Charlie Dixon is a firefighter in Fools Gold. She discovered the small town on vacation and fell in love with the beautiful, welcoming town and stayed for good. Charlie carries demons from her past and she is finally ready to confront them and heal so she can move forward towards her dream of having a family.
Clay Stryker is a retired model. He’s come home and plans to stay for good. He has a dream to enrich his and his family’s way of life by putting his own mark on his family’s rich involvement with the Fools Gold community. He wants to give back and one way is to dedicate his time as a volunteer firefighter, but first he will have to pass Charlie’s rigorous training. Clay is also still carrying scars on his heart.
Clay has always been misjudged and valued for his looks alone. Charlie knows the feeling and is drawn to Clay, as a friend, from his arrival in town. The two can relate and appreciate each other’s personalities. When Charlie bares her soul to him and asks him to help heal her, he agrees but will they be able to heal each other’s broken hearts or will they do more damage to each other?
Let me count the ways in which I loved All Summer Long. I was immediately drawn into Charlie and Clay’s story. They are both rich, multi-layered characters and easily lovable. Aside from the stark masculinity of Clay, he is also vulnerable and isn’t afraid to let Charlie see what he perceives as his weaknesses.
Charlie had a bad experience in her youth that damaged her for a long time but she is now ready to face her fears and she opens herself up to Clay, trusts him with more than herself and although she is scared, Clay is patient and takes his time healing her. The dedication and desire he showed Charlie from the beginning was so incredibly sweet and endearing. I loved Charlie, she was scared of being hurt but she was determined and when she decided to stop running from her fears, she gave herself whole-heartedly. She was tough, sweet, loyal and courageous.
The chemistry between Charlie and Clay jumps off the page and springs to life, both of them open themselves up to intimacy that leaves nothing left to hide and both are strong enough to revel in it instead of hiding from it.
There are also family issues when Charlie’s estranged mother, Dominique comes to Fools Gold, hoping to forge a closer relationship with her daughter. Dominique was a really hard character to like, she was the most selfish and self-centered character I have had the displeasure of reading in a long time. But though she makes tons of mistakes, by the end of the book, she had grown on me. Mallery did a brilliant job when she created that character, as she was able to write a hugely flawed, egotistical character and develop her well enough to eventually be a semi-redeemable character. I imagine with more time spent in Fools Gold, she may turn into a decent character.
What I’ve discovered and love about Susan Mallery is her ability to deliver not only complex and well-drawn characters, but to give the readers a story with heart and soul. The book is character driven, but the issues are relatable and realistic, making the book that much more enjoyable.
I just started reading Susan Mallery with her last release, Summer Nights and I loved that as well. I’m late to the scene as the Fools Gold series is now up to the ninth book with the release of All Summer Long, but I think Mallery has a new lifelong fan in me. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next, I don’t know if she will be able to top Charlie and Clay, who are now up there in my favorites, but I do hope she tries.