Tag Archives: Susan Mallery

Best of My Love

Best of My Love by Susan Mallery

26721599Description: An irresistible new love story from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fool’s Gold series, set in a town Library Journal calls “so appealing, readers will want to start scoping out real estate.” 

To overcome her painful past, baker Shelby Gilmore goes on the hunt for a friend—a male friend—to convince her stubborn psyche that men can be trusted. But where in a town as small as Fool’s Gold will the petite blonde find a guy willing to not date her?

Dark, charming Aidan Mitchell puts the “adventure” in Mitchell Adventure Tours…and into the beds of his many willing female tourists. Until he realizes he’s inadvertently become that guy—the one-night Casanova—and worse, everyone in town knows it. Maybe Shelby’s boy/girl experiment will help him see women as more than just conquests so he can change his ways and win back his self-respect.

As Aidan and Shelby explore the secret lives of men and women, the heat between them fires up the Fool’s Gold rumor mill. If no one will believe they’re just friends, maybe they should give the gossips something to really talk about!

Review: 

Susan Mallery is one of my go-to authors for small town romances. She’s up there with Jill Shalvis for creating towns that I just want to move to, find an attractive guy, and live happily ever after. Her new book, Best of My Love, features characters who have been introduced in previous books. Shelby is the sister of a previous hero and Aidan is the brother of another hero. They both have ties to Fool’s Gold, though Aidan grew up there while Shelby moved there. Shelby had a traumatic childhood in the hands of an abusive father. She is trying to move on with her life and recognizing that she has been choosing the wrong type of men to have relationships with due to the scars of her past. In attempt to grow as a person and become more comfortable with men, she decides to have a six month friendship with a man. She presents this friendship idea to Aidan. Aidan runs the local outdoors adventure tour company. He too has a difficult family life, though less so than Shelby’s. He limits himself to relationships with tourists, ensuring short term affairs. When this blows up in his face, he reevaluates his life and takes Shelby up on her friendship offer.

What I really liked about this book is watching the friendship between Shelby and Aidan grow and become strong. Before their romantic relationship develops, there is a strong friendship foundation that they work hard to develop. Each make concessions for the other, such as alternating between girlie and manly activities. This was just a heartwarming book. However, there was nothing which made me sit up and say “This is my new favorite book!”.

 

I’m left wondering if Susan Mallery is planning a spin-off series. Three of Aidan’s brothers (the fourth being a previous hero) have left Fool’s Gold. It seems like she is setting up a potential new series with their stories. If so, I’ll be sure to read it. Susan Mallery books always evoke that warm sense of familiarity you get when you return home after being away for a while.  

Rating: 4 out of 5!

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Received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Back to You

Back to You (The Hurley Boys, #3)Back To You by Lauren Dane

Description: Former model Kelly Hurley has finally put the ashes of the past behind her. After a passionate but turbulent marriage to rock star Vaughan Hurley that ended in heartbreak and divorce, Kelly rebuilt her life in Portland, where she settled so their two young daughters could be close to their father. Just not so close Kelly couldn’t truly make her own way without interference from the man who shattered her heart. Now Kelly’s finally ready to move on, and she’s planning to marry another man.

But not if Vaughan has anything to say about it.

Vaughan knows he was a fool all those years ago. A young, selfish—and prideful—fool. Even as he buried himself in the fast, decadent rock star lifestyle, he could never drown out the memory of Kelly’s beauty and love. Or the sweet, searing heat whenever they touched. For years, he’s had to deal with the pain of seeing her only because of their daughters, but it was never enough. Now Vaughan must prove that he’s the only man Kelly needs, before he loses her for good. And there’s only one way to do it….

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My signed copy of Back To You from when I meet Lauren Dane at RWA!

Review: This seems to be the month of reunion books. I read Thrill Me by Susan Mallery right before I read this. In Thrill Me, the hero and heroine had dated in high school. In Back To You, however, the main characters had previously been married and share two children.  I was on the fence about Kelly and Vaughan’s book. You could see it coming through the other two books in The Hurley Boys Series. I really enjoyed The Best Kind of Trouble and Broken Open but Vaughn wasn’t my favorite minor character. Back To You changed that. In the previous books, Vaughan was the typical party-boy rock star, though a deeper backstory was hinted at. It takes his ex-wife getting engaged and the threat of losing his kids to wake him up. Once he does decide he wants a relationship with Kelly, then you see Vaughan mature and act like a responsible adult.
Back To You was a satisfying way of watching two characters reunite. Kelly is wary, at first, to let Vaughan back into her life. She, for all intents and purposes, had been a single parent for the last eight years and sharing the responsibility for their daughters was difficult. In addition, Vaughan had seriously hurt her in the past and she wasn’t sure she wanted risk her heart again. Without going into spoilers, I wasn’t a fan of the cause of their divorce in the past but I do think they worked through their problems in a healthy way. That’s what I like most about this book. It shows that relationships have problems and that they don’t away overnight or with an “I love you”. Kelly had reasons to be mad at Vaughan and to expect him to prove himself. And Vaughan, once he made the decision to be a better father and partner to Kelly, worked hard to prove himself worthy of their love.

