Sunday, January 10, 2016

Thrill Me - Susan Mallery (HQN - Aug 2015)

Series: Fool's Gold (Book 18)

Meet the Mitchell brothers of Fool's Gold, California -- five gorgeous men who've left a trail of broken hearts in their wake…

Maya Farlow learned the hard way to depend only on herself, so when she fell too deeply for the bad-boy charms of Del Mitchell, she did the only thing she could -- she ran. Stunned, Del left Fool's Gold to make his name and fortune in extreme sports.

Now ten years later, Maya's been hired to promote her hometown's new slogan, The Destination for Romance. The celebrity spokesman is none other than Del, the man she dumped but never forgot. Awkward!

Although Del's not the type to hold a grudge, he's determined to avoid falling a second time for the woman who broke his heart. He's a daredevil, not an idiot. Trouble is, in all his adventures, he never found a rush as exhilarating as Maya's kiss. Maybe risking his heart will prove to be the biggest thrill of all…

Wonderful second chance romance. Maya and Del had been in love ten years earlier, but their relationship hadn't worked out. Both of them left Fool's Gold to pursue other dreams. Now, through the efforts of Mayor Marsha, they have been recruited to work on publicity videos for the town, forcing them to deal with their past.

Maya had been raised by a mother who bounced from man to man. Her happiest time had been when her mom was married to Zane and Chase's dad (Kiss Me), giving Maya the most stable life she'd ever had. That was when she fell in love with Del, but the strength of her feelings and her fear of being like her mother, caused her to break things off with him and leave. When her current plans didn't work out she accepted the opportunity to come home to Fool's Gold and work with Mayor Marsha. She's stunned when she finds out Del will be working with her. She has never forgotten him and still feels guilty about the way she broke up with him. She hopes to have a chance to apologize to him.

Del grew up as the oldest of five boys in his family. His father is a famous and very self-centered artist who had no use for anyone who wasn't following in his footsteps. When Maya broke up with him, Del left Fool's Gold and got involved in extreme sports, and later made a fortune with the production of sports equipment. He has come back to Fool's Gold after selling his company to celebrate his father's birthday and to decide what is next for him. Working with Maya seems to be a good fit.

I loved the fact that they talked about their past early on and moved past it. Because they had been friends first way back then, they were able to move forward as friends again. There's also no shortage of the attraction either, but both are determined to resist that. Maya knows that Del isn't planning to stay in Fool's Gold past the end of summer, and she has no plans to leave. Falling for him again would be asking for trouble. Del feels the same way. He had trusted his heart to her once and he wasn't about to do it again. 

I loved seeing how well they were able to work together. Each of them had strengths that, when combined, made the work they were doing go wonderfully. Spending that much time together also gave them a chance to get to know each other again. Del is more confident and comfortable with himself, now that he has had distance from his father. That confidence comes through in his work with Maya, especially when he opens up to her about his dreams for the future. He also begins to picture Maya as part of that future, and though his heart is all for it, his head isn't so sure about believing it. In the previous book Maya had made peace with her stepbrother Zane, and with her other stepbrother Chase, finally has a family relationship she feels that she can depend on. She also realizes that her own dreams for her future have been changing, thanks to Del's influence.

Of course, with the rekindling of their friendship, the attraction they feel for each other strengthens also. Eventually it becomes too much to resist, adding another layer to the feelings growing between them. I loved how thoughts of a future together kept creeping into each one's dreams and ached for their fears of confessing their feelings and taking a chance. There are signs that it could happen until family issues and secrets create a rift that may be too much to overcome.

Maya has remained good friends with Del's mom over all these years, and it's to Maya that Elaine turns when she needs help. She swears Maya to secrecy, and though Maya is positive that Elaine is making a mistake, she agrees. This secret weighs on Maya throughout the book, and when it comes out, leave Del feeling betrayed by both Maya and his mother. I felt that Del overreacted to this quite a lot, spending far more energy on that than the actual secret that Elaine had. I loved the ending and seeing Del in all his vulnerability and awkwardness and he tried to show Maya how he felt. 

The Mitchell family dynamics are really interesting. The whole lot of them seemed to have an unhealthy thing about secrets. I didn't like the father at all. He was selfish to the point of not caring what was going on with his family if it didn't match with what he wanted. He drove his sons away with his treatment of them. While Elaine and Maya had a wonderful relationship, I also thought it was selfish of Elaine to make Maya keep that secret. There were also other secrets involving the younger sons that will have more impact in later books.

I enjoyed seeing other residents of Fool's Gold also. Phoebe and Zane had big parts in this book. I had fun attending one of the infamous Fool's Gold breakup parties. But the best of the secondary characters in this book were Eddie and Gladys. The old ladies are up to their usual antics, pushing the bounds of good taste with their "naked butts" contest on their local cable show. It was fun to see Maya have to try to control them, though she was also very entertained by them. They do make a surprising revelation at the end, one I never would have expected. 

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