Book Talk Tuesday: Only Us

Only Us is a Christmas novella by Susan Mallery.

It’s Christmas in Fool’s Gold, California, home to many of Mallery’s fun books, several of which I’ve reviewed here.

book_winter2011
Only Us by Susan Mallery

Rina is in love with the vet, a single father named Cameron. He was deeply hurt when his wife walked out on him and their infant daughter. He’s raised Kaitlyn on his own and plans to keep it that way. He will never trust another woman.

He doesn’t count on Rina and her love for him and Kaitlyn’s love for Rina. Their worlds are turned upside down by love.

This is a short, quick read. I think it took me three evenings of pre-bed reading to finish it. It’s kind of the perfect Christmas novella:

  • Sweet, but not cloying.
  • Festive, but not garish.
  • Fun, but not flippant.

Only Us came out in 2011. Last year, I reviewed Christmas on 4th Street, and this year’s Fool’s Gold novella, Yours for Christmas, is available as an e-book or is a bonus in the mass market edition of Christmas on 4th Street. I haven’t gotten to it yet, but soon.

Book Talk Tuesday: Until We Touch

Today, I’m talking about the third in Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold 2014 releases, Until We Touch.

book_june2014This is Jack and Larissa’s story and it’s wonderful!

Jack McGarry is one of the newcomers to Fool’s Gold. His PR firm, SCORE, moved to town a few months ago and he’s enjoyed being part of the community and watching his business partners and friends settle in.

Larissa Owen’s is the firm’s massage therapist (three of SCORE’s four partners are retired NFL players) and Jack’s personal assistant.

The previous books have hinted at Larissa’s connection to the emotionally unavailable Jack and I looked forward to seeing how Mallery would work that out.

Larissa loves a rescue and a cause. She’s often called to help find homes for wayward animals and she directs Jack’s charitable causes, especially transplant patients.

Jack suffered a loss years ago and he’s compensated by not allowing anyone to get too close. So how did Larissa get to him and why didn’t he notice until it was too late?

I found Until We Touch particularly satisfying emotionally. I’ve said before that I didn’t care for Mallery’s heroes penchant for running away before they have their epiphany. Jack definitely retreated, but in a way that made sense to me. Then his epiphany and turn around worked. Also, there was less sex in this one, a plus for me, and the first sex scene didn’t happen until at least two/thirds of the way in, and I have to say I liked it. Not just because these books push my steaminess boundary, but I think the increased tension added to the richness of the story.

The town of Fool’s Gold is not quite as much a character as in past books, but we still get a definite taste for the feeling of community. Mayor Marsha is up to her usual tricks. Several new characters are introduced who will likely be the focus of next summer’s books and I can’t wait. I’m especially looking forward to Bailey and Kenny’s story. I can’t wait to see how Kenny will fold and surrender to the inevitability of love in Fool’s Gold, California.

My recommendation: Two thumbs up!

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I received a free copy of Until We Met, in return for a honest review.

Book Talk Tuesday: Before We Kiss

There’s a lot to love about Fool’s Gold, the small town in the California Sierra Nevada.

cv-bwkReaders who are already familiar with Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series will love this one and be so happy to read Dellina’s and Sam’s story.
Dellina Hopkins is an event planner. Sam Ridge is a retired football player who recently moved to Fool’s Gold when his company relocated there. They had an impromptu one night stand several months ago that ended badly. Now Sam’s in a jam and he needs Dellina to get him out.
In some ways, the Fool’s Gold books are formulaic and Before We Kiss doesn’t stray from that. But Mallery’s loyal readers love these books because they know what they’ll get: a fun story with memorable characters and a few over-the-top situations (Sam’s parents, Reggie and Lark fill that opening here).
I liked that while Sam retreated from Dellina, he didn’t run and leave town. That’s a variation on the formula and it really worked for me.
I love this series and I can’t wait for the next one!

Warning: The love scenes are steamy. Steamier than I normally read andeyes-305799_640 recommend, so consider yourself warned!


I received a free copy of Before We Kiss in exchange for an honest review.

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.

Book Talk Tuesday: Christmas on 4th Street

From the beautiful “snowy” cover (the picture doesn’t do the cover justice – you have to see it!) to the delightful story inside, Susan Mallery’s Christmas on 4th Street is the perfect Christmas romance. It’s full of snowy evenings, hot chocolate, shared kisses, and even a Christmas miracle.

CHRISTMAS ON 4TH STREET, romance novel by bestselling author Susan MalleryWe return to Fool’s Gold, California for Noelle’s story. We met Noelle Perkins when she moved to town in Just One Kiss and opened a Christmas store. But we haven’t really gotten to know her until now.

Noelle has recovered from several of life’s hardest challenges: loss of loved ones, health issues, and abandonment and now is ready to fall in love and have her own happily ever after in Fool’s Gold. Too bad she’s attracted to Gabriel, the visiting doctor, because he’s made it clear he’s out of there ASAP. Not to mention he isn’t nearly as enamored of the town as she is.

Gabriel Boylan is Gideon’s brother (Gideon and Felicia fell in love in Two of a Kind). He’s come to visit for the holidays and to heal from an injury he received as an army doctor. His hand mends fine, but the same can’t be said of his war-weary psyche. He plans to grit his teeth and get through the family holiday then bolt back to – well, he’s not sure where, just not Fool’s Gold. A gorgeous and spunky blonde is not in his plans.

I’ve raved here already about the other Fool’s Gold books I’ve read. Christmas on 4th Street is just as good, if not better. The sex scenes are toned down, which is great for me because the only objection I’ve had to the other books is the graphic sex. This one is definitely gentler, as befits a Christmas story.

Now that I’ve read a few more Fool’s Gold books, I’ve noticed another trait that all the men share.

They run.

They feel they’re damaged or broken, too messed up to be a husband or boyfriend. So they bolt. Somewhere in their journey they wake up to the fact that they’ve left their one chance at happiness and love behind. They return, apologize, she forgives, and it’s a happy ending all around.

Gabriel follows the pattern.

It’s not a bad pattern. It’s just, for the first time, I found it predictable. And that very predictability made it a bit anticlimactic. I knew what was coming so I wasn’t engaged in his journey and was just turning pages to get to the happily ever after.

That teeny tiny criticism aside, I really loved this book and highly recommend it.

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I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. But I’ll be buying a few copies as gifts this year.