Back in high school, Liz Sutton was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Then she'd stolen the heart of the most popular boy in town, and their secret romance helped her through the worst of times. Until Ethan Hendrix betrayed her and everything they'd ever meant to each other. Devastated and pregnant, Liz left Fool's Gold, California—forever, she thought….
Now Liz must return to town and face the man who doesn't know of their son's existence. And this time she won't have the option of making a quick getaway. Ethan and Liz can't deny their passionate attraction, even after all these years. But will their desire be enough to spark a second chance at love?
About the Author
#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our livesfamily, friendship, romance. She's known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages.Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at SusanMallery.com.
Read an Excerpt
Liz Sutton had always known the past would come back and bite her in the butt—she just hadn't known it was going to happen today.
Her morning had started normally enough, with getting her son on the bus to school, then going down the hall to her home office, where she wrote five fairly decent pages before stopping for some serious pacing, followed by deleting three of the last five pages. She was figuring out who to murder in the first chapter of her new book, not to mention how he or she would be murdered. Was decapitation just too predictable? Luckily her assistant knocked on her door, sparing her from making a decision.
"Sorry to interrupt," Peggy said, frowning slightly as she held out a piece of paper. "But I thought you'd want to read this."
Liz took the single sheet. It was an e-mail, sent to her Web site. There was a link there for fans to get in touch with her. Peggy handled most of the e-mails, but every now and then she found something she didn't know what to do with.
"A crazed stalker type?" Liz asked, pathetically grateful for the interruption. When the writing was slow, even a death threat was more thrilling than the current work in progress.
"Not exactly. She says she's your niece."
Liz scanned the sheet.
Dear Aunt Liz,
My name is Melissa Sutton. My dad is your brother Roy. I'm fourteen years old and my sister Abby is eleven. A few months ago, our dad went to prison. His new wife, our stepmom, said she would take care of us, but she changed her mind and left. I thought Abby and me would be fine. I'm really mature for my age. My teachers say that all the time.
She's been gone a while now and I'm really scared. I haven't told Abby because she's still a kid, but I don't know if we can make it. I don't want to tell Dad what happened because he really liked Bettina and he'll be sad she didn't wait for him.
So I thought maybe you could help. I know we haven't met before, but I've read all your books and I really like them.
Hope to hear from you soon. Your niece, Melissa.
P.S. I'm using the computer at the library, so you can't e-mail me back. But here's our phone number. Even though the lights are off, the phone still works at home.
P.P.S. We're living in your old house in Fool's Gold.
Liz read the e-mail a second time, trying to get the words to make sense. Roy was back in Fool's Gold. Or at least he had been, before heading off to prison.
She hadn't seen her brother in nearly eighteen years. He was a lot older and had left the summer she'd turned twelve. She'd never heard from him again. Apparently he'd married a couple of times and had kids. Daughters. Girls who were living alone in a house that had been run-down and disgusting twelve years ago. She doubted there had been many improvements since.
Questions tumbled through her brain. Questions about her brother and why he'd returned to Fool's Gold after being gone so long. Why he was in prison and what on earth was she supposed to do with two nieces she'd never met?
She glanced at her watch. It was barely eleven. As it was Tyler's last day before summer vacation, he was getting out at twelve-thirty. If she got the car packed in time, they could leave directly from his school and be in Fool's Gold in about four hours.
"I need to deal with this," Liz told her assistant, as she wrote an address on a piece of paper. "Call the electric company in Fool's Gold and get the power turned back on. They should take a credit card for payment. Do the same with the other utilities. I'll call the girls and let them know I'm coming."
"Are they really your nieces?" Peggy asked.
"I guess. I haven't seen my brother since I was their age, but I can't let them stay there alone." She shook her head, determining what else had to be done. Her next book wouldn't be published until the fall, so she didn't have to worry about publicity and book tours. She could work on her new story anywhere she had her laptop. At least that was the theory.
