THREE LITTLE WORDS – Susan Mallery
A Fool's Gold Romance
, Book 12
Harlequin HQN
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-7778-5
August 2013
Contemporary Romance

Fool's Gold, California – Present Day

At the age of fourteen, Isabel Beebe's world ended when her older sister broke off her engagement two weeks before her marriage to Ford Hendrix, after cheating on him with his best friend.  Isabel, in her teenage mind, loved Ford, and for the next ten years sent him letters after he left town and joined the Navy SEALS.  She poured out her heart to him, but never heard back.  Then she finds out Ford has moved back into Fool's Gold to start a security firm.


Isabel moved back to Fool's Gold after her divorce from her husband Eric.  The awful thing that no one knows is that Eric finally realized he was gay and fell in love.  Sex was never that great, and the scarcity of it during her marriage never bothered her.  Talk about being clueless!  Isabel is running the family bridal gown business until her parents return from a trip around the world, and then they plan to sell it.  Hopefully by then Isabel and her friend Sonia will start their own design company back in New York City.  When she finds out Ford is back in town they manage to avoid each other for several weeks, but Isabel is determined to break down any embarrassment between them.

Ford thinks there is something wrong with him; it's not that he doesn't like and enjoy women, it's just that when the woman appears to get serious about him, he leaves.  Of course being on assignment in the service didn't make for any long-term relationships, but now his mother took a booth at the Fourth of July carnival and took applications for a wife for him, and she won't give up bugging him about getting married.  Maybe if he asks Isabel nicely, she will be his pretend girlfriend until she goes back to New York, and he can get his mother off his back.  Ford's plan works, and as an additional bonus Ford gets to prove that sex is something that Isabel enjoys.

It's always a treat to join the community of Fool's Gold and its fascinating citizens.  There are also Consuelo Ly who works with Ford in the security firm, and Kent, Ford's brother.  Consuelo is fascinated by Kent, a high school math teacher; because he is normal, something she's never been around.  A nice man like Kent would never want to be with a woman like her with the demons she fights.  Kent thinks differently; he is way too boring for a beautiful woman like Consuelo; why would someone like her want to be with a man with a young son?  It's apparent that they think whatever kind of person they are, no one else would want to be with them.

Susan Mallery has once again presented us with an enchanting story featuring Ford and Isabel, and also Consuelo and Kent, Ford's brother.  Character development is Ms. Mallery's forte, and she always hits the mark with each person's fears and strengths.  Told from each of these characters' points of view, none feels worthy of the other.  Ford and Consuelo were both in the service, and the things they saw and did left them fearing they can ever be “normal” again.  Consuelo has killed men after sex during an assignment; how can she ever be intimate with a regular man?  Ford clung to Isabel's letters as his sanity in countries at war, reading them over and over kept him connected to another world without killing.  I particularly liked that they all admitted their faults and tried to warn the other about how they weren't worthy of them.  It's not about them; it's more about the other person and wondering if they can be the person he or she needs.

There are no secondary characters in Ms. Mallery's books, merely other members of the community whom we are anxious to meet.  Ford and Kent's mother is both beloved and determined in her quest to get her final two sons married.  Taryn and the three ex-football stars she is in business with are moving to Fool's Gold, and she is certainly worthy of her own story; we'll have to see what her partners' stories are.  Plus there are several girlfriends of Isabel who provide her with friendship, caring, and delicious gossip and support.

THREE LITTLE WORDS is a book you can not go wrong with this month.  The city of Fool's Gold is collecting a group of fascinating characters, and it's a town where everyone loves everyone and weekly festivals are commonplace.  Enter Fool's Gold and enjoy one of the most satisfying and enjoyable stories you will read in a long time.

Carolyn Crisher