A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Romancing Rakes for the Love of Romance.
I discovered the Fool’s Gold series by Susan Mallery about 6 months ago, and since then, I've managed to glom through nearly the entire series. Although I enjoyed the full length books more than the novellas, these stories are my comfort reads where I always know what to expect with a HEA that will make me sigh. “Christmas on 4th Street” is number 12.5 in the series, and another winner in the Fool’s Gold series.
Regular Fool’s Gold readers have already met Noelle Perkins in the previous three books, as each member of her close group of best girlfriends paired off with the man of her dreams. Now all three of those girlfriends are about to get married in a mostly secret triple wedding planned as part of the big Fool’s Gold holiday festivities. Noelle has agreed to be the sole bridesmaid for all three, but part of her still mourns the wedding she never got to have before coming to town. Gabriel Boylan is the fraternal twin brother of Gideon (fiance of Noelle’s best friend Felicia) and nearly as emotionally tortured as Gideon had been when he first arrived in Fool’s Gold. Both Boylan brothers had served overseas in the military, thanks to the implacable will of their unrelenting drill sergeant father, but it was Gabriel who had been forced into the decision more than his brother. Gabriel had spent his whole childhood having his masculinity challenged by his father, and was only able to please him by becoming a trauma surgeon who spent all his time stabilizing severely injured soldiers fresh off the battlefield. But years of trying to save lives under such extreme conditions have finally taken their toll on Gabriel, and he’s forced to take holiday leave back in the US after nearly ending his career with an unsafe move during his attempt to save yet another injured comrade.
It’s inevitable that Noelle and Gabriel will meet, since her best friend is about to marry his twin brother, and this is Fool’s Gold where everybody knows everything about everybody else, and Mayor Marsha knows even more. Both Noelle and Gabriel have faced mortality head on, but each learned something completely different from the other. Noelle now believes in living life to the fullest, because you never know how long it will last. Gabriel believes that there’s no point in love and joy because everything could end in a moment. The beauty of “Christmas on 4th Street” is in seeing how they resolve their differences on the way to their own happy ending.
If you have read more than one Fool’s Gold book, you know exactly what you’re going to get in “Christmas on 4th Street.” It’s all here: the meet cute, the hero thinking the heroine deserves better than him, the heroine willing to take what she can get in the hopes of changing his mind, the supportive girlfriends bringing dessert and alcohol when the hero screws up, and at least one scene where the all-knowing, all-seeing Mayor Marsha tells the hero about some great new development in town for which he is the perfect candidate in an attempt to keep him from leaving town. But this familiarity does not breed contempt; on the contrary, it’s the tried and true elements that make this latest entry in the Fool’s Gold series just as wonderful for me to read as the rest. Just because I know that the hero is going to do something completely stupid near the end (and that the heroine’s girlfriends will immediately know and arrive with a support party) doesn't mean that I won’t get all misty when he realizes his mistake and returns to grovel at the feet of the understanding heroine. Formula isn't a dirty word here, and Susan Mallery’s winning formula holds true yet again for “Christmas on 4th Street.”
“You must be exhausted,” Noelle said. “Are you going to go home and get some sleep?”
“No, I want to stay awake and experiment with the deterioration of my cognitive functions due to sleep deprivation. It should be interesting.”
Noelle patted her back. “You really do need to take up a hobby.”