"I don't know how long we'll be gone," she continued. "I'm guessing it will take a couple of weeks to get everything straightened out."
Peggy stared at her. "Just like that?"
"What do you mean?"
"Aren't you going to think about it? Most people would hesitate. You don't even know these girls."
True, Liz thought. But what choice did she have? "They're kids, by themselves, and they're family. I have to do something."
"Which is just like you," Peggy said. "You leap in and do what you think is right which is admirable. But not always smart."
"Someone has to take care of this." Besides, she'd grown up having to take care of things. Her mother hadn't bothered. "With luck, I won't be gone too long."
"Don't worry either way. I can handle things here."
Liz forced a smile. "I know you can. I'mgoing to pack and then get Tyler. We'll drive to Fool's Gold today."
"Maybe it will be nice to go home."
Liz did her best to look normal. "Sure. Okay, I'll call the girls."
She waited until Peggy left before picking up the phone. She dialed the familiar number, then let it ring eight times before hanging up. No answer. Of course, it was a weekday. The girls were probably still in school. She would try again later, from her cell.
She had to pack for herself and her son, phone a few friends and let them know she would be gone for a couple weeks, e-mail her editor and agent to tell them the same. Logistics, she thought as she collected the notes she'd made on her current novel. She was good at logistics. The ability to plan and deal with problems was part of the reason she enjoyed writing her detective mystery series. She'd always been good at the work. It was the rest of life that caused her to stumble time after time.
"Introspection later," she murmured aloud. "Action now."
She powered off her laptop, then disconnected it from the docking station. After collecting her notes, a few pens, pads of paper and her address book, she went down the hall to her bedroom.
A little over an hour later, she'd packed what she hoped was enough, loaded the car and gone over everything with Peggy. Her assistant would take care of the house and make sure the bills were paid.
"Are you all right?" Peggy asked.
"Sure. Great. Why?"
Peggy, a forty-something former executive assistant, frowned. "Just checking. This is a lot to take in." She hesitated. "You know if there's no one else to take care of the girls…"
Liz might suddenly be responsible for two nieces she'd never met. "I know. I'll deal with that when I have more information."
"Mac and I went to Fool's Gold on our honeymoon. Back when I thought marriage was a good thing. I didn't know you were from there."
No one did, Liz thought grimly. She found life easier when she didn't talk about her past. "I left right after high school and moved here. San Francisco is my home now."
Peggy smiled at her. "If you need anything, call me."
Liz went downstairs to the single car garage and got into her Lexus. She'd packed four suitcases, a couple boxes with Tyler's favorite movies, his Xbox and a handful of books. She went over the inventory because that was easier than thinking about what she was doing. Going back to the one place she never wanted to be. The town where she'd grown up.
For a second she wondered if she really had to do this. Go rescue a couple kids she'd never met. Then she shook off the thought. Right now there wasn't anyone else. She couldn't leave the two girls on their own. She would deal with the problem, get it resolved and return to her life. Staying was not an option.
Midday traffic was relatively light and she made it to Tyler's school in about twenty minutes. He was talking to his friends, probably making plans for hanging out. When he saw her small SUV, he waved and hurried over.
"Jason says his family's for sure going to Disneyland in August and they're gonna call and talk to you about me going with them," he said as he climbed into the passenger seat.
"Hello to you, too," she greeted with a smile.
He grinned. "Hi, Mom. How was your day?"
"Great. Now can we talk about Disneyland?"
Her son was the brightest and best part of her life, she thought as she stared into his dark brown eyes. He had her smile, but everything else came from his father. As if her DNA hadn't been strong enough to overpower his.
Tyler was smart, funny, warm and caring. He had dozens of friends, an easygoing disposition and plans to be an architect when he grew up. She knew that everyone said the early teen years were the worst with boys. That by thirteen or fourteen, he would be making her life hell. But that was a problem for another time. Today, Tyler was her world.
