The Friendship List

The Friendship List by Susan Mallery

Published:  August 2020 – HQN

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Already a worldwide success in mass market and trade paperback formats, Susan Mallery’s newest hardcover is an emotional, witty, and heartfelt story about two best friends who are determined to help one another shake things up and live life to the fullest…only to discover that possibilities are everywhere–especially in the most unexpected of places.

Ellen and Unity have been best friends basically since birth, but they couldn’t be more different. Unity married her childhood sweetheart just after high school and became an Army wife, moving from base to base…until her husband’s shocking death in the line of duty leaves her a widow. Grief-stricken, it’s time for Unity to come back home to Ellen—the only person she can trust to help her rebuild her life. But Ellen has troubles of her own. Boys never seemed to notice Ellen…until one got her pregnant in high school and disappeared. Her son is now 17 and she’s wondering what to do with herself now that he’s heading off to college and he’s literally her entire world.

But now that Ellen and Unity are reunited, they’re done with their stale lives. It’s time to shake things up and start living again, knowing that they’ll always have one another to lean on. So they create a list of challenges they have to accomplish–everything from getting a tattoo to skydiving to staying out all night. And whoever completes the most challenges is the winner. But with new adventures and love just around the corner, there’s no such thing as losing…

My take:  Ellen and Unity have been friends since they were young girls. Ellen, a single mom of a seventeen year old son, got pregnant the night of her junior prom (the last time she went out with her son’s father). She had her son, finished high school and then college while living with her parents, and then got on with life as a single mom. Unity married her high school sweetheart. He was in the army and when he was killed she returned to their hometown. Ellen and Unity have been stuck in emotional ruts and they realize they aren’t getting any younger so they challenge each other with writing a list of things each woman wants/needs to do.  It was fun to see them start to come out of their shells as they crossed items off and courageously moved toward a new phase of life. Susan Mallery balanced the serious subjects with a light tone and humor. A reader discussion guide and a few recipes are included at the end.


About the author:

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship and romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—forty million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two Ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as Mom.

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Meant to be Yours by Susan Mallery

Meant to be Yours by Susan Mallery

Published:  October 22, 2019 – HQN

Digital galley courtesy of HQN and NetGalley

Description: In Happily Inc, love means never having to say “I do”…

Wedding coordinator Renee Grothen isn’t meant for marriage. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, plan. But she never could have planned on gorgeous, talented thriller writer Jasper Dembenski proposing—a fling, that is. Fun without a future. And the attraction between them is too strong for Renee to resist. Now she can have her no-wedding cake…and eat it, too.

After years in the military, Jasper is convinced he’s too damaged for relationships. So a flirtation—and more—with fiery, determined Renee is way too good to pass up…until his flame becomes his muse.

Renee is an expert at averting every crisis. But is she finally ready to leap into the one thing that can never be controlled: love? (publisher)

My take:  Meant to be Yours is book 5 in the Happily Inc series. It’s the first one I’ve read and I wasn’t lost so don’t be afraid to jump in here. This is a story of two people who know they are not candidates for marriage but they want to take a chance on a relationship. This trope can go either way in my experience but I have to say I liked how Susan Mallery brought her characters along. Renee works at a wedding event business and Jasper is a famous author. He also deals with PTSD from his time in the military. Renee has her own demons from a former relationship that went bad. So these two have to go through some challenges to get to a possible happy ending. I enjoyed the wedding event theme and the rescued dog and cats that end up rescuing their humans. All in all, an enjoyable read. Recommended to fans of the series and Susan Mallery.


Author Bio:

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as mom.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @susanmallery

Facebook: @SusanMallery

Instagram: @susanmallery

Goodreads

MEANT TO BE YOURS

Author: Susan Mallery

ISBN: 9781335041494

Publication Date: 10/22/19

Publisher: HQN Books

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

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Amazon

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Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery

  • Title:  Secrets of the Tulip Sisters
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  July 2017 – Harlequin Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Kelly Murphy’s life as a tulip farmer is pretty routine—up at dawn, off to work, lather, rinse, repeat. But everything changes one sun-washed summer with two dramatic homecomings: Griffith Burnett—Tulpen Crossing’s prodigal son, who’s set his sights on Kelly—and Olivia, her beautiful, wayward and, as far as Kelly is concerned, unwelcome sister. Tempted by Griffith, annoyed by Olivia, Kelly is overwhelmed by the secrets that were so easy to keep when she was alone. 

