Review: Susan Mallery – Three Little Words

Fool’s Gold Series:

Book 13:

Three Little Words: Ford Hendrix and Isabel Carlisle

Three Little Words  (Fool's Gold #12)

Purchase on Amazon:  Three Little Words (Fool’s Gold)

Summary:

From Goodreads.com

Isabel Carlisle thinks she’s cursed in the romance department. Her teenage crush, Ford Hendrix, ignored all her letters. Her husband left her for another…man. So Isabel has come home to dust off her passion for fashion and run the family bridal shop until her parents are ready to sell it. Then she’ll pursue her real dreams. At least, that’s the plan, until sexy, charming Ford returns and leaves her feeling fourteen all over again….

Seeing Isabel all grown up hits bodyguard trainer Ford like a sucker punch. Back when heartbreak made him join the military, her sweet letters kept him sane. Now he can’t take his eyes-or his lips-off her. The man who gave up on love has a reason to stay in Fool’s Gold forever-if three little words can convince Isabel to do the same….

Review:

Another hit in the Fools Gold series, I mean really you can’t go wrong with this series when you are looking for something light hearted that will give you a little pick me up. Like the rest of the books it is quirky and humorous. In this one, Ford a Navy Seal is terrified of no one or nothing except his own mother! TO get her off his back he manages to convince Isabel to be his fake girlfriend. Isabel isn’t quite sure how he gets her to convince her to be his pretend girlfriend but here she is doing girlfriend duty. From the start of the arrangement it doesn’t really feel fake to the reader. The chemistry between Isabel and Ford is anything but fake. I like the angle of Isabel writing to him all of those years and a young girls letters becoming his anchor in the midst of war. It’s very sweet! This whole book is sweet. I really enjoyed how the whole book played out.

As an added bonus we also get Consuelas Happily Ever After. Consuela and Kent get almost as much page time as Isabel and Ford, which really picks up the pace of this book. Two books in one, score! Consuela is tough as nails but has always wanted a normal life, but her’s has been anything but. When she meets Kent she is terrified of him and what he makes her feel. There is no way someone as normal as Kent could ever go for a rough around the edges killer like her. Kent is great! He knows that Consuela has done some things she is not proud of, but he never lets that get in the way. He always treats her like a cherished female. He knows she knows at least 50 ways to kill him, but he trusts her with not only his body but his heart as well. We don’t get to know Kent as well as we do Ford, but you have a pretty good picture of him by the end of the book. This is not our first rodeo with Consuelo so we know more about her. It’s good to see her soften a bit, but not too much because that’s just not her. She stays pretty true to her character.

Three Little Words is another great installment in the Fools Gold seriesthat I thoroughly enjoyed! Great job Susan Mallery, we have come to count on your light hearted romances that will give you a good chuckle!

Rating:

Vintage Heart 4.5

*This copy was provided to me through NetGalley for an honest review, no other compensation was provided.

ARC Review: Susan Mallery – Two of a Kind

Fool’s Gold Series:

Book 12:

Two of a Kind: Gideon Boylan and Felicia Swift

Two of a Kind (Fool's Gold, #12)

Expected publication: June 25th 2013

Purchase on Amazon: Susan Mallery – Two of a Kind (Fools Gold Series)

Summary:

From Goodreads.com

Felicia Swift never dreamed she’d hear a deep, sexy voice from her past in tiny Fool’s Gold, California. The last time Gideon Boylan whispered in her ear was half a world away…on the morning after the hottest night of her life. Her freaky smarts have limited her close friendships, and romance, but she came to Fool’s Gold looking for ordinary. Gorgeous, brooding Gideon is anything but that.

Black Ops taught Gideon that love could be deadly. Now he pretends to fit in while keeping everyone at arm’s length. Felicia wants more than he can give-a home, family, love-but she has a lot to learn about men…and Gideon needs to be the man to teach her.

As these two misfits discover that passion isn’t the only thing they have in common, they just might figure out that two of a kind should never be split apart.