A world that had just been shifted off its axis and was tumbling freely through space.
"Disneyland sounds like fun," she agreed. "I'll talk to Jason's mom. If they want to take you and you want to go, then we'll arrange it."
His grin widened. Then he glanced toward the back of the vehicle.
"Whoa, are we going somewhere? Road trip?"
She pulled into traffic, heading toward I-80. She would take it east, until she turned off to drive into Fool's Gold.
"Sort of," she said and tightened her grip on the steering wheel.
Over the years, she'd done her best not to lie to her son. Not about her past or his father. For the most part, she'd simply told him there were questions she wouldn't answer. At four or five, he'd been easily distracted. At eight, he'd been determined to find out the truth. Now he asked less, probably because he knew he couldn't wear her down. But she knew he wondered.
"I got an e-mail today," she announced. "You remember I told you that I have a brother?"
"Uh-huh. Roy. We don't ever see him."
"I know. He's a lot older and he left when I was twelve. I woke up one morning and he was gone. I never saw him again."
She still remembered her mother's sobs, made thicker and louder by the alcohol lingering in her system. From that moment on, her mother spent her life waiting for Roy to return. Nothing else had mattered, certainly not Liz.
Liz had left town shortly after graduating high school. She'd phoned home once, a few weeks later, saying she thought she should check in and tell her mother where she was.
"Don't bother calling again," had been the woman's only response before hanging up the phone.
"So Uncle Roy e-mailed you?"
"Not exactly." Liz didn't know how much to reveal. Telling the truth was one thing, but sharing details was another. "He's, um, in some trouble and I have to help. He has two girls. Your cousins. Melissa is fourteen and Abby is your age."
"I have cousins? You didn't tell me about cousins."
"I didn't know about them until today."
"But they're family."
True enough, she thought. And the word family implied caring and connection. Maybe in most places, but not in the Sutton household. At least not until Liz had had Tyler. She'd done everything she could think of to break the cycle of neglect. She'd been determined to be a warm, loving mother, to offer her child a safe haven.
"I didn't know where Roy was," she said. "He never got in touch with me after he left." For six years, she'd waited, hoping he would come get her and take her away. Until he'd walked out, he'd always taken care of her. Been a buffer between her and her mother. Protected her from the worst of it.
By the time she'd been old enough to go looking, she told herself she no longer cared.
"Do they know we're coming?" Tyler asked. "Do they know about me?"
"Not yet, but they will. We're going to stay with them for a couple of weeks." She didn't mention the fact that Roy was in prison. Time enough for that later. Nor did she discuss the possibility of the girls living with them permanently. Maybe other family could take care of them.
"I grew up in a small town called Fool's Gold," she said. "It's in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains."
"Do they get snow?" he asked eagerly. Because at age eleven, seeing snow was about the best it could be.
She laughed. "Probably not in June, but yes, they get snow. There's lots to do there. Hiking, swimming. There's a river and a lake."
"We could go camping."
She made a noncommittal noise in her throat, mostly because the thought of camping ranked right up there with being awake during open-heart surgery. Not even thinking about it was pleasant. But then she wasn't an eleven-year-old boy. She hadn't been fascinated by worms and dirt and play cars and plastic guns, either.
More traits she knew he got from his father. Which was another problem. Not the traits, the man himself. Odds were Ethan was still in Fool's Gold. The one place he'd asked her not to be. He'd made it clear he didn't want her or his kid around.
Well, he was just going to have to get over it, she told herself. This was an emergency. She wouldn't make a big deal about Tyler being in town and she certainly wouldn't tell her son about his father. Not when Ethan had rejected them both so completely.
She would deal with the girls and get out as quickly as possible.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What a great read! really enjoyed it. It was very easy for me to connect to the characters.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Great plot, good writing and a story that will make you want to read more.
