thought it was an interesting twist on this. I think that this tale in particular had a more one-sided perspective (VERY focused on Amelia), which made it difficult to relate to other characters. The main issue I had with it (if I had to name one) was that the plot was kind of soapy and predictable, and the story felt fluffy without much substance. The relationship of Amelia and Eleanor was covered by more superficial romantic drama.

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Reading this book was a pleasure, the characters were intriguing, the family and relationships were well developed and so very unique. I did find the initial contact of Amelia and Brandon via a phone booth a bit unusual but after that I was involved in the story, the complicated family, the potential love relationships, the maternal/child contrasts and oh so very intrigued by the baking. You know if you’re tempted to bake from reading a novel, that it’s captivated your heart and tastebuds! And if you have a sister or a brother, you will feel connected to the complicated relationships in this story. I now am lusting after a bracelet with a jade turtle on a red string! It’s mentioned very often and symbolizes parental love to me!

Thanks to NetGalley and Graydon House for the Advanced Review copy.

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A fun take on Sense and Sensibility set at a cancer retreat in California. A few of the characters had amazing culinary skills and it was fun to read about their dishes. I enjoyed the story though I didn’t detect much chemistry among the various couples and because of this some of the pairings seemed a bit forced and/or abrupt. Still, an enjoyable read for anyone looking for another take of a classic Austen novel. 3.5 stars.

Thank you very much to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a copy.

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Amelia is on our way cross country to be with her mother after a long-lost half brother has surfaced after the death of Amelia's father. Adrfit with no where to go and no money, Amelia hitchikes to the cancer center retreat cottage that has been offered to the family, which includes Amelia, her mother, her sister Elinor, and her niece. The book covers alot of personal issues and relationships, old and new. There are some twists, and overall is pretty enjoyable. I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for sharing my honest opinion.

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing.

Amelia's life is falling apart. She's in CA dealing with the fallout of her mom's eviction. Her sister, Eleanor, has her own issues to deal with, so when Amelia and mom show up at Eleanor's, it all feels like too much.

This is supposed to be a modern take on Sense and Sensibility. I wish the drama would have been more believable and that I could've connected more with the characters, but I appreciated that it was a good read about two sisters figuring things out. It is an entertaining and light hearted read.

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Note: I haven’t read Sense and Sensibility, and as this book is a modern-day retelling of that, that may have affected my thoughts!

This was a light-hearted and quick read. The character dialogue seemed a bit off to me, though. It read less as a real conversation between two people and more as pieces of a novel which took away a bit of the immersion for me. The book is full of family drama (think a long lost brother, family lawyers, and secrets between sisters), but nothing so serious that it leaves you feeling drained by the end and craving something lighter. There were tough topics sprinkled throughout but weren’t the focus of the story (cancer, death, etc) and easy to swallow. There were just way too many descriptions of food that I found unnecessary (and this coming from a former pastry chef!) and I ended up just skipping those lines.

Overall a solid, fun read I would recommend even to those that have never read Sense and Sensibility! Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for the digital ARC and chance to review this book. Review also posted on Goodreads in October 2023.

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This book could have been more enjoyable if it wasn't so unbelievable. Every character have a ridiculous secret? 2 people coming to California from another country sit and talk for a few minutes and leave without accomplishing anything whatsoever? Anyone accepting a freeloader for months and months on end with minimal help from said person? Everything was just too neat with characters that were also not believable. Was this supposed to be an old school romance? Not sure what it was supposed to be but I am glad I got through it.

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I will admit right off the bat that I have not read "Sense and Sensibility", so many of my quibbles might be with that work rather than this one.


Based on the book jacket, I was expecting this to be the story of Amelia and Eleanor, but it's actually just the story of Amelia. Amelia is the narrator and it is through her eyes that we experience the story. Eleanor exists in relation to Amelia but we never know her perspective (or even her personality, really, beyond a few character traits). She disappears for chunks of the book when Amelia is focused on the men in her orbit, and she's definitely not given equal narrative weight (contrary to what the book blurb implies).

The blurb mentions "one explosive secret that could ruin everything". While there were many surprises along the way, I can't think of any that were "explosive". Certainly none that threatened to "ruin everything".

But I think the thing that bothered me the most was that this book was described as having "a modern, feminist twist". I know that the author was limited by the source material she was updating, but I was highly disappointed to discover that the grand finale was still about everybody finding a man to marry. At points in the story Amelia grapples with her public identity, and seems particularly troubled by the fact that she is constantly defined in relation to whatever man she's dating, but the entire book builds itself around the story of which man Amelia will end up with. In the epilogue, she casually references a variety of impressive things she's accomplished in the time jump, but we don't get to see her do any of these things or experience her accomplishments with her. Her FOCUS is on telling us about weddings and pregnancies, so her actual ACCOMPLISHMENTS are mentioned in passing during the extended "happy ending everybody gets married and gets babies" scene. This is not a modern feminist twist.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for access to a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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This story shares with us all the dynamics of a family. A mothered relation ship with her daughters and granddaughter after the death of her husband. The judge relationship of sisters, that’s anything but smooth. All these relationships are tested when the father/husband passes and an illegitimate child shows up to claim all the property of his father. How lives can change when you are thrown out of your home and living in a cottage with everyone. A sweet story of coming together while on a journey to discover the truth and make a community that took you in a family. I really enjoyed this book and all the characters we got to know.