Review:

Definitely one of my favorite books of the series! This book was all about Felicia! It was impossible not to love her. She is quirky, caring, social awkward and just so giving. All she wants is to be normal but her upbringing and her intelligence make that impossible. In Fools Gold she is finally finding her footing. She is making friends that don’t seem to mind that she is the smartest person on the room and that sometimes she goes off on random tangents why over explaining everything. She wants to belong, to find a man to love and to have a family but she doesn’t think that could ever happen for her as long as she remains “abnormal”. Enter Gideon, they had a one night affair in Thailand over four years ago that neither forgot. It was Felicia first time and when she runs into Gideon again, the attraction remains just as strong as it was that night. Gideon and Felicia enter into a deal, he would help her socialize and she would realize that he was not the forever kind of guy.

Gideon was a POW for over two years her was tortured and watched while every other person in his unit died. He was the only one that survived. He came to Fools Gold to live in peace and to heal he never in a million years thought he would run into Felicia, a one night stand he never forgot. Gideon likes his peaceful life, he knows he’s not completely healed and never will be, but he has long since come to terms with that. Since, he is alone he doesn’t really need to worry about the fact that he is not healed impacting anyone but himself. When Felicia enters his life again, she is aware of his history and that he is not a forever kind of guy. He likes Felicia as a person, he likes that she is quirky and not like everyone else. I love that about him. As a character he is not as well developed as Felicia but you still like him as a character. You feel for him, as his past. Two years of constant torture would not make the most social of people. I love how he treats Felicia in the beginning, he kind of drops off in the middle when something unexpected happens but he comes together in the end.

The story like all Susan Mallery novels is fun, endearing and heartwarming. The town of Fools Gold is like a character all on its own and makes for a great “side character”. Susan Mallery has a great sense of humor and knows how to write a light fun read that is sure to make you melt a little. The Susan Mallery formula is still in affect but in this book it’s not quite as noticeable as some of the previous books.

*This copy was provided to me through NetGalley for an honest review. No other compensation was provided.

Rating: 4.5 Romanticals

ARC Review: Susan Mallery – Just One Kiss

Fool’s Gold Series:

Book 11:

Just One Kiss: Patience McGraw and Justice Garrett

 

Just One Kiss (Fool's Gold, #11)

 

Publication Date: May 28, 2013

Purchase on Amazon: Susan Mallery – Just One Kiss (Fool’s Gold)

Summary:

From Goodreads.com

He won’t hesitate to put his life on the line…but will he ever risk his heart?

Falling for Justice Garrett was a high point in Patience McGraw’s otherwise awkward adolescence. Even after he disappeared, Patience never forgot the boy who captured her heart. Now, he’s back in Fool’s Gold, California, and her passion for him is as strong as ever. But how can she trust that he won’t abandon her again-and her daughter, too?

When bodyguard Justice Garrett was a young man, witness protection brought him to this idyllic town and he never forgot its warmth, or the sweet beauty of his childhood friend. He’s returned to open a defense academy, and the Patience he once knew is all grown up. He can’t resist her smile, or her curves. But Justice’s past doesn’t make him husband, or father, material.

Patience and Justice think they’ll succumb to just one kiss… Then one more… Okay, just one night together. But they might learn that falling in love is beyond anyone’s control.

Review:

A tale of rekindled love! Well kind of rekindled… Well they find each other again after something like 12 years. Once upon a time a young man was in the witness protection program from his own father, for his own safety he was sent to Fool’s Gold. While in Fool’s Gold he broke all the rules and befriended a girl from his school. He’s not supposed to have any attachments but there was something about Patience that called to him and he didn’t fight their growing friendship. Patience found herself on the brink of young love when Justice up and disappeared in the middle of the night. She never forgot about her first real crush… When he steps into her salon years later all grown up and looking like sin she is happy to see her old friend, glad he is alive and well. They pick up their friendship pretty much where it left, only they aren’t kids anymore and they discover a very adult attraction.

Susan Mallery has a formula for this series and she doesn’t really break from that formula. True it is a successful formula and it produces heartwarming, light funny reads, but someday I’d like for Susan Mallery to surprise me and maybe the female will run off from the man. That surprise did not occur within this book. We get the same formula; man has some issues from his past. Woman loves him despite his baggage and just when things are about to get serious man gets scared and runs off only to come to his senses and come back. Where female promptly forgives him and all is well in Fools Gold! YAY!

