Jess and I recently went to McKay’s Used Bookstore, which is like a wild west mecca for book lovers. There are shelves and shelves of books, but no inventory so you just have to parse through by genre to find the good stuff. We decided to pick a romance at random for the other to read and I got Hold Me by Susan Mallery. I’d heard about the clichés of small town romance novels and let me tell you this one seemed to hit every single one.
Hold Me is the 16th book (21st if you count novellas) of Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series. Each year 1 cycle of three books come out. Needless to say I spent pretty much most of the book going:
There were so many townspeople floating in and out, but I’d say it’s totally doable to jump into it. If anything it helps you relate to the main character since she is new in town.
Destiny Mills has just arrived in Fool’s Gold, CA on a three month assignment to implement a search and rescue software for Fool’s Gold’s mountain rescue operation. Along with her for the summer is Starr, her 15-year-old half sister she just met. Destiny is used to moving from town to town but there is something special about the quaint Fool’s Gold. Not to mention she can’t stop thinking about the search and rescue program head, former Olympic skier Kipling.
Can we talk about this town for a second ? As far as I can tell this is a matriarchal California town made up entirely of former professional athletes (the white ones, anyway), smart alpha women and everyone is hella domestic. If you live in this town you are heterosexual and all you want is to get married and have kids. Also there are festivals. They have ALL the festivals.
Now it’s hinted that the reason the town is so matriarchal is because a group of Mayan women set up a matriarchal society in the area and on the town’s website (yes, I went in deep) they seem to disappear off the timeline–which unfortunate implications be unfortunate.
So in short, the town of Fool’s Gold feels bizarre, idyllic, problematic and wish fulfillment-y…but…I… kind of like it ? A part of me wants to get up in the morning and get coffee from Brew-haha and a pastry from the Ambrosia Bakery and maybe have some margaritas from Jo’s Bar and go to the 4th of July festival.
I don’t really have much to say about the actual romance of this book because it never popped for me. Destiny and Kipling (whose nickname by the way was G-force) just did not seem like they should end up together. Destiny’s parents are flighty country stars and she wants the opposite of that. She wants to wait for the practical man, to be in practical sexless marriage with. It’s stated multiple times that Kipling likes to fix things and he sees Destiny as a bit of a fixer upper since she doesn’t understand the importance of love or whatevs.
–Okay, so spoilers below—
Feeling self-deprecating Destiny visits the bar Kipling owns part of and gets drunk and starts singing karaoke (because its her hidden/not so hidden passion). He’s so worried about her that he closes the bar earlier, but then they just decide to have sex in the bar and how can I put this…he discovers Surprise She’s A Virgin, but whatever it’s over before it even really starts and its super awkward.
So of course now she’s pregnant now and the only way to solve it is for them to get a quickie marriage. Because if you’re a woman with a trust fund from your famous parents and have a degree in computer science the only thing you can do when you get pregnant is marry a man in a grant funded search and rescue job in a small town.
It’s all just so uncomfortable, like she doesn’t even really want to live with him or anything. This is the conversation they have on their honeymoon:
Her attention shifted to the large bed and how it loomed in her future. Dear, God they were going to have to do it , weren’t they ?
“If we do the sex thing now, can we let it go for the next couple of days ?,” she asked, not quite looking at Kipling as she asked the question.
“Would that be better for you ?”
“Yes. Then I wouldn’t be so worried thinking about ‘is it now. ?'”
His mouth twitched. “Sure. Let’s get it over with.“
Like, I do not see this ending well.
I was on Goodreads and it seems like some of the fans are disappointed in this one too. I noticed that each book in the cycle comes out within a month of each other instead of two or three months apart–maybe that’s why it feels so brisk. I like the setting and I’ve been intrigued enough that I’d be willing to read more of these books if I see them around.
It’s actually become my new obsession to pluck these of the shelves at used sales or Goodwill for like $1. Send help