Book Talk Tuesday: Return to Fool’s Gold

I’m researching an idea for a series based in a small town. I’ve posted reviews of this year’s releases Fool’s Gold releases (Just One Kiss, Two of a Kind, Three Little Words) from Susan Mallery, so I went back and read the previous three and a couple of novellas.

Last year’s novella, Almost Summer, was charming and delightful. No sex! Which is a plus for me, since I skip Mallery’s steamy scenes. No skipping needed in the novellas. Halfway There was the other novella, a prelude to this summer’s books.

The novellas are the previews to the book trilogies, much like Pixar’s shorts before Toy Story or Monsters.

Summer Days, Summer Nights, and All Summer Long are the stories of the three Stryker men.

Summer Days

Rafe Stryker cannot believe he is back in Fool’s Gold. Growing up poor there, he couldn’t wait to get out of town and make his fortune. So how did he end up back on the ranch, sharing the house with his mother May, her business “partner” Heidi, and Heidi’s grandfather Glen?

Heidi grew up yearning for roots and a home without wheels. She bought the ranch and her goat herd. Her goat milk and handmade soap business is starting to take off. Just when she thought her dreams were coming true, she’s about to lose it all. Glen sold the ranch out from under her – even though it wasn’t his to sell. May understands Heidi’s love for the ranch and her plan is crazy enough that it just might work. If only Rafe wasn’t so determined to see his mother get what she has her heart set on: Heidi’s ranch and home.

Summer Nights

After Shane Stryker’s divorce, he’s ready to return to Fool’s Gold to raise his thoroughbreds. His ex-wife cheated and he’s happy to leave her in the past and concentrate on his new ranch and racehorse breeding business. Annabelle is nothing but a distraction he doesn’t need. Not to mention his newest acquisition, an Arabian named Khatar with a wicked reputation, has fallen for Annabelle and follows her around like a love-struck colt.

Annabelle has only two things in common with the stereotypical librarian: she loves books and she works in a library. She also likes hanging with her girlfriends in Fool’s Gold and she’s committed to raise enough money to buy a bookmobile. An upcoming town festival could put her over the top. If she can perform the complicated traditional dance for horse and maiden. She just needs to learn to ride a horse.

All Summer Long

Widowed Clay Stryker, the youngest of the Stryker men, retired from being a top male model – known for his underwear ads and being a movie butt double – has followed his brothers and mother and returned to Fool’s Gold. His plan to start a business gets off to a good start. Life is looking good. Then he meets Charlie. Life looks great.

Charlie was born Chantal Dixon to a world-famous ballerina. Unfortunately, Charlie took after her father in both height and grace. She and her mother haven’t really spoken in years and Charlie is okay with that. She enjoys her life in Fool’s Gold as a firefighter. There’s just one thing missing: a family. Charlie wants kids but a college trauma left her fearful of men and relationships. She knows you don’t need a man any more to have a family, but until she’s healed, she can’t be the kind of great and healthy mother she wants to be. So she asks her new friend Clay to help her relax, how to respond to a man, how to be healthy.

Neither Clay nor Charlie are prepared when their “just one friend helping another” relationship leads to real feelings.

I’m really enjoying the Fool’s Gold books. Susan Mallery is great at building her story world and making it real. The characters could be clichéd caricatures but she makes them human.

Again, a disclaimer: there’s graphic sex. Read at your own risk.

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