Series: Fool's Gold

Review: Finding Perfect by Susan Mallery

Posted August 19, 2010 by Holly in Reviews | 6 Comments

Review: Finding Perfect by Susan MalleryReviewer: Holly
Finding Perfect by Susan Mallery
Series: Fool's Gold #3
Also in this series: Chasing Perfect, Almost Perfect
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: September 1st 2010
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

When Pia O'Brian's best friend dies, Pia expects to inherit her cherished cat. Instead, the woman leaves Pia three frozen embryos. With a disastrous track record in the romance department and the parenting skills of a hamster, Pia doesn't think she's meant for motherhood. But determined to do the right thing, Pia decides to become a single mother. Only to meet a gorgeous, sexy hunk the very same day.

A former foster-care kid now rich beyond his wildest dreams, Raoul Moreno runs a camp for needy children in Fool's Gold, California. After his last relationship, Raoul thought he was done with women and commitment. Still, he can't get sweet, sexy Pia out of his mind—and proposes a crazy plan. But can such an unconventional beginning really result in the perfect ending?

I wasn’t sure what to think going into this story. I could see what was coming a mile away and didn’t know how to feel about it. The idea of someone leaving their frozen embryos to another person is mind boggling. Especially when that person does it without telling anyone, namely the person who’s inheriting them.

Pia is devastated when her friend Crystal succumbs to cancer. But she’s in for the shock of a lifetime, because Crystal left her frozen embryos to Pia. She has no idea what to do..she can’t just get rid of them, can she? And shouldn’t she honor the wishes of her friend and have the babies? It’s a lot of responsibility.

On the day she finds out, she has a meeting scheduled with Raoul Moreno, former professional football player and new resident to Fool’s Gold. Because she goes right from meeting with Crystal’s lawyers to her meeting with Raoul, he witnesses her initial shock panic freak out. Being a man, he doesn’t really know what to say or do, but he tries to help her get back on solid ground before taking off. Pia is mortified to have acted that way in front of him, and hopes never to see him again.

But over the course of the next few weeks, they keep running into each other. And every time they do, their attraction for each other grows a little more. But Raoul isn’t looking for permanence or a happily ever after – he tried that once with disastrous results – and Pia is getting ready to become a mother of 3 kids that aren’t even her own.

It isn’t long before Raoul realizes he has an opportunity to exercise some of the demons from his past, however. So he makes Pia an offer she can’t refuse – he’ll be her “pregnancy buddy”. He’ll help her through her pregnancy, take care of her, and be there for her when the babies are born. Pia isn’t stupid, so she knows she’s going to need all the help she can get. But what happens when Pia wants Raoul to be more than just a “buddy”? Can he put aside his past hurts and be the man she needs?

I absolutely loved the way the  romance developed between Raoul and Pia. They started out as friends, then became lovers, so I think the foundation of their relationship was more solid. Yes, they found each other attractive right from the beginning, but their relationship wasn’t founded on lust alone. They got to know one another slowly, the way friends do. Then they took it to the next level.

Raoul had somewhat of a hero complex. Because of the way he was raised and some things that happened during his first marriage, he has a strong sense of what’s right and wrong, but he pushes that too far sometimes. But that also makes him a  very endearing hero. He’s sweet and considerate, and he truly wants to help people. His logic was flawed sometimes, but I still adored him. The way he wanted to take care of Pia was beautiful.

Pia was a strong, caring woman. She, too, wanted to do what was right. After the initial shock of finding out she’s inherited frozen embryos wears off, she makes her decision to have them fairly quickly, which I thought was admirable. She might have rushed in a little quickly, but I had to admire her determination to do what she thought was right. I also loved her sense of humor and general outlook on life. She was just a naturally upbeat person, a glass half-full type, if you will.

It annoyed me that Pia took so much on herself. She felt guilt over everything, whether the things she felt guilty about were in her control or not. She really did take the weight of the world onto her shoulders. While I understood her reasons to a degree, I think she took it way too far. I also think she let it go on way too long. Her constant “I’m not a good person” mantra became very annoying, very quickly. Especially because it was obvious to everyone – the reader included – that Pia was a wonderful person. She was the only one who questioned that.

My main issue with this book is the frozen embryo thing. Crystal didn’t win me over by dropping that on Pia without thought or consideration. Having a baby is a huge thing. Asking someone else to carry and raise your babies after you’re dead, without discussing it beforehand, is almost too much. In the previous two books Crystal was portrayed as a wonderful, warm, loving woman. I don’t think dropping this on Pia was quite in line with the way her character was portrayed before, and honestly it changed my opinion of her.

