2014 Finishing the Series Reading Challenge: Wrap Up

2014 finishtheseriesrc

The 2014 FtSRC was the only challenge I accepted this year. I did ok but didn’t quite reach my goal of completing 3 series.

I finished the Grace Valley series by Robyn Carr and I’m up to date in Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series. The links take you to the challenge page here on the blog. Scroll down to see my results.

Thanks to Yvonne for hosting. I haven’t decided if I’ll formally join the 2015 challenge. I may check in on the Goodreads FtSRC challenge page.

Just One Kiss by Susan Mallery

  • just one kissTitle:  Just One Kiss
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #10
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Small town; Series
  • Published:  May 2013 – Harlequin HQN
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  He won’t hesitate to put his life on the line…but will he ever risk his heart?

Falling for Justice Garrett was a high point in Patience McGraw’s otherwise awkward adolescence. Even after he disappeared, Patience never forgot the boy who captured her heart. Now he’s back in Fool’s Gold, California, and her passion for him is as strong as ever. But how can she trust that he won’t abandon her again—and her daughter, too?

When bodyguard Justice Garrett was a young man, witness protection brought him to this idyllic town and he never forgot its warmth, or the sweet beauty of his childhood friend. He’s returned to open a defense academy, and the Patience he once knew is all grown up. He can’t resist her smile, or her curves. But Justice’s past doesn’t make him husband, or father, material.

Patience and Justice think they’ll succumb to just one kiss… Then one more… Okay, just one night together. But they might learn that falling in love is beyond anyone’s control.  (publisher)

My take:  Patience and Justice knew each other when they were in high school. She had a huge crush on him and he thought she was a great person. One day Justice just disappeared. Patience went to his house on her way to school and the house was cleared out. Fast-forward to fifteen years later. Patience has a ten-year-old daughter and they live with her mother. Justice is back in Fool’s Gold to set up a “defense academy” with some of his former military friends. This is the first of a trilogy within the series that will involve Justice and his co-workers/friends.

I enjoyed Patience and Justice’s story. It was rather predictable but as long as that’s what I expect I’m ok with that. It’s a contemporary romance series (#10) so despite the predictable parts I know I’m going to like Susan Mallery’s small town stories. It’s why I keep reading them – I like them 🙂

Justice’s past is an interesting story. It catches up to him in this book in a lot of drama near the end of the story. Things wrapped up neatly and I look forward to “seeing” these two in future books.

Mini Reviews: Only Mine; Only Yours; Only His – by Susan Mallery

I decided 2014 is the year for me to catch up in the Fool’s Gold series.

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  • audible only mineTitle:  Only Mine
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #4
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Narrator:  Tanya Eby
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  July 2011 – Brilliance Corporation
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  Her town’s lack of men may make headlines, but it isn’t news to Dakota Hendrix. The beautiful blonde has bigger problems to deal with, such as overseeing the romance reality competition filming in Fool’s Gold. Screening eligible bachelors is a difficult enough task, but Dakota hits an unexpected snag when a sexy stranger comes to town. Finn Anderssen will do anything to keep his twin brothers — the perfect contestants — off the show. Despite Dakota’s better judgment, she finds herself drawn to the mysterious outsider. Like her, Finn knows about heartbreak and how a family can fall apart, so she doesn’t dare to hope for anything more than a fling. After all, even in the Land of Happy Endings, finding true love is never as easy as it looks on TV. (publisher)

My take:  The synopsis tells you what you need to know about Only Mine. I liked Dakota and Finn’s story a lot. They are a good match. Life has forced the two to give up on certain dreams. Can they find even better dreams together? I enjoyed finding out! The minor characters had fun story lines which made the book even more entertaining. As usual, Tanya Eby did a nice job with the narration.  Her performance always adds to the story.

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audible only yours

  • Title:  Only Yours
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #5
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Narrator:  Tanya Eby
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  August 2011 – Brilliance Corporation
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  Montana Hendrix has found her calling — working with therapy dogs. With a career she loves in a hometown she adores, she’s finally ready to look for her own happily ever after. Could one of her dogs help her find Mr. Right… or maybe Dr. Right? Surgeon Simon Bradley prefers the sterility of the hospital to the messiness of real life, especially when real life includes an accident-prone mutt and a woman whose kisses make him want what he knows he can’t have. Scarred since childhood, he avoids emotional entanglement by moving from place to place to heal children who need his skillful touch. Can his growing feelings for Montana lead him to find a home in Fool’s Gold, or will he walk away, taking her broken heart with him?  (publisher)

My take:  The mayor of Fool’s Gold wants Montana Hendrix to convince Dr. Simon Bradley to put down roots in Fool’s Gold. The hospital needs more good specialists like him but he has no interest in staying in one place for long. He wants to travel the world performing surgery on children who wouldn’t normally have access to world-class care.  He’s also running from any emotional attachments and will not let the likes of Montana Hendrix become a reason to stay. They hit it off but then it becomes more serious and Simon is scared by his feelings for her. Will he be willing to rethink his future? I thought Susan Mallery wrote a touching story and Tanya Eby’s performance was just right.

