Ms. Mallery has definitely struck gold in the California hills with her fresh and charming stories about hunky heroes and plucky heroines who make their way to this little town to find romance and happily ever after. Twelve-plus-deep into the series, each new story shines as bright as if it were a first, though men are predictable in their need to look for escape before succumbing and traditions are important as women stick together to commiserate and hold hands – and at the center of everything is Mayor Marsha, who reminds me of a spider spinning her webs and watching it all come together based on her plan.
When We Met, Book 13
29 Apr 14
This is the cross-over book between the bodyguard school and Score, the new sports PR firm that has just moved into town. And wouldn’t you believe it, but Angel, the last unattached member of the bodyguard school, meets and falls for Taryn, the sole female partner of Score. They’re an interesting contradiction of types and personalities.
Angel is a badass special ops type who gives off danger vibes standing still, while Taryn is a girly girl who loves high-fashion designer wear and has the taste, money, and body to indulge. I totally salivated and lived vicariously through Taryn’s fashion choices and daily wardrobe changes.
They are both the most unlikely candidates to become the equivalent of cub masters to a group of young girls. Thank god for Taryn, since I think Angel would have actually turned tail and run after his first group meeting when he found that he had agreed to take on a group of elementary school girls instead of the boys that he envisioned. It is very cute as they both learn to braid hair and fix hair ribbons and coach their team through the various badges they need to earn to get to the next level. This is a completely different type of courtship marked with dates chaperoned by little girl people. Readers take heart, they do have adult unsupervised time enough to keep the spice in the story and their lives. Clearly, we have a setback before the end where the girls all get together and drink margaritas and hold Taryn’s hand before Angel discovers the error of his ways and falls on his knees. I definitely enjoyed taking this journey with them.
Angel Whittaker earned his scars the hard way, but the scars that can’t be seen are the ones that haunt him the most. Since he moved to Fool’s Gold, California, he’s cobbled together a life for himself as a bodyguard trainer. If he’s not exactly happy, at least his heart is safe.
Working with pro-football superstars taught tough-talking PR woman Taryn Crawford one thing—she can go toe-to-toe with any man. But then dark, dangerous former Special Ops Angel targets her for seduction…and challenges her to resist his tempting kisses.
Even in four-inch heels, Taryn never backs down. Unless, somehow, Angel can convince her that surrender might feel even better than victory.
Before We Kiss, Book 14
27 May 14
This story is my personal favorite amongst this trio. Starting off with Sam’s fears of entrapment, given his bad luck and poor choices in women – particularly his ex-wife – I totally empathized with his sense of panic and hiding his head behind the doors of his office after he finds a room full of bridal gowns and a board full of ideas on how to get a marriage proposal the morning after his one-night stand with an attractive woman he picked up at a party.
Unfortunately, poor Sam can’t hide out too long, since Dellina is pivotal to a customer appreciation event his firm is hosting. As he begins to work with her, Sam can’t help but succumb, especially after he discovers that the laugh’s on him. The bridal gowns belong to a friend who’s in the process of remodeling her store and the white board is the result of her sister’s brainstorming on how to get her fiancé to propose.
Now that it’s all cleared up, this relationship should be smooth sailing, except there’s one more road bump. Dellina’s choice of a Saturday speaker to appeal to a family audience does not go over well with Sam. Ms. Mallery has done a superb job with the character of Sam’s parents, particularly his mother, who thinks nothing of asking him personal and intimate questions, regardless of the audience. Poor Sam! I’m glad they were able to work their way through that road block…………
Former pro-football kicker Sam Ridge has notoriously bad luck with women—from cheaters to fame chasers. Still, the gorgeous brunette at the bar in Fool’s Gold looks harmless—until she takes him home and he discovers a room devoted to securing a man, for life.
Dellina Hopkins never guessed that storing gowns from a friend’s bridal boutique would chase away her first and only fling. After her parents died, she skipped her “wild youth” to raise her sisters. She doesn’t want forever from Sam, but one night—all night—would’ve been nice.
His clean getaway gets messy when his firm hires Dellina to plan an event. As long hours lead to late nights, the two succumb to temptation again. Has Sam’s luck finally changed? Or this time, will Dellina be the one to run?
Until We Touch, Book 15
24 Jun 14
We’ve obviously had the opportunity to get to know Sam’s and Taryn’s partners as the series is at its midpoint. Jack, interestingly enough, amongst other things, is Taryn’s ex-husband and best friend. I know rarely does that go together, but these two definitely make it work. Larissa is one of my other favorite characters with her huge heart and constant do-good schemes, some of which go awry along the way. Perhaps awry is too mild a word when you consider that Angel got bit by a poisonous snake and almost died the one time she was transporting snakes and Angel came to her rescue.
Larissa and Jack have a wonderful relationship. She supplies the heart, caring, and attention while he supplies the money to the various charities and projects they both embrace. It’s all smooth sailing until her mother comes to visit and lets the cat out of the bag, which, no matter how hard they try, they can’t stuff it back in and go back to their platonic friendship. Yes, Larissa is in love with Jack and he’s in denial. Will he get his foot out of his ass and go after the best thing that’s happened to him? Clearly, but not before he alienates everyone in his life and gets thrown out of Score.
This isn’t one of those hot romances where clothes go flying and they’re looking for the nearest horizontal surface. There’s the strong friendship between the two protagonists and love comes unexpectedly, almost as a surprise, which is refreshing in itself.
After a family tragedy, former football hero Jack McGarry keeps the world at arm’s length—a challenge now that his PR firm has moved to neighborly Fool’s Gold, California.
Larissa Owens knows where she stands—Jack sees her as just another one of the guys. No matter what her heart wishes, Jack’s her boss, not her boyfriend. But then Larissa’s big secret is revealed…by her mother!
When Jack discovers the truth about Larissa’s feelings, her touch suddenly becomes tantalizing, and he’s not sure he wants to resist. But if he gives in to desire, heartache is sure to follow. Friendship or true love—will Jack go for the ultimate play
Overall Grade: B
I have to say the last partner at Score is a total mystery and I can’t wait for the big reveal and the healing to begin for him.
Other books in this series: