Summer Nights by Susan Mallery
Part of the Fool’s Gold series.
Publication Date: June 26 2012
Publisher: HQN Books
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: romance, sex, cowboys, second marriages
Format read: ARC from Netgalley!
Summary: Bitter from his divorce, Shane is determined to find a quiet, boring woman to marry when he settles back in Fool’s Gold. Things don’t go as planned when his eye catches Annabelle, a red-headed knock out, dancing on a bar. He knows she is trouble but he can’t get her out of his head. Little does he know, she’s the town librarian and he’s about to get roped into giving her riding lessons on his ranch.
A cowboy and a librarian meet in a bar… sounds like the perfect joke, right?
Summer Nights kind of starts that way. Shane thinks he’s going to be teaching a mousy librarian with cardigans and glasses how to ride a horse, and instead the redhead from the bar shows up. The very woman Shane thinks is bad news. Annabelle may be an knockout (not that she’s aware) but she’s learning to ride a horse to make money for a project that would bring books to people who can’t get into town. She legit has a heart of gold and Shane is just too stubborn to realize it.
The truth is, for him, it’s easier to believe that Annabelle is just like his ex-wife. He doesn’t have to get invested or get all swoony over her. Instead he can sort of lust after her from a corner of his ranch and let that be the end of it.
But that’s not the end of it.
It’s a romance novel, people. A hot one. That had me blushing, and it’s not because Shane remained in that corner daydreaming about Annabelle. Nope. Instead he gave her the kiss of the century and invited her to engage in a whole lot of other activities that gave me my own education. Whew. It was steamy, way steamy.
At the same time, Annabelle is frustrated because she has no idea what Shane really wants from her and she has no idea how to convince him she is just her, a woman who could love him (and rock his world), and not be deceiving jerk like his ex. Both Shane and Annabelle have their baggage and I like how Mallery went back and forth between the two. So many of the romance novels I read when I was younger seemed to focus just on the woman and her thoughts. I liked getting both sides.
Mallery has created quite a world with her Fool’s Gold series and there are a ton of characters that enter and exit the scenes in Summer Nights; she also plants the character for her following book and it was a surprisingly serious storyline that balanced out the romance and the “will they/won’t they” theme. No fear though. Summer Nights is perfect as a standalone, so you don’t have to reread the books before it (unless you want to, of course). While I enjoyed Mallery’s characters and dreamy setting, she did have a tendency to repeat certain actions during hot make out scenes that had me cringing toward the end (or even anticipating that phrase).
The thing about romance novels is that they are fun and extremely addicting, even if they are light and have sort of a fairy tale like quality to them. Mallery inserts a lot of comical moments as well (like with Shane’s growing farm) and really knows how to build chemistry and intrigue.
Bonus, as a fan of country songs and the boys who sing them, I made a playlist that screams Summer Nights. Here’s one of the songs and you can check out the playlist on Spotify. Enjoy!