Susan Mallery has written the most amazing second book in her Fools Gold Series. Secrets, betrayal, forgiveness all in one book set in the small town of Fools Gold. Liz Sutton came back to Fools Gold for two reasons, to get her nieces who had been left for weeks by their step mother. Even though she knew her brother was in prison, she was determined to bring the girls back to San Francisco and raise them herself. However, she had another reason to return, to see the man she once loved, #Ethan Hendrix to tell him they had a son. Ethan Hendrix was a successful business man in Fools Gold, was loved and respected by the town and couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Liz Sutton back in town. Even more so, when he heard he had a son, he couldn't believe that the sexy woman he once had loved yet denied had kept this secret from he and his family. What a mess. Could they share custody and work together? Could Ethan persuade Liz to stay in Fools Gold? Could they forgive each other for the past because trust me it wasn't just keeping her son a secret, Ethan and the town had hurt liz badly. Working through past hurts and present ones, fighnting the attraction between them while the small town also became involved was a mighty task for this couple. Liz, Ethan, his family, the town of Fools Gold were the perfect ingredients for this amazing love story. Susan Mallery certainly has a winner with Almost Perfect, book 2 in her Fools Gold Series.
We can all read the description provided by the publisher so I'm not a big fan of retyping that. I will just jump straight into my review. Because we romance readers can be very particular in our reading tastes I will give you the run down on the basic information first: * Contemporary Romance with no other major sub-genre * Secret Baby theme but well written * Written in third person with his/hers POV * She is a successful mystery author who has come back to her home town and he was the local golden boy who has never really left and has always been successful. * This is the 2nd book in the series and it is a good idea to read the 1st book though you could probably understand what is going on without reading it. I liked this book. I liked the first one (and the third one) better but I like Susan Mallery's writing. I liked the characters. My problem with this book is that the "secret baby" theme brings up so much hurt and anger and conflict that it can be overly depressing. This book addresses it well but there is probably a little more conflict than I like in a romance. However, I would read it again. I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend. If you read this and like it you will probably like these books: * Still The One by Robin Wells * The Girl Most Likely To... by Susan Donovan * Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson You can always find more on my blog "Batteries and Bubbly"
I normally love Susan Mallery's book but honestly this book is just annoying. I can't stand Ethan. He does more stupid things than he should and Liz has to repeat over and over why she did what she did and all he can say is, You're going to take away my son again and I'll never see him. Even when she has told him over and over that she had no intention of making that she would never see him again. She was making sure he'd still get to see their son. I actually skipped chapter 10 entirely because I accidentally saw how chapter 11 started. Susan Mallery did this with her 2nd book in the last series she did. I couldn't stand Lip Service. It's an OK book but seriously Susan Mallery has done better. I love her Marcelli sisters series and the Sweet series she had.
Pregnant teenager Liz Sutton left Fool's Gold when her lover Ethan Hendrix betrayed her. Five years later and much more mature, Liz went home to inform Ethan that he had a child; she received a letter from him saying he wants nothing to do with Tyler so she raised her son by herself eventually becoming a popular author. Almost a dozen years later, fourteen year old Melissa informs her Aunt Liz that her father Roy (Liz's brother) was in jail and their stepmother left. Leaving San Francisco Liz accompanied by now eleven years old Tyler returns to Fool's Gold to take care of her nieces, Melissa and her sister eleven year old Abby. Ethan learns Tyler is his son; fuming he blames Liz for costing him all those years with his child; refusing to believe her "story" involving his wife Rayenne. Although the plot device of a man not knowing he sired a son has been used many times, Susan Mallery provides a deep Fool's Gold second chance at love tale. The support cast is strong from the onset as the audience will feel for the nieces and for the heroine who the townsfolk blame for concealing Tyler from his dad. Readers will enjoy Almost perfect as Ethan believes love is not enough to overcome what he has done to his Liz. Harriet Klausner
Susan Mallery is the best! I enjoy reading her books and love the Fool's Gold Series. This book is great if you like romance and believe in love. I love the small town setting and the way she continue characters from the other book. Actually, I have read the whole series, when each book ended I couldn't wait to read the next book. The only down is that the series didn't keep going. I don't believe I would get bored reading about the characters and how their life is changing. I can't wait to read more books by Susan Mallery! I give this series a Big Thumbs UP!!!
