The unrelenting cheer in Fool’s Gold, California, is bringing out the humbug in dancer Evie Stryker. She learned early on that Christmas miracles don’t happen, at least not for her. And this year seems like no exception. An injury has forced her to return to the family fold, no matter that they’re estranged. She won’t add to the awkward scenario by being seduced by the bad-boy charms of her brother’s best friend, the last man she should ever want to date. Even when she’s recruited to stage the Fool’s Gold winter festival, she vows to do as promised, then move forward with her life anywhere but here.Jaded lawyer Dante JeÏ¬€erson is getting used to the backwater town he now reluctantly calls home, but the pounding of little dancers’ feet above his temporary office is more than any man should have to take! When he confronts their gorgeous teacher, he’s unprepared for the attraction that sears him down to the soul. Evie is his best friend’s sister—off-limits unless he’s willing to risk his heart. Dante has always believed that love is the most dangerous force in the universe, but that was before he had to reckon with the magic of a certain small town, where miracles do seem to happen .
*Blurb from Goodreads*
I’ve been intrigued by Dante ever since he stepped foot onto the pages of Fool’s Gold, and with Evie and her history, I was looking forward to seeing how Mallery had their relationship play out.
Evie has a rocky relationship with her family, and when they bring her to Fool’s Gold after a work injury, she vows to stay long enough to get on her feet, save some money, and get out of dodge. She wasn’t counting on a job she loved teaching dance, forming friendships with the girls in town, or finding a man who seems to share her hesitancies with the town – especially since that man is her older brothers business partner and best friend.
Dante is on the fence about Fool’s Gold, but the more time he spends in the quirky festival ridden town, the more he starts to feel like he might actually belong. He has Evie next door to wallow in the holidays with, and despite their attraction, he is doing his best to stay out of her bed. But their growing friendship quickly blooms into more and the two of them find that not only is the town of Fool’s Gold best during the holidays, but that that love is definitely in the air.
I think of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the slow-build romance between Dante and Evie. They start as unlikely friends, two people who are so hurt and jaded by their pasts that they never felt the desire to be happy during the holidays. Add in the festivities and over-abundance of joy in town, and they feel like the only two people in their world who AREN’T looking forward to Christmas. They bond over that, their messy pasts, and the mutual attraction grows over time in the book. They didn’t hop into bed together, and they played things cool and slow until they were both somewhat comfortable with relationship. I’ve always loved the slow-building romance stories, especially when it starts with a beautiful friendship.
I have to say, in previous books (especially the last three) I never really knew how I felt about Evie. It was obvious that her childhood wasn’t easy, and the fact that she never really bonded with her family was evident. However, we only got to see the point of view of her mother and brothers, and while they never blamed Evie, it also didn’t give us the chance to get her side of the story. I wasn’t sure what to expect with her, just how deep the pain of her past had cut her, and how tightly she was holding onto that anger. I ended up really liking Evie. I never once thought that she was too jaded, or that she was blowing up her situation. When she started to form a reluctant bond with her family, it made me adore her even more.
With Dante, he was always such a mystery. His past was kept so secret, and getting the chance to peel back his layers was great. The poor man didn’t stand a chance against Evie and the women in town who accepted her easily into their fold. Although he tried so hard to hold parts of himself back, to keep all his secrets, Evie was determined to heal him in the same way that he helped her heal, and together they really did work so hard at becoming whole and healthy and comfortable in their relationship.
I’m glad to see that Mallery went back to her roots a bit more in this story, as I liked it so much more than the last few books in the series. The last trilogy with the Stryker brothers never really worked for me as well as the previous books in the series, but with this, I was glad to see that Evie was strong and willing to take a chance on love despite her history. I loved that Dante was mysterious and sexy and not a total jerk. The romance was believable and wonderful and I hope this book puts the Fool’s Gold Series back on track.
All in all I enjoyed this installment of the series. Like I said before, both evie and Dante were believable and wonderful characters that had their flaws, but great strengths as well. Their romance was a slow building one that started with a great friendship and worked its way up to so much more. I continue to look forward to more from Mallery and this wonderful, quirky small town.
I give A Fool’s Gold Christmas a B