Best of my love by Susan Mallery is number 20 in the Fools Gold series, so readers should have a pretty good idea what they're going to get when they open the book. Here's the premise: Susan has lost at love, and is looking for a man she can trust.
The story begins in Aidan's point of view, as he is sitting in a cafe with a hang-over, recuperating from a bad experience with the opposite sex. He had already decided to handle his life by not getting into a relationship with a local woman, and to keep his sexual adventures to tourists. His history now is a bunch of one-night-stands with tourists. But his strategy had backfired when confronted by a tourist who had come back wanting more—and he couldn't even recall her name. He decides to resolve the problem by eliminating relationships with women, all-together. He doesn't want to be in a relationship, but also, he does not want to be "that guy."
Shelby is a local baker. The town is on the verge of a festival; and the festivals provide a key market for Shelby's cookies. Like Aidan, Shelby is living with unhappy baggage. Her mother died of cancer the year before. Her father had beaten her mother and her. She'd grown to adulthood unable to pick men who would commit. So now, after conferring with a friend, she decides that she is going to try testing male waters by having a friendship with a man. The man she picks is Aidan. So they have their (first of many) talk, and she floats the idea that they could learn to be friends. She could learn from him not to be afraid, and he could learn to see a woman as more than a booty call. He accepts the deal.
The rest of the story is the development of that friendship.
I am sure that for those who have kept up with the Fools Gold series, they are familiar with the landscape, and the characters. As a newcomer, I can't say if this is like visiting old friends, or if the series has worn thin. Being new to the series, I found it entertaining enough. It was obvious when there were snapshots of characters from other books called back to show off a pregnancy or other development—the retrospective tour of Fools Gold (the town and characters) for series fans.
I think what annoys me most about so many books is that there's some stupid decision that a character could have, should have and if possessing a single grain of sense, would have avoided. There was none of that stupidity here, so that is good. And I also enjoyed Charlie, the bichon frise. I am a sucker for a dog character. Best of my love is not written badly, and is a good representative example of the genre. Shelby and Aidan encounter some atypical events, confrontations, social games, and not to mention an intervention. They are both good sports and resilient of spirit. There were no serious complications. I'd even be willing to read the next book if only to see what is going to happen next-which is saying a lot when you look at the stack of books I'm supposed to be reading.