Novella Review: Only Us: A Fool’s Gold Holiday by Susan Mallery

 

Title: Only Us

Author: Susan Mallery

Publisher:  HQN

ISBN: B005Q0B4ZY

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Pet groomer Carina Fiore wants nothing more than to confess her feelings to the man she loves. She’s drawn to veterinarian Cameron McKenzie’s good looks, caring nature and especially his devotion to his young daughter. But he’s also her boss and a good friend. Putting her heart on the line could cost Rina both her job and their friendship forever.

Since his divorce, Cameron hasn’t been willing to trust his heart—or his daughter—with anyone else. For months he’s pushed away all thoughts of taking Rina in his arms and kissing her, unwilling to risk their friendship for a single night of pleasure. But when a kiss under the mistletoe unlocks the simmering passion between them, Rina and Cameron may just find love for the holidays after all…

An ebook exclusive Fool’s Gold series novella.

Review:

Having recently read Only Yours and enjoying it, I didn’t hesitate to click the BUY button at Amazon when I saw Only Us.  I have been sampling several novellas lately, and  I have enjoyed them, though at varying levels.  I would have liked Only Us if the story hadn’t been so meager.  It was $1.59, and it didn’t even clock in at 100 pages.  I don’t even know if it was 50 pages, so I have to say right off the bat that the price paid was a bit hefty considering the few page turns.

Rina is in love with veterinarian Cameron, and she also loves his young daughter, Kaitlyn.  With the holiday season approaching, Rina decides to risk her friendship with Cameron by confessing her feelings for him.  The gun-shy vet isn’t ready to hear about her feelings, though, and he wants to just stay friends.  Friends are always there for you, and friends don’t walk out on you like his ex-wife did years ago.  Left with an infant to raise, Cameron firmly locked away his heart and is steadfast in his resolve to remain single and unattached.  There’s less risk that way.  Obviously, the guy has some serious trust issues to overcome.

Rina puts a lot on the line by risking her present relationship with Cameron, but she realizes that she will never be content just being his friend and just being Kaitlyn’s babysitter.  I have to give her credit for doing something that had some huge ramifications for her, both personally and financially.  Since Rina rented space at the vet clinic for her grooming business, there was a great big reason to just keep going with the flow.  What if, as what happened, she was rejected? Would she be able to continue dealing with Cameron on a day to day basis?  I wouldn’t have been able to, and the thought of disturbing the status quo that much would given me a panic attack.  Lucky for Rina she is made of tougher stuff.

The conflict resolution at the end of the story did make me smile, because everyone got their Happily Ever After.  I think that the story could have been longer, though, because there were so many issues for Cameron to work through.  A visit from Simon from Only Yours, and his ensuing advice, tidily gives Cameron something to think about.  While it was nice to see the socially awkward Simon basking in the happy glow of Montana’s love, I wish that Cameron had taken just a bit longer, and pondered just a bit harder, during his soul searching.  Given the page constraints, though, all of the story threads were neatly tied together, and left me grinning.  I just wish Only Us had been longer and better developed.

Grade: B-

Review copy purchased from AmazonThe BLI Holiday Reading Challenge

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