Series: Fool's Gold #16
Published by HQN Books on April 28th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery's classic blend of lighthearted humor and intense emotional conflict works its magic on two newcomers to the California town of Fool's Gold, which Library Journal calls "a setting so real and appealing readers will want to start scoping out real estate." Destiny Mills believes passion has its place—like in the lyrics of the country songs that made her parents famous. After a childhood full of drama and heartache, she wants a life that's calm. Safe. Everything that Kipling Gilmore isn't. Her temporary assignment with the Fool's Gold search and rescue team puts her in delicious proximity to the former world-class skier every day. Part of her aches to let go for once…the rest is terrified what'll happen if she does. Though an accident ended his career, Kipling still lives for thrills—and a hot fling with a gorgeous redhead like Destiny would be a welcome diversion. Yet beneath his new coworker's cool facade is a woman who needs more than he's ever given. With her, he's ready to take the risk. But love, like skiing, is all about trust—and before you soar, you have to be willing to fall.
This was a rare Susan Mallery Fool’s Gold miss for me. I just couldn’t sympathize with Destiny at all when it came to her relationships and her attitudes toward them. Her parents had a very volatile, on-again, off-again relationship that really caused a lot of chaos in their own lives, their childrens’ lives, their parents lives, etc. Destiny, understandably, wants no part of a relationship like that. So she decides, and we know this because she mentions it or thinks about it constantly, that she’s going to find a stable man to settle down with. They’ll get married because they respect each other and have things in common, and they’ll have sex exactly twice, once for each of the children Destiny wants.
Look, I understand her not wanting a marriage or relationship like her parents had. But where in the world is she supposed to find anyone who’s desiring or even willing to enter into this marriage? How does someone as smart as she clearly is, think that this is a thing that will work? Everyone she talks to about this stares at her while crickets chirp, but she just blithely goes about her business with it. I would have understood a lot more if she had decided to skip the relationship altogether and just use a sperm donor when she was ready to have kids. She was so smart in all other aspects, but any time this topic came up, she turned into this weird fact-spouting robot. It’s cute when Felicia does it because it’s who Felicia is. But it would just come and go with Destiny so much, it didn’t make a lot of sense.
The one thing about Destiny I did like and sympathize with was her relationship with Starr, her younger half-sister. Starr’s mother has recently died, and the father she shares with Destiny can’t be bothered to take care of her or even notice her, so Destiny takes her in. I really liked watching their relationship develop. Destiny has no idea how to take care of a fifteen year-old, and she’s really floundering, which I thought was the most realistic part of this book.
I thought the community panic over two fifteen year-olds sitting on a porch swing kissing was way overblown, though. In fact, for the first time in this series, I found Fool’s Gold less than charming. Kipling is new to town, and after hearing some of the men complain that they don’t like Jo’s Bar because it caters so exclusively to women, and they don’t have anywhere to go, he and several of the men from previous books pool their money and open a bar called The Man Cave. They have a great grand opening, then business starts to fall off. One by one, these men, the partners in the bar, tell Kipling that they’re going to pull out of the business because their wives feel bad for Jo. Wait, what?? Every single one of them does this. Kipling ends up having to go to Jo and ask her for her permission to keep his bar in Fool’s Gold because… I don’t know… she was there first, or something?
Destiny is a loner, but she immediately becomes besties with all of the other women in the town. (At Jo’s Bar, of course). All of the women in this town are all madly in love with their husbands. Which is wonderful. But every time one of them even mentions another man in passing, she feels the need to remind everyone she’s happily married. “I’m happily married, but Man X is hot.” “I have a great husband, but I had Man Y carry my groceries to the car.” “I love my husband, but my doctor is this other man.” It gets ridiculous. I don’t know anyone who feels the need to confirm her marriage before mentioning another man. Never once have I said, “I have the best, most solid marriage ever, but Benedict Cumberbatch is gorgeous.” And, believe me, I talk about Benedict Cumberbatch a lot.
I just didn’t get a good sense of why Kipling and Destiny were together outside of the physical aspects, which made Destiny’s insistence on this great respectful, sexless marriage even more strange. And even their physical relationship isn’t exactly the stuff dreams are made of. View Spoiler »Kipling realizes, after having drunken sex on a bar table, that Destiny was a virgin. (Of course she was). So he goes to the town gynecologist to ask if there’s a way to put her hymen back. Seriously. Obviously, Destiny gets pregnant from this interlude. Well, I guess she does. She realizes her period is late, then runs around telling Kipling and everyone else that she’s pregnant. She never actually takes a test or visits a doctor in this book. « Hide Spoiler
I haven’t given up on Fool’s Gold yet, but this was not a very good entry in the series.