Part of me did wish this book had a little more rock-star in it. However, it would not have been keeping with the plot of Vaughan becoming more mature and the plots of the previous books moved away from the rock-star touring life. That desire is more of my rock-star romance phase than something that actually would have enhanced the book. Overall, a great series finish by Lauren Dane and I can’t wait to start her Ink and Chrome series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Marry Me at Christmas

Marry Me at Christmas by Susan Mallery

Marry Me at Christmas (Fool's Gold, #19)Description: Wish upon a Christmas star with New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery’s sparkling Fool’s Gold romance!

To bridal boutique owner Madeline Krug, organizing a Christmas wedding sounds like a joy—until she finds out she’ll be working closely with the gorgeous brother of the bride, movie star Jonny Blaze. How will a small-town girl like her keep from falling for the world’s sexiest guy? Especially with mistletoe lurking around every corner!

Jonny came to Fool’s Gold looking for normal, not for love. Happily-ever-after only happens in the movies. Still, nothing about this quirky town is quite what he expected, and “ordinary” Madeline is the most extraordinary woman he’s ever met. Refreshingly honest, disarmingly sweet. Achingly beautiful.

Planning the perfect wedding leads to candlelit dinners and strolls through snow-covered streets. And Madeline finds Jonny in real life even more captivating than her celebrity crush. But will the action star be brave enough to risk his heart and step into the role of a lifetime?

Review: I was really excited to get an ARC of this year’s winter Fool’s Gold book. I recently went a Susan Mallery kick and I really liked her Christmas books. There’s something about a small-town, snowy setting. This was the perfect, cute winter wedding book. The basic plot of the book is Madeline, wedding store owner, gets roped into planning a small wedding for local movie star, Jonny Blaze’s younger sister. If you’ve read the previous books, you know that A. Madeline was roped in by the omnipresent Mayor Martha, and B. she has a major crush on Jonny Blaze. Side note, it seems like this year’s batch of Mallery heroes have had odd names. Kip, Zane, Dell (short for Delany) and now Jonny. It took me way too long to realize it was actually Jonny and not Johnny.

A great deal of this book focused on Jonny being a celebrity. While Madeline did have a crush on him, I liked that she got over that fast and saw him as a regular guy. There were quite a few scenes that addressed Jonny was ordinary in the eyes of the town, despite his celebrity status. I especially liked when the townspeople would step in and prevent him from being recognized. Although, I’m slightly envious of Madeline for getting snowed-in with her celebrity crush. Who wouldn’t like to be stuck in a cabin with their celebrity crush, and all the naughty things that goes along with a romance novel?

That actually brings me to a part of the book I was less happy with. The glossing over of the sex scenes. Sometimes, if I’m so caught up in the plot, I will thumb through the intimate scenes faster to get back to the storyline. But I like the flexibility to do so. Especially after reading so many Susan Mallery books recently, I was surprised that this book did not detail Madeline and Jonny’s intimate relationship. Maybe other Susan Mallery readers can help me and remind me if she only does that for the holiday books or not?

I did like that this book, though a light holiday read, addressed issues of death and the hero’s fear of love. In his life, most of the people he loved, i.e. his father and a previous girlfriend, had died. That loss, compounded with his celebrity status, made him wary of falling in love. Despite this, when he does realize he fell in love with Madeline, he doesn’t stalk off or end the relationship. In many books in the series, it is the hero who runs when the heroine confesses her love. However, of the couple, it is Madeline who flees in the face of love, not Jonny, despite the aforementioned issues.

My final note is that Gladys and Eddie are my favorite my secondary Fool’s Gold characters! They add laughter and humor to the book! And the scene where Jonny moons them…. Wow!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.

