Kiss Me, by Susan Mallery

June 15, 2015 Book Reviews 2 ★★★★

Kiss Me, by Susan MalleryKiss Me by Susan Mallery
Series: Fool's Gold #17
Published by HQN Books on June 30, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: the publisher through NetGalley
Goodreads
four-stars
Also in this series: Three Little Words, A Fool's Gold Christmas, Christmas on 4th Street, When We Met, Before We Kiss, Until We Touch, Yours for Christmas, Hold Me, Thrill Me, Marry Me at Christmas, Best of My Love
Also by this author: Three Little Words, A Fool's Gold Christmas, Christmas on 4th Street, When We Met, Before We Kiss, Until We Touch, Yours for Christmas, Hold Me, Thrill Me, Marry Me at Christmas, Best of My Love, The Ladies' Man, Second Chance Girl

After Phoebe Kitzke's kind heart gets her suspended from her job in LA, she swears off doing favors—until her best friend begs for help on the family ranch in Fool's Gold. Unfortunately, sexy cowboy Zane Nicholson isn't exactly thrilled by the city girl's arrival.

Thanks to his brother's latest scheme, Zane has been roped into taking tourists on a cattle drive. What Phoebe knows about ranching wouldn't fill his hat, but her laughter is so captivating that even his animals fall for her. One slip of his legendary control leads to a passionate kiss that convinces him she's exactly the kind of woman a single-minded loner needs to avoid.

In his arms, Phoebe discovers she's a country girl at heart. Yet no matter how much the small town feels like home, she can't stay unless Zane loves her, too…but is this cowboy interested in forever?

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Kiss Me hits all the right notes (well, most of them anyway.)

I suppose a music analogy isn’t the best choice for a cowboy romance, but I can’t help it – this may be one of my favorite Fool’s Gold romances yet. Mallery gets the balance of humor and heart just right, and the Phoebe–Zane duet plays particularly well. A couple of interesting subplots add counterpoint, and everything ends up – as always in Fool’s Gold – on a high note.

The ranch and open-range setting is half the charm of this book; the characters make up the other half. And what characters! From stern Zane to warm-hearted Phoebe, from 17-year-old charmer (and occasional screw-up) Chase to irascible Cookie to a pair of unwanted foster kids, I enjoyed them all. Well – almost all. There’s one rather obnoxious woman on the cattle drive, but luckily she’s a minor character.

I really related to Phoebe, who is always trying to make things better for people. She also has an endearing habit of talking to animals as if they understand her – it’s cute with her horse, and both sweet and funny when she befriends the head steer. Zane initially comes across as humorless and taciturn, but he has his reasons. For one thing, he’s been trying to raise his younger brother, but he sure didn’t have a great example in their father. For another, he’s stuck leading a bunch of greenhorns on a cattle drive that was definitely not his idea – and he’s well aware of all the things that could go wrong. From the beginning I could tell there was more to him than met the eye.

While Kiss Me is a Fool’s Gold book, we don’t see a lot of either the town or its regular cast of characters – except Gladys and Eddie, a pair of old ladies with an eye for handsome young men, who sign on for the cattle drive. For a change, they prove to be more than comic relief; both are concerned about the foster children, and Gladys, at least, has hidden depths and more than her share of heartbreak in her past. Not that the pair aren’t happy to ogle any sexy cowboys they happen to see!

Besides Phoebe’s worries about losing her job and Zane’s frustration with his younger brother’s antics, the main subplot centers around Lucy and Tommy, a brother and sister in foster care. Their current foster mother neglects them; they’re on the cattle drive with a couple who can’t have children. Perfect solution, right? Well, there are complications, and to be honest I wasn’t sure if they were going to work out by the end of the book. My heart really went out to those kids, though. And the sad thing is that their story isn’t all that unusual. Older children have a tough time getting adopted, and while some foster parents are great, some situations are pretty bad.

It’s true that there are a few things in the book that really stretch credulity. I know how sore I am the day after an hour-long ride when I haven’t ridden in years; I can’t see how a bunch of novice riders could manage an all-day ride and still be able to move the next day! On the other hand, the descriptions of the range and of the campsites are enticing, and there’s more humor in the form of a never-seen thief of the animal variety. Most of the characters’ problems are resolved pretty tidily, too, which isn’t always the case in real life – but then, I read romance to take a break from real life, so that doesn’t bother me. With all the doom and gloom in the news lately, I appreciate a good HEA!

Bottom line: if you like cowboy romances, Kiss Me belongs on your summer reading list.

(By the way, the cover is misleading. Pretty, but misleading. No bicycles in the book, but plenty of horses and cows – which are conspicuously absent from the cover. And if that guy is a cowboy, I’ll eat his hat. Oh, wait – no hat, either.)

four-stars

About Susan Mallery

With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.

Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Clean Sweep ARC Challenge (May 2015)

2 Responses to “Kiss Me, by Susan Mallery”

  1. Faye le Potato

    YEAH I CAN TOTALLY SEE WHAT YOU MEAN ABOUT THAT COVER. Cowboy romance but that cover doesn’t spell it O_O It looks more like a High School contemporary D: In any case, this soudns like a fun read! I’d love to see a heroine who loves animals (I oftentimes talk to my dog like he understands me, and I scream at roaches haha). PLUS, THE OLD LADIES WHO LOVES SEXY COWBOYS. I wanna them holler in action.
    Faye le Potato recently posted…Review: Spelled by Betsy Schow + Poll: Which Fairy Tale Character Are You?My Profile

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Those two old women have been a hoot from their first appearance in these books – which made the deeper glimpse into one of them that much more surprising and rewarding.