Review: The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery

    
Life sure surprises us. Maybe we get comfortable for a while, but sooner or later the road we’re on takes a sharp turn. How we handle the turn makes all the difference. 

So it is with friends Gabby, Hayley, and Nicole. Whether it’s upheaval in marriage, with children, or at work, the ladies lean on each other for support and laughs. 

The ladies really worked on being good people to themselves and each other. It was nice to read good conversation that reflected positively on women and their families. 

The beginning seemed very planned, bordering on contrived. I felt like I could practically see the framework of the plot — and it should be invisible to the reader!  However, as the characters grew into themselves, the story flowed better and seemed more natural.  The development of secondary characters helped, too. 

By the end, Mallery had me crying. I appreciated each character, flaws and all, and I saw exactly why these friends were keepers. 

-calliope

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Review: Marry Me at Christmas by Susan Mallery 

  
This is another fantastic installation in Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series. 

Madeleine Krug climbs outside her comfort zone to plan a wedding for the sister of famed Jonny Blaze. Jonny is happy to meet her – and spend time with someone who doesn’t glom onto him for his star status. 

As they work together, their relationship changes and deepens. Madeleine and Jonny together develop from platonic to romantic … in a nice, gradual, believable way.  

Besides the love story, Mallery shows us the overwhelming Christmas spirit Fool’s Gold offers. I celebrated right along with the sidewalk strollers and cocoa sippers, listening to carols and looking at the sparkling lights. 

From the sense of community and close friendships to the welcoming embrace given to newcomers, the people of Fool’s Gold are the perfect backdrop for Madeleine and Jonny to grow as individuals and a couple. And as usual, Mayor Marsha is the one to make things happen – for the good of the town, and for the good of romance! 

-calliope

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Review: Thrill Me by Susan Mallery

  
Susan Mallery is a genius! She wrote Thrill Me as part of her long-running Fool’s Gold series, but it’s also part of a mini-series trio.  I love that! If you’re new to Fool’s Gold, or you don’t keep up with series, you can read the Hold Me, Kiss Me, Thrill Me trio and be totally satisfied. (You can read any of the Fool’s Gold books as standalones, but they’re much more fun together.)

In Thrill Me, Maya and Del separately return to their hometown to work on a project for Mayor Marsha. Maya works in video editing, and Del is a charmer on camera. Their work chemistry is easy and natural, and even though they had decade-old romantic history together, Del and Maya renew their relationship in the form of friendship. 

Mallery impresses me by coming up with new and exciting professions for her characters. I LOVE the video production descriptions in this book.  Plus, it’s a good backdrop for Del and Maya getting close in the editing room.  😉

Maya and Del are loveable and fun characters, perfect for each other, and perfect for Fool’s Gold. Their romance was mostly in their own minds until they finally admitted feelings for each other and decided on Happily Ever After.  Another Susan Mallery winner! 
-calliope

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Review: Kiss Me by Susan Mallery

  

Zane is a rancher with a closed heart. He protects his family and property with stern love, but leaves no room for any other relationships. 

Phoebe is a softie on the outside but protects her heart fiercely. When she heads to Zane’s ranch on the recommendation of her best friend (and Zane’s sister) Maya, she doesn’t expect to fall into lust. Or love. 

This installment of Fool’s Gold romance included the requisite – and hilarious – antics of Gladys and Eddie. Mallery has a few other Fool’s Gold regulars make an appearance as well. But for the most part, you could read Kiss Me as a stand alone. 

You’ve got a cattle drive, campfires, sleeping under the stars, a drowned-out tent, a couple of rescues, and Pheobe talking to Zane’s steer-in-charge to get him to cross a raging river. 

That makes for many damsel-in-distress scenarios, and a few damsel-saves-the-day ones, too! 

I enjoyed Kiss Me like I enjoy all the Fool’s Gold novels. I liked reading a strong, silent hero, and I REALLY appreciated the sibling and friend relationships. I sort of rushed reading this one because I wanted to hurry and get to the HEA (I must have needed one!) … and now I’m eagerly anticipating Thrill Me!

-calliope

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Review: Hold Me by Susan Mallery

 

Talk about character development! You’ve got Kipling Gilmore as a secondary character in previous Fool’s Gold books, and though he was always okay, I never felt the need to know him better. In Hold Me, Mallery highlights Kipling’s intuitiveness, protectiveness and good will toward his community. 

Destiny Mills’ character drives forward the plot as she changes from living a superficial life with defensive walls up, to a woman who embraces and rejoices in the challenges and blessings that befall her. Destiny gets in touch with her inner musician, and subsequently thrives. 🙂

I loved Destiny’s relationship with her sister and the other women of Fool’s Gold. But I also had a lot of fun reading the male bonding scenes. Mallery put an authentic voice to husbands and brothers who want to appear macho while staying out of the proverbial doghouse. 

Well done, as always, and I can’t wait for the next book. 

-calliope

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Review: The Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery 

 

Three women in an L.A. suburb find themselves in the middle of some changes. Big changes. Marriage, divorce, pregnancy, death, grief, friendship, and new beginnings all play a part in this new series by one of my favorite authors. 

The writing is excellent, from the fleshed out characters to the descriptions of the coastal setting. Technically, everything is on point as Mallery invites us into the lives of three women of different ages, their families and friends, their businesses.