With formula in place Susan Mallery creates a fun light-hearted story. Patience is easy to love as a character. She is warm and has a natural welcomness about her. She is a single mother who still has the heart to dream! I love that she has a dream and once has the means to go after her dream she goes forward full steam. She has natural dreams of failure but the presence of Justice helps her a lot. He has a calming influence on her. Justice had a brutal childhood. His father would not be winning any father of the year awards. It is because of his father that he had to enter in the witness protection program. Later he joins the Army, becomes a specialist and then a premier bodyguard. Pretty much his entire he has been adrift not putting down roots anywhere but Fool’s Gold and Patience keep tugging at him. When he decides to open a business he decides to check out Fool’s Gold and check in on Patience. Now Patience is all grown up and those feelings he kept under wraps at 18 have a chance to fully develop. The romance between Patience and Justice develops naturally aided by a previous relationship even if it was just friendship. They fall into each easily and it feels good and warm. I love when a couple (in this case not really but kinda) rekindles. It always makes me happy and this is no exception.

Overall, a solid installment in the series, not the best but a good showing, It also sets up nicely for the next three books.

Rating: 4 Romanticals

*Review copy was provided through NetGalley for an honest review.

ARC Review: Susan Mallery – A Fool’s Gold Christmas

Fool’s Gold Series:
Book 9.5:

A Fool’s Gold Christmas: Dante Jefferson and Evie Stryker

Release Date: September 25th 2012
Summary:
From Goodreads.com
The unrelenting cheer in Fool’s Gold, California, is bringing out the humbug in dancer Evie Stryker. She learned early on that Christmas miracles don’t happen, at least not for her. And this year seems like no exception. An injury has forced her to return to the family fold, no matter that they’re estranged. She won’t add to the awkward scenario by being seduced by the bad-boy charms of her brother’s best friend, the last man she should ever want to date. Even when she’s recruited to stage Fool’s Gold’s winter festival, she vows to do as promised, then move forward with her life anywhere but here.

Jaded lawyer Dante Jefferson is getting used to the backwater town he now reluctantly calls home, but the pounding of little dancers’ feet above his temporary office is more than any man should have to take When he confronts their gorgeous teacher, he’s unprepared for the attraction that sears him down to the soul. Evie is his best friend’s sister-off-limits unless he’s willing to risk his heart. Dante has always believed that love is the most dangerous force in the universe, but that was before he had to reckon with the magic of a certain small town, where miracles “do” seem to happen….

Review:
I quite simply adored this book! It is the final book of the Stryker’s I have to say I’m going to kind of miss them, although as true to Fool’s Gold tradition I am sure we will still see them in following Fool’s Gold installments. I started this series with the Strykers, but I certainly am not going to end this series with the Stryker’s. I am quite curious for the returned and returning home military men! This book was true to Susan Mallery form in that it was funny, fun and sweet. You leave the book with a warm happy feeling of a good Happily Ever After!

I do have to warn, that some of my love of this book could have something to do with Evie being a dancer and teaching the young ones to dance. I danced from the age of 2 until I was 13, so I tend to love when books incorporate one of my other loves into it. Susan Mallery did a fantastic job in recreating the feel of the little ones recital. The flury of rehearsals, costumes, make up and the excitement, I remember all of that from when I was little and I am sure anyone else who went through the same thing will also remember and it will bring a smile to their face like it did me. It was fun to remember being small sitting back stage with all the other girls waiting your chance to dance on stage for your family. This aspect was one of my favorite parts of the book, but worry not, non-dancers there was plenty else to love…

Evie and Dante are a lot alike, very different circumstances of their childhood have basically had the same outcome in their adult lives. They trust no one and refuse to give their hearts, they keep it light and then keep it moving. So what seemed to be a great idea, two people mutually attracted, stuck in a town they don’t like, with the holidays they don’t celebrate looming, scratching an itch; of course this great idea turned horribly wrong and you know that the makings of a great story are there. Evie and Dante made a very sweet “non-couple”, he was very supportive of her especially when it came to her mother. He helped her in so many ways including getting the big show off the ground, but where he helped her the most was mending the fence with her mother. Due to his own circumstances he knows the value of family and expresses to Evie that she has a right to her anger, but stresses what she could miss if she holds on to the iceberg on her shoulder. Evie shows Dante that he can open his heart again, that he won’t always be hurt. Evie is great for Dante in this aspect, she kind of sneak attacks him, he never saw it coming until it was too late and true to Fool’s Gold tradition, he runs.

