Tuesday, May 20, 2014

When We Met by Susan Mallery

Title:  When We Met
Series:  Fool's Gold #13
Author:  Susan Mallery
Published:  April 29th 2014 by Harlequin HQN
Length:  352pgs
Format:  paperback
Genre:  contemporary romance
Shelf:  review
Rating:  ★★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery invites you back to Fool's Gold, where a newcomer to town might finally meet the man she never knew she needed…

Angel Whittaker earned his scars the hard way, but the scars that can't be seen are the ones that haunt him the most. Since he moved to Fool's Gold, California, he's cobbled together a life for himself as a bodyguard trainer. If he's not exactly happy, at least his heart is safe.

Working with pro-football superstars taught tough-talking PR woman Taryn Crawford one thing—she can go toe to toe with any man. But then dark, dangerous former Special Ops Angel targets her for seduction…and challenges her to resist his tempting kisses.

Even in four-inch heels, Taryn never backs down. Unless, somehow, Angel can convince her that surrender might feel even better than victory.


“We both know where this is going.”

Taryn Crawford glanced up at the man standing by her table and ignored the rush of anticipation when she saw who he was. He was tall, with broad shoulders and gray eyes. But the most compelling feature—the one she would guess people pretended didn’t exist—was the scar on his neck. As if someone had once tried to slit his throat. Taryn idly wondered what had happened to the person who failed.

She supposed there were plenty of women who would be intimidated by the man in front of her. The sheer volume of muscle he had might make someone apprehensive. Not her, of course. When in doubt she put on a power suit and killer heels. If those failed her, she would simply work harder than anyone else. Whatever it took to win. Sure, there was a price, but she was okay with that.

Which was why she was able to stare coolly back and ask, “Do we?”

One former of his mouth curved slightly in a sort of half smile.

“Sure, but if you’re more comfortable pretending we don’t, I can make that work, too.”

“A challenge. Intriguing. You don’t expect that to be enough to make me defensive so I start saying more than I had planned, do you?” She made sure she was plenty relaxed in her chair. She would guess the man was paying as much attention to her body language as her words. Maybe more. She hoped he wouldn’t make things easy. She was tired of easy.

“I would hate for you to be disappointed,” she murmured.

The smile turned genuine. “I’d hate that, too.” He pulled out the chair opposite hers. “May I?”

She nodded. He sat.

It was barely after ten on a Tuesday morning. Brew-haha, the local coffee place she’d escaped to for a few minutes of solitude before she returned to the current chaos at her office, was relatively quiet. She’d ordered a latte and had pulled out her tablet to catch up on the latest financial news. Until she’d been interrupted. Nice to know this was going to be a good day.

She studied the man across from her. He was older than the boys, she thought. The three men she worked with—Jack, Sam and Kenny, aka “the boys” –were all in their early to mid-thirties. Her guest was nearer to forty. Just old enough to have the experience to make things intriguing, she thought.

“We’ve never been introduced,” she said.

“You know who I am.”

A statement, not a question. “Do I?”

One dark eyebrow rose. “Angel Whittaker. I work at CDS.”

Otherwise known as the bodyguard school, she reminded herself.

For a small town, Fool’s Gold had its share of unusual businesses.

“Taryn Crawford.”

She waited, but he didn’t make a move.

“We’re not shaking hands?” she asked, then picked up her latte with both hers. Just to be difficult, because being difficult would make things more fun.

“I figured we’d save the touching for later. I find it’s better when that sort of thing happens in private.”

Taryn had opened Score, her PR firm, eight years ago. She’d had to deal with unwelcome passes, assumptions she was an idiot, being asked who the boss was, pats on her butt and people presuming that if she worked with three ex-football players, she must have gotten her job by sleeping with them. She was used to staying calm, keeping her opinions to herself and gaining victory through the unanticipated side run.

This time Angel had been the one to put the first points on the board. He was good, she thought, intrigued and only slightly miffed.

“Are you coming on to me, Mr. Whittaker? Because it’s still a little early in the morning for that sort of thing.”

“You’ll know when I’m making my move,” he informed her. “Right now I’m simply telling you how things are.”

“Which takes us back to your comment that we both know where this is going. I’ll admit to being confused. Perhaps you have me mixed up with someone else.”

She uncrossed, then recrossed her long legs. She wasn’t trying to be provocative, but if Angel got distracted, it was hardly her fault.

For a second she allowed herself to wonder how she would have been different if she’d been able to grow up in a more traditional home. One with the requisite 2.5 children and somewhat normal parents. She certainly wouldn’t be as driven. Or as tough. Sometimes she wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not.

He leaned toward her. “I hadn’t taken you for the type to play games.”

“We all play games,” she told him.

“Fair enough. Then I’ll be blunt.”

She sipped her coffee, then swallowed. “Please.”

“I saw you last fall.”

“How nice,” she murmured.

When she’d been scouting locations. Moving a company required time and effort. They’d only truly settled in Fool’s Gold a couple of months ago. But she had been in town the previous fall, and yes, she’d seen Angel, as well. Found out who he was and had wondered about…possibilities. Not that she was going to admit that to him.

“I watched you,” he continued.

“Should I be concerned you’re a stalker?”

“Not when you were watching me right back.”

He’d noticed? Damn. She’d tried to be subtle. She thought about lying but decided to simply stay silent. After a second, he continued.

“So we’ve finished sizing each other up,” he said. “Now it’s time to move on to the next phase of the game.”

My Review:

What a fantastic novel. I fell in love with Fool’s Gold from the first page. Mallery paints such a vividly inviting picture of the town that you can’t help but be pulled into this world. The merger of a lovely, quaint small town with individuals used to big city life brings more than a couple of laughs to the reader. Mallery combines a heartfelt tale of two individuals coming together with just enough heat to get your heart racing. Emotions abound, in both the character and the reader, as you travel through this town with the inspiring cast that Mallery has developed.

I loved how you get to know the ins and outs of each of the characters in this story. They are such unique yet simultaneously normal individuals that you won’t soon forget them. I loved the fact that character development continued throughout the entire novel. Even in the last chapter we’re learning a bit more about these two, who they were, who they are, and who they will be together. Getting to know them from the most important details to the tiniest allows the reader to easily form an emotional connection with them. Not only do you find yourself wanting to know what happens to them, but wanting them to succeed as well.

As a whole, this was the perfect mix of the heartfelt with the cute and cuddly. There’s also just enough heat on the side to peak your interest. I’ve also got to admit that this is my introduction to the town of Fool’s Gold. I’ve read other works by this author before but jumped into this series here. I wasn’t lost for a second. It can be read as a standalone, an entry point to this fantastic series, or in its rightful place in Fool’s Gold. It’s the best of all worlds. (And yes, I will be going back to read the previous novels, and reading the future ones in the series.)

|  Goodreads  |  Shelfari  |
|  Amazon  |  B&N  |  Indigo  |

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    This sounds so nice! I like that you can read this one as a stand alone as well.
    Great review!

    Happy reading

    Myra from http://imlovingbooks.blogspot.nl/