But there’s something missing for me. Excitement, maybe. And I get it that lack of excitement is one of the relationship issues in the book, but the reader should still somehow be pulled into the book… And I just wasn’t. For one thing, there was a lot of “telling instead of showing” (like when one character sat across from her friend and next to her other friend and put her purse on the free chair). I liked the book enough, but I wasn’t totally invested in it. It didn’t thrill me. 

On the other hand, Mallery successfully shows the reader real emotions. For example, one character is mourning a loss. Brava for getting to the nitty gritty of being beside oneself with grief. The scene at Goodwill – I can picture that kind of thing because I have seen people just UNDONE like that. I’m thinking WOW as I remember reading Mallery’s take on it.  And the spa scene with the possible future stepchild – realistic and full of tension. 

Although this particular plot was a bit of a downer for me, I enjoyed Mischief Bay and its inhabitants. I’ll be on the lookout for book number two. 

-calliope 

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Review: Yours for Christmas by Susan Mallery

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Fun and emotional romance set in Fool’s Gold! It’s finally Kenny’s turn to fall in love, though he fights it every step of the way. Good thing Bailey is persistent. 🙂

This generously long novella tugged at my heart strings as I watched not only a man and woman fall in love, but a child feel some extra Christmas love as well. From tree-trimming to Christmas galas, this book burst with all the verve of Mallery’s full-length novels. And I love Fool’s Gold, whether I get it in big doses or small. ❤
-calliope

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Review: Christmas on 4th Street by Susan Mallery

I know Halloween hasn’t yet arrived, but there’s something about the cold New England weather that makes me think of Christmas … Here’s a festive re-release. Enjoy!

Random Book Muses

20130919-205920.jpg You know what happens four days from today? Christmas on 4th Street is released, and all you Susan Mallery fans (and Christmas romance fans) become happy campers!

You know what will make you even happier? Diving in to Noelle and Gabriel’s story. (Nice Christmassy character names, Ms. Mallery.)

Noelle’s three best friends are planning a triple wedding during the Fool’s Gold Christmas festival. One best friend’s fiancé has a cute doctor brother that comes to town for the wedding. I’m sure you can see where this is going… Kissing, dinners, getting caught in a remote cabin during a snowstorm … the usual.

A few things struck me as unique in this romantic tale. First, Noelle was the most optimistic person I’ve ever met in a book. I wasn’t annoyed, I was reflective. If Noelle could traverse tragedy and come out of it smiling, I should be able to do the…

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Review: Until We Touch by Susan Mallery

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I fell in love with Fool’s Gold a while back, and the Score crew was a big reason why. Until We Touch focuses big time on Score – especially on cutie Larissa. She will do anything for an animal or a person in need… And Score partner Jack McGarry will always come running to help.

I’m not a huge animal person, but Larissa is, and her compulsion to rescue animals totally worked. If you love fur babies, you’ll sympathize and have some tender I-heart-animal moments. And if you don’t, you’ll just appreciate Larissa’s generous heart — like I did. In this book, Larissa helps plenty of animals, but she also makes a big difference in the life of a young adult… And reels in Jack for assistance.

So. The love story. It’s a slow build-up, then some good fireworks, then some bad fireworks. The awesome thing about loving someone is that it’s about the actions, not the feelings. Larissa and Jack already act like they love each other! It’s only when the words and feelings are brought to the surface that trouble arises.

I liked that Larissa was a little naive here. It fits her personality and brought me back to “stupid things I did while in my 20s” – hah! And I liked that Jack was wonderful except for the time he was a completely big jerk and I could’ve just pushed him with two open palms and said WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!

The best part about a perfect hero who makes a gigantic stupid mistake is watching him make up for it. The apologies were worth the anguish, they really were.

As for the updates on other characters: Taryn’s wedding planning was enjoyable, and I liked the fun closure to Sam’s love life. Mayor Marsha brought upheaval and some new guests to town… and the local businesses were thriving. Read it. You’ll see – and love it – for yourself.

By the way, I read Until We Touch on the beach. My daughter looked at me from the edge of the ocean, rolled her eyes, and said, “There’s mom, crying again over a book.”

Yup. You betchya. Tears of sadness, tears of joy. That’s a successful read.

-Calliope

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Review: Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery

20140419-225500.jpg The latest Fool’s Gold romance has girl next door Dellina trying not to fall in love with strong, silent, private Sam. Their romance starts off slow, heats up, cools down, and ends with a public announcement no one expects. I loved it!

I also liked this book for the camaraderie of Taryn and the football guys she works with, and the consistent support the women provide to each other. There’s something to be said for knowing there’s always someone to rely on, just a block or two away.

Before We Kiss has a lot of, um, instructions for intimacy. Graphic ones. Ones that will make you uncomfortable, and not always in a bad way. 😉 Sometimes Sam’s mother tells someone something no one wants to hear, and other times her candid sex conversations are quite educational. Be prepared!

If you’re an animal lover, this is the Susan Mallery book for you. A major subplot involves Larissa and her compulsion to help animals. By the end of the book, at least two main characters become grateful pet owners. Meow. Woof. 🙂

This was yummy icing on the cake of a week’s worth of reading Susan Mallery. In a few months I’ll be reviewing more, as I have a permanent place in my heart for Fool’s Gold, its caring women, and its smokin’ hot…. I mean LOVING… men.

–Calliope

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