One thing I would like to see with this series is the tables to turn. It’s always the guy that runs as soon as he figures he’s in too deep. I’d like to see the female run and to have the male run her down and talk some sense into her. Women run too! It would be a nice change and deviation from an obvious formula.

ARC provided through NetGalley for an honest review, no other compensation was provided.

Rating: 5 Orchids

A Look Back: 2012 So Far

So I was recently asked to do a post of my top books that have been released so far.  I totally should have don’t this in the beginning of July, but alas, July has come and gone. So this is going to be the” hey we are ¾ of the way through the year” pulse check on 2012 releases! LOL

This year has seen sooo many great releases from great authors new and well established.  The following list is my opinion on the books that I have enjoyed most this year so far.  I’m not going to limit the list to paranormal but include all genres in this post I have read, I will separate the non-paranormal into its own list. Admittedly I don’t venture that much outside of Paranormal, but if something catches my eye, I’ll read and post a review on my other blog www.goodromancenovel.blogspot.com .

Top 10 full length Paranormal:


1. Oracle’s Moon – Thea Harrison (This one is #1, because I have read it 4x already! I LOVED it that much!)
Get It: Thea Harrison: Oracle’s Moon

2. Once Burned – Jeaniene Frost (This one is sooo close to #1, the only reason I put it as 2nd was bc I haven’t reread it… yet. But I am dying to!)
Get It: Jeaniene Frost: Once Burned: A Night Prince Novel

From here is becomes so hard to rank in a specific order, so this part of the list is somewhat fluid:

3. Firelight – Kristen Callihan (Callihan is a newcomer and she started with a bang! This is the first in her historical paranormal romance. This series is totally unique!)
Get It: Kristen Callihan: Firelight (Darkest London)

4. Lothaire – Kresley Cole (Usually KC would hold down my top spot, but Lothaire was not my favorite of the series but it is still among the best of the year so far.
Get It: Kresley Cole: Lothaire (Immortals After Dark)

5. Moonglow – Kristen Callihan (This is the 2nd in her series and I loved it just as much as the 1st and damn did I cry in this one!)
Get It: Kristen Callihan – Moonglow (Darkest London)

6. Lethal Rider – Larissa Ione (Really 3-6 can all occupy the same place as I love them pretty much equally. This is the 3rd of L. Ione’s Lords of Deliverance series and features my man Thantos! I want him!)
Get It: Larissa Ione: Lethal Rider (Lords of Deliverance)

7. Third Grave Dead Ahead – Darynda Jones (I just picked up this series a month or so ago and am kicking myself for not picking it up sooner. This is the 3rd in the series and had me laughing from beginning to end. If you haven’t picked up this series you need to right away.)
Get It: Darynda Jones: Third Grave Dead Ahead

8. Tangle of Need – Nalini Singh (I am not used to N. Singh being this low on a tops list. Her work is always rock solid and among my favorites.  This book was fantastic but I felt it was more of a transition book to get us to the next book.  She does have a release out in Sept (Jason from the Guild Hunters that has the potential to rank #1 on the end of the year list. I cannot wait for it to come out!)
Get It: Nalini Singh: Tangle of Need

9. The Darkest Day – Britt Bury (This is another newcomer to the scene with her debut book. I gave this one a 4 star because of some issues, but it is on the list because I still think back to this book after several months so it has managed to stick out from the crowd.)
Get It: Britt Bury: The Darkest Day

10. Blade Song – J.C. Daniels (Technically this is not a newcomer as this is Shiloh Walker under a new pen name, but this is her 1st book under this name. There is another unique book in the paranormal genre. It features a strong female lead and has the ability to stick out in memory much like The Darkest Day)
Get It: J.C. Daniels: Blade Song (Colbana Files)

Top 5 Contemporary and Historical:


1. Rescue Me – Rachel Gibson (Contemporary Romance. I adore Rachel Gibson, she can always make me laugh and this book is no exception)
Get It: Rachel Gibson: Rescue Me

2. Summer Nights – Susan Mallery (Contemporary Romance.  This is Shane’s story from the Fool’s Gold series. He is the 2nd Styker brother and his story is the best! He’s a cowboy with a gentle wounded soul, his lady love is also quite lovable!)
Get It: Susan Mallery: Summer Nights (Fool’s Gold)