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Thrill Me

Thrill Me (Fool's Gold, #18)Thrill Me by Susan Mallery 

Description: Meet the Mitchell brothers of Fool’s Gold, California—five gorgeous men who’ve left a trail of broken hearts in their wake…

Maya Farlow learned the hard way to depend only on herself, so when she fell too deeply for the bad-boy charms of Del Mitchell, she did the only thing she could—she ran. Stunned, Del left Fool’s Gold to make his name and fortune in extreme sports.

Now ten years later, Maya’s been hired to promote her hometown’s new slogan, The Destination for Romance. The celebrity spokesman is none other than Del, the man she dumped but never forgot. Awkward!

Although Del’s not the type to hold a grudge, he’s determined to avoid falling a second time for the woman who broke his heart. He’s a daredevil, not an idiot. Trouble is, in all his adventures, he never found a rush as exhilarating as Maya’s kiss. Maybe risking his heart will prove to be the biggest thrill of all…

Review: After Kiss MeI found myself missing Fool’s Gold and was glad that Maya and Dell’s book returned to small town, with all its crazy residents and omniscient mayor. This was the heartwarming, reunion story I want from Fool’s Gold. Maya and Dell did have a nasty breakup in the past. However, Maya does apologize for the breakup and they’re able to work together and rekindle their relationship like adults. It so happens that I read two reunion romances back to back (I’m reviewing Lauren Dane’s Back to You next) and I thought both books dealt with the pitfalls of a failed previous relationship very well. Yes, Maya and Dell’s high school breakup was nasty. But they were able to move on with their lives in a mature fashion. There was no desire for revenge plot. Dell didn’t plan to seduce Maya and then break her heart so she would know how he felt. They acknowledged the past and moved on.

Side note: apparently Dell stands for Delany. Thank god they call him Dell cause the name Delany has me picturing a girl. Sort of like Ashley Wilkes in Gone With The Wind. If I hadn’t seen the movie before I attempt to read the book, I would have mental pictured Ashley as a woman and not as Leslie Howard. Romance characters do have the oddest names sometimes. Maybe I’ll do a future post on that…

The breakup in this story was a little silly. Without spoiling anything, basically Maya kept a secret about from Dell about his mother. However, Maya and his mother were really good friends and while I understood Dell being upset, Maya was just being a supportive friend. It was nice to be reunited with the Breakup party though. It’s always a good scene in Fool’s Gold books. You get to be reunited with past characters and the heroine gets support from the town as well as hope that everything will work out.

This might be a bit of a spoiler but I really liked the ending. Dell and Maya didn’t feel like they needed to stay in Fool’s Gold. Rather, they made the decision, as a couple, to travel the world together, producing school-orientated movies about different cultures. Having been bit by the wander-bug, I liked this ending and thought it was a good break from the norm of settling in a small town and having kids.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kiss Me

Kiss Me (Fool's Gold, #17)Kiss Me by Susan Mallery

Description: 

“After Phoebe Kitzke’s kind heart gets her suspended from her job in LA, she swears off doing favors—until her best friend begs for help on the family ranch in Fool’s Gold. Unfortunately, sexy cowboy Zane Nicholson isn’t exactly thrilled by the city girl’s arrival.

Thanks to his brother’s latest scheme, Zane has been roped into taking tourists on a cattle drive. What Phoebe knows about ranching wouldn’t fill his hat, but her laughter is so captivating that even his animals fall for her. One slip of his legendary control leads to a passionate kiss, but she’s exactly the kind of woman a single-minded loner needs to avoid.

In his arms, Phoebe discovers she’s a country girl at heart. Yet no matter how much the small town feels like home, she can’t stay unless Zane loves her, too…but is this cowboy interested in forever?”

Review: Last month, I went on a crazy Susan Mallery kick and read her entire Fool’s Gold series. Or at least what had been published up until that point. So, by the time I got to Kiss Me, I was basically sick of the entire town and the people. It took me a while to get into this book. And I ended up putting the book down about 50 pages in and taking break. However, this week it’s due back at the library so I decided to finish it. The break from Fool’s Gold was exactly what I needed. I found myself enjoying returning to the town and did like this book in the end.

This book, while set in the Fool’s Gold Universe, didn’t actually take place in the town. Most of the book took place on Zane’s farm or on the cattle drive he is forced into doing. The distance from Fool’s Gold was a nice change of pace and it made me a little nostalgic for the town. Kiss Me was set in a different vein then previous Fool’s Gold books in addition to the settting. It also took a while for Phoebe and Zane’s relationship to bloom. While there was chemistry between them,  a lot of the book was the characters getting to know each other as well as the cattle drive they were on. Basically, they didn’t have sex til late in the book.

