Fool’s Gold Series:
All Summer Long: Clay Stryker and Chantal (Charlie) Dixon
Release Date: July 24th, 2012
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?
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