Best of My Love
By Susan Mallery
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Shelby Gilmore has a better idea. Despite a close relationship with her brother, Kipling Gilmore (Hold Me), her history with an abusive father has given her a distrust of men that she is finding difficult to overcome. She hopes that a strictly platonic friendship with a man may help her overcome this distrust. She also thinks that a friendship with a female may help Aidan see a woman as a person rather than a sex partner and thus help him achieve his goal of becoming a better man.
Aidan, somewhat reluctantly, accepts Shelby’s proposal, and the two begin a planned six-month run as friends. Their time together includes guy events such as sports and girl events such as margaritas with conversation about feelings. The friendship experiment is off to a great start since Aidan and Shelby quickly learn to genuinely like each other and appreciate the ways their relationship broadens their world. But this is a romance, and predictably the platonic pledge gets tougher to keep as their attraction to each other becomes more and more heated. Can these friends become lovers without destroying the friendship they both value? Can they learn to trust that a forever commitment can be more than a danger or a trap?
Friends-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes, and I thought Best of My Love was an original take on it. I loved Aidan and Shelby and their story. Fans of the series will already be familiar with elements of the backstories of these characters, but Mallery provides sufficient details for even new readers to view Aidan and Shelby sympathetically and understand their conflicts. Watching first the friendship and then the romance develop was a delight. And, of course, appearances by other Fool’s Gold favorites, including the town’s cryptic mayor adds to the fun.
Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series is in its seventh year, and Best of My Love is the twentieth book in the series. I’ve been on board from the beginning and count the series among my favorites, but of course, I have liked some books better than others. I rank this one among the best. It has moments that are funny, moments that are poignant, moments that are sweet, and moments that are sexy. I love books that hit all the right notes!
I have no hesitation in recommending this book highly to readers who know Fool’s Gold, but I will admit that I wondered a few times if a reader new to the series and unfamiliar with the place and its inhabitants, who number close to fifty now just counting leads, might sometimes lose their way. As much as I love the book, it may not be the best place for a first time visit to Fool’s Gold.
By the way, if anyone knows if Mallery is planning more Fool’s Gold books, I’d love to know. I haven’t been able to find any mentioned in all the usual places.