But Olivia’s return isn’t as triumphant as she pretends. Her job has no future, and ever since her dad sent her away from the bad boy she loved, she has felt cut off from her past. She’s determined to reclaim her man and her place in the family…whether her sister likes it or not. For ten years, she and Kelly have been strangers. Olivia will get by without her approval now. 

While Kelly and Olivia butt heads, their secrets tumble out in a big hot mess, revealing some truths that will change everything they thought they knew. Can they forgive each other—and themselves—and redefine what it means to be sisters?  (publisher)

My take:  Susan Mallery’s newest contemporary romance is a stand-alone novel about the relationships of two sisters, one best friend, and the men in their lives. And they all carry big secrets that threaten to change their relationships when revealed or discovered. Told in her usual entertaining and heartfelt style, Mallery’s story pulled me in with the lovely small-town Washington state setting and the intriguing dynamics of all characters involved. Could they survive when times get messy? You’ll have to read to find out. I enjoyed this novel about learning to trust oneself and the important people in one’s life. It’s a breezy read – perfect for the beach, poolside or anywhere you care to spend a few relaxing hours.


About the author:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women. Publishers Weekly calls Susan’s prose “luscious and provocative,” and Booklist says, “Novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor, and superb storytelling.” Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle.


 

A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery

  • a-million-little-things-feb17Title:  A Million Little Things
  • Series:  Mischief Bay #3
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

Description:  From the bestselling author of The Girls of Mischief Bay and The Friends We Keep comes a twisty tale of family dynamics that explores what can go terribly, hysterically wrong when the line between friendship and family blurs…

Zoe Saldivar is more than just single – she’s ALONE. She recently broke up with her longtime boyfriend, she works from home and her best friend Jen is so obsessed with her baby that she has practically abandoned their friendship. The day Zoe accidentally traps herself in her attic with her hungry-looking cat, she realizes that it’s up to her to stop living in isolation.

Her seemingly empty life takes a sudden turn for the complicated – her first new friend is Jen’s widowed mom, Pam. The only guy to give her butterflies in a very long time is Jen’s brother. And meanwhile, Pam is being very deliberately seduced by Zoe’s own smooth-as-tequila father. Pam’s flustered, Jen’s annoyed and Zoe is beginning to think “alone” doesn’t sound so bad, after all.

Friendship isn’t just one thing – it’s a million little things, and no one writes them with more heart and humor than book club sensation Susan Mallery!  (publisher)

My take:  A Million Little Things is the third book in the Mischief Bay trilogy but it can stand alone.

Zoe is frustrated with how she’s let others determine her life and happiness to this point. She’s not happy with her job and isn’t sure she made the right decision in buying a house. After all, she bought it because she hoped her boyfriend would want to get married and they could raise a family there. Then reality stepped in and she broke up with the boyfriend.

Zoe’s friend Jen is married and has a toddler. She also is filled with anxiety about almost everything in her life. Even though her husband, mother and Zoe try to convince her to get help she’s determined to get control of things herself. I really felt sorry for her. Anxiety is not an easy thing to live with and that’s what she tried to do.

Pam, Jen’s mom and a widow of two years, is learning how to live without her husband. She’d been doing a pretty good job of it until her loved ones started throwing challenges her way. They weren’t necessarily bad things but they challenged her idea of how things should be. She was starting to feel out of control. Lucky for her she has a tight-knit group of friends. But then they started to make her question how she was reacting to situations. An interesting predicament, for sure.

I liked this novel about people learning to make adjustments in life. Being able to do that means growth, I think. And don’t we all want to keep growing as we move forward in life? I read the second book in the trilogy and look forward to reading the first at some point. If you’re a fan of Susan Mallery and contemporary fiction I think you’ll enjoy A Million Little Things.


About the author:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women. Publishers Weekly calls Susan’s prose “luscious and provocative, ” and Booklist says, “Novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor, and superb storytelling.” Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle. Visit her at www.susanmallery.com.