One of the issues I had with the Fool’s Gold series is there is almost always a scene where the heroine tells the hero she loves him and the hero just turns and walks out. In Kiss Me, Zane did have commitment issues, stemming from a bad childhood. As his relationship with Phoebe grew, he got over those issues and did not let them stand in the way of his happiness. Because he and Phoebe acted like adults, the reappearing Fool’s Gold Breakup party didn’t happen. Shame. Well, actually, I did like the breakup party the first few times it happened. But then it got old.. fast.

This book featured a dangerous, action sequence. Very similar to When We Met. I do like Mallery’s new trend of  introducing somewhat dangerous situations to the more recent Fool’s Gold books, such as in Just One Kiss. These scenes spice up a sometimes monotonous small-town book and makes the story-line more interesting.

Finally, I really enjoyed the subplots in this book. Basically, Zane’s younger brother Chase, who Zane raises, hatched a get rich scheme which failed spectacularly and led to Zane being forced to host a vacation cattle-drive. The array hysterical minor characters on the cattle drive, such as Eddie and Gladys, Fool’s Gold favorites, a vegetarian couple and couple of foster kids, round out the story. The subplot with CJ and Thad and their experience with the foster kids adds a heartwarming edge to the story.

Overall, while not my favorite Fool’s Gold book, this book was a welcome break from the small town but yet still included familiar characters. It renewed my interest in the town and made me excited for Thrill Me.

Rating: 4 out of 5. 

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The Hotter You Burn

The Hotter You Burn (The Original Heartbreakers, #2)The Hotter You Burn by Gena Showalter

Description: Beck Ockley is ruthless in the boardroom…and the bedroom. He’s never been with the same woman twice, and vows he never will. With a past as twisted as his, meaningless sex keeps the demons at bay. His motto: One and done. No harm, no foul.

Harlow Glass is the most hated girl in town. The beautiful artist is penniless, jobless and homeless. When she sneaks into Beck’s home—her ancestral estate—for food, she’s shocked by his early return…and her immediate, sizzling and intense attraction to him.

For the first time in Beck’s life, he can’t get a woman out of his mind. All too soon, friendship blooms into obsession and he’ll have to break her heart…or surrender his own

**Warning- This review has spoilers! 

Review: About halfway through this book, tears streaming down my face, I realized something: I didn’t actually like the book I was reading, and crying over. Despite this, I finished the book, staying up a little too late on a work day. I then spent my entire commute into work the next morning trying to pinpoint what bothering me so much about this book. And it did bother me. I had read the novella and the first book of Showalter’s The Original Heartbreakers Series and really liked them. And the first book left me intrigued for Harlow and Beck’s story as well as the third book, West and Jessie Kay’s story. However, The Hotter You Burn left me questioning why I liked the first book and whether it would worth it to read the third. Honestly, I’m a fan of Showalter. I love her Lords of the Underworld Series, her Alien Huntress Series, and even her Atlantis Series, though I read it a while ago. I think that’s why I’m so surprised I didn’t like this book.

This book is mostly character driven. In terms of plot, not much occurs. Beck, as learned in the previous book, bought a house in Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, with his two best friends. This house previously belonged to Harlow Glass and her family but Harlow lost the house after her mother died. Harlow was the town mean girl and basically everyone in the town hates her. She is homeless, jobless,broke and secretly camping on Beck’s land. They meet when Beck catches Harlow breaking into her former house and stealing a pie. The rest of the story revolves on Beck being attracted to Harlow, giving her job and a RV to live in. Harlow is trying to make amends with a town that hates her as well as wanting to create a home and stability, which totally goes against Beck’s One Night Stand policy.

Okay, so let me try to break down my issues with the book. Basically, it’s a lot of small things combined which put me off this book.

