Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday Review: More HEAs in Fool’s Gold

Susan Mallery calls her fictional world of Fool’s Gold, California, “The Land of Happy Endings.”  The growing cast of appealing, distinctive characters and the uniqueness of Fool’s Gold with its man shortage and the history behind that shortage make this series a standout among the ever-growing subgenre of small-town series. I’m a long-time Susan Mallery fan, but I knew she had hit upon something special with this HQN series when I read the first book, Chasing Perfect, in April 2010. I’m hooked for the duration.

Mallery recently added three more happy endings for citizens of the small town with three books about the Hendrix triplets, younger sisters of Ethan Hendrix, hero of Almost Perfect, (Fool’s Gold Book 2).

Only Mine (July 26, 2011) is the story of Dakota, a psychologist who joins the production staff of a reality show filming in Fool’s Gold to protect the interests and image of the town and Finn Andersson, a pilot from South Salmon, Alaska, who plans to be in Fool’s Gold only long enough to make sure that his twin brothers give up their absurd idea of being contestants on the show and return to complete their final semester of college. I gave Dakota’s story four stars in my review at The Romance Dish in early August. Books 5 and 6 arrived on bookshelves on the heels of Only Mine.

Only Yours
By Susan Mallery
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: August 30, 2011
4.5 Stars

Only Yours is Montana’s story. While her sisters found their vocations, Montana has wandered, but since she has begun working with therapy dogs, she has found the sense of purpose that’s been missing. A hospital visit with a rambunctious canine called Fluffy leads to a stormy confrontation with Dr. Simon Bradley.
Simon, a plastic surgeon temporarily on staff at the Fool’s Gold hospital, is fiercely devoted to his patients, so despite his contretemps with Montana and Fluffy, when a young burn patient begs to see the puppy, Simon requests a visit from Montana and a therapy dog smaller and less exuberant than Fluffy. Prepared for a professional relationship, Simon is blindsided by the powerful attraction he feels for the sunny-natured Montana.

Physically and emotionally scarred by an abusive childhood and an isolated adolescence, Simon is a loner who defines himself by his medical practice, flying all over the world to treat burn victims. He has no family, few friends, and no place he calls home. He is the opposite of Montana with her large, closely connected family, her circle of friends, and her roots in Fool’s Gold. Their differences add to the attraction, but they also magnify the obstacles that stand in the way of an HEA.

As much as I have enjoyed the Fool’s Gold books, I have been troubled more than once by what seemed to me the real jerkiness of several of the heroes. Unlike those heroes, Simon’s past is so horrific and his coping strategies so entrenched that his behavior is understandable and forgivable. Montana is a delight and her openness, compassion, and joy are exactly what Simon needs. I loved these two together, and the developing secondary romance between the triplets’ mother and Montana’s boss was a wonderful bonus.

Only His
By Susan Mallery
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: September 27, 2011
5 Stars

Only His is Nevada’s story. Eager to prove herself without the support of the family business, she applies for the job of construction manager with Janack Construction, the company that’s building a casino/resort complex on tribal land in Fool’s Gold. She’s caught by surprise when the man interviewing her is not the head of the company but his son Tucker—her one-time friend, the man who broke her heart, and the source of her greatest humiliation.

Tucker is one job away from taking over the company from his father. He plans to spend a year in Fool’s Gold seeing the project through the first stage of construction before resuming his nomadic lifestyle. He knows how important relationships with the locals can be to his project, and Nevada Hendrix’s expertise and connections make her the best person for the construction manager’s job—if only they can move beyond their past and he can ignore his attraction to her.

As if the situation weren’t complicated enough, Caterina Stoicasescu, the self-absorbed artist and former child prodigy with whom Tucker had been obsessed for years shows up as the guest artist for one of Fool’s Gold’s many festivals. Neither he nor Nevada is prepared for the drama that follows in Cat’s wake. Nevada is also struggling with the changes the double wedding of her sisters will bring to the triplets’ relationship and with the shock of walking in on her mother at a revealing moment.

Through all the complications, Nevada and Tucker grow closer, becoming friends and lovers as well as working together. But the road to a happy ending is filled with twists and potholes. Nevada wants permanence and Tucker still sees himself as a vagabond with no ties.

This is my favorite if the 2011 Fool’s Gold books. I fell hard for Tucker. He’s a charmer with a sense of humor and a low jerk quotient, and even when he runs from commitment, it doesn’t take him long to see his wrongheadedness.  Nevada is a strong heroine, a risk-taker who excels in a male-dominated profession and addresses her relationship with Tucker with a refreshing directness. Cat adds an unexpected element, and as usual with Mallery’s books, the secondary romances are terrific additions to the main story. I loved all the humor in this one too, and I was happy to see more of Pia and Raoul.  Now I’m wondering if Charlie the firefighter, Annabelle the new librarian, and Heidi the goat girl will be the heroines of future Fool’s Gold books.

Fool’s Gold has become one of my favorite fictional places, and I look forward to many more visits.

What are your favorite fictional towns? Have you visited Fool’s Gold yet?


MsHellion said...

Yes, she does have some real jerky heroes. *LOL* I did love Simon though; he was as sweetheart. And I loved Raphael (I think that was his name); he seemed very sweet.

But the one married to Liz. OH. MY. GOD. Every other page I wanted to stab him repeatedly. I was not particularly happy when they ended up together because he was such a complete ass. I was so angry at this book, I was reading it before a massage appt--and I bitched about it to the lady. Next appt she asked me if I was still reading the book with the asshole guy and suddenly I remembered the book I'd been reading and I got pissed off all over again about it! *LOL* What a douche canoe that guy was.

