cover image Best of My Love

Best of My Love

Susan Mallery. Harlequin, $8.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-373-78919-1

Mallery returns to the tiny mountain town of Fool's Gold, Calif., in the 20th and final book in her contemporary Fool's Gold series (after Marry Me at Christmas). Shelby Gilmore followed her ski racer brother, Kipling, to town, and bought into the local bakery. After her abusive upbringing, men terrify her. Town playboy Aidan Mitchell will sleep with any woman who comes through town, but only if she's a tourist. When the two team up as friends without benefits to overcome their fears%E2%80%94Shelby's belief that intimacy means abuse, and Aidan's belief that commitment means pain and extreme self-sacrifice%E2%80%94neither expects the arrangement to turn into a true romance. Even as they try to insist that they're only friends, it's obvious to everyone else%E2%80%94both fictional characters and readers%E2%80%94that they'll end up together. Mallery spins such an appealing town in Fool's Gold that readers will want to move in, or at least return for many visits. Even though the ending is eminently predictable, this expertly characterized tale has heart and soul. (May)