  1. Harlow’s life- We learn, in Harlow’s backstory, about why she was a mean girl in middle school and high school. However, halfway through high school, Harlow is injuried and home-schooled. Then, a time later, her mom dies and Harlow loses her house. That’s it. Harlow is presented as in her 20’s. What did she do between her injury in high school and her mom dying. Didn’t she get a job? Go to college? There’s a giant piece of her life, one which places her in the position she’s in at the beginning of the book, that is completely blank.
  2. Harlow’s job with Beck. Beck gives Harlow a job designing characters for video games. That’s fine, he’s seen her art work and knows she’s a good artist. But he essentially gives her his office at the company and moves into West’s. And then, when they break up, she’s basically fired and homeless again. So she moves back into the woods. Wtf
  3. Harlow and the Woods. Okay, I get the poverty plotline. But living in the woods because you won’t leave the town you grew up in, a town whose people actively hate you, seems a bit ridiculous. And when she goes back into the woods a second time, she has friends, somewhat, or at least people who might be willing to help her. But no, she goes back to living in the woods.
  4. Random odd things that Beck does- He sets up a trust for her early into the book and doesn’t tell Harlow- even after they break up and she moves back into the woods
  5. Beck the Man-Whore – I get the whole childhood sexual assault and friend-went-jail -and-its-partly-my-fault and abandonment by family thing but I’m not sure if that all justifies his fear of commitment. And if it does justify his fear of commitment, I’m not sure his and Harlow’s relationship is enough to get over that.
  6. How easily Harlow takes Beck back- this might be a preference thing but I really like when there’s a good grovel scene and when the heroine doesn’t automatically forgive the hero.

Honestly, I’m just not sure if I like the characters either as individuals or as a couple.

Despite my previous rant, there are pros to the book.

  1. It made me cry- Also personal preference but I’m a huge sucker for books that make me cry. I’m talking to you Midnight Pleasures and Kiss An Angel and Styxx and Blue-Eyed Devil. I’m fan of down-on-their-luck heroines. And I have to say, as many issues I had with this book, there were emotional, poignant scenes which bought my opinion of it back up.
  2. Chemistry- For as many problems I had with Beck and Harlow, both individually and as a couple, Showalter sure knows how to create chemistry between characters. Never did I doubt their chemistry, not for a minute.
  3. The negative side of small towns- I’ve been reading a lot of small town romances, i.e. Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold Series, and these books tend to present the positive side of small towns. It was a nice change of pace to see the humanity of Showalter’s Strawberry Valley, even if it was the negative side. It made the town feel more realistic.

Rating: 2 out of 5. I clearly had a lot of issues with the book and I’m not sure if I’m going to continue the series when the next book came out. But it also made me think. And cry. I really do have a soft spot for books that make me cry.

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Top Ten Authors I’ve Read The Most Books From

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they post a new Top Ten list and everyone is welcome to join. This week’s theme is “Top Ten Authors I’ve Read The Most Books From”. This was a really easy week. Once I find a romance writer I like, I tend to read their entire back-list.

  1. Sherrilyn Kenyon
    Acheron (Dark-Hunter, #8)

  2. Johanna Lindsey Gentle Rogue (Malory-Anderson Family, #3)

  3. Eloisa James A Kiss at Midnight (Fairy Tales, #1)

  4. Julia Quinn Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet, #1)

  5. Nalini Singh Archangel's Shadows (Guild Hunter, #7)

  6. Susan Mallery Chasing Perfect (Fool's Gold, #1)

  7. Elizabeth Boyle Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress (Bachelor Chronicles, #5)

  8. Lynsay Sands A Quick Bite (Argeneau #1)

  9. Christina DoddThe Barefoot Princess (Lost Princesses, #2)

  10. Lisa Kleypas Mine Till Midnight (The Hathaways, #1)

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Susan Mallery Books

Recently I went on a Susan Mallery kick. I’ve read a few of her series throughout the years but I’ve never been as addicted as I was in the last two months. During this time, I read her Bakery Sisters’ Series, her Buchanan’s Series and almost all of her Fool’s Gold Series. Honestly, I’m not sure how I got any work done at all.

I do these bursts of reading/addiction to one author happens every once in a while. I find an author I like and I’ll read his or her entire back-list. A lot of times, it’s with paranormal series, like Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling (my current kick) or Sherrilyn Kenyon’s The League or Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld. By the end, I find myself needing a break from that author, a break which usually lasts until their next book comes out. However, because of the timing with my Susan Mallery frenzy, her most recent Fool’s Gold books started coming out just as I was catching up with the series. So I started her first book of this summer, Hold Me, and liked it. But now I’m reading her second summer release, Kiss Me, and can’t get into it. I was chatting with Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books two weeks ago and was telling her about reading Fool’s Gold, she asked if the
books start to get repetitive. I acknowledged that I noticed, in the Fool’s Gold series, there is that moment where the heroine tells the hero ‘she loves him’ and the hero just walks out. Maybe once I finished rereading Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series I’ll go back and start Kiss Me again. Plus, I just got a copy of the newest Fool’s Gold Book, Thrill Me, from the library.

Anyone experience that predictability when
reading too many books by the same author?

Any recommendations for small-town romances, similar to Fool’s Gold, that I should become addicted to?

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