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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When We Met by Susan Mallery

I have come to realize that there are a handful of authors that are always very solid for me. They are rarely spectacular books and they tend to blur together in hindsight, but I look forward to reading them and I can trust them to pull me out of whatever reading slump I am in.  Nora Roberts is one. Jill Shalvis. And, as your probably guessed from the title of this post, Susan Mallery is another.  When We Met is the latest installment in the Fool's Gold series, and while the town itself is a bit unbelievable the books are satisfying and I will always request them from the library or NetGalley.

So what's this one about? Here's the blurb:

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.

Short review:
More memorable than most Fool's Gold books, but only because of Angel. Taryn will be forgettable.

The Long of it:
One of the problems/appeals of Fool's Gold (the town and the series both) is the amazing amount of extraordinary men in the town. Fool's Gold is supposed to be a small town where everyone knows everyone. It's full of quirky festivals and volunteer activity, which I buy, and also dozens of specially trained doctors and special forces and formerly pro athletes. I live in a very small town. Probably smaller than Fool's Gold. We have to drive hours to see a dermatologist, let alone a fancy burn specialist. We don't have a bodyguard school, a search and rescue club, a fancy hospital, or a Starbucks.  I occasionally get hung up on how it's possible that Fool's Gold is small enough for everyone to know each other, and yet large enough to support all these things. That said, I'm ok with an abundance of big masculine men.

Angel has been in Fool's Gold for half the series now. He's always mysterious and quiet and never mentions his past.  I've been waiting for his story, because I was looking forward to the time that the most dangerous of them all fell in love. When we finally do learn about his past, it only serves to make you love Angel more. He is full of heartbreak and guilt over the death of his wife (this is only the very slightest of spoilers, you know from the beginning) and the contrast between the big warrior with the scar on his neck and the man in love with his wife is really well done.  The book handles this really well- Maria is never pushed aside and his love for her  and memory of her is allowed to be all it should be.  Angel has decided that it's time to be a full part of Fool's Gold and contacts Mayor Marsha about volunteer opportunities (another thing- why would they see the Mayor? It just doesn't make sense) and gets assigned to a troop of little girls. Think Brownies, not Girl Scouts. They are seven. This is possibly the best part of the book and easily the most memorable. Angel is not at all prepared to guide seven year old girls but can't find a way to back down. So.. he asks Taryn to help.

Taryn is not particularly likable, or believable. She has a rough past but finally overcomes it to get her first real job at age 30.  Now, at 34, she's so successful as to be able to buy all designer clothes and shoes. What? REALLY? Even if you work hard and apply yourself, I just don't see that happening in four years. Taryn's defining characteristic is her love of nice clothes and shoes, and it's supposed to come off and cute and charming but it failed with me. I just kept thinking how it wasn't possible to spend thousands of dollars on a single pair of shoes over and over on four years work experience.  She had a tough childhood that makes it near impossible to trust anyone, and I did find that sympathetic and believable. Overall, I just didn't find Taryn to be a memorable lead.

The relationship itself is fairly well done. I love the opening scene and the way both characters pursue the affair. They aren't hesitant to go after they want and there is no internal resistance, which is rare in a romance novel.  The sexual tension is good, particularly in the beginning. I appreciated that they didn't skirt around Angel's late wife and he didn't cling to his love for her as a reason not to fall in love again.  Clearly, for me, this book hinges on Angel, with Taryn being much less interesting.

Would I recommend this book alone? No, but mainly because I'll forget all but the barest of facts within a month.
Would I recommend Susan Mallery and the Fool's Gold series? Yes, to anyone who enjoys a nice solid, mostly predictable comfort book, because that's what these are- total comfort.

1 comment:

  1. You do have a thing for Mallery books! I hate leads like Taryn. I'm willing to suspend belief on somethings but the clothes with her short work history particularly with as stressed as it sounds like it is would bother me too.


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