Horse whisperer Shane Stryker is done with passion. This time around, he's determined to meet someone who will be content with the quiet life of a rancher's wife. And the fiery, pint-size redhead who dazzles him at the local bar definitely does not fit the bill.
Small-town librarian Annabelle Weiss has always seen herself as more of a sweetheart than a siren, so she can't understand why Shane keeps pushing her away. Shane has formed the totally wrong impression of her but only he can help her with a special event for the next Fool's Gold festival. And maybe while he's at it, she can convince him to teach her a few things about kissing on hot summer nights, toosome lessons, a girl shouldn't learn from reading a book!
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Shane Stryker was determined enough to never walk away from a fight and smart enough to know when he'd been beat. The beautiful redhead dancing on the bar might be everything he wanted, but pursuing her would be the worst decision he could make.
Her eyes were closed, her long, wavy hair swayed in rhythm with her body. The sensual beat of the music hit Shane square in the gut. He shook his head. Okay, it hit him lower than that, but he ignored it and the draw he felt. Women who danced on bars were trouble. Exciting, tempting, but not for him, not anymore.
He might not know her, but he knew the type. Attention-seeking. Deadlyat least for a guy who assumed marriage meant commitment and monogamy. Women like the one on the bar needed to be wanted by every man in the room.
Slowly, regretfully, he turned away from the woman and headed for the exit. He'd come into town for a beer and a burger. He'd thought he could catch the game, maybe hang with the guys. What he'd found instead was a barefoot goddess who made a man want to forget all his hopes and dreams in exchange for a single smile. His dreams were worth more, he reminded himself, glancing over his shoulder one last time before stepping out into the warm summer night.
Annabelle Weiss opened her eyes. "It's easy."
"Uh-huh." Her friend Charlie Dixon put down her beer and shook her head. "No."
Annabelle climbed off the bar and put her hands on her hips. It was her attempt to look intimidating. Kind of a feeble gesture when she considered the fact that Charlie was a good eight or ten inches taller and had muscles Annabelle didn't want to know existed.
She was about to make her case, maybe even throw in a line that it was for the children, when the mostly female crowd broke into spontaneous applause.
"Great dance," someone called.
Annabelle spun in a circle. "Thank you," she called. "I'll be here all week." She looked back at her friend. "you have to."
"I'm pretty sure I don't."
Annabelle turned to Heidi Simpson. "You talk to her."
Heidi, a pretty blonde who had recently gotten engaged, glanced up from studying her diamond ring. "What? Oh, sorry. I was busy."
"Thinking about Rafe," Charlie grumbled. "We know. He's wonderful, you're happy. It's getting annoying."
Heidi laughed. "Now who's cynical?"
"It's not news. I've always been cynical." Charlie grabbed her beer and led the way back to their table. The one they'd abandoned when Annabelle had offered to show them both the dance of the happy virgin.
When they were seated, Annabelle turned to Charlie. "Look, I need to raise money for my bookmobile. Being in the town festival is the best way for that to happen. It's a ride on a horse. You know how to ride. You even own a horse."
Charlie's blue eyes narrowed. "I'm not dancing on a horse."
"You don't have to. The horse dances. That's why it's called the Dance of the Horse."
"mason is not a horse who dances."
Heidi leaned forward. "Annabelle, this is your bookmobile project. You're the one who has the passion. Why don't you do the dance?"
"I don't know how to ride."
"You could learn. Shane could teach you. I've seen him working with the rodeo cowboys. He's very patient."
"I don't think there's enough time. The festival is ten weeks away. Could I really learn to ride a horse well enough for it to do the dance by then?" She turned to Charlie. "more than a thousand years ago the Maa-zib women left everything they knew and migrated up to where we are today. They were powerful women who wanted to make a home for themselves. They settled here and their strength and determination flows through all of us."
Charlie sipped her beer. "Good speech and no, I'm not doing the horse dance."
Annabelle slumped over the table. "Then I've got nothing."
Heidi poked her in the arm. "Like I said, do the dance yourself. You're the one always going on and on about the Maa-zib women protecting their daughters from sacrifice by leaving. They were tired of their daughters being killed before they'd ever had a chance to live so they came here where they could be free. Embrace that spirit."
Annabelle straightened. She was hardly the type to lead a parade, she thought. She was quiet, more of a behind-the-scenes person.
She opened her mouth to say "I can't" but the words got stuck. Because she could if she wanted. She could do a lot of things. But all her life, she'd been conventional in an attempt to fit in. From trying to please her parents to making herself over to suit every guy she'd ever dated. She considered herself accommodating, not strong.
