If you have read any of my reviews of Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series, you will know that I’m a big fan of this town and of the menagerie of people and creatures that exist within its boundaries.
My two most recent visits to this fabulous fictional town have been the past two Christmas novellas. These little sneak peeks into the lives and loves of the townsfolk are such fun – it’s like heading home and catching up with family and friends for the weekend. As always, I enjoyed my lightning visit to Fool’s Gold.
I will say that on occasion, the novellas veered towards the edge of the instalove cliff, however with the deft handling of Ms Mallery, they steer away from danger just in time. There was just enough in these two novellas, A Fool’s Gold Christmas and Christmas on 4th Street to whet my appetite for the 2014 trilogy, which features people from the newly relocated sports PR firm. Definitely looking forward to seeing what else this place has in store for us….
A Fool’s Gold Christmas (#9.5, the 2012 Christmas novella)
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….
Evie’s always felt as if she was the odd one out. The circumstances surrounding her birth have led to a strained relationship with her mother, and has affected her ability to create a bond with her brothers. On her own for a long time, when her dance career comes to a screeching halt, Evie finds herself back in the town, and surrounded by the family she’s never really felt a part of.
Dante’s not that keen on living in Fool’s Gold. A city guy by all accounts, he’s keen to get out of town as soon as he is able to. However with the relocation of his business (Rafe Stryker is his business partner) to Fool’s Gold, Dante is there for a while.
With Evie’s dance studio and Dante’s office sharing a building, it’s inevitable that they will cross paths. But neither is looking to find a reason to stay – that is, until they meet…
I’ve been really keen to read this one since Christmas 2012. But for some reason, I hadn’t been able to come across a copy until now.
The chemistry between Evie and Dante was fantastic. I liked that even within the confines of a novella, Susan Mallery resisted the urge to have them instantly fall in love – they both had to work for it, and move past their issues first. Dante’s past has taught him that loving someone is dangerous, and to see him discover otherwise was fun.
There’s also some resolution to Evie’s relationship with her family. It was great to see her put on her big-girl panties and be brave enough to accept an apology from her mother (whose behaviour still leaves a lot to be desired IMHO). It’s not to say that she’s forgotten about the past, she’s just learning to move past it.
I enjoyed A Fool’s Gold Christmas quite a lot, and it was as always lovely to catch up with the people of Fool’s Gold. Oh, and I want a kitty like Alexander!
My rating: 4 out of 5.
Christmas on 4th Street (#12.5, the 2013 Christmas novella)
Noelle Perkins just got a second chance at life, and she intends to make the most of every minute. That’s why she ditched a frustrating legal career to open her own store in Fool’s Gold, California. The Christmas Attic celebrates everything that’s magical about her favorite season. Business is booming, and as a bonus, gorgeous army doctor Gabriel Boylan has offered to help out during the holiday rush.
Gabriel’s memories of Christmas past contain more sour grapes than sugar plums, thanks to a drill sergeant father who ran his home like a boot camp. Spending the holidays with his family while he recuperates from injury sounds as appetizing as last year’s eggnog. Still, there are some enjoyable distractions in town, including sunny, sexy Noelle…and the red-hot mistletoe kisses they can’t stop sharing.
Gabriel didn’t think he was made for happily-ever-afters. But when fate hands you a love as sweet and surprising as this, only a fool could refuse….
Noelle’s come to Fool’s Gold on a whim, wanting to start her life afresh after a battle with illness. Her love for Christmas has drawn her to the festival town of Fool’s Gold, where she opens a store for all things festive.
Gabriel is getting over his physical injuries, while trying to navigate the difficult waters of a strained family Christmas. Reconnecting with his family after years of service is not high on his list of priorities.
Noelle wants forever, Gabriel doesn’t believe in it.
This was a really sweet and cute story, not super spicy, but it fit the mood of the season quite well. I like that even though both are past the initial physical impact of their hurts, they acknowledge that their issues are not yet fully resolved and try to work through then, The chemistry was adorable, and I enjoyed getting to spend time with these two. And of course with Felicia (possibly one of my favourite Susan Mallery characters).
The resolution of this story was just a little too neat and quick – even for a novella. I really enjoyed the rest of Christmas on 4th Street, but the insta-end was probably what kept it from being a full four-star review.
Side Note: I love a wedding as much as anyone, but can I just say this? Please resist the urge to write triple and quadruple weddings – it doesn’t work for me and it just seems a little contrived. Romantic and sweet, for sure, just not my general cup of tea.
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Note: I was provided with an advance reader copy by HQN, an imprint of Harlequin Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.