I just finished all 6 of the books in this series and this one was my favorite. It really touched my heart and I found myself crying in a few spots.
This book had so much potential. But the heroine is a door mat and the hero a jerk. I wanted to interject some 21st century feminism in this book, and then realized, it was set in the 21st century. Susan Mallery is a talented writer, but her talents are lost in this book.
Liz (the main female character) is the worst female lead of any romance novel that I have read. Ethan (the main mail character) isn't much better. Liz repeats over and over that she tried to tell Ethan about their son; she just wants everyone to forget that it was twice in eleven years. She is also angry at Ethan for the entire book but finds it horrible that he is angry at her. Ethan is a wimp who makes poor decisions and then immediately feels bad about them, but can't fix them right away. I finished the book out of obligation, not interest.
No one writes a love story like author Susan Mallery as it's not only the romance, it's how she creates strong characters who tug at your heart. They are beautiful stories about family and how they work through their secrets, hurts, misunderstandings, but in the end they worked through their "stuff" giving them that happy ending they so desperately needed. And that's how the author takes her readers on the journey that makes Mallery's Almost Perfect " a perfect romance". In this case Susan Mallery not only gave the hero and heroine their happy ending, she also gave her son and her nieces the loving home they all deserved. As the old say goes "when fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade" and that's what happened to Liz Sutton when the love of her life Ethan Hendrix denied knowing her, telling his friends he would never date a girl like her. Liz was a sweet young woman who had grown up on the wrong side of the tracks with a mother who was not only a drunk but had a different man in her bed every night. On top of that her mother was abusive to her and the towns residents of Fools Gold instead of stepping in, chose to ignore how she was being raised. Liz was extremely smart, and tried to ignore the barbs and rumors that she was a "slut". The only positive thing in her life was Nathan, the boy she loved, the same boy who promised they would be together in college. And then in front of his friends he hurt her by denying their relationship and Liz left Fools Gold and went to San Francisco. Ethan Hendrix can't believe Liz Sutton was back in Fools Gold and he wondered why. When he found out that he had a son he never knew about, let's just say not only Ethan went on that roller coaster ride of emotions, so did Liz, the Hendrix family and his son Tyler. Liz not only had to deal with Ethan being back in her life, telling her son about his father, she also had to deal with her brother's girl's who were without parents because her brother was in prison, their step-mother skipped out, leaving her nieces without money, food and alone in a falling down house she was left to remodel. Talk about a strong heroine..Liz was amazing and on top of that a New York Times best selling mystery author. On her own she not only raised a wonderful son, she became a huge success and faced a man from her past, the entire town of Fools Gold and their snide remarks. She was the glue that held the family together, she was fierce in her love for her son and in the end would she sacrifice that love to make sure everyone was happy? I loved this character and will remember her for sometime to come and you will as well as Almost Perfect gives those who read it so many lessons in life to think about. There was one particular one for me and that was when we know something is wrong in someones life, do we reach out to help that person? Think about it, I sure did. As for Ethan Hendrix, you will travel along with him on his complicated journey. At times your heart will ache for what he missed out on, how he comes to terms with secrets, betrayal and how he learned what was important in his life. Through into the mix, how the residents of Fools Gold all came together with a cast of amazing towns folks as only Susan Mallery can pen. Almost Perfect is Book 2 in Mallery's Fools Gold series with the next book being Finding Perfect. This series is one I'm sincerely looking forward to and getting to know the rest of t
I was disappointed in this storyline as the main characters were not particularly likable. Maybe too human in their follies?
