June 26, 2012
Fool's Gold, Book No. 8
Some lessons, even a librarian shouldn't learn from reading a book!
Horse whisperer Shane Stryker is done with passion. This time around, he’s determined to meet someone who will be content with the quiet life of a rancher’s wife. And the fiery, pint-size redhead who dazzles him at the local bar definitely does not fit the bill.
Small-town librarian Annabelle Weiss has always seen herself as more of a sweetheart than a siren, so she can’t understand why Shane keeps pushing her away. Shane has formed the totally wrong impression of her but only he can help her with a special event for the next Fool’s Gold festival. And maybe while he’s at it, she can convince him to teach her a few things about kissing on hot summer nights, too—some lessons, a girl shouldn’t learn from reading a book!
"The second of the back-to-back releases featuring the Stryker siblings humorously adds horses and elephants to the romantic mix -- Khatar and Priscilla are scene stealers extraordinaire. Things are never dull in Fool's Gold, and it's a joy to keep up with previous protagonists while exploring new relationships. Settle in for a funny and delightful experience!"
RT Book Reviews
"I really, really enjoyed reading about Shane and Annabelle's journey to finding the one they long to be with... Summer Nights is so far my favorite of the Summer Trilogy, but I have one more to go, so Charlie, our beloved fire woman, might just show me a thing or two about love. I recommend the Summer Trilogy in the Fool's Gold series by Susan Mallery if you are looking for a great beach read, or just a read that leaves you feeling good."
A Tasty Read
5 stars! "Shane is so stuck in his ways as a horse trainer that it is really sweet to see him open up and become a bigger part of the community. The way that Annabelle helps him and her passion for book and Fool's Gold is unparalleled. I really believe they complement each other perfectly. Be ready for some steamy scenes in this one. Mallery does not disappoint in that area! Another great addition to the Fool's Gold Series that you will not want to miss! Contemporary Romance at its best!"
My Reading Addiction
5 stars! "I am a huge fan of the Fool's Gold series, I just adore the town, the people, everything about it. I want to be a part of it. Walk the streets, know the people, see the sights. It sounds like such a fabulous place to be a raise a family and settle down. Susan Mallery has a way about her writing that makes you fall in love with it all. It all feels so real and well, just wonderful... I don't think there was a minute of this book that I didn't enjoy, even the sad gut wrenching suspenseful moments wondering if Shane and Annabelle would finally pull it together and just be together and declare their love for one another already. Mallery did an amazing job with this one. I knew it was going to be good but not this good."
My Guilty Obession
"Summer Nights is book 8 of Susan Mallery's popular Fool's Gold series. If you're unfamiliar with the town, don't worry, this book does stand alone... Shane and Annabelle both have demons from their past. Watching them struggle with past relationships was fun and the chemistry between this pair is strong from the start. Shane is every woman's fantasy cowboy. He's sexy, strong, smart, and his interactions with local children warmed my heart. Annabelle's tough too. She's been through a messy marriage where she was more of an object than cherished wife, and her determination to be loved is clear. Romance readers will love the internal struggle both face."
6 out of 5 smirks! "Summer Nights by Susan Mallery is a story about giving up the past in order to move on with your future... I give Summer Nights by Susan Mallery 6 smirks because I'm helplessly addicted to Fool's Gold, the characters, and the stories that continue to grow there."
A Snarky Space
"The chemistry between these two was perfect, and at time very, very HOT! This is my first book by Susan Mallery and you better believe I will be reading more. So if your looking for a book that will make you laugh, cry, and fan yourself then this is the story for you."
"If you have never read Susan Mallery’s Fools Gold Series, where have you been? Susan Mallery was the author who got me to read contemporary romance. Before that I was a paranormal romance reader only... Annabelle’s love of life and her ability to make Shane do things that he never thought he would makes for a thoroughly enjoyable book. This book made me in parts laugh out loud and in certain parts had me almost in tears. I loved it."
"The sexual chemistry between them burns hot and their lovemaking is incredibly passionate. The dialogue between them is playful and witty... Strong family ties, close friendships and a sense of community are the heart and soul of Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series."
Book Reviews and More
"What made this book for me was Shane and Annabelle's sarcastic senses of humor. Both of them constantly had little quips and thoughts throughout the book which kept me giggling... There's great dialogue and chemistry between these two and the whole tone of the book stays happy and quirky."
Smitten with Reading
"An all around fun love story!"
Lisa's World of Books
"A great summer romance that has a little drama, a little humor and keeps the readers interest all the way through."