PRAISE FOR THE MISCHIEF BAY SERIES

“Once again, Susan Mallery has created an inviting world that envelops her readers’ senses and sensibilities… Fans of Jodi Picoult, Debbie Macomber, and Elin Hilderbrand will assuredly fall for The Girls of Mischief Bay.” — Bookreporter on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Mallery skillfully depicts three very different women in different stages of their romantic relationships who enter into unbreakable friendships… Will appeal to fans of women’s fiction, especially such friendship books as Karen Joy Fowler’s The Jane Austen Book Club.”
— Booklist on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Fresh and engaging…the writing is strong, the dialogue genuine and believable. There’s a generational subtext that mirrors reality and the complexities of adult relationships…filled with promise of a new serial that’s worth following.” — Fort Worth Star-Telegram on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Romance superstar Mallery begins a new women’s fiction series with a novel that is both heart-wrenching and warmhearted… A discerning, affecting look at three women facing surprising change and the powerful and uplifting impact of friends.”— Kirkus Reviews on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“You will become totally invested in each of these characters and their struggles and root for a happy ending. Can’t wait for the next installment from Ms. Mallery and The Girls of Mischief Bay!” — Fresh Fictionon The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Mallery’s series debut is an emotional lesson in triumphs and tragedies told in her iconic eloquent style… Her exceptional handling of the climactic hard knocks and joyful events, and her tiny canine co-star, rocked.” — RT Book Reviews on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Highly original and fascinating page-turner… Mallery brings our inner lives to the surface and evokes deep emotions from her readers.” — RT Book Reviews on The Friends We Keep

“The characters will have you crying, laughing, and falling in love… another brilliantly well-written story.” — San Francisco Book Review on The Friends We Keep

“Gabby, Haley, and Nicole are down-to-earth real women with whom readers will be able to identify, and Mallery successfully balances each story line. The women’s stories and the depth of support they provide one another make this an engaging read to be savored all the way through.” — Publishers Weekly on The Friends We Keep

“[A]n intersecting tale of the ties that bind and strangle…a novel about the relationships among women, friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, and stepchildren, with a strongly woven romantic subplot.” — Library Journal on The Friends We Keep

the-girls-of-mischief-bay  the friends we keep (2:23)  a-million-little-things-feb17

Best of My Love by Susan Mallery

  • best of my love (4:26)Title:  Best of My Love
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #20
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance series
  • Published:  April 26, 2016 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  Shelby Gilmore, sister to Kipling who was featured in a previous book in the Fool’s Gold series, has decided it’s time to take control of her future by dealing with her issues from the past. The main issue is that she can’t trust men. Her abusive father is responsible for that. She decides to ask Aidan Mitchell, a guy she barely knows, to help her overcome that issue by being a friend. Nothing more, nothing less. If nothing else, she’ll find out if it’s even possible to be friends with a guy. But can it be that simple?

Aidan is at a point in life where he decides being friends with a woman sounds like a good plan. He has come to the realization that having an eternal string of “girlfriends” who never last more than a week might not be the greatest way to go through life. In the end, learning to trust another person could be easier for these two than learning to trust themselves.

Susan Mallery wrote an entertaining love story with an unconventional premise. Filled with many familiar characters from the series, I can say it’s not necessary to have read any of the previous novels but it was fun to see what was new in their lives. Recommended to fans of the Fool’s Gold series. I thought it was a nice, easy vacation read.

The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery

  • the friends we keep (2:23)Title:  The Friends We Keep
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Published:  February 2016 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description: After five years as a stay-at-home mom, Gabby Schaefer can’t wait to return to work. Oh, to use the bathroom in peace! No twins clamoring at the door, no husband barging in, no stepdaughter throwing a tantrum. But when her plans are derailed by some shocking news and her husband’s crushing expectations, Gabby must fight for the right to have a life of her own. 

Getting pregnant is easy for Hayley Batchelor. Staying pregnant is the hard part. Her husband is worried about the expensive fertility treatments and frantic about the threat to her health. But to Hayley, a woman who was born to be a mom should risk everything to fulfill her destiny—no matter how high the cost. 

Nicole Lord is still shell-shocked by a divorce that wasn’t as painful as it should’ve been. Other than the son they share, her ex-husband left barely a ripple in her life. A great new guy tempts her to believe maybe the second time’s the charm…but how can she trust herself to recognize true love?  (publisher)

My take:  So we have Gaby who looks forward to going back to work when her twins start school, Hayley who wants nothing more than to have a baby no matter what the cost, and Nicole who doesn’t want to trust her heart to anyone.

I think my favorite character was Hayley because of her emotional dilemma. I really felt sympathy for her. That said, she really needed some therapy to work through her issues. I imagine a book group would have a lot to discuss about her and the other two main characters – especially groups whose members are raising young families. I’m past that stage so when I got a little frustrated with the characters I chalked it up to where I am in life.

Recommended to fans of the author and women’s fiction.

Hold Me by Susan Mallery

  • Hold Me (April28)Title:  Hold Me
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #16
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  April 28, 2015 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Destiny Mills is in Fool’s Gold for the summer. She works for a company that provides software to search and rescue departments in the US and Canada. The mayor of Fool’s Gold hired her to work with the local S&R team.

