Review: All Summer Long

Reviewed by Allison

Reading the latest Fool’s Gold tale is like coming home after being away at school for a few months. It’s comfy, cozy, you know all your neighbors & that you can get a strong cup of joe down the street at the local Starbucks. The ninth installment of Susan Mallery’s hit series is no different.

Clay Stryker, former underwear model and butt double, is looking to settle into Fool’s Gold now that his mom and two brothers have done the same. He’s traveled, modeled, got his degree, married his one true love, and is ready to get involved in a community as well as start a new business with his brothers (“Haycations” where a family comes & works on a farm to get away from modern life…can’t say I’d do it!) Between meetings with the City Council to gain support for his project, he starts the journey to become a volunteer firefighter in the community.

Enter Charlie Dixon. Charlie is one of Fool’s Gold’s female firefighters & one of the strongest (physically and emotionally) characters I’ve read in a while. I loved her spirit of growth, of wanting to be better for her future, for the opportunity at a real family. Charlie has the opposite problem Clay does. She grew up with a ballerina star for a mother, and she was never pretty enough, girly enough, or good enough. Then, to make her scars worse, when she was in college she was raped at a party and her mother blamed her. It made me irate. It made me wish I could scream and bitch slap that woman for even thinking that not being on your daughter’s side against anyone else was even an option. But I digress.

In order to get over her fears of intimacy, Charlie asks Clay for his help, which of course being a man, he agrees. Neither expect anything but friendship from the arrangement (of course!) but both come to trust each other in a way that he hasn’t had since his wife passed away, and she never experienced with anyone of the male persuasion. Watching them fall for each other was truly enjoyable and you end up wanting nothing but good things for them.

While I couldn’t feel too bad for Clay & his greek godness, it was an interesting change of perspective – being too pretty to be taken seriously as a professional. It’s hard to get past a nice ass! But I loved watching him prove himself to Fool’s Gold as a valuable member of society and how Charlie stood up for him constantly, even when she didn’t understand what that meant.

Mallery has proven once again that she deserves her spot on NYT Bestsellers list & I can’t wait to see who will be falling in love in Fool’s Gold next!

Rating: A

*ARC Provided by HQN via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
All Summer Long
by Susan Mallery
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: HQN

Review: Summer Nights

Reviewed by Allison

Yet another fabulous story from Fool’s Gold, California! In the eighth chapter of Susan Mallery’s series of the women-centric small town of Fool’s Gold, we finally get to read about the sweet tempered librarian, Annabelle & the new cowboy in town, Shane – brother to the sexy Rafe Stryker, the last book’s hero. Shane comes into town looking to reconnect with his family, raise his prize winning horses on his own ranch, & definitely NOT succumb to any sort of temptation. However, ever since he walked into the only bar in town & saw Annabelle dancing on the table (a sure sign of a wild child who will never settle down), he can’t get her out of his mind – but he’s been hurt before by a wife who he loved feverishly & continually cheated on him. Little does he know little Ms. Annabelle was simply showing her friends an indian ritualistic dance that she wanted to use in her fundraising parade to raise money for the library’s bookmobile so she can bring books to shut ins & underprivileged families.

When Annabelle convinces Shane to teach her how to ride a horse for the above mentioned parade, the twosome start getting closer & learning that first impressions are just that. Annabelle tries to keep her distance, choosing independence over attachment, she even goes so far as to try to hook him up with her best friend, Charlie, but their sizzling connection leaps off the page & they find they can’t contain themselves for long.

I loved the real connection between Annabelle & Shane even as they tried to find every excuse to avoid it. I loved that they truly understood what drove the other & that at the base of each of their passions (books & horses), helping others was the bottom line for each. She loved bringing books & technology to those who might not otherwise get the chance for either, while he taught little girls how to ride even though it wasn’t his favorite part & took good care of his mothe’rs crazy animals. I think a big part of why I liked them so much together was how much I actually liked them both as characters.

I disliked the part where her ex re-entered the scene just to stir things up because I didn’t really see the point. The effort to simply have more conflict in order to bring the pair closer was a little too obvious and, in my honest opinion, unnecessary.

I love that we revisit old friends from other books in each new installment so that even though their book has come, we still get to see what’s going on in their lives – like the Hendrix Triplets’ baby fever! The next heroine to look forward to is Annabelle’s other best friend, Charlie, who we met and got to know better in this book – looking forward to seeing her happy ending as well!

If you haven’t started this series, DO! It’s such a fun little town & their stories will only make you smile!

Rating: A

Click to purchase: Amazon
Summer Nights
by Susan Mallery
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: HQN Books

Review: Summer Days

Reviewed by Allison

Summer Days is the seventh installment of Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series. In this book, we meet Heidi Simpson, goat girl extraordinaire & her grandfather, Glen. Glen is a sweet old man, but he seems to have swindled a woman out of $250,000 by telling her he was selling her the land & ranch that his granddaughter owned. Enter Rafe Stryker, said woman’s protective (& rich!) son who is determined to take Glen to court no matter how good the old man’s intentions were (he gave the money to a friend to get treatment for cancer). However, coming to a compromise will be easier said than done since his mother, May, is so generous that she is willing to share the house with Glen & Heidi until they can figure something out – but Heidi refuses to leave the one thing she’s wanted her entire life, a home in one place, up to chance.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit; I liked watching Glen & May fall for each other as well as Heidi’s exploration of home & family. It may have been my mood while reading, but I found it sort of difficult to like Rafe. He was sexy & he had his moments of tenderness & sound business advice, but he wasn’t a worthy guy until the end. I hated that even after he slept with Heidi, acknowledged that he cared, he still kept up with his evil development plan. Although, I did thoroughly enjoy how he “got his” at the end – every one got to kick his ass verbally & it made me love Fool’s Gold that much more! I think his brother, Shane, had the best wake up call that is reality for a lot of older siblings out there:
“Sure you worked hard to support all of us and we appreciate that. But the price is too high. You expect ownership for what you did, and no one wants to give you that.”
Fool’s Gold still charmed my pants off & I loved Heidi’s friends, Annabelle & Charlie! They were interesting characters, fun to watch banter & scheme, & I really look forward to each of their books.
All in all, Susan Mallery made me smile & I can’t wait to read Summer Nights.

Rating: B-

*ARC Provided by NetGalley
Click to purchase: Amazon
Summer Days
by Susan Mallery
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Publisher: HQN Books