I Mainline Fiction
"Shane, oh Shane, so incredibly sexy, so incredibly sweet, so incredibly a cowboy, so incredibly almost perfect if only you weren’t so dense. Shane was once married to a not so nice female who cheated mercilessly and always had to be the center of attention. So now he’s looking for a nice sedate woman who doesn’t set his blood on fire. So when he see’s Annabelle dancing on a bar, he knows she’s not the woman for him... Annabelle is cute, feisty and stubborn, once she gets her claws into an idea she does what she needs to see it through... a light fun read, great for the summer. There is nothing not to like about this charming book, you’ll be sucked into Fools Gold like everyone else."
Let's Get Romantical!
"Summer Nights has got to be Susan Mallery’s steamiest book in the Fool’s Gold series to date! I found it completely fun, flirty, and sexy. Shane Stryker was a breath of fresh air. He started off this book by falling completely in lust with our heroine, Annabelle. We don’t get to read many books where the guy completely loses it over the girl right off the bat! It was satisfying reading about him stumbling for words in her presence. And oh, my lord, was Shane Stryker a sexy character once you got him alone in a bedroom!! Wowza!"
Gone with the Words
"This is the 8th book in Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold series, but the first that I've read. Now, if you know anything about my reading habits, I usually do not like jumping into a series in the middle. However, when I was offered the opportunity to review this book, I was told that each book in the series was written as a standalone, so I decided to give it a try and I was not disappointed... Shane and Annabelle's story is one you don't want to miss - it's hot, steamy, and filled with obstacles at every turn."
Always with a Book
"Shane and Annabelle’s relationship is outstanding. This book made me laugh and cry and cry from laughing so many times... this is my favorite Fool’s Gold novel!"
Words Are Inner Music
"A fun book with some rockin' sex scenes!"
Cupcake on Books
"No one sets you up for a good laugh better than Susan Mallery -- that's why her books are a joy to read and keepers. Uplifting and sensuous with just the right amount of personal drama and angst, page after page an all around good read -- as usual."
Sandra, Fresh Fiction
Shane Stryker was determined enough to never walk away from a fight and smart enough to know when he'd been beat. The beautiful redhead dancing on the bar might be everything he wanted, but she the worst thing he could have.
Her eyes were closed, her long, wavy hair swayed in rhythm with her body. The sensual beat of the music hit Shane square in the gut. He shook his head. Okay, it hit him lower than that, but he ignored it and the draw he felt. The need. Women who danced on bars were trouble. Exciting, tempting, but not for him.
He might never have met her, but he knew the type. Attention-seeking. Deadly—at least for a guy who had assumed marriage meant commitment and monogamy. Women like the one on the bar needed to be wanted by every man in the room. A ride he wasn't willing to take again.
Slowly, regretfully, he turned away from the woman and headed for the exit. He'd come into town for a beer and a burger. He'd thought he could catch the game, maybe hang with the guys. What he'd found instead was a barefoot goddess who made a man want to forget all his hopes and dreams in exchange for a single smile. His dreams were worth more, he reminded himself, glancing over his shoulder one last time before stepping out into the warm summer night.
Annabelle Weiss opened her eyes. "It's easy."
"Uh huh." Her friend Charlie Dixon, put down her beer and shook her head. "No."
Annabelle climbed off the bar and put her hands on her hips. It was her attempt to look intimidating. Kind of a feeble gesture when she considered the fact that Charlie was a good eight or ten inches taller and had muscles Annabelle didn't want to know existed.
She was about to make her case, maybe even throw in a line that it was for the children, when the mostly female crowd broke in to spontaneous applause.
"Great dance," someone called.
Annabelle spun in a circle. "Thank you," she called. "I'll be here all week." She looked back at her friend. "You have to."
"I'm pretty sure I don't and no."
Annabelle turned to Heidi Simpson. "You talk to her."
Heidi, a pretty blond who had recently gotten engaged, glanced up from studying her diamond ring. "What? Oh, sorry. I was busy."
"Thinking about Rafe," Charlie grumbled. "We know. He's wonderful, you're happy. It's getting annoying."
Heidi laughed. "Now who's cynical?"
"It's not news. I've always been cynical." Charlie grabbed her beer and led the way back to their table. The one they'd abandoned when Annabelle had offered to show them both the dance of the happy virgin.
When they were seated. Annabelle turned to Charlie. "Look, I need to raise money for my bookmobile. Being in the town festival is the best way for that to happen. It's a ride on a horse. You know how to ride. You even own a horse."
Charlie's blue eyes narrowed. "I'm not dancing on a horse."
"You don't have to. The horse dances. That's why it's called The Dance of the Horse."
"Mason is not a horse who dances."
Heidi leaned forward. "Annabelle, this is your bookmobile project. You're the one who has the passion. Why don't you do the dance?"
"I don't know how to ride."
"You could learn. Shane could teach you. I've seen him working with the rodeo cowboys. He's very patient."
