Sunday, August 04, 2013

Week-End's Minis XXXVIII: Two of a Kind by Susan Mallery

Two of a Kind by Susan Mallery
published by Harlequin (HQN Books) in June 2013
Felicia Swift never dreamed she'd hear a deep, sexy voice from her past in tiny Fool's Gold, California. The last time Gideon Boylan whispered in her ear was half a world away...on the morning after the hottest night of her life. Her freaky smarts have limited her close friendships, and romance, but she came to Fool's Gold looking for ordinary. Gorgeous, brooding Gideon is anything but that.

Black Ops taught Gideon that love could be deadly. Now he pretends to fit in while keeping everyone at arm's length. Felicia wants more than he can give-a home, family, love-but she has a lot to learn about men...and Gideon needs to be the man to teach her.

As these two misfits discover that passion isn't the only thing they have in common, they just might figure out that two of a kind should never be split apart.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Fool's Gold, Book #11

What do you need to know? Let see... Our heroine, Felicia Swift, is a genius. At the age of four, her parents gave up their rights and Felicia was whisked away to an university where she studied in various fields. Later, she decided to join the military where she became a logistics expert. And now, she's settling in Fool's Gold because it is where her friend Justice Garrett is planning to open a bodyguard school along with a few buddies of theirs and because she's ready to tackle normal life.

Gideon Boylan was also part of the military, with the Special Ops. During a mission, his team got captured and he witnessed his comrades dying one by one. He's walked away physically intact, but plagued by nightmares. He's also settled in Fool's Gold, the proud owner of the radio station.

Felicia and Gideon share a past - a one-night stand that held a lot of meaning for each of them. They never expected to see each other again, especially not in Fool's Gold.  Gideon knows he's a bad bet and is not meant for long-term relationship...  but the attraction is still there, so why not enjoy each other's company? Things change though when Gideon's son - one he didn't know exist - shows up...

Why this book? As I mentioned in Breezing Through's New Releases post of June, I wanted to give this book a try because both Felicia and Gideon are newcomers to Fool's Gold and I thought it'd be an interesting perspective. Refreshing.

What did I like? I thought the beginning of Two of a Kind was really strong and showed a lot of potential for the story. I liked the characters and the fact that they had an history. Felicia's geekiness and social awkwardness were very endearing and understandable given how she grew up. She grew up in an university where everyone was older than her and obviously, she never experienced the normal rites of passage. So it was cute to see her being too blunt, blurb out facts and go on tangents. It was also fun to see her take in new challenges such as working as a barista or becoming the new festivals coordinator. Felicia really seemed to embrace life and enjoy every new experience and that was nice :) As for Gideon, his character was not as developed as Felicia, but still likable. I liked the way Gideon listened to Felicia, just listened :)

I think it would have been interesting if Felicia and Gideon didn't know each other prior Two of a Kind. Being both newcomers to Fool's Gold could have been an aspect that Ms Mallery could have focused on. However, it is not the route Ms Mallery took and the fact that they had an history also worked. They were an understanding between the two, a connection that made their romance believable and sweet.

What didn't work for me? As I mentioned above, I really enjoyed the beginning of Two of a Kind - the set up of the story. Unfortunately, while the beginning was strong, I feel the rest of the book was average. One of my biggest problems with this story was the apparition of Gideon's son, Carter. Don't get me wrong, I like kids in my romance and Carter was quite likable, but in Two of a Kind, I thought adding a son that Gideon didn't know about was an unnecessary subplot. I felt Felicia and Gideon each had enough issues to work through, they really didn't need a catalyst for their HEA ending to happen. By adding Carter, Ms Mallery suddenly derailed her set up and took the story in another direction :(

I had a few more issues such as I thought it unfortunate that Ms Mallery resorted to a cliché to rekindle Felicia and Gideon's relationship. I'm just tired of the cliché that everything with geeks turn into an experiment, especially finding love or getting into a relationship. It's really getting old and I think it's not the only way to solve social awkwardness. The ending was also a bit disappointing because of how Gideon's issues were resolved. I seriously doubt it would take only one talk with other ex-military guys for Gideon to believe he was no longer a bad long-term relationship bet. And finally, I thought there was too much sequel baiting in the series :( It's hard to find the right balance in long series about how much old characters to show, because you want the main characters to be the focus of the story. At the same time, it's annoying to know that every single character introduced over the age of 20 is a potential future characters. Let see, we already know that Ford Hendrix and Isabel Carlisle are getting their book, then there's Consuelo who's obviously going to be paired up with Kent Hendrix, Noelle Perkins - the new Christmas store owner and last of Felicia's trio, and you can be sure that all the owners of the new business in town, Score, will get their story... That's Taryn Crawford  with three ex-football players IIRC.  Oh wait, I forgot Angel, the last of the new bodyguard school's instructors! I count at least 6 other stories/books.... Sometimes, less is better. Seriously.

My Grade? C+. That's the initial grade I gave Two of a Kind when I was done reading it and I did debate lowering to a C, but in the end, I'm going to stick with my gut feeling because I feel Felicia and Gideon and the strong start of the book do deserve some recognition :P