Susan Malllery has been a best selling author for years. However, her latest series, Fool’s Gold, has captured this heart of this true romantic. I confess to not finding the series until books 4, 5 and 6 ( Only Mine, Only Yours, and Only His.) Since each book can stand alone, I jumped into the series with both feet and have been a loyal Fool’s Gold devotee since. Yes, there are reoccurring characters, but each story features a different hero/heroine. What remains the same book after book is the town. You can’t talk about this series without realizing that Fool’s Gold is as much a character in the book as Mayor Marsha.
The fictional town of Fool’s Gold is located in California. It’s a small town full of people who know everything about everybody and like them anyway. There are no shopping malls, or Walmart, or Sears or Home Depot where the townspeople shop. No. Everyone seems to do business with the small business owner who is probably located on the town square. The townsfolk know everyone else. Women play the strong leadership roles within the community (seems there was a man shortage for a while!) Neighbors help neighbors. Houses get decorated for every holiday on the calendar. There is a festival of some kind every weekend (or at least it seems that way.) Finding a real Fool’s Gold would be hard in the real world, I believe and that makes me sad. This is the town so many of us remember growing up in but now the small town community is gone. Mallery has done a wonderful job making me believe in Fool’s Gold and making me want to live there.
Now on to the latest two books in the series:
ALL SUMMER LONG brings together Charlie Dixon, a muscular, tough, firewoman, with underwear model and movie butt double Clay Stryker. Talk about opposites.
Charlie is tough—physically and mentally—because she thinks she has to be. When her biological clock alarm begins ringing, she realizes that she has some issues from her past that must be dealt with before she can raise a mentally healthy child (i.e. not pass on her own fears and phobias to her child.)
Clay is a pretty face…or at least that’s what everybody sees but he wants more. He’s retired from his butt double work (that’s a young man’s game, says the 30 y/o hero!). He hold a college degree and has some ideas of what he’d like to do next. One is moving to Fool’s Gold to be near his family (mother and two brothers, heroes of books 7 (Summer Days) and 8 (Summer Nights).) The next is starting a vacation business based in Fool’s Gold, if he can get the town council (all women) to stop looking at his butt and take him serious. And third, he wants to join the volunteer fire department.
Clay has the assets necessary to help Charlie get past her traumatic history. Charlie has the connections, not to mention does the training for, the volunteer firemen recruits. Tit for tat, so to speak. A simple trade of favors that of course finds each of them falling for the other.
I have to also mention Charlie’s mother, Dominique Guerin. Maybe one of the most selfish, self-centered, egotistical characters I’ve read in a while. I figure some readers will complain that Mallery went over the top with Dominique but no. I’ve know women like Dominique. Mallery does a brilliant job getting into the character’s head, into her thoughts… really understanding how women like Dominique think. Kudos. That fact that Dominique’s daughter, Charlie, is nothing like her galls Dominique. Where Dominique is petite, Charlie is tall and muscular. Where Dominique is very feminine in appearance, Charlie prefers pants, boots and chopped hair. There has been a mother-daughter split for all of Charlie’s life, something else that has to be dealt with before Charlie can really take solid hold of her mothering reins.
A very good book.
A FOOL’S GOLD CHRISTMAS has another mother-daughter estrangement storyline, but this time is May Stryker (mother of Clay in the previous book and his brothers from books 7 and 8) and Evie Stryker.
Evie is a half-sibling to the Stryker men, conceived during a one-night stand during the time May was reeling from the death of her husband. I admit that the way Evie was ignored by May (and many times by her brothers) while she was growing up broke my heart. She suffered true psychological and mental neglect. May and the boys were a strong foursome and Evie was on the outside looking in. Broke my heart. Evie leaves home at 17 for school and basically never returns. The brothers do a lousy job staying in contact. Her own mother neglects her year after year. At first, it was the depression and guilt of the one-night stand. Later it’s the guilt at the realization of what she did to her own daughter. These two have a mountain of emotional baggage to climb over in this book.
Dante Jefferson is the business partner of Rafe Stryker (Evie’s half-brother). When Rafe falls in love and moves to Fool’s Gold, he drags Dante along, supposedly only for a short transition period. Dante has no family. His mother died when Dante was fifteen. (He has quite the backstory!) He gives his heart to no woman. He’s a player. He knows it and he makes sure the women he’s with knows it too. After a clogging class in the dance studio over his office, he heads upstairs to give the dance instructor a piece of his mind, only to discover it’s partner’s sister, Evie.
This is a Christmas based story with all the touchy-feely goodness you would expect of a story based in Fool’s Gold.
This book TOTALLY ROCKED. The repartee between Evie and Dante is simply delicious. Mallery hits every note with this one. While I’ve loved all the Fool’s Gold books, this one left me crying, smiling, and not ready for it to be over. IMHO, this is the best one yet. Don’t miss it.