Otherwise I really enjoyed the book. I had problems with both Pia and Raoul, and how much they took on themselves, but mostly I was able to look past that. I adored how strong and giving Raoul was and how Pia had to learn to lean on him and forgive herself for not being perfect.

4 out of 5

The series:

Chasing Perfect
Almost Perfect
Finding Perfect

This book is available from HQN. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-stars


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Review: Almost Perfect by Susan Mallery

Posted June 28, 2010 by Holly in Reviews | 13 Comments

Review: Almost Perfect by Susan MalleryReviewer: Holly
Almost Perfect by Susan Mallery
Series: Fool's Gold #2
Also in this series: Chasing Perfect, Finding Perfect
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: June 15th 2012
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Back in high school, Liz Sutton was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Then she'd stolen the heart of the most popular boy in town, and their secret romance helped her through the worst of times. Until Ethan Hendrix betrayed her and everything they'd ever meant to each other. Devastated and pregnant, Liz left Fool's Gold, California—forever, she thought….
Now Liz must return to town and face the man who doesn't know of their son's existence. And this time she won't have the option of making a quick getaway. Ethan and Liz can't deny their passionate attraction, even after all these years. But will their desire be enough to spark a second chance at love?

I really enjoyed the first book in Mallory’s Fool’s Gold trilogy and was anxious to start this one. Especially since Ethan really intrigued me in the last book.

The secret baby plot is a tricky one. When done well, it’s one of my favorite plot devices. But it just isn’t done well very often. The important thing is for the reason behind the child being kept a secret to be a legit one. One the reader can sympathize with and understand. I think Mallory gave us that here.

In high school Liz Sutton was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Her abusive alcoholic mother was the town prostitute, and that carried over to her daughter. It didn’t matter that Liz was totally different than her mother, the girls – and boys – she went to high school with assumed she was a slut, too.

Until Ethan Hendrix, that is. He saw the real Liz, the one no one else would look for. He said he loved her, and Liz believed him. Right up until the day she overheard him telling his friends she was nothing to him, nothing more than a good lay. Heartbroken, she fled town. Only to return three weeks later when she found out she was pregnant. She went to tell Ethan, but he was in bed with another girl. Pride and anger pushing her, she fled town again.

She stayed gone for 6 years. Then she had an attack of conscience and decided she needed to tell Ethan the truth. But due to a misunderstanding she thought Ethan didn’t want anything to do with her or her son. It’s been 5 years since and now she’s a successful mystery author. Liz has gladly put Fool’s Gold, and Ethan Hendrix, behind her. But when an email comes through her fan site from a girl claiming to be Liz’s 14 year old niece saying she and her younger sister are alone, Liz knows she has to back to Fool’s Gold and assess the situation. She just hopes she can get in and get out quick, before she runs into Ethan.

Ethan is happy to see Liz back in town. Though he knows he was a jerk to her back in high school, he’s always wished her well and looks forward to seeing her again. But when he finds out that Liz had his son, and kept it to herself for 11 years, he completely flips out. He’s always tried to do what was right, to be the kind of man his father expected him to be, and Liz robbed him of 11 years with his son. He doesn’t believe that she tried to tell him, even though she says she has proof that he rejected them both. He wants the time back she stole from him, and he’s determined to get it..anyway he has to.

Liz is what makes this book. She’s strong, mature, levelheaded and willing to do anything for her son and her nieces. She wasn’t a martyr or a woman filled with self-pity. She was very refreshing.When she receives the email from her niece, she immediately makes plans to go check out the situation. I really liked how she handled that. She just..handled it. There was no waffling or worrying about herself – her only thought was for the two young girls who’d been on their own.

Similarly, she was great about the situation with Ethan. Even though she had good reason to believe Ethan wanted nothing to do with his son, she wants them to have a relationship. She did her best to make herself and Tyler available so that Ethan could get to know him. She was also fair and careful to nurture Tyler’s feelings about Ethan.

Ethan was justifiably angry over Liz keeping Tyler from him. He missed out on 11 years with his child. 11 years is a long time, and he knows he’ll never get that time back. While I understood why he was angry – and was even angry on his behalf quite a bit – I think he spent too much of the book dwelling on the negative. He undermined Liz with Tyler, turned half the town against her, and refused to accept any of the responsibility for his part in their past. In his mind, nothing he’d done was as bad as Liz not telling him about his son. While I agree that Liz was wrong, Ethan played a large part in what kept Liz from telling him initially. Plus, Liz truly believed he knew about Tyler and wanted nothing to do with either of them. When presented with the proof of her claims, he softens a bit, but not enough.

