"A captivating story about letting go of those you love so they can find their own way."
Reviewed by Viki Ferrell
Posted July 1, 2011
Women's Fiction Contemporary | Romance Contemporary
A graduate student's thesis proclaims that Fool's Gold, CA
is a town with a serious man shortage. Ever since the media
picked up on this premise, people have flocked to Fool's
Gold, along with a TV reality show called True Love or
Fool's Gold. Hometown girl Dakota Hendrix finds herself on
loan to the producer to oversee the production and make sure
this quiet little town is not shown in a bad light.
This reality show will select ten couples; send them on
romantic dates, then give America a chance to vote off the
couples least likely to make it. Identical twin brothers,
Sasha and Stephen Andersson are two of the contestants.
Sasha is seeking fame and fortune in the TV and movie
industry and sees the show as a means to that end. Stephen
just wants to get away from their overbearing older brother,
Finn, who was left with the responsibility of raising them
when their parents were killed in a plane crash. Both young
men dropped out of college one semester short of graduating
to be on this show.
Finn Andersson has come all the way from South Salmon,
Alaska to Fool's Gold to get his brothers off the show and
back in college. Dakota is the first person who experiences
his fury. She finds Finn demanding and domineering. She
tells Finn this is probably why the guys ran away. She feels
he is trying to manipulate their lives and make them do what
he thinks is the right thing, not what they want to do with
their lives. Finn doesn't want to hear any of it.
Dakota is grappling with her own personal issues. The more
intense the conversations between her and Finn regarding
their personal troubles, the closer they become. There is
quite a chemistry here, but neither of them is looking for a
relationship. With that understanding, they begin seeing
each other, knowing Finn will be going back to Alaska in a
few short weeks.
Susan Mallery gives us another poignant, sexy romance with
some unique subplots, great sarcastic humor, and fascinating
characters. Will Finn just walk away when the show is over?
Will Dakota just let him go? Will they find true love or is
this just fool's gold? ONLY MINE is a captivating story that
you can't put down. It's a tale about letting go of those
you love and letting them find their own way. Another great
read in Mallery's Fool's Gold series.
You can't win if you don't play…
town's lack of men may make headlines, but it isn't news to
Dakota Hendrix. The beautiful blonde has bigger problems to
deal with, such as overseeing the romance reality
competition filming in Fool's Gold. Screening eligible
bachelors is a difficult enough task, but Dakota hits an
unexpected snag when a sexy stranger comes to
Finn Andersson will do anything to keep his
twin brothers—the perfect contestants—off the show. Despite
Dakota's better judgment, she finds herself drawn to the
mysterious outsider. Like her, Finn knows about heartbreak
and how a family can fall apart, so she doesn't dare to hope
for anything more than a fling. After all, even in the Land
of Happy Endings, finding true love is never as easy as it
looks on TV.
Excerpt"What's it going to take to get you to cooperate?
Money? Threats? Either works for me."
Dakota Hendrix looked up from her laptop to find a very
tall, stern-looking man standing over her. "Excuse me?"
"You heard me. What's it going to take?"
She'd been warned there would be plenty of crazies
hanging around, but she hadn't actually believed it.
Apparently she'd been wrong.
"You have a lot of attitude for someone wearing a plaid
flannel shirt," she said, standing so she was at least
something close to eye-level with the guy. If he hadn't
been so obviously annoyed, she would have thought he was
pretty decent-looking, with dark hair and piercing blue eyes.
He glanced down at himself, then back at her. "What does
my shirt have to do with anything?"
"It's hard to be intimidated by a man wearing plaid.
I'm just saying. And flannel is a friendly fabric. A
little down-home for most people. Now if you were in all
black, with a leather jacket, I'd be a lot more
His expression tightened, as did a muscle in his jaw. His
gaze sharpened, and she had a feeling that if he were just a
little less civilized, he would throw something.
"Having a bad day?" she asked cheerfully.
"Something like that." He spoke between clenched teeth.
"Want to talk about it?"
"I believe that's how I started this conversation."
"No. You started by threatening me." She smiled.
"At the risk of sending your annoyance level from an
eight to a ten, sometimes being nice is more effective. At
least it is with me." She held out her hand. "Hi.
I'm Dakota Hendrix."
The man looked as if he would rather rip off her head than
be polite, but after a couple of deep breaths, he shook
hands with her and muttered, "Finn Andersson."
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Andersson."
"Finn," she repeated, being more perky than usual,
simply because she thought it would bug him. "How can I
"I want to get my brothers off the show."
"Hence the threats."
He frowned. "Hence? Who says that?"
"It's a perfectly good word."
"Not where I come from."
She glanced down at the worn work boots he wore, then back
to his shirt. "I'm almost afraid to ask where that
"South Salmon, Alaska."
"You're a long way from home."
"Worse, I'm in California."
"Hey, you're in my hometown. I'll thank you to
He rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Fine. Whatever. You
win. Can you help me with my brothers or not?"
"It depends. What's the problem?"
She motioned to the seat across from her small desk. Finn
hesitated for a second, then folded his long body into a
seated position. She took her chair and waited.
"They're here," he said at last, as if that
"Here instead of back in South Salmon?"
"Here instead of finishing their last semester of
college. They're twins. They go to UA. University of
Alaska," he added.
"But if they're on the show, then they're over
eighteen," she said gently, feeling his pain, but
knowing there was very little she could do about it.
"Meaning I don't have any legal authority?" he
asked, sounding both resigned and bitter. "Tell me about
it." He leaned toward her, his gaze intense. "I need
your help. Like I said, they're one semester from
graduating, and they walked away from that to come here."
Dakota had grown up in the town of Fool's Gold and had
chosen to return after she'd finished her schooling, so
she didn't understand why anyone wouldn't want to
live in town. But she would guess Finn was a lot more
worried about his brothers' future than their location.
He stood. "Why am I even talking to you? You're one
of those Hollywood types. You're probably happy
they've given up everything to be on your stupid show."
She rose as well, then shook her head. "First of all,
it's not my stupid show. I'm with the town, not the
production company. Second, if you'll give me a moment
to think instead of instantly getting angry, maybe I can
come up with something that will help. If you're like
this with your brothers, I'm not surprised they want to
get a couple thousand miles away from you."
Given the little she knew about Finn from their
thirty-second relationship, she half expected him to snarl
at her, then disappear. Instead he surprised her by grinning.
The curve of his lips, the flash of teeth, wasn't
anything unique, but it hit her in the stomach all the same.
She felt as if all the air had rushed out of her lungs and
she couldn't breathe. Seconds later, she managed to
recover and told herself it was a momentary blip on her
otherwise emotionally smooth radar. Nothing more than an
anomaly. Like a sunspot.
"That's what they said," he admitted,
returning to his seat with a sigh. "That they'd
hoped being at college would be far enough away, but it
wasn't." The grin faded. "Damn, this is hard."
She sat down and rested her hands on