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audible only his

  • Title:  Only His
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #6
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Narrator:  Tanya Eby
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  August 2011 – Brilliance Corporation
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis: Wedding bells are ringing in Fool’s Gold, but not for Nevada Hendrix. Her triplet sisters are engaged, and even her mother has a more active love life than she does. Determined to make a fresh start, she applies for her dream job, only to discover that her new boss is her first love. Maybe she could overlook the fact that they’ve seen each other naked, but she’ll never forget the way he broke her heart.

Tucker Janack agrees to Nevada’s “business only” ground rules. After all, love is a trap that the construction millionaire has avoided his whole life. But when great business partners turn out to be so much more, every rule gets broken. Will either of them be willing to try again…or will their past get in the way?

My take:  This book was all over the place but nonetheless entertaining. I enjoyed Nevada and Tucker’s story. They have an uncomfortable history but are intent on getting past that. The connected story lines were interesting (Jo’s secret is revealed) and wacky (Cat, the artist who was Tucker’s former lover). Add to that Nevada’s mother who reconnects with her old boyfriend and you’ve got an entertaining book. Tanya Eby’s narration was spot on with all the voices.

Finding Perfect by Susan Mallery

finding perfect audio

  • Title:  Finding Perfect
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold, #3
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Narrator:  Tanya Eby
  • Published:  August 2010 – Brilliance
  • Source:  purchased

Synopsis: When Pia O’Brian’s best friend dies, Pia expects to inherit her cherished cat. Instead, the woman leaves Pia three frozen embryos. With a disastrous track record in the romance department and the parenting skills of a hamster, Pia doesn’t think she’s meant for motherhood. But determined to do the right thing, Pia decides to become a single mother – only to meet a gorgeous, sexy hunk the very same day. A former foster-care kid now rich beyond his wildest dreams, Raoul Moreno runs a camp for needy children in Fool’s Gold, California. After his last relationship, Raoul thought he was done with women and commitment. Still, he can’t get sweet, sexy Pia out of his mind — and proposes a crazy plan. But can such an unconventional beginning really result in the perfect ending?  (publisher)

My take:  So the only reading challenge I joined this year is the 2014 Finish the Series challenge and the Fool’s Gold series is first on my list to finish. Trouble is Susan Mallery keeps adding to the series! Good thing I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read so far – I don’t mind knowing there are a lot to be read. This is the third book but I don’t think you’d miss much by not reading the previous books. That said, the first book introduces the reader to the town and that’s worth reading!

The frozen embryo inheritance aside (I mean, really?!), I liked this book a lot. I found Pia and Raoul to be both charming and sympathetic characters. If Pia wasn’t so nice and good-hearted she’d come off kind of flaky but we find out she has grown through her experiences in life up to this point. The same could be said for Raoul. Both have been deeply affected by people disappointing them and/or leaving them. So they need to get past the inclination to not commit. Enter one sweet little boy who makes them reconsider everything including their definition of home and a perfect family.

I enjoyed Tanya Eby’s narration. Her rather staccato performance of Pia added to the kind of flaky impression I had of the character. She also did a nice job with Raoul’s voice and young Peter’s as well as those of the supporting characters.

Down By the River by Robyn Carr

down by the river

  • Title:  Down By the River
  • Series:  Grace Valley, #3
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Narrator:  Therese Plummer
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  2013 – Recorded Books
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  June Hudson is the town’s doctor, a caring, capable woman who now has a bit of explaining to do. People are beginning to notice the bloom in her cheeks – and the swell of her belly. Happily, DEA agent Jim Post is back in June’s arms for good, newly retired from undercover work and ready for new beginnings here in Grace Valley. Expecting the unexpected is a way of life in Grace Valley, and the community is overflowing with gossip right now. Who is the secret paramour June’s aunt Myrna is hiding? Does the town’s poker-playing pastor have too many aces up his sleeve? But when dangers, from man and nature, rise up with a vengeance to threaten June and the town, this community pulls together and shows what it’s made of. And Jim discovers the true meaning of happiness here in Grace Valley: There really is no place like home.  (publisher)

My take:  The publisher’s synopsis perfectly describes this final book in the Grace Valley trilogy. I enjoyed all three books that cover the arc of June’s journey from a single, thirty-something, overworked small town doctor to a life she hadn’t expected.

