Publish Date: July 31st
How I got this book: NetGalley
Can a summer fling turn into love that lasts a lifetime? Former underwear model turned entrepreneur Clay Stryker has loved, tragically lost and vowed that he’ll never risk his heart again. After making his fortune, the youngest of the rugged Stryker brothers returns to Fool’s Gold, California, to put down roots on a ranch of his own. But he’s frustrated to discover that even in his hometown, people see him only for his world-famous…assets.
Firefighter Chantal (Charlie) Dixon grew up an ugly duckling beside her delicately beautiful mother, a feeling reinforced long ago by a man who left soul-deep scars. Now she has good friends, a solid job and the itch to start a family-yet she can’t move toward the future while she’s haunted by painful memories.
Clay finds an unexpected ally, and unexpected temptation, in tomboyish Charlie, the only person who sees beyond his dazzling good looks to the real man beneath. But when Charlie comes to him with an indecent proposal, will they be able to overcome their pasts and find a love that lasts beyond one incredible summer?
*Blurb from Goodreads*
After the somewhat disappointing last Fool’s Gold read, I was somewhat hesitant to read this book. We found out that Charlie has a very traumatic experience with men in her past, and I knew this book would either go extremely well, or really bad. I’m happy to say that I was glad with the way Mallery handled the whole ordeal.
Clay is back in Fool’s Gold, looking to start his own business with the help of his brothers. The one thing he didn’t expect was to have no one take him seriously as a man, looking onto to his underwear model days as the sum of his persona. Clay also doesn’t want to look for romance, the death of his wife still weighs heavily on him, and the thought of falling in love again scares him tremendously.
Charlie wants to start her own family, but given her deep fear of men, is looking for other options. Knowing she needs to be well balanced to give her child all she can, she turns to Clay for help in getting past her fears. She proposes he help her get used to the touch and feel of a man, and Clay is more than happy to help. But as they work past Charlie’s fears and take on the town together, will the tangled web of emotions be enough to pull them apart?
Since we never really got the chance to know Clay before this book, I was a little worried that he wouldn’t be the man for Charlie, but I was so glad to see them interact together. It was obvious that Clay was still in love with his dead wife, and although he enjoyed Charlie’s friendship, he also was willing to go super slow with her and her insecurities. I really liked Clay, I thought his character had so much depth, and as Charlie slowly peeled off the layers of him, I liked him more and more.
Although I liked the way that Clay and Charlie handled her fear with intimacy, I was also a little hesitant with how quickly Charlie seemed to get over her deep seeded fears. She definitely had to build up to allowing Clay intimate touches, but she never really talked to anyone, never went to therapy, never worked out her concerns with a professional, and I didn’t like that aspect of her “recovery” being glazed over.
The romance between these two was great though. The book was full of sexual tension and a slow build up of both an emotional and sexual commitment. They started as mutual acquaintances, worked their way up to friends, lovers and then so much more. I love when a romance slowly builds up like that over time, especially when it’s done well.
All in all I was much happier with this Fool’s Gold installment than the last book. I truly enjoyed both Charlie and Clay as individuals, as well as a couple. They complimented each other so well, and really brought out the best in one another. I hope that Mallery continues on with even more great Fool’s Gold books.
I give All Summer Long a B-