Best of My Love
When I saw Best of My Love appear as a possibility to review I remembered liking some of the author’s earlier books and took a chance: not my best decision. It wasn’t awful, but seemed like a series of vignettes featuring the hero and heroine, and eventually had too much of a small town filled with meddlers flavor for me. This is the 20th in the author’s Fool’s Gold series, and the book is filled with characters from previous entries.
As the book opens we’re thrown into the middle of a scene in which our heroine – Shelby Gilmore – is grilling the hero – Aidan Mitchell. We quickly learn that Aidan has sex with tons of tourists and the night before ran into a woman who said their week together changed her life and she’s going to move to town to be with him. Big problem, as Aidan can’t remember the woman. He feels bad and vows to change his life. No, he’s not looking for a long-term relationship, but he does want to be a better person, so decides to give up women and sex for a while. This is enough for Shelby to decide Aidan is just the man she needs. Shelby doesn’t want to hook up with Aidan; she wants him to be her male friend for six months to help her work out her issues with men.
Both Aidan and Shelby have issues from their pasts that have led to relationship issues, but I have a lot more sympathy for Shelby. Shelby’s father beat her mother brutally for years, and when she turned 13 he beat Shelby for the first time, knocking her unconscious. She didn’t see her father again until a few years before the action in this book, when her mother was dying. While staying in their home to care for her mother, her father again began beating her. Shelby wants to have a family but doesn’t trust men, and hopes a friendship with a man may help her get over that. Aidan thinks of love and marriage as being stuck – like he feels his mother was stuck with his father. He doesn’t want marriage; he just wants to stop being a jackass with women and thinks Shelby will help.
The two begin a rather convoluted six-month friendship in which they decide to alternate their “gender events” between guy events (physical activities like skiing) and girl events (go get margaritas and talk about feelings.) Their initial interactions were rather cute. But since this is a romance, they’re quickly attracted to each other.
The story evolves into a small town meddling tale with seemingly everyone in town having an opinion about Aidan and Shelby’s friendship, and no one believing they’re just friends. I think what sent the book over the top for me is when the mayor calls them into her office and says she likes the example they’re setting and wants them to help set up group activities where other single men and women in town can become friends. All I could think of was, “Doesn’t the mayor of this town have anything better to do?” And this led me to spend far too much time trying to figure out what kind of town Fool’s Gold is that has a university, a couple bars, at least one ski resort, multiple festivals, tons of famous residents, and a mayor who has nothing better to do than meddle in people’s personal lives.
Both Shelby and Aidan are rather interesting characters with full backstories. I just needed more focus on them developing a real friendship – and eventual relationship – and less focus on the various other residents of the town. The inclusion of so many other characters led to some abrupt transitions from a scene with one group of characters to another scene with different characters. It began to feel like a series of short scenes, with the author thinking – oh, it would be fun to have them do pedicures, or, oh, it would be fun to have the mayor get involved, rather than a true tale of Aidan and Shelby. And it also felt as if many scenes were simply ways to involve characters from previous books in the series. If you’ve loved the other 19 entries in the series you’ll probably like this a lot more than I did. As for me, I think it’ll be my last visit to Fool’s Gold.