Kipling Gilmore was a world-class skier until an accident changed his life. He’s lucky to be alive much less able to walk. The mayor hired him to head up the S&R team in Fool’s Gold.

Both Destiny and Kipling had less than desirable upbringings. Destiny’s parents are country music stars who divorced after a tumultuous marriage. Both went on to have several partners resulting in more children. Until their divorce and Destiny (age 10 at the time) went to live with her grandmother she’d never felt secure, much less loved. Kipling was raised with a violent father who said all the right words but his actions said other. He was able to leave that life when he moved in with his ski coach and family but he felt guilty leaving his sister to bear the brunt of their father’s anger. It’s no wonder neither Destiny nor Kipling think they can have a normal relationship – they don’t think they are capable because it was never modeled by the adults in their lives.

These two had a lot to overcome. Being a romance novel the reader knows there will be a happy ending. I have to say while I really liked the main storyline of Hold Me I found the secondary plots almost silly. But, this a series I enjoy so I’ll continue to read the books as they are published. I’m hooked. I recommend this book to fans of the Fool’s Gold series, small town romance, and Susan Mallery.

Yours For Christmas by Susan Mallery

  • yours for christmasTitle:  Yours For Christmas
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #15.5
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  October 2014 – Harlequin
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Famous former NFL stars don’t date single working moms like Bailey Voss. She’ll allow herself to daydream about Kenny Scott’s muscles and killer smile, but wanting more would lead to post-holiday regret. Then Kenny volunteers to run a toy drive with Bailey, and she learns that he’s not just hot he’s also generous, funny, nice. The whole package tantalizingly out of reach.

The ache of past loss reminds Kenny why he needs to avoid getting too close to anyone. Especially to a gorgeous redhead and her adorable little girl. Mess it up, and he’d lose them both. Yet Kenny can only resist Bailey for so long. And as festive spirit spreads throughout the town, he’s all wrapped up in Bailey’s sweet, sexy kisses and determined to make this the first of many Christmases together.  (publisher)

My take:  Yours For Christmas is a novella featuring two characters that fans of the Fool’s Gold series have come to love. We learn that Kenny has issues stemming from an emotional event years earlier that prevent him from wanting to become involved with Bailey. Bailey is a widow with a seven year old daughter and they both have a huge crush on Kenny. Bailey wants to provide a safe and normal life for her daughter but she doesn’t want her to get too close to Kenny if there’s a chance he’ll leave – becoming yet another loss for the little girl.

Susan Mallery filled her novella with a lot of heart-tugging emotion but the title reminded me that things would most likely work out for Kenny and Bailey. I enjoyed reading how it all came about and recommend this novella to fans of the Fool’s Gold series.

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.

Until We Touch by Susan Mallery

Until We Touch (Aug12)

  • Title:  Until We Touch
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold # 15
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; series
  • Published:  June 2014 – Harlequin HQN
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  After a family tragedy, former football hero Jack McGarry keeps the world at arm’s length—a challenge now that his PR firm has moved to neighborly Fool’s Gold, California. 
Larissa Owens knows where she stands—Jack sees her as just another one of the guys. No matter what her heart wishes, Jack’s her boss, not her boyfriend. But then Larissa’s big secret is revealed…by her mother! 
When Jack discovers the truth about Larissa’s feelings, her touch suddenly becomes tantalizing, and he’s not sure he wants to resist. But if he gives in to desire, heartache is sure to follow. Friendship or true love—will Jack go for the ultimate play?  (publisher)

My take:  Jack McGarry has been operating on autopilot for most of his life – ever since his twin brother died when they were teens. He’s a self-described shell of a man who financially backs the causes of his friend and assistant Larissa. When the two become romantically involved everything is great – until it isn’t. Pressure from unexpected sources throw Jack into a tail-spin and he lashes out at everyone near and dear to him.

I really wanted to love this addition to the Fool’s Gold series but ended up liking it. The actions of Jack toward those he loved most were explained but, I don’t know, I just didn’t buy it. Regardless, Susan Mallery wrote an emotional ending that was sweet (although rather abrupt).

Despite that I found Until We Touch not as strong as others in the series, I’m a fan of the Fool’s Gold series and look forward to the next book.

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.

Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery

Before we Kiss

  • Title:  Before We Kis
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #14
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Published:  May 2014 – Harlequin
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Former pro-football kicker Sam Ridge has notoriously bad luck with women—from cheaters to fame chasers. Still, the gorgeous brunette at the bar in Fool’s Gold looks harmless—until she takes him home and he discovers a room devoted to securing a man, for life. 
Dellina Hopkins never guessed that storing gowns from a friend’s bridal boutique would chase away her first and only fling. After her parents died, she skipped her “wild youth” to raise her sisters. She doesn’t want forever from Sam, but one night—all night—would’ve been nice. 
His clean getaway gets messy when his firm hires Dellina to plan an event. As long hours lead to late nights, the two succumb to temptation again. Has Sam’s luck finally changed? Or this time, will Dellina be the one to run?  (publisher)

My take:  This book was a lot of fun. Sure it had it’s emotional moments but, that aside, I also laughed a lot while reading it.  Sam and Dellina’s love story was a good one but even more entertaining were their family members. His uninhibited, inappropriate information sharing parents and her sister who had to find a way to make her boyfriend propose after asking him to wait – they added a lot of humor to the story.

Susan Mallery also set up future books in the Fool’s Gold series by having Mayor Marsha take a mysterious trip to New Zealand. I look forward to those books. I can see a never-ending source of books for this series and I’ll probably want to read them all.  Recommended to fans of the series and small town contemporary romance.

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.

When We Met by Susan Mallery

when we met (April29)

  • Title:  When We Met
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold; #13
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  April 29, 2014 – Harlequin HQN
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery invites you back to Fool’s Gold, where a newcomer to town might finally meet the man she never knew she needed… 

Angel Whittaker earned his scars the hard way, but the scars that can’t be seen are the ones that haunt him the most. Since he moved to Fool’s Gold, California, he’s cobbled together a life for himself as a bodyguard trainer. If he’s not exactly happy, at least his heart is safe. 

Working with pro-football superstars taught tough-talking PR woman Taryn Crawford one thing—she can go toe-to-toe with any man. But then dark, dangerous former Special Ops Angel targets her for seduction…and challenges her to resist his tempting kisses. Even in four-inch heels, Taryn never backs down. Unless, somehow, Angel can convince her that surrender might feel even better than victory.

My take:  This is the story of two people who vow never to give themselves over to a relationship. Taryn because of the devastating rejection she felt as a young girl and Angel because of the unimaginable loss he suffered in the not so distant past.

Taryn and Angel are very likable characters. They are confident yet also vulnerable. Determined to just enjoy dating, will they be able to keep it at that level?  I enjoyed Susan Mallery’s latest addition to the Fool’s Gold series. I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for both Angel and Taryn. Their reluctance to give themselves over to a chance for love was understandable yet I hoped for more. Mallery didn’t disappoint. She also added comedy in the form of Angel leading a group in a local organization. At the time he volunteered he had no idea his group would be made up of 7 year old girls. It was a fun storyline. There’s exciting drama near the end of the book that kept me turning the pages. All in all, if you’re a fan of the series I think you’ll like When We Met.

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.

A Fool’s Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery

a fool's gold christmas

  • Title:  A Fool’s Gold Christmas
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #9.5
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  October 2013 – Harlequin
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  The cheer in Fool’s Gold, California, is bringing out the humbug in dancer Evie Stryker. An injury has forced her to return home to her estranged family. So she won’t add to the awkward scenario by falling for the charms of her brother’s best friend, no matter how tempting he is. When she’s recruited to stage the winter festival, she vows to do as promised, then move on, anywhere but here. 

Jaded lawyer Dante Jefferson is getting used to the town he now calls home, but the pounding of little dancers’ feet above his office is more than he can take. When he confronts their gorgeous teacher, he’s unprepared for their searing attraction. Evie is his best friend’s sister—off-limits unless he’s willing to risk his heart. Dante has always believed that love is dangerous, but that was before he had to reckon with the magic of a certain small town, where miracles do seem to happen….  (publisher)

My take:  If you’ve read the previous books in this series you know Fool’s Gold, CA prides itself on celebrating holidays in a big way. Christmas is no exception – the annual Christmas Eve performance of The Dance of the Winter King features the young students of the town dance classes. Evie, the dance teacher, has a personal history she’s worked hard to overcome. The same could be said for Dante. When the two get together (after agreeing on a no-strings arrangement) they set themselves up for disappointment during what should be the happiest time of year.

Over all I enjoyed this Christmas addition to the series. The only thing that kept me from loving it is the trope of the guy doing something that causes emotional pain to the girl. That issue aside, I liked Mallery’s story and characters. They are as charming and attractive as usual. The HEA wrapped everything up with a nice bow and left me looking forward to the next book in the series.