Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fool's Gold Series by Susan Mallery FIC MALLERY

Fool's Gold is a small (fictional) town in northern California. The town seems to be going through a problem, which is brought up very quickly in Chasing Perfect (the first book in the series). The problem is that the town has a shortage of men. The men of the town never seem to stick around, and so women even hold some of the positions that you would consider to be mostly male, such as firefighters and police. Even the main bar in town, Jo's, is known for its female-oriented decor, televisions that show Project Runway and the Home Shopping Network (instead of sports), and food that's a little easier on the figure. Susan Mallery usually releases the books in the series three books at a time (usually over a three month period).

The first set begins with Chasing Perfect. Charity Jones has just taken the position of city planner for Fool's Gold, where she is  hoping to put down some roots and find some stability. She just didn't quite realize what she would be facing in the small town. The mayor, Marsha Tilson, wants Charity to bring in some new businesses to the town, but she would prefer that those businesses bring in more men than women. Charity is not quite sure how to go about this, but she finds some unexpected help from the town's "golden boy", Josh Golden, a bicyclist who has several bicycling victories, including the Tour de France, under his belt. Charity knows that Josh is the wrong kind of guy for her, but can she avoid him long enough to find the calm, stable kind of guy she is looking for? In Almost Perfect, Liz Sutton is back in Fool's Gold, even though she had never wanted to return. Her brother, Roy, is in prison, and his wife has abandoned her stepdaughters (and Liz's nieces she has never met), Melissa and Abby. Coming back to Fool's Gold means facing Ethan Hendrix and the secret that she has kept from him for the past twelve years, his son, Tyler. In Finding Perfect, Pia O'Brian is the event coordinator of Fool's Gold (she makes sure all of those numerous festivals go off without a hitch). Pia is facing a crisis at the beginning of the book. Her good friend, Crystal, had died of cancer and left her three embryos that she created with her husband, Keith, who had died in battle. Meeting with Raoul Moreno, an ex football player and owner of summer camp for children of low income families, Pia breaks down crying and tells Raoul the whole story. Raoul was Crystal's husband, Keith's, best friend, and he wants to help Pia with the process. A crisis in town also has them working together, and brings another problem to their attention.

The second set of stories involves Ethan Hendrix's triplet sisters, Dakota, Montana, and Nevada. In Only Mine, Dakota was assisting Raoul with his summer camp (she is a child psychologist), when the story about Fool's Gold's "man shortage" is released in the news. Men come flocking to town, thinking that they can find some desperate women, and there is even going to be a romance reality television show about the town. Dakota is asked by the mayor to "oversee" the show and makes sure the best interests of the town are met. While looking through the contestants, Dakota meets Finn Anderssen, who is there to stop his twin brothers from throwing away their futures and taking part in the show. When he can't change their minds or make the show drop them, he decides to stay and keep an eye on things, especially one on Dakota. However, these two will have to face several road blocks on their way to happiness. In Only Yours, Montana is happy to have finally found the job that makes her feel complete, working with therapy dogs. Unfortunately, one hopeful trainee takes off during one of the festivals and makes her way into the burn unit of the hospital. Dr. Simon Bradley is furious that a dog could hurt the suffering children on the burn unit and severely reprimands Montana for the error. Unfortunately for Montana, Mayor Marsha wants her to show Simon around (and talk him into staying in town). Montana's not looking forward to this, and Simon prefers his lonely existence, traveling around all over the world helping burn victims. Will Montana be able to see past Simon's gruff exterior to the lonely man inside? Will she get her heart broken when Simon has to leave? In Only His, Nevada has decided to leave the family construction business and break out on her own. She decides to try for a job with Janack Construction, only to run into Tucker Janack, with whom she had had a disastrous fling in college. She agrees to work with him, with a strict "business only" relationship between them, but will they be able to hold that policy in place?