That isn’t to say Liz was perfect and totally blameless. She was young – only 18 – when she found out she was pregnant, so fear, anger and pride kept her from trying to tell Ethan about Tyler for 6 years. I can’t fault her for the 5 years after that, but the first 6 years are fully on her. She should have set aside her hurt feelings and done what was right. I also think she was just as guilty as Ethan when it came to clinging to her anger over the past. Yes, Ethan rejected her in a cruel way, then added insult to injury by being in bed with another woman not 3 weeks after she took off. But she spent a large part of the book harping on Ethan about how he needed to let go of his anger or he’d never be able to move on, yet didn’t practice what she preached.

In the end I was able to forgive Liz easier than Ethan, however, because she was able to admit she was wrong. She took full responsibility for not trying harder to tell him about Tyler and she realized she was holding on to her anger and did her best to let it go. Not that Ethan made it easy.

Still, I believed in them and wanted to see them make it work. Both characters were very real. Mallery really did an excellent job of bringing them to life. They both made mistakes, but at their core they both wanted what was best for their child.

While parts of it frustrated me, overall I found it to be a lovely romance. Mallery really showcased the characters and gave us a well developed story. From the anger and frustration Liz and Ethan feel, down to the fear of abandonment her nieces suffer with, each character was real and emotionally compelling.The town of Fool’s Gold became real to me once again, and I wasn’t quite ready to leave it when the story was done.

4.25 out of 5

The series:

Chasing Perfect
Almost Perfect
Finding Perfect

This book is available from HQN. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-stars


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Publisher Spotlight Review: Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery

Posted May 3, 2010 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Publisher Spotlight Review: Chasing Perfect by Susan MalleryReviewer: Holly
Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery
Series: Fool's Gold #1
Also in this series: Almost Perfect, Finding Perfect
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: June 15th 2012
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Welcome to Fool's Gold, California, a charming community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. There's lots to do and plenty of people to meet, especially women. Because there's just one tiny problem in Fool's Gold: the men don't seem to stick around. Maybe it's the lure of big-city life, or maybe it's plain old bad luck, but regardless of the reason, the problem has to be fixed, fast. And Charity Jones may be just the city planner to do it.
Charity's nomadic childhood has left her itching to settle down, and she immediately falls in love with all the storybook town has to offer—everything, that is, except its sexiest and most famous resident, former world-class cyclist Josh Golden. With her long list of romantic disasters, she's not about to take a chance on another bad boy, even if everyone else thinks he's perfect just the way he is. But maybe that's just what he needs—someone who knows the value of his flaws. Someone who knows that he's just chasing perfect.

 

This book started out very well. I loved the small town of Fool’s Gold and both the main characters. Charity has come to the small Northern California town to start over and grow some roots. Since her mother passed away she has no family and no real connections. She’s determined to change that when she takes over the job as city planner for Fool’s Gold.

Josh Golden is a retired professional bicyclist. He quit racing after he was traumatized by an accident. He’s Fool’s Gold’s resident Golden boy, but he’s hiding a secret..he can no longer race. This haunts him. He wants to get back to his old life, but he isn’t sure how he can do it.

Josh and Charity form a sort of friendship – with a major dose of attraction on each side – and as the novel progresses become closer and closer. They lean on each other and give to each other what no one else can. I really loved how they played off of each other and the slow progression of the relationship. I felt like they got to know each other, and we as the reader got to know them as well.

I also adored the town of Fool’s Gold and its inhabitants. I just spent a lovely week in Northern California and I could perfectly picture this town nestled up there. The secondary characters all added additional flavor, especially Marsha, Charity’s new boss, and Pia, the party planner (who I believe gets her book third).

The issue of the town being full of women and short on men could have crossed the line into too cheesy, but Charity’s reaction kept it just this side of silly. She mostly thought of it as a huge joke and kept waiting for the punch line. When she realized one wasn’t forthcoming, she good naturedly poked fun of the town for the problem. I thought that was handled well.

Sometimes the insecurities of the main characters bothered me, but I was able to set that aside for the most part and enjoy the story. Until the last 1/4 of the book or so. Then Charity starts making assumptions about Josh and his character based on..I’m not exactly sure what, misconceptions of his intentions and her own hangups I guess, and Josh acts like a complete and total moron. I was really loving the way the characters were falling in love and the progression of the story, along with the setting and secondary characters, but the end very nearly ruined it for me. The characters mostly redeemed themselves at the end, but their earlier actions left a bad taste in my mouth.

Despite my issues, I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the series and returning to the town of Fool’s Gold.

3.75 out of 5

The series:

Chasing Perfect
Almost Perfect
Finding Perfect

This book is available from HQN. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-stars


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