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Relative Strangers was a modern-day take on one of my FAVOURITE Jane Austen novels, Sense and Sensibility. This family drama featured two half Korean sisters and a myriad of secrets, affairs and personal challenges that swing the balance between a need for common sense and emotionality.

The book itself was a fun and easy read! We begin the book as Amelia’s (one of the central sisters) life crumbles around her. Inexplicably single and broke, she hitchhikes her way across California to be with her family after her mother was evicted from her home. The story is set at a holistic cancer retreat centre where we meet the rest of our cast of characters. The drama and humour kept the story feeling relatable and gave it a cozy feel.

I did find, though, that there were a few things that prevented me from thinking this was a “great” book. In general, I felt that I was not able to emotionally connect with the characters, which I was surprised at given the amount of character growth that the storylines would have led me to expect. There were certainly some great moments, but some key story aspects like the dissolution of Amelia and Hari’s relationship, the reconnection of Jett and his long-lost daughter felt like they were briefly introduced and then suddenly resolved a few chapters later. I did also think it was slightly tone-deaf to feature references to J.K. Rowling alongside the development of a trans character.

For a quick, fun, read, I’d definitely recommend, but for those who loved the detailed development of the original, it may fall slightly flat.

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This is a fun, feel-good retelling of Sense & Sensibility, but told from the perspective of Amelia (the "Marianne" character in the original) rather than Eleanor (Elinor). In this version, set in northern California in a Korean-American family, the mother and two sisters have been forced to flee their family estate after the father's death due to the arrival of an unknown son who claims the inheritance as his own. Banished to Arcadia, a cancer retreat center near Point Reyes, the women try to regroup. Eleanor, responsible older sister and sole remaining breadwinner, is also mourning a dead husband; Amelia left behind her beau of many years when their restaurant endeavor went south, and mom looks on bemusedly as Amelia gets quickly surrounded by several male suitors, even as she flails, not knowing what to do with her life.

There is a lot to love in this novel: mouth-watering food descriptions, intrigue surrounding the mysterious "son," ebbs and flows of the various love interests, and a nuanced sister relationship that feels true to the Austen inspiration. Fans of Jane Austen will devour this, as will any reader who enjoys contemporary, lighthearted women's fiction.

Thank you to Graydon House and Netgalley for the advanced review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Relative Strangers feels like reading a gossip column and while it isn’t a bad book, too much drama takes meaning away from the more mature content the author was trying to incorporate into her novel.

The book is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, but our Kitty, Amelia, is merely an odd shadow without any charm. “Ames” (why, oh why?) doesn’t get a redeeming character arc after we first meet her as a bald girl at the monastery where she cannot pay for her own upkeep. Amelia is lost on so many levels that she soon joins her evicted mother and overly practical sister at the cottage by the cancer retreat run by a family friend. I enjoyed the settings and quietly tense family build-up, but soon enough it was all about the galore of men around our helpless goose. The romance and flirting are poorly tackled, the author writes about abs and perfect physiques without any subtlety. The clumsiness of the language and word selection make it sound like a low quality reality tv show. And then we have family secrets and wounded pasts – my favourite part of the story. I wish those thoughtful moments weren’t ruined by unnecessary plot twists, but the novel had enough little pearls of enjoyment to keep me entertained.

Harlequin Trade Publishing is involved in the release of this book and it shows. At times it feels like the author was forced to put in her work mandated checkmarks of mindless romance. Amelia’s sister mentions many times if the swarms of men aren’t enough for her and it feels so bizarre. Some pleasant parts are a shining example of wisdom and what interesting things the author has learned in life, but when heart flutters step in, things get cringy. Many characters commit irrational choices, but maybe the author saw reason in this chaos. I couldn’t comprehend it. When all the twists and turns were untangled I was left bittersweet.

Reading went smoothly with lots of interesting food descriptions and when action focuses on cancer patient stories things get beautiful, but punches of “And how did that happen?” were merciless. It is an enjoyable thing if you like to play the guessing game of who is going to end up with whom. With less shock factor and more reflection on what really matters it could become something to be quite proud of, but for now, it remains Harlequin quality prejudice.

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I'm first going to say that I have never read Sense & Sensibility. So, my ability to compare the two novels is non-existent. However, I can tell you about this book and my thoughts on it. The story begins with the focus on Amelia Bae-Woods trying to get home to her family. She's at a low in her life and has to hitchhike to get to her mom's home, only to find that her mom and sister are no longer there. She eventually makes her way to them, where they are staying in a small cottage at a cancer retreat center. The story continues to unfold focusing on the Bae-Woods family, their roles and interactions together, their newfound friendships, with just a touch of romantic interests blended throughout the novel.

I found the novel to be a quick and enjoyable read. It was easy to read and follow along and I found that I really enjoyed the character development of the Bae-Woods women in particular. I do think there are instances where more character development might have been nice, but overall, I felt that the depth fit the mood of the scene that was being portrayed.

There are only a couple of issues that kept this from being a 5 star read for me. One of them was the last chapter or so of the book. I can't really explain without providing a spoiler, but a part of the storyline definitely needed more development and focus. And the other was with outlier relationships that didn't get explained well and led to some confusion on my part.

Overall, this was still a great book and one I would recommend for a nice beach read or book club discussion.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for this honest review.

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