Harlequin HQN, Jun 30 2015, $7.99
In Fool’s Gold, California Zane Nicholson raises his rebellious teenage half-brother Chase. Unlike Zane who relishes his hermitic existence, Chase loathes life on his older sibling’s ranch. Always seeking a ticket out of Hicksville, Chase finds a means to fund his robotics. He sells a cattle drive reality “show” to fools. Zane rages at his irresponsible younger brother as he is the sucker forced to keep safe paying customers, whose only knowledge of cattle come from eating.
Flighty Phoebe Kitzke is suspended from work for crossing a professional line even if her motive and intentions were out of kindness. Her BFF Maya persuades her to come with her to Fool’s Gold where her stepbrothers host a cattle drive spectacular. Filled with ire, Zane has polar opposite reactions to Pollyanna Phoebe who holds chats with animals (including his cattle). Her always rah-rah optimism drives him crazy, but not as much as his desire for her.
The nineteenth Fool’s Gold contemporary (see Hold Me) is at its best during the cattle drive as two paragons of virtue (and psychological issues) fall in love. The lead couple making a match of it in near record time seems doubtful; as per his siblings Zane keeps a standard of conduct unattainable by anyone except perhaps Mother Teresa; while Phoebe is all shoot from the heart with apparently no social awareness of crossing taboos. Still Susan Mallory authors a delightful tale as armchair readers will relish this cattle drive romance.