I was so excited to begin reading Almost Perfect and could not believe that I was given the chance yet again to read it before it hits shelves on June 29th. Thank you NetGalley! My Review: Okay seriously...What do we need to do to get Susan's books on the big screen? Every time I read her books I picture a movie or at least a TV mini series. It needs to be done! LOLAnyway, the book kicks off right where Chasing Perfect left off. It begins with Liz who receives an e-mail from her nieces (that she did not know even existed) who were reaching out to her because of an issue. That is how Liz ends up back in Fool's Gold. It then jumps into Ethan when he first spots Liz and continues from there. I love Susan Mallery's writing because it is so easy to relate to her characters and fall in love with them. I love Ethan and Liz and right from the beginning when they first see each other again you can feel the chemistry. You can tell they still very much love each other, but neither one was going to admit it. Reading this book made me want to cry, made me smile, laugh, angry and happy. I started this book on Sunday night and tried my hardest not to finish it so fast, but every time I was not reading all I did was think about reading. I love when a book does that to me and Almost Perfect did just that.I was a little angry at first at the ending of the book and was ready to say "wow, that ending sucked. I did not expect that at all." The ending felt unfinished and left so much unexplained to me, but then I realized it's because I do not have the ending to the book. I went on Borders.com and it says the book has 384 pages and I had 379. So imagine how happy I felt to know I had more to read hehe. I definitely recommend this series and can not wait for the following book in Susan's Fools Gold series. So far the books that I have read by Susan I have loved! If you want a book that can make you smile, laugh, angry and emotional then definitely pick this book up. Of course after you have read Chasing Perfect. hehe
Another nice, comforting story. I found this series by accident--I judged a book by it's cover and started reading it!
Fun, better than average romance.
Fast enjoyable romance.
I really enjoy Susan Mallery's books, and this one particularly. The story is simple yet entertaining, and the characters are all quite believable. I did have a bit of an issue with the plot -- several key elements are nearly identical to another of Mallery's books, "Sweet Trouble". Still, I'm not sure which book was written first, and there are enough differences between the two that I could focus on this one without constantly comparing. Like many authors with several books under their belts, Mallery tends to reuse certain themes and devices, but that doesn't make each individual book less worthwhile. This is a really good series, with interesting characters. I liked this book even more than the first one, and I'm definitely looking forward to the third book -- Pia's story. It promises to be the best of them all.
Great series, you should read all books.
Liz Sutton was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, but when she met and fell in love with Ethan Hendrix, she believes that her life can be different. But when Ethan says hurtful things about her to some other guys, she is heartbroken. Realizing she is pregnant, she runs away, vowing never to return to Fools Gold. Five years later, she is forced to come back on family business, bringing her 5 year old son with her. Ethan still doesn't know he has fathered a son and won't be happy that he missed out on the first 5 years of his son's life.This is the second book in the Fool's Gold series. Mallery has the perfect recipe for contemporary romance...alpha males, strong women, conflict, sexual tension with a dash of humor and hot sex. This is an entertaining and fast-paced read.
Another good read from Susan Mallery. This is the story of Liz Sutton, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and Ethan Hendrix, a man with a family legacy, and their son. Liz and Ethan had great chemistry and were likable characters most of the time. At times they made me want to scream in frustration. Also in this story you got to see the bad side of the town of Fool's Gold. How they treated Liz in the past and present was pretty bad and I didn't blame her for not wanting to stay there. I liked Liz. She is a good mother and woman trying to do her best in a hard situation. Ethan was a jerk but a redeemable one, which makes all the difference. Both characters are flawed and they both made mistakes. Circumstances kept them apart and I enjoyed reading about them reconnecting with each other. The last line in the book is my favorite. Make me smile.
This book was pure perfection. This book always kept me guessing and I loved that. So much surprise and you never were bored in the story at all. I cannot wait to read the next one!
Its a keeper