"I don't think there's enough time. The festival is ten weeks away. Could I really learn to ride a horse enough for it to do the dance by then?" She turned to Charlie. "More than a thousand years ago the Maá-zib women left everything they knew and migrated up to where we are today. They were powerful women who wanted to make a home for themselves. They settled here and their strength and determination flows through all of us."
Charlie sipped her beer. "Good speech and no, I'm not doing the horse dance."
Annabelle slumped over the table. "Then I've got nothing."
Heidi poked her in the arm. "Like I said, do the dance yourself. You're always the one going on and on about the Maá-zib women protecting their daughters from sacrifice by leaving. They were tired of their daughters being killed before they'd ever had a chance to live so they came here where they could be free. Embrace that spirit."
Annabelle straightened. She was hardly the type to lead a parade, she thought. She was more quiet, more in the background, organizing rather than being on display.
She opened her mouth to say, "I can't," but the words got stuck. Because she could if she wanted. She could do a lot of things. But all her life, she'd been conventional in an attempt to fit in. From trying to please her parents to making herself over to please every guy she'd ever been with. She considered herself accommodating, not strong.
She was, in the most honest, unflattering terms, a pushover.
Charlie stared at her. "You okay? You look funny."
"I've settled," Annabelle said. "I've always settled."
Heidi and Charlie exchanged looks of concern. "Okay," Charlie said slowly. "You're not having a seizure, are you?"
"No, I'm having a revelation. I've settled. I've always been the one to bend, to be conventional."
"You were just dancing on a bar," Heidi said with a shrug. "Not exactly conventional."
"I wasn't drunk. I was showing Charlie the dance of the happy virgin in an effort to convince her—" She shook her head, then stood. "You know what? I'm going to do it. I'm going to learn the dance myself. Or learn to ride. Whatever. It's my bookmobile. My fundraiser. I'm taking charge. I'm putting myself out there. The spirit of the Maá-zib women lives on in me."
"You go, girl," Charlie told her.
"You were home early last night."
Shane turned off the water in the barn and glanced up to see his mother walking toward him. It was barely dawn, but she was up and dressed. More important, she carried a mug of coffee in each hand.
He took the caffeine she offered and swallowed gratefully. Visions of a fiery redhead had haunted the little sleep he'd managed.
"Jo's Bar turned out to be more interesting than I'd thought."
May, his still-attractive, fifty-something mother, grinned. "You went to Jo's Bar? Oh, honey, no. That's where the women in town hang out. There's shopping and fashion playing on the TV, not sports. You should have talked to your brother about where to catch the game. No wonder you didn't stay out late." She reached out her free hand to stroke the nose of the mare hanging her head over her stall door. "Hello, sweetie. Are you adjusting? Don't you love Fool's Gold?"
The mare nodded, as if agreeing that all was well.
Shane had to admit his horses had settled in more quickly than he'd anticipated. The drive from Tennessee had been long but the end results worth the journey. He'd bought two hundred prime acres in the foothills outside of town. He'd already drawn up plans for a house and, more important, stables. Construction would start on the latter within the week. Until then he was boarding his horses in his mother's stable and he was staying up at the house with her seventy-four year old boyfriend, Glen, Shane's brother Rafe, and Heidi, Rafe's fiancée. Talk about a crowd.
Shane reminded himself he was doing exactly what he'd always wanted to do in a place he planned to settle. He had the horses, the land, family close by enough to make it feel like home but, once his house was built, not so close that they would get in the way. If only he could get the image of that woman out of his head.
"Mom, do you know—"
He bit back the rest of the question. His mother was the kind of woman who would know everyone in town. Give her a name and within fifteen minutes and she would get back to him with four generations worth of details.
He wasn't looking for trouble. He'd already done that, had married and then divorced the kind of woman who haunted a man. He'd had enough excitement to last him until he was ninety. Now was the time to settle down. To find someone sensible, someone who would be satisfied knowing that one man loved her. To find someone who wouldn't go looking for adoration from every man in the room.
His mother looked at him, her dark eyes so much like his own. Her mouth curved in a slow, knowing smile.
"Please, please say you're going to ask me if I know any nice girls."
What the hell, he thought, then shrugged. "Do you? Someone, you know, regular." No one like the bar-dancing goddess.
His mother practically quivered. "Yes and she's perfect. A librarian. Her name is Annabelle Weiss. She's lovely. Heidi was telling me Annabelle wants to learn to ride a horse. You could teach her."
A librarian, huh? He pictured a plain brunette in glasses, cardigan buttoned up to her neck and practical shoes. Not exactly exciting, but that was okay. He'd reached the place in his life where he wanted to have a family. He wasn't looking for someone to rock his world. The price was too high.
"What do you think?" his mother asked anxiously.
"She sounds perfect."