Until We Touch
The Fool’s Gold series is a long-standing contemporary series revolving around the fictional town of Fool’s Gold, California. This entry stars former football player Jack McGarry and his personal assistant Larissa Owens. Normally “friends to lovers” is a favorite storyline of mine, but this book proved to be problematic for me for a variety of reasons.
The story opens with Larissa’s mother confronting Jack by telling him that her daughter is in love with him and he needs to fire her so that she will move back home to the Los Angeles area. Jack is stunned and Larissa is suitably mortified. When Jack brings the situation up to Larissa she denies having any feelings for him.
But Larissa is deeply in denial even to herself. As she spends time with him and reflects on her mother’s accusations, she begins to realize that he is more than her best friend/boss. As this realization dawns on her, she comes to the conclusion that the only way to get him out of her system is to have a fling with him.
The novel’s setup is some major crazysauce to say the least. Obviously Larissa’s mom has some serious issues with boundaries. When Larissa learns what her mom told Jack, her reaction is just something like “Oh geez, Mom!” If my mom had done such an intrusive, inappropriate thing I would have gone nuclear. I’m talking “zero to atomic bomb level mass destruction” occurring. Larissa lets this roll off though and continues about her business, giving massages at their PR firm including massaging Jack. Larissa is Jack’s employee, which lends an even creepier dynamic to the plot. There are the inevitable boners, but nobody seems concerned about those pesky sexual harassment laws or ethics.
Of course Jack eventually realizes that he has feelings for her as well. When he does he behaves like a colossal asshat. He refuses to see or talk to her and even fires her from the firm. For her part, Larissa has a martyr complex and tries to save him from himself. I’d have let the jerk rot, but Larissa blames herself for everything including her parents’ marriage and divorce, which is just as ridiculous as it sounds.
She isn’t a bad character though. She is kind and a hard worker, always willing to go the extra mile for her friends and anyone in need. I identified with her desire to make a positive difference in the world and loved that she had a passion for saving animals. Based upon my experiences, the author’s portrayal of Larissa’s animal rescue involvement is accurate. Plus, the description of strong, positive female friendships is refreshing and a highlight of the book.
I had high hopes that this would be a cute friends become more story, with two people realizing that what they’ve been searching for has been right in front of them all along. But I couldn’t get past the bizarre setup and Jack’s abhorrent behavior toward Larissa later in the novel. This was a big disappointment to me as the book never rose to its potential.