Sisters are doing it for themselves

I don’t have any sisters. I have a “little” (i.e. younger, but now well over six feet of muscles that belong on a romance cover) brother. You might remember him from my post The problem with having an alpha male brother.

Sister gets little brother in a headlock

© Christopher Low/istockphoto

My brother and I never got along when we were kids, though I can’t imagine why. I mean, I put so much effort into parenting him because my parents clearly weren’t doing a good enough job of it. As his big sister, I made sure he knew exactly what he was doing wrong at all times. He didn’t know as much as I did, and I pointed out all the things he was ignorant about so he’d learn.

Yes, I was the kid who spent weekends playing “school” and planned lessons for the neighbor kids to sit through. I also borrowed my brother’s motorized mini police car and drove up and down my street handing out tickets to kids who rode their bikes too fast.

In other words, I was a friendless loser for much of my childhood. And my little brother has always been the exact opposite.

Having another girl in the house would’ve been torture. I had to be the best at something, and if I couldn’t be the best at making friends then at least I could be the best girl in the house. No one else could be a girl the way I could—that meant shopping with Mom and my grandma, going on dates with Dad, and just generally smelling good and avoiding roughhousing.

If I’d had a sister? I’d have had to discover something else to be best at.

Girl pretends to push brother off a cliff

© M. Eric Honeycutt/istockphoto

By having a second child, my parents forced me to suffer decades of sibling rivalry—but I never regretted that it was a boy child (I just, y’know, regretted his entire existence sometimes. Hey, I’m not proud of myself for it).

Growing up with my biggest rival living in my own home and sharing my parents’ love has given me a deep affection for fictional heroines who have to endure bratty siblings—even if those siblings are grown up.
There are a few contemporary romance series I’ve read this year that have stellar portrayals of siblings. Forget those kissy-kissy fictional characters who have some fake “everything’s okay as long as we have each other” sibling relationships. No, I love series where sisters and brothers support and argue with equal vehemence.

Head Over HeelsLast week I read an advance copy of Jill ShalvisHead Over Heels, the third in her Lucky Harbor series about sisters who meet as adults and try to run a B&B together. I’ve read that Jill’s own three daughters helped inspire the sisters in the series, and I can totally believe it. The women fight, tease and invade each others’ privacy in ways only sisters can really do. I absolutely LOVED this series, and Head Over Heels is my favorite contemporary romance of the year so far. That’s saying something, friends, because I’ve read a hell of a lot of brilliant contemporaries this year.

Real Men WillAnother wonderful series featuring siblings is Victoria Dahl’s three books about the Donovan Brothers (and sister) Brewery.  I’ve talked a lot about this series and written posts about the last two books, Bad Boys Do and Real Men Will. Victoria Dahl is one of my go-to girls for sexy, funny contemporary romance, and I love how the three siblings in this series relate to each other—especially oldest brother Eric, who reminds me of me (those of you who have read the series will know that’s not exactly a compliment on the showing-care-for-younger-brothers front).

Exclusively YoursLastly, this year I’ve “discovered” Shannon Stacey (where the hell have I been?) and her series featuring the Kowalski family. Many of her novels are available from Carina Press, but if you don’t have an ereader then rejoice! HQN is bringing them out in paperback. Exclusively Yours is coming out at the end of December. It’s set during a big family camping trip with all the torment you’d expect that to deliver for a hero who also brings along his ex-girlfriend, who happens to be his twin sister’s rival from high school.

I’m happy to say that my relationship with my brother is no longer the stuff of a horror novel. Now that we live on different continents we get along just fine.

I’ll still write him a ticket if I hear of him misbehaving, though.

Can you recommend any good novels with siblings who have complex relationships? Do you have brothers or sisters? How well did you get along growing up? Did your relationship change as adults?

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