3. Temptation & Twilight – Charlotte Featherstone (Erotic Historical Romance, this is the 3rd in a series but I hadn’t read the 1st 2 when I started this one. It didn’t matter, I still think of this book months later and I have since gone back and read the first 2 books which are equally good!)
Get It: C. Featherstone: Temptation & Twilight (Hqn)

4. Tempted by the Highland Warrior – Michelle Willingham (Historical Romance possibly erotica, its steamy enough to be. I have a weakness for tortured hero types and this one is tortured and disabled. Due to the horrors he experienced he can no longer talk. Even better that he is a highlander! Who can resist a tortured highland warrior? I know I can’t!)
Get It: Michelle Willingham: Tempted by the Highland Warrior (The MacKinloch Clan)

5. Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed – Anna Campbell (Historical Romance . Here’s another tortured hero type that must overcome. This one has also managed to stick out in my memory as a great read. I wouldn’t even have picked it up from NetGalley if it hadn’t been for Jen from Red Hot Books. Thanks Jen for the rec!)
Get It: Anna Campbell: Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed (Sons of Sin)

Top 5 novellas:


1. Angels Flight – Nalini Singh (I call N. Singh the queen of novellas because she can take 20-30 pages and gets so much into so few pages it almost feels like a full length novel! This book is a collection of 4 Guild Hunter novellas each one is amazing on its own, but together it’s unbeatable!)
Get It: Nalini Singh: Angels’ Flight (Guild Hunters)

2. Try Me – Olivia Cunning (OoooWwwEeee this one is CALIENTE! It’s the first in her new band series. Soo freak’n good)
Get It: Olivia Cunning: Try Me (One Night with Sole Regret)

3. Unspoken – Kerrigan Byrne (Kerrigan Byrne is another newcomer to the scene; she has two paranormal historical novellas out. It features a berserker a mute one at that! This one was so damn good. I wish it had been longer. )
Get It: Kerrigan Byrne: Unspoken (Highland Historical #1)

4. Crazy on You – Rachel Gibson ( I adore Rachel Gibson! She doesn’t typically write novellas, this is the 1st one in years and years and it was a great one. It features crazy Lily that we met in Daisy’s Back in Town)
Get It: Rachel Gibson: Crazy On You

5. Dark Craving – Donna Grant (I found this one because of Annie from Under the Covers Book Blog and I am glad she suggested it. It’s a dragon book! She’s got me on her dragon kick! Damn you Annie! Dragons aside it’s a great quick story that will leaving you wanting more.)
Get It: Donna Grant: Dark Craving

ARC Review: Susan Mallery – All Summer Long

Fool’s Gold Series:
Book 9:

All Summer Long: Clay Stryker and Chantal (Charlie) Dixon




Release Date: July 24th, 2012
Summary:
From goodreads.com
Can a summer fling turn into love that lasts a lifetime? Former underwear model turned entrepreneur Clay Stryker has loved, tragically lost and vowed that he’ll never risk his heart again. After making his fortune, the youngest of the rugged Stryker brothers returns to Fool’s Gold, California, to put down roots on a ranch of his own. But he’s frustrated to discover that even in his hometown, people see him only for his world-famous…assets.

Firefighter Chantal (Charlie) Dixon grew up an ugly duckling beside her delicately beautiful mother, a feeling reinforced long ago by a man who left soul-deep scars. Now she has good friends, a solid job and the itch to start a family-yet she can’t move toward the future while she’s haunted by painful memories.

Clay finds an unexpected ally, and unexpected temptation, in tomboyish Charlie, the only person who sees beyond his dazzling good looks to the real man beneath. But when Charlie comes to him with an indecent proposal, will they be able to overcome their pasts and find a love that lasts beyond one incredible summer?

Review:
I have to admit I’m torn on this book. On one hand you finish the book with the typical warm fuzzy feeling that you usually have at the end of a Susan Mallery novel. It was warm, funny and a crowd pleaser for most. Charlie and Clay were for the most part likeable characters. Charlie we have seen through most of the series a well known town member of Fools Gold. Clay was a newcomer, settling in Fools Gold to be near his family. On the other hand S. Mallery attempts to tackle a serious subject matter of date rape and for me it fell horribly flat.

