Spotlight - Summer Nights and All Summer Long by Susan Mallery
So far my summer reading has only been so-so, I haven't gotten to read as much as I've wanted to read but what I have read has been very enjoyable. Anyone who follows my blog, pretty much knows I'm a huge fan of Susan Mallery and her books and what can be a better way to celebrate a new release than with a spotlight and giveaway.
Today I'm spotlighting the two newest books in her "Fool's Gold" series set in a small fictional town in Southern California.
Wild hearts cannot be tamed…
Horse whisperer Shane Stryker is done with passion. This time around, he’s determined to meet someone who will be content with the quiet life of a rancher’s wife. And the fiery, pint-size redhead who dazzles him at the local bar definitely does not fit the bill.
Small-town librarian Annabelle Weiss has always seen herself as more of a sweetheart than a siren, so she can’t understand why Shane keeps pushing her away. Shane has formed the totally wrong impression of her but only he can help her with a special event for the next Fool’s Gold festival. And maybe while he’s at it, she can convince him to teach her a few things about kissing on hot summer nights, too—some lessons, a girl shouldn’t learn from reading a book!
Her eyes were closed, her long, wavy hair swayed in rhythm with her body. The sensual beat of the music hit Shane square in the gut. He shook his head. Okay, it hit him lower than that, but he ignored it and the draw he felt. The need. Women who danced on bars were trouble. Exciting, tempting, but not for him.
He might never have met her, but he knew the type. Attention-seeking. Deadly—at least for a guy who had assumed marriage meant commitment and monogamy. Women like the one on the bar needed to be wanted by every man in the room. A ride he wasn't willing to take again.
Slowly, regretfully, he turned away from the woman and headed for the exit. He'd come into town for a beer and a burger. He'd thought he could catch the game, maybe hang with the guys. What he'd found instead was a barefoot goddess who made a man want to forget all his hopes and dreams in exchange for a single smile. His dreams were worth more, he reminded himself, glancing over his shoulder one last time before stepping out into the warm summer night.
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?
"Don't take this wrong, but seriously, a cat of your size needs to keep all four paws firmly on the ground."
Charlie Dixon continued up the ladder, aware that Daytona was watching her with serious contempt in his large, green feline eyes. The black and white cat was about twenty-six pounds of attitude. His climbing skills might be excellent, but his ability to get down the tree left much to be desired. At least once a month he got his big furry butt to the top of Mrs. Coverson's sycamore and yowled to be rescued. About an hour later, the old lady panicked and called the fire department. Daytona, named for Mrs. Coverson's love of all things NASCAR, glared and hissed and threatened, but in the end, he submitted to be safely carried to the ground.
"Come on, you," Charlie said, climbing the last two rungs of the ladder. "You know you're getting hungry and I'm your ride down to your food bowl."
On cue, the cat flattened his ears and gave an impressive growl.
"Cheap talk, big guy," Charlie said, then reached for the cat. Daytona took a swipe at the back of her hand, but the movement was half-hearted at best. He was already moving toward her, allowing himself to be picked up and held against her.
"Don't worry," someone called from the sidewalk. "I've got your ladder."
Charlie sighed heavily. "Civilians," she muttered. "How do they always find me?"
Daytona didn't offer a response.
Charlie looked down and saw some guy hovering by the base of her ladder. "I'm fine," she yelled. "Step back."
"Someone needs to hold the ladder," the dark-haired man insisted.
Charlie tucked Daytona securely under one arm and started her descent. She went quickly, aware that Daytona's attention span was often shorter than the trip to safety. When he started squirming, they were both in danger of tumbling. This time she cut it a little too close.
Daytona pushed all four paws against her, then twisted in an attempt to climb down the rest of the way by himself. Charlie hung on, knowing the cat's delusions of grandeur would not have a happy ending. Not only didn't she want to fall herself, there was no way she was going to face old lady Coverson with a less than perfect Daytona beside her.
"Stop it!" she told the cat.
"Need me to come up?" the guy asked.
Charlie briefly wondered how much trouble she would be in for kicking him with her steel-toed boots and if it would be worth it. Some of her best friends were civilians, but honest to God, there were people who totally lacked common sense.
"Stay back," she yelled. "Step away from the ladder and don't interfere."
"I'm not interfering. I'm helping."
Before Charlie could respond, several things happened at once. Daytona gave one final push for freedom. Charlie leaned over to make sure she kept a grip on the squirming cat. The ladder lurched, the idiot below started up and everyone had a moment to rediscover the power of gravity.
Daytona fared the best. He used his claws to dig in to the side of the tree, then scurry down. Charlie came in second. She was maybe six or seven feet from the ground. It came up fast, but instead of hitting the sidewalk or even the grass at the base of the tree, she slammed into the guy who'd been trying to "help."
As she lay on top of the idiot and sucked in air, Charlie watched Daytona stroll over and give a last annoyed hiss. The cat stalked away, his tail high. Charlie rolled off the guy, aware that at five-ten and well-muscled, she weighed a whole lot more than was considered fashionable. No doubt he'd had the wind knocked out of him. With luck, only his pride was hurt and then she could lecture him on why it was never good to be stupid. At worst, she was about to have to call for an ambulance.
"You okay?" she asked, shifting into a kneeling position and glancing at the man for the first time. "Did you hit your head and—"
Crap and double crap. This wasn't some random stupid person, she thought, taking in the perfectly shaped jaw, the firm, full mouth and, when his lids slowly opened, the dark eyes fringed by long lashes. This was possibly the best looking man on the planet.
Clay Stryker, model, movie butt double. His ass had been flashed in magazine ads, calendars and on the big screen. He had a killer body and his face was even better. He was the kind of man for whom, on the promise of a smile, the earth would change its rotation.
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