A romance filled with warmth and old wounds set in a small town is at the heart of Thrill Me by Susan Mallery. The eighteenth installment in Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series about a variety of families residing in Fool’s Gold, California, Thrill Me moves through a gamut of scenes about keeping one’s faith in others and dealing with self-imposed doubts.
The atmosphere alternates between being intense and light, occupied by a variety of characters who have a difficult time communicating their thoughts mingled with others who use humor to break-down human defenses. Mallery’s microcosm of small town life is perceptive and shows goodwill abound as its denizens look out for one another and partake in the community’s activities.
A culmination of numerous small towns which readers can see in television shows from the hubs that foster the central gossip grapevine in Andy Griffith‘s Mayberry to the tangled web of secrets that make Nashville alluring, Thrill Me encompasses a multitude of elements that make up the world of a small town. With a menagerie of characters that make the series appealing and relatable to the reader’s world, Thrill Me is a book that puts the audience in the middle of a storyline which has already been established and takes the reader to its next stage.
Maya Farlow and Del Mitchell were high school sweethearts who broke up after graduation, believing they had different destinations in mind for their future. Maya thrives in the field of public communication and marketing. Del indulges his ambition for extreme sports, designing equipment for training professionals. Mayor Marsha in Fool’s Gold acts as the matchmaker, bringing these two back together to work on her mayoral campaign.
Wounds that appear healed are opened up again as is the love which the pair once had for each other. Their reunion is touching though the audience isn’t entirely convinced they belong together. Personal growth made them individuals who don’t need each other to survive but as their new-found friendship progresses it’s natural for Del and Maya to see they make a team that they each want to be on until their last breath.
Mallery explores the facets of family dynamics through Maya and Del, how their personalities and fears are shaped by their families. Feelings of tenderness and regret are expressed with plenty of love in between. A side theme in the story reflects the strong women in town. Pioneer-style women who had to surmount obstacles and endure the struggle of living in the Wild West on terrain that hasn’t been chartered and developed yet, giving these women the freedom to pave their own identity.
Thrill Me has many levels to it, describing the central romance and the people who make up the small town of Fool’s Gold. The reader can’t stop feeling an affection for this motley bunch in a small town.