So let’s tackle the date rape first, I do want to mention that I have had friends that have experienced sexual assault and my best friend has been a rape and domestic abuse councilor for close to 10 years. So I have strong opinions regarding this. For 10 years Charlie has been struggling as a survivor of date rape, her coping mechanism has just been to avoid all men and any intimate settings. Ok, totally out of character for someone like Charlie who tackles everything else head on, but I guess I can see why she would take this approach, it’s easier to avoid then to deal. Now she wants kids but realizes she will have to conquer this fear if she is to be a good mom. Her solution, get laid… So she approaches Clay, whom she barely knows, but hey he’s super hot so I don’t blame her. So this approach of, ok I’ll just get laid is ridiculous. This is not going to fix anything without any sort of counseling but whatever, we will pretend that it will. So I liked Clay’s approach to helping “cure” Charlie, he did research; he had some idea what to expect and was willing to put in the time and work. No matter what she threw at him he took it and maintained calm. It was Clay’s attitude that actually had me thinking that maybe S. Mallery would take this subject matter a little more seriously. However, this was not the case, so it started ok, Charlie was understandably freaked out after the first kiss and a little less so after the second make out. But, after two make out sessions she was practically jumping Clay’s bones and begging for it. I think it was their third or maybe fourth “session” that they were going at it like two teenagers. And then it was like a week after that she was fully “cured”. Really? I mean really? Two make out sessions is not going to cure someone who has been terrified of intimate relationships for 10 YEARS! It is completely unrealistic and completely blows off the seriousness of being a date rape survivor and their recovery. Charlie actually freaked out more that Clay was so attractive and an underwear model then the actual intimacy itself, whining about why couldn’t he be less attractive, then you shouldn’t have picked a model, I’m just saying. I don’t understand why authors take on serious subject matter such as this and then completely blow it off. What’s the point?! It’s almost insulting to those who have been assaulted and go through years of recovery.

Ok, so the date rape aside, I am now done with my rant, this was basically a warm fuzzy novel that is supposed to make you feel good afterward. Charlie is strong yet, kind. She goes above and beyond for friends and that includes Clay. She has a crazy mother who appears out of nowhere to make nice with her. After a difficult period, Charlie does open her heart to her mother and tries to make it work. I do have to admit Charlie’s mother is a piece of work, she is a total *itch, but for some reason I kind of liked her. I have no idea why, she was such a terrible mother, maybe it was because she was so honest in her witchiness. Lol But through it all Charlie keeps her heart open, so I liked that about her. However, when Clay dumped her, man did she run off and fast. I would have thought someone as strong as Charlie would have fought or at least stood up and faced him, but then we wouldn’t have had a touching mother daughter moment, so I guess that was a trade off.

Clay, on the surface I liked him. There is nothing to not like, he’s kind, down to earth and cares about his friends and family. He didn’t have a vain bone in his body, which was quite nice. He is a widower who absolutely loved his first wife and still misses her, which always makes you go AW a bit. He knows the value of love, he is just stubborn in thinking he would never have it again. With all of that, I didn’t really feel like Clay grew as a character much, by the end of the book he hadn’t accomplished much. He still wasn’t a firefighter and his Haycations was still kind of left as a disasterpiece. Poor guy, couldn’t he have had a bit more closure by the end, at least passed training? It felt like his life was still a jumble, the only thing that was different is he committed to Charlie, which took until the last couple of pages. Overall, he’s a very likeable guy, he was a lot different than I had expected with Rafe’s reaction to him and his choice in cars. I had thought he would have been a little more reckless and a little less responsible, but responsible works too. His obsession with research had me smiling, it seemed like he was doing a lot of research for everything that popped up in his life. It was kind of cute.

Overall, it was a light summer read, I had just wished that Mallery would have kept it light and not have introduced such a serious subject matter. I figure that many people will not have the same issue that I had with the date rape recovery and will thoroughly enjoy this Fool’s Gold novel.

*Review copy provided through NetGalley for an honest review. No other compensation was provided.

