Title: Kiss Me
Author: Susan Mallery
My Rating: B+
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Fool's Gold #17
Main Characters: Phoebe and Zane
Release Date: June 2015
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot
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, but 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?
This book took a different turn for a Fool's Gold story. After 17 installments to the series, there are certain things that I've come to expect...the small town festivals, gossip, and Mayor Marsha. But this book was different. This one takes place almost entirely on Zane's family ranch and during this cattle drive that he's been forced to take greenhorn's on to teach his younger brother a lesson about life. It was different, but I like that Susan Mallery is mixing it up a bit.
There's a whole underlying thread to this story...kids who have suffered during childhood that flows throughout. There are a couple of children on this cattle drive who are part of the foster system and too old to probably ever get adopted. They've had it really rough and their entire situation is heartbreaking. While Phoebe and Zane aren't really a part of their story besides being in the same circumstance together, they have similar ties. Phoebe also grew up in the foster system so she knows the loneliness the kids face. While Zane had a family, his father was distant and unloving, and that left him with scars too.
Those scars from childhood run deep. For Phoebe it means that she tries to take care of other people. For Zane it means he doesn't connect with anyone...keeping a high wall between him and others so that they can't hurt him like his father did. Zane also is really rough on his younger brother trying to keep him from making the same mistakes as Zane...to the detriment of both Chase's well-being and their very important relationship.
My heart ached for both Zane and Phoebe. While they both have a support system...Phoebe has her friend Maya and Zane has Chase and Maya, they're both lonely and very much alone in their lives. I loved watching them slowly connect and realize what their ties to one another meant.
Then there's the overall cattle drive. I loved the theme and setting for this book. The visuals for the cattle drive were incredible. I loved Phoebe's antics with how she connects to the animals and the land...such a surprise for this city girl. I enjoyed the group dynamic of the greenhorns and where that Fool's Gold small town mentality came in to save the day. It was a great book and definitely made for some entertaining summer reading. I think this is a great armchair tourist read...all the sensations of going on a cattle drive without all the sore muscles and roughing it realities.
I liked it!
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.