And I can handle some jerky--but he never acknowledged any wrong doing. Even when he stopped being a jackass, he never really acknowledged he was the cause of his own unhappiness. Putz.

See, I'm still pissed about it. *LOL*

But aside from him, I've liked the other stories. (I missed out on the very first book though; was he a douche canoe as well?)

irisheyes said...

Hands down, my favorite fictional town would have to be Virgin River. I just love the sense of place Robyn Carr has created with that series.

I haven't tried Susan Mallery's books yet. The jerk heroes kind of scare me a little. Those types of books tend to be wallbangers for me. For some reason I can deal with a heroine that I'm not too fond of but the hero has to be likable. And one of my huge pet peaves is a hero who doesn't do enough grovelling or is a jerk but accepted anyway. Especially when the author makes it seem like the heroine just can't help herself because of the physical attraction between the two of them. IMHO, if he's a jerk there is no physical attraction. That's one of those plot lines that, no matter how you present it, it just won't fly with me.

I'll have to visit Fool's Gold and see how I like it, though! The characters and situations you've described sound really unusual.

Jane said...

I have visited Fool's Gold. I enjoyed the first three books in the series. Another fictional town I like is Toni Blake's Destiny.

Janga said...

Hellie, the one Liz married was Ethan Hendrix, brother of the triplets. I like him a lot more in the other books, but I agree that he was a prime jerk in Almost Perfect. He seemed even worse because I loved Liz. Josh Golden in Chasing Perfect didn't bother nearly as much as Ethan. And I loved RaoulMoreno in Finding Perfect. He was my favorite in the series until Tucker in Only His. Mallery is batting .500 for the heroes in this series. That's good enough to keep me hooked on the Fool'd Gold books and keep Mallery on my autobuy list.

Janga said...

Irish, I think you'd like the series. I'm a big Mallery fan. And while I wanted to hit Finn in Only Mine, he had some great qualities too. It's just Ethan I could never forgive. I feel the same way about Alex in EJ's Potent Pleasures, and you know how much I love EJ's books.

And yes to Virgin River as a wonderful town. It has to be to keep us coming back for sixteen stories. LOl

Janga said...

Jane, I love Toni Blake's Destiny books too. I've already read Holly Lane (#4) and am looking forward to Willow Springs in July.

MsHellion said...

It's just Ethan I could never forgive.

Amen. *LOL*

He really was an asshole. *LOL*

And I loved Liz too. So that was the problem--and when she kept trying to justify him...ugh!

Janga said...

Hellie, on one level, it's a testament to Mallery's characterization skills that we could hardly be more indignant if Ethan were a real person. LOL

MsHellion said...

*LOL* True, Janga. I thought the same thing in an effort to calm myself. "This guy doesn't actually exist." But the reality is THIS guy exists a lot. *LOL*

I cannot complain about the level of "realism" and "accuracy" at all. He definitely walked off the page for me.

Now if I could only have slapped him.

StaceyC4 said...

I certainly wouldn't mind living in Fools Gold, that's for sure! Dr. Simon Bradley was, by far, my all time favorite hero and Ethan, and I think we're all in agreement here, the WORST. This series has been wonderful and I can't wait for the next trilogy to come out next year!

PJ said...

I'm a long-time fan of Mallery's books but I haven't started the Fool's Gold series yet. No specific reason other than a lack of time. I need to get busy and catch up!

Virgin River and Destiny are both favorite destinations of mine. I'm also enjoying the Shelter Bay books by JoAnn Ross.

If you like romantic suspense, I highly recommend Bella Terra, a small town in the California wine country that's the setting of Christina Dodd's wonderful new Scarlet Deception series!

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Loving this series but I'm such a Susan Mallery fan.

Kelly said...

My favorite fictional towns are Fool's Gold, Virgin River, and Cedar Cove! I love the sense of community Susan Mallery, Robyn Carr, and Debbie Macomber have created with their series!

Janga said...

Stacy, I love Simon too and share your anticipation of next year's trio of Fool's Gold books. I'm looking forward to Maller's new women's fiction series too.

Janga said...

I'm glad you mentioned the Shelter Bay books, PJ. JoAnn Ross's books are sometimes overlooked, and I am really enjoying the series. And you know I've been a fan of La Dodd's forever.

I know we also share an affection for Emily March's Eternity Springs books.

Janga said...

Marilyn, I'm a Mallery fan too, from way back. Thanks for stopping by.

Janga said...

Kelly, I recently read 1225 Christmas Tree Lane and found the experience bittersweet since it's the last of the Cedar Cove books. I agree that Cedar Cove is another wonderful community.

MissSnarky said...

I just love Fool's Gold!

MissSnarky said...

I just love Fool's Gold and all the characters Susan Mallery has created that live there!

Angela MacIntyre said...

I'm a huge Susan Mallery fan and I love Fool's Gold! I loved Dr. Simon in Only Yours, but Only His was so laugh out loud funny, I think it might be my favorite of the series. One word... armadillo!!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely adore Ms. Susan! So far Only Yours is my fav but I think that's because I haven't finished Only His yet. I don't want it to end! Ms. Susan keeps getting better & better...

Janga said...

MissSnarky, Angela, and Cha-Cha, I'm not surprised that Fool's Gold has so many fans. It is a terrific series. Thanks for visiting.