Charlie stared at her. "You okay? You look funny."
"I'm a pushover," Annabelle said. "A doormat, in the most honest, unflattering terms."
Heidi and Charlie exchanged looks of concern. "Okay," Charlie said slowly. "You're not having a seizure, are you?"
"No, I'm having a revelation. I've always been the one to bend, to sacrifice what I wanted for another person's needs and desires."
"You were just dancing on a bar," Heidi said with a shrug. "It doesn't get more independent than that."
"I wasn't drunk. I was showing Charlie the dance of the happy virgin in an effort to convince her" She shook her head, then stood. "You know what? I'm going to do it. I'm going to learn the dance myself. Or learn to ride. Whatever. It's my bookmobile. My fundraiser. I'm taking charge. I'm putting myself out there. The spirit of the Maa-zib women lives on in me."
"You go, girl," Charlie told her.
"You were home early last night."
Shane turned off the water in the barn and glanced up to see his mother walking toward him. It was barely dawn, but she was up and dressed. More important, she carried a mug of coffee in each hand.
He took the caffeine she offered and swallowed gratefully. Visions of a fiery redhead had haunted the little sleep he'd managed.
"Jo's Bar turned out to be more interesting than I'd thought."
May, his still-attractive, fifty-something mother, grinned. "You went to Jo's Bar? Oh, honey, no. That's where the women in town hang out. There's shopping and fashion playing on the TV, not sports. You should have talked to your brother about where to catch the game. No wonder you didn't stay out late." She reached out her free hand to stroke the nose of the mare hanging her head over her stall door. "Hello, sweetie. Are you adjusting? Don't you love Fool's Gold?"
The mare nodded, as if agreeing that all was well.
Shane had to admit his horses had settled in more quickly than he'd anticipated. The drive from Tennessee had been long but the end results worth the journey. He'd bought two hundred prime acres in the foothills outside of town. He'd already drawn up plans for a house and, more important, stables. Construction would start on the latter within the week. Until then he was boarding his horses in his mother's stable and he was staying up at the house with her seventy-four-year-old boyfriend, Glen, Shane's brother Rafe, and Rafe's fiancée, Heidi. Talk about a crowd.
Shane reminded himself he was doing exactly what he'd always wanted to do in a place he planned to settle down. He had the horses, the land, family close by enough to make it feel like home but, once his house was built, not so close that they would get in the way. If only he could get the image of that woman out of his head.
"Mom, do you know"
He bit back the rest of the question. His mother was the kind of woman who would know everyone in town. Give her a name and within fifteen minutes she would get back to him with four generations' worth of details.
He wasn't looking for trouble. He'd already done that, had married and then divorced the kind of woman who haunted a man. He'd had enough excitement to last him until he was ninety. Now was the time to settle down. To find someone sensible, someone who would be satisfied knowing that one man loved her.
His mother looked at him, her dark eyes so much like his own. Her mouth curved in a slow, knowing smile.
"please, please say you're going to ask me if I know any nice girls."
What the hell, he thought, then shrugged. "Do you? Someone, you know, regular." No one like the bar-dancing goddess.
His mother practically quivered. "Yes and she's perfect. A librarian. Her name is Annabelle Weiss. She's lovely. Heidi was telling me Annabelle wants to learn to ride a horse. You could teach her."
A librarian, huh? He pictured a plain brunette in glasses, cardigan buttoned up to her neck and practical shoes. Not exactly exciting, but that was okay. He'd reached the place in his life where he wanted to have a family. He wasn't looking for someone to rock his world.
"What do you think?" his mother asked anxiously.
"She sounds perfect."
"Returning to the scene of the crime?"
Annabelle grinned at her friend. "There was no crime."
"You know that and I know that, but rumors are flying, missy."
Annabelle held open the door to Jo's Bar, then waited while Charlie preceded her into the brightly lit business. It was lunchtime in Fool's Gold and women already filled nearly a dozen tables. Jo catered to the female population, decorating with girl-friendly colors like mauve and cream. During the day the big TVs were either off or turned to shopping and reality shows. The menu had plenty of salads and sandwiches, with discreet calorie counts listed to the side.
Annabelle followed Charlie to a table and took a seat.
"Everyone is talking about you dancing on the bar."
Annabelle laughed. "I don't care. It was for a good cause. Even if it didn't convince you to be in my festival. But that's okay. I'm going to do it myself." She frowned. "You are telling people I wasn't drunk, right?"
