A Fool’s Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery ( website | tweet )
Part of the Fool’s Gold Series
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: holidays, small town, Christmas, family drama, dance!
Format read: ARC from NetGalley (Thanks!)
Summary: The town of Fool’s Gold will not let you forget the holidays are here — the events, the charity work, the cheer — it’s everywhere you turn around. But Evie and Dante refuse to fall into the Christmas trap, and instead, intend to get through the holidays together. (But you know… it’s not serious between them… not at all.)
I’m willing to bet I’m one of the biggest Christmas enthusiasts you will ever meet. I know I complain about fall clothes being out before summer is even half done, or the Halloween decorations jam-packing the aisles before school even starts… but I get a secret thrill when I see my first bit of Christmas merchandise or get my first email that tells me tickets for the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall will be going on sale soon.
What I’m trying to say is… why not read a Christmas novel in October?
Susan Mallery’s latest, set in the adorable, California town of Fool’s Gold, focuses on two people who resemble Scrooge more than Buddy the Elf. (What?! I refuse to understand this behavior!) Evie has unwillingly returned to FG after an unfortunate injury ended her cheerleading career, and Dante has no choice but to relocate to FG after his business partner (and Evie’s brother) settles down there.
While the novel switches between the two, the story mainly focuses on Evie as she struggles to come to terms with a mother who never seemed to want her around. Evie’s background resembles a Lifetime movie – the product of a one-night stand, a father she never knew, and a mom and brothers who never made her feel very welcome in her home. Obviously these factors have had lasting effects on her own life (she went off on her own pretty young) and also her relationships (never let anyone get too close!).
…I’ll be honest: I’ve heard a little about Evie in the other books in the series and I never bought her background story. It seems so far-fetched but hey, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.
Dante, on the other hand, loves how Evie looks in her dance teacher gear and has his own secret childhood challenges as well. They bond over their lack of love for the holidays, how Fool’s Gold turns into its own version of the North Pole, and even the different relationships they’ve had with their families.
A Fool’s Gold Christmas is a sweet romance sprinkled with just enough holiday cheer that it didn’t seem crazy to be reading it in the fall but could be equally fun when the snow is falling and you’re nursing a cup of hot chocolate. More than any of the other novels in this series, Fool’s Gold shines for all its merriment and the supportive and good-natured people of this town. I could absolutely picture all the antics in my head, and I wished I lived in a similar place.
Out of the three leading ladies I’ve met in Mallery’s books, Evie is hands down my favorite. She’s sarcastic, no nonsense, and she totally made me chuckle a few times. She was more than a caricature and more like your favorite down-to-earth friend. While Dante’s storyline was thin, he was no doubt super sexy and surprisingly thoughtful. I really liked watching these two get together and start to let their guard down for one another. (But beware, like any romance novel… something will come between them!) The author also does a better job of incorporating past characters… it felt more natural in this setting and not as overwhelming. (Although, Evie’s mother, May, came off too mopey and emotional and instead of her monologues feeling sincere, they felt annoying.)
I think the smaller details in this particular book – a cat with personality, the big dance performance, and how the women come together time and time again – make this a favorite in the Fool’s Gold series for me. While it was just as addicting as the others, Christmas played a great supporting role and the characters felt more than just sugarplums dancing in my head.