Rating: 3.5 Orchids

ARC Review: Susan Mallery – Summer Nights

Fool’s Gold Series:

Book 8:

Summer Nights: Shane Stryker and Annabelle Weiss


Release Date: June 26th, 2012
Summary:
Horse whisperer Shane Stryker is done with passion. This time around, he’s determined to meet someone who will be content with the quiet life of a rancher’s wife. And the fiery, pint-size redhead who dazzles him at the local bar definitely does not fit the bill. Small-town librarian Annabelle Weiss has always seen herself as more of a sweetheart than a siren, so she can’t understand why Shane keeps pushing her away. Shane has formed the totally wrong impression of her but only he can help her with a special event for the next Fool’s Gold festival. And maybe while he’s at it, she can convince him to teach her a few things about kissing on hot summer nights, too-some lessons, a girl shouldn’t learn from reading a book!

Review:
This is my second Susan Mallery read, I started with Summer Days which was the first Stryker brother Rafe, and I think I’ve been hooked into the Fool’s Gold world. The town is just so quirky and fun it’s hard not to get sucked in. Shane is returning after spending part of his childhood in Fools Gold, he always had fond memories of the town, its where his love of horses started. Now, he is back and starting his dream, his own ranch and breeding program of thoroughbred race horses. Annabelle is a librarian, she found Fools Gold after her disastrous first marriage, the town soothed her open wounds and now she is ready to possibly find love again, if that man can accept who she really is.

Shane, oh Shane, so incredibly sexy, so incredibly sweet, so incredibly a cowboy, so incredibly almost perfect if only you weren’t so dense. Shane was once married to a not so nice female who cheated mercilessly and always had to be the center of attention. So now he’s looking for a nice sedate woman who doesn’t set his blood on fire. So when he see’s Annabelle dancing on a bar, he knows she’s not the woman for him. Then when she shows up in his barn and sets his blood on fire he’s even more convinced this girl is nothing but trouble. Now, if only Shane could get his head out of his arse and see a good thing when it’s staring him in the face, even his horse is smarter than him! A one minute impression clouds the next several hundred pages of the book, which I understand we need some conflict but geez. Despite the fact that Shane has his head up his arse, I still loved the dolt, I just couldn’t help myself, he’s just such a nice guy. He tries to find a companion for an aging elephant, he gets roped into riding lessons for young girls, he teaches his million dollar horse to dance for Annabelle, you just can’t steel your heart against that kind of kindness, you just can’t and add to that, he’s a cowboy and you’re sunk. There is just no helping it. You’re in love before you know it, just like Annabelle.

Annabelle is cute, feisty and stubborn, once she gets her claws into an idea she does what she needs to see it through. Right now she wants a bookmobile and the way to achieve that is at the next Fools Gold festival, the only problem is she needs a dancing horse and a willing male sacrifice. Having never even sat on a horse before, she doesn’t know how she is going to get a horse to dance in front of a crowd let alone stay on top of one to do it, but she is determined. Enter Shane, the resident horse whisperer and her best friend’s fiancés brother. What she doesn’t know is the first time Shane see’s her, she’s on the top of the bar dancing, so now he sees her as a wild woman which couldn’t be further from the truth. What she realizes almost immediately following her impetuous dance is that all of her life she has been molding herself to fit someone else’s needs to be loved and decided that she would no longer do that again. So when she meets Shane at first she is attracted but doesn’t act on it but as time moves on they get closer and true to her word she does remain true to herself and who she is, which I was proud of her for, but this time she made a completely different mistake and decided she had to “prove herself” to him. Which come on, let’s face it, is just as bad as changing herself to please her current whatever. She shouldn’t have to prove herself to anyone. Despite this setback she does come to her senses by the end, yay Annabelle! As a character I really enjoyed Annabelle, she was a breath of fresh air, she was positive, upbeat and genuinely cared about everyone. She is someone you would be proud to call one of your best friends and would never let you down. I wish she would have smacked some sense into Shane earlier but hey no one is perfect, not even Annabelle.

Overall, it’s a light fun read, great for the summer. There is nothing not to like about this charming book, you’ll be sucked into Fools Gold like everyone else. If I was keeping a list of great beach reads this one would be towards the top of the list. If I had one complaint about this book it was all the baby talk, there was a lot of it, everyone was having babies or wanting babies. It was a lot and for someone whose biological cloak is NOT ticking it was a bit much. However, check this title out and be prepared to be charmed I sure was.

Rating:
4.5 Orchids

*Review copy provided through Netgalley for an honest review, no other compensation was given.