In fact she hadn't bothered to finish her single glass of wine. Getting on the bar last night had been more about feeling unsettled than wanting to show off and had nothing to do with any alcohol in her system.
Charlie grinned. "I swear, I'm sticking to the one-glass-of-wine story. The archaeologists were intrigued, though. I think the dance of the happy virgin is giving you street cred with them."
"Yes, because they're so wild."
Last fall, construction workers on a building site had blown away a bit of the mountain, exposing Maa-zib gold. Archaeologists had stormed in to take charge of the discovery. After the pieces were researched and catalogued, they would be returned to the town.
"Are you helping them?" Charlie asked.
"I'm more unofficial liaison," Annabelle told her. "My minor in Maa-zib studies gives me enough information to be annoying to the professionals."
"Most professionals need a little annoying."
Annabelle appreciated the loyalty. "Then my work here is done."
The door opened and Heidi walked in. She saw them and waved.
Heidi hurried over. "Shane said yes. He's going to teach you to do the horse dance. Well, ride a horse. I don't think his mom mentioned the dancing."
"Probably better to sneak up on him with that one," Charlie said.
"You're right." Heidi grinned. "He's a successful horse guy. He's not going to be into the dancing thing. You'll need to introduce the idea gradually."
This was what she loved, Annabelle thought happily. Her friends and, for the most part, her life. She had a great job in a town she adored. She belonged. If she got a twinge of envy when the light caught Heidi's gleaming diamond engagement ring, well, that was okay, too.
In truth, she didn't care about the rockit was what the rock represented that gave her a couple of pangs. Love. Real love. Rafe wasn't trying to change Heidi. He didn't accept only parts of her. He was all-in. Annabelle had never had that. Her revelation from last night had stayed with her. She wanted more than conditional love. She wanted it allor nothing. Messy, inconvenient love, where both parties gave with their whole hearts.
Not that she had a bunch of guys lining up, begging her to take a chance.
She pulled a folder out of her large tote. "I have the information I promised." She withdrew the pictures she'd taken at the two florists in town, along with pricing sheets.
Heidi sighed. "You're amazing and wonderful and I really appreciate the help."
Charlie bristled. "Hey, I tasted cake. I wouldn't do that for just anyone."
Heidi looked at her. "Are you sure?"
"Okay, I would taste cake for just about anyone but I did it for you because you're my friend."
"You two are the best," Heidi said, her eyes getting bright. "Seriously. I don't know how to thank you."
Charlie held up a hand. "I swear, if you start crying, I'm outta here. You're emotional. Are you sure you're not pregnant?"
"Yes. I'm sure. It's just everyone is being so wonderful about the wedding."
Heidi had been engaged all of two weeks, which wouldn't be notable except the wedding had been scheduled for the middle of August, giving everyone barely two months to get it all arranged. Heidi's only family was her grandfather, so Annabelle and Charlie had stepped in to help with the details.
They looked over the flowers. Heidi studied arrangements and prices. They paused when Jo stopped by their table to find out what they wanted for lunch.
"By the way," Jo said, handing them each a small card with a price list, "the party room is going to be opening in about a month. You were asking about it for the bridal shower."
Heidi leaned forward. "You're making it like you said?"
Jo grinned. "Yup, just as girly as the rest of the bar, with very flattering lighting. Lots of tables, a private bar, big-screen TV and a small stage. I'm working on the menu right now. We can do appetizers and finger sandwiches or regular meals. Whichever you want."
"Champagne?" Heidi asked.
"I love it," Annabelle said. "Want to have your shower here?"
"The room can hold up to sixty," Jo told them.
"You wouldn't have to limit your guest list," Charlie told her.
"Sounds like a plan," Heidi said happily.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very good book. I loved the characters and was sorry to see it end
You can NEVER go wrong with Susan Mallery!!! This is the 8th book in her Fools Gold series...8th!!! book in this series!!! With a 9th one due to release later this summer. If your looking for a good "Summer" read pick up a copy today. You won't regret it. You'll not only fall in love with the people but you'll want to pack up and find your own Fools Gold.
I didn't want it to end! Susan Mallery has once again proven she is a great storyteller. The characters are easy to connect with, you feel as if you are part of the large "family" in Fool's Gold. My favorite scene is in Annabelle's kitchen, it had me giggling like a school girl. Like always I was not disappointed! I can't wait for All Summer Long.