Robyn Carr wove threads of minor story lines through June’s story that enhanced the novel. Grace Valley is populated with people down on their luck, people of means who share unselfishly, and regular, flawed people just doing their best to get by. As this is the last book  I’m going to miss them all.

As usual, Therese Plummer’s narration was perfect for the book. I always enjoy her performances.

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This is the first series I’ve finished for the 2014 Finish The Series Reading Challenge!

Almost Perfect by Susan Mallery

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  • Title:  Almost Perfect
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold, #2
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Narrator:  Tanya Eby
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  June 2010 – Brilliance Audio
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  Back in high school, Liz Sutton was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Then she’d stolen the heart of the most popular boy in town and their secret romance helped her through the worst of times. Until Ethan Hendrix betrayed her and everything they’d ever meant to each other. Devastated and pregnant, Liz left Fool’s Gold, California forever, she thought. Now Liz must return to town and face the man who doesn’t know of their son’s existence. And this time she won’t have the option of making a quick getaway. Ethan and Liz can’t deny their passionate attraction, even after all these years. But will their desire be enough to spark a second chance at love? (publisher)

My take:  Almost Perfect is the second book in the Fool’s Gold series. I’ve read a few books out of order but I’ve found they can stand alone and I always enjoy my visits to Fool’s Gold. I thought Tanya Eby did a fine job with the narration.

I liked Liz. She’s an author who really doesn’t want anything to do with the town where she grew up. When she’s called home to Fool’s Gold for a family matter she drops everything and returns. Once there she deals with more than the family matter – she sees Ethan and stuns him with her news. I found Ethan  not very likable. I get why he’s upset but he was kind of a jerk through most of the book.

Susan Mallery’s story held my interest throughout. I had to see how Liz and Ethan would find their way to a happy ending. Woven into the main story was the thread about Liz’s nieces who’ve been abandoned by a stepmother. They depend on Liz to save them.  Familiar characters from the first book make appearances and, along with a few new ones, set the reader’s expectations for future books.

Nora Roberts Land by Ava Miles

Nora Roberts Land

  • Title:  Nora Roberts Land
  • Series:  Dare Valley, #1
  • Author:  Ava Miles
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Suspense
  • Published:  June 2013 – CreateSpace
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  Journalist Meredith Hale’s ex-husband claimed her Nora Roberts addiction gave her unrealistic expectations about marriage, and she believed him. All dreams of happily ever after—or Nora Roberts Land as her mother calls it—went up in smoke. But when her family asks her to temporarily help their Dare Valley, Colorado newspaper, she decides it’s time to change her life and prove her ex wrong. She’s determined to find her own small-town Nora Roberts hero, prove that true love exists, and publish a story about her quest.
War correspondent Tanner McBride has just returned stateside to work for a major newspaper, and the last thing he expects is blackmail. Yet, before he can even unpack, he’s headed to Colorado. His assignment? Make his boss’s ex-wife fall for him and then break her heart. Her article about discovering love à la Nora might air dirty laundry about her marriage to the media mogul, threatening his senate run. The mogul wants Meredith stopped, and he makes sure Tanner has no choice in the matter. . .  (publisher)

My take:  Nora Roberts Land is the first book in the Dare Valley series. I read the second, French Roastlast year and really enjoyed it. Book three is already published and I can’t wait to read it.

Meredith Hale is still recovering from her divorce. Her ex-husband  made her feel the failure of their marriage was her fault. When she leaves New York and her old life for Colorado and a chance to help at her family’s newspaper she decides to see if a happily ever after can be found – just like in Nora Roberts’ novels. When her ex hears about her plans he worries her article will make him look bad in his run for political office. He decides to send Tanner, a reporter, (under threat of blackmail) to pretend to fall in love with her and then break up – all to disprove her story so she won’t publish it. What he didn’t plan on was the reporter and Meredith actually falling in love.

There’s also a mystery to be solved. College kids are ending up in the ER or dead after partying. Alcohol and pot are involved but test results aren’t proving conclusive. Tanner and Meredith investigate and soon become involved in the story they’re investigating. There’s an exciting denouement that kept me turning the pages right through the epilogue.

Ava Miles’ small town series is one I’m enjoying. The setting is great and I like the main characters as well as the supporting ones. Like I said, I look forward to reading the third book, The Grand Opening, soon.