The third set begins with Summer Days, where Heidi Simpson has decided to make Fool's Gold her new home, with her grandfather, Glen, and her goats. Unfortunately, there is a land dispute over the farm she bought. It seems her grandfather sold the property to May Stryker (without Heidi's permission), in order to raise money for a friend. Rafe Stryker shows up to help his mother with the dispute, but his mother is content to just share the ranch with Heidi and Glen. Rafe hated his life in Fool's Gold (with all the responsibility he had to shoulder after his dad died), and he wants the dispute settled (by either getting the money or the land back). Heidi is intimidated and intrigued by Rafe, but will the two be able to work through their differences? Summer Nights features Heidi's friend (and librarian, yeah!) Annabelle Weiss. Annabelle wants to bring in some fundraiser money toward a bookmobile for the library. In order to do this, she must ride a horse, which she has no idea how to do. Heidi suggests that Annabelle talked to Rafe's brother, Shane, who owns and trains racehorses and wants to build his own horse ranch. Shane has had it with wild and unpredictable women, and the the first glimpse of Annabelle he caught was dancing on a bar. So, he is a little leery of spending time with her, but after hearing about why she wants to learn to ride a horse, he decides to be her teacher. Will Shane discover that Annabelle is not the person he thinks she is, and will Annabelle be able to handle all of his baggage? Finally, All Summer Long is Heidi and Annabelle's friend, Charlie's story. Charlie is a firefighter who faced a big trauma while she was in college. Charlie thinks that now is the time to move past that trauma, especially if she wants to start working on the family she has always wanted. She decides to ask the youngest Stryker brother, Clay, about helping her. Clay is a former underwear model, who moved to Fool's Gold to be with his family and start a new business venture, "Haycations." Even though he no longer models, people often don't look past his outside to see what is on the inside. He also suffered a great loss and is not sure he can open his heart again. Can Charlie and Clay work through their issues together?

 The fourth set of books begins with Just One Kiss. Charlie's mother, Donminque, had hired a "bodyguard" to accompany her to Fool's Gold, and he name is Justice Garrett. It turns out that Justice is very familiar with Fool's Gold, having spent some time there when he was younger. He has never been able to forget Patience McGraw, his best friend and the girl he was forced to run out on. Now Justice is back, and he wants to open a defense academy. Patience is happy to see Justice and is drawn to him, but she is afraid of being abandoned again. Justice believes that his past will keep him from a happy ever after. Will these two be able to get it right the second time around? In Two of a Kind, Felicia is new to Fool's Gold, and she is not good at fitting in (she is incredibly brilliant which tends to intimidate people). She also cannot get that night she spent with a soldier out of her mind. To her surprise, she meets that soldier, Gideon Boylan, again in Fool's Gold. The sparks fly once again, but Gideon does not consider himself relationship material, while Felicia is looking for a happy ending. Will they be able to meet in the middle? Finally, in Three Little Words, Ford Hendrix (the missing brother who was in the military) finally comes home to Fool's Gold, where he starts a security business. He soon runs into Isabel Carlisle, his ex-fiancee's little sister, whose letters kept him sane while he was in service. Isabel's husband left her for another man, and so she is back in town to lick her wounds and run her family's bridal shop, until they sell it and she can move on with her dreams. To get his mother off his back, Ford hatches a scheme with Isabel, where they will pretend to date one another. Will this pretext lead to something more, though?

The more I read this series, the more I wish I lived in a town like Fool's Gold. I wouldn't even mind the warring sister hairdressers and having to keep them both happy with me. Susan Mallery does a great job of painting the picture of this town and all of the colorful characters that live there. You will fall in love with it in no time, just like I did. These are all quick and fun reads, and I highly recommend them. There are also stories of other couples in the books (sometimes up to three at a time), so you really feel like you are a part of the town and what's going on in it.

If you want to read more stories like those in the Fool's Gold series, check out our Small-Town Life display coming this fall, on which you can find some of the books in this series (and many others). There is also a bibliography of these small town books (in two parts) on the Books for Adults section of the website, and there are some printed copies with the other bibliographies next to the catalog computers. Check them out!

Just for fun, Susan Mallery has created a website for Fool's Gold, with a timeline for the city, news and events (including a list of the numerous festivals), and there are even pictures of the various characters. The website is :

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