What I love about Susan Mallery's characters is that they're so relatable. Annabelle the librarian is everywoman. She's not rich. She's not movie-star gorgeous. She's just a cute small-town librarian who dreams of finding love someday but fears she never will. Then Shane Stryker comes to town. When Shane looks at Annabelle, he doesn't see ordinary. He is completely bowled over by her sexiness. In fact, she's so sexy that Shane thinks she's trouble. He was burned by being married to an ex-wife who ran around on him, so Shane's determined that this time around, he's going to marry a plain Jane homemaker type who won't be attractive to other men. Annabelle is way too adorable for Shane's peace of mind! This book made me laugh right from the moment that Shane and Annabelle first met. Shane is so turned on that he can't even complete an intelligible sentence. Annabelle is baffled. I had a lot of fun imagining myself in Annabelle's shoes - who doesn't want a man to think you are the most beautiful woman in the world? Summer Nights is fun from start to finish!
My Review: I really enjoyed this book, which isn't a surprise since I pretty much love all of Susan Mallery's books. But what made this book for me was Shane and Annabelle's sarcastic senses of humor. Both of them constantly had little quips and thoughts throughout the book which kept me giggling. Here's a good example. In the scene below, Annabelle was arguing about why it wasn't smart for her to ride a horse: "You'll be fine." "Do you know how short I am? It's farther for me than most people." "By a couple of inches." Inches could be significant. As a man, he should know that. Little quips like that simply kept me giggling throughout the entire book. I loved that about this book. There's great dialogue and chemistry between these two and the whole tone of the book stays happy and quirky the whole time...even when they are having issues. The happy, quick dialogue is a fabulous mainstay to this book. This is the middle book for this summer's Fools Gold trilogy (#8 if you're keeping track.) I think it's going to be my favorite simply because I love the characters and their jobs so much. Annabelle is a librarian (hello...book lover) and Shane raises horses (hello...cowboy)! Seriously, what's not to love here?? Combining books with cowboys? Yes, Susan Mallery is tuned in completely to my fantasy perfect world. And I really liked both these characters. They've both been married before and both have the emotional wounds to prove it, although Shane has more leftover mental issues with relationship than Annabelle does. And let's not forget the whole Stryker farm menagerie which adds great fun to the book. As the cowboy, Shane falls to the in-charge guy of all the animals his mother keeps adopting. I loved how he kept trying to help Priscilla, the elephant, to alleviate her loneliness...even to the point of taking in the pony, Reno (he hates ponies...leftover trauma from childhood.) I loved that everyone is terrified of the stallion Khatar except for Annabelle. The way that he follows her around and loves her completely...just a GORGEOUS aspect to this story. The next book is Charlie and Clay. My heart simply aches for Charlie, so I am so excited to watch her find her Happily Ever After. Only one more month until All Summer Long.
Summer Nights is a great summer read. I love that Annabelle wanted to learn how to ride a horse for her fundraiser for her bookmobile that she cares so much about. I don't want to give away anything. There was so many twists & turns in this book! I love that so much. There is 1 thing that I absolutely love a lot, but I can not say. My daughter is disabled & she takes horseback riding lessons. Summer Nights is my favorite book in the entire Fool's Gold series! I give 5 stars! Way to go Susan Mallery!!
Fool's Gold continues to be one of my favorite series. Susan Mallery writes such loveable characters that you can't help but fall in love with all of them. Summer Nights is a wonderful love story between Shane and Annabelle that teaches readers not to judge new love by the harm an old love caused. It blends friendship and romance perfectly and leaves you wanting to read the next novel, All Summer Long as soon as possible. :D
I love this book. Not only are the hero and heroine great, but so are the secondary characters/animals. Loved all the critters involved in the writing of this book. It is must read for the beach this summer. Grab Summer Days(the first in the trilogy), Summer Nights, and at the end of July All Summer Long. Great summer reading. Now head on over to Fool's Gold to see what's going on.
This is such a great series cnat wait until
This book is the 8th book under the Fool's Gold series by the author and this time, it tells the story of one of the three Stryker; Shane and Annabelle. Both of them have their own past and at first glance, Annabelle reminded him of his ex-wife; Rachel. Hence, he knew that this person is not to be trusted eventhough his gut and feeling tell him differently. Annabelle, a librarian by profession, aim to buy a mobile to transport the books to the rural area, decided to dance with a horse to raise fund for the mobile and to do so, she needed Shane's help. I have read a few of Susan's books and it have never dissappoint me. Overall, i enjoyed reading this one and i hope that there is a book on Charlie, who is the best friend of Annabelle. I like her character very much!
4 STARSSummer Nights is another Fool's Gold story. Its fun to see the characters from other stories back. I enjoyed reading Summer Nights. Their was a few love scenes that I skipped over.Shane Stryker is back in Fool's Gold living with his mother May, her boyfriend Glen, his brother Rafe, and his Fiance Heidi, who is Glen granddaughter. Shane has bought land next to Rafe's and his building a house, barn. He raises racehorses. Besides just taking care of his own animals, he is taking care of his mother's animals that keep showing up. He is learning about the elephant that she has and that she needs friends. So they are trying all different animals for her and the ones that work are funny.Annabelle Weiss is a librarian that has fun, smart, sexy, caring and is good friends with Charlie Dixon & Heidi.Heidi is raising goats, sells cheese, milk. She got engaged in Summer nights to Rafe.Charlie Dixon is a tall firefighter that does not date but is thinking of becomming a single mom. I feel like her story is coming up soon.Annabelle is trying to raise money for a bookmobile that she can get books, computers to those that are more housebound. Right now she takes boxes of books in her trunk for a few different groups of people.Annabelle, Charlie & Heidi come up with the idea of Annabelle take horse lessons from Shane and in the summer and with the horse dancing. The Dance of the Horse and dance of the happy virgin is a Maa-zib tradition hundreds of years ago.Shane wants to have a family but after his divorce wants a plain, simple woman not passion and wild like his first wife. Heidi does not fit into what he wants except that he does want her.The town is very involved in each others business as Shane finds out that he gets volunteered to teach girls to ride too. When Shane says he does not have horses for beginners. Horse's show up and saddles. Plus other animals show up that people think would be good friends for Priscilla the elephant herd.I look forward to reading more books about Fool's Gold. I was given this ebook to read in exchange for honest review from Netgalley.06/19/2012 pub Harlequin HarlequinMira
Fool's Gold is a town created by the talented Susan Mallery and Summer Nights is another story from the this series. This is the story of Annabelle, a librarian, who is divorced from a controlling man who was mentally abusive. She has moved to Fool's Gold to start over and is currently trying to raise money for a bookmobile. Shane Stryker is a cowboy who is also divorced and doesn't trust the fairer sex. His ex was a cheater. Shane agrees to teach Annabelle to ride a horse for the parade that is helping raise money for her bookmobile but is struggling with his attraction to her. As they work together, they grow closer but both must overcome their trust issues from their previous relationships. This is another excellent story.
Loved this visit to Fool's Gold. I got caught up right away with this particular story - and enjoyed the romance between Shane and Annabelle. I love how Susan Mallery always weaves in visits from other characters and hints of future stories while she's serving up the main tale of this particular book. How can you not enjoy a Fool's Gold book?! And there are so many from which to choose!!!
Reviewed by JoAnne Book provided by the author for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book I love and read all of Susan’s books but this one is extra special since Susan chose the name I suggested for the librarian – Annabelle – and then gave her my last name so Annabelle Weiss was born. It was such a nice feeling to see Annabelle’s name in print throughout the book since essentially Summer Nights is her story. There was the requisite happily ever after but it was a long time coming – until the last few pages of the book but you couldn’t help but root for Shane and Annabelle to get together and express their love for each other. There were tears, laughter, many romances, reconnecting with characters from the other Fool’s Gold books as well as the introduction of a few new characters. There was also some hardheadedness as expressed by some of the characters – especially Shane, lots of family and friends, new babies and some angst. You could envision yourself at the ranch, in town, and at the social events due to all the vivid descriptions. The story flowed easily and was a nice continuation of the Fool’s Gold’s books that have come before although I have not read book 7, so was missing some of the blanks leading up to Heidi and Rafe’s nuptials. There was closure although another chapter or two would have been icing on the cake. I look forward to reading the other books in the series to come out this summer and hope that this series will continue indefinitely since there are so many more stories to tell. An enjoyable read, highly recommended. If you haven’t read other books by Mallery give her a try! You’ll be glad you did. Favorite Quote: She couldn’t even hate him, she thought, resigned to the inevitable. Because she loved his honor as much as she loved everything else about him. But forever duty, wasn’t forever love. And she’d promised herself she was never going to settle again.
I loved this book. A great addition to Fools Gold. It was kind of bittersweet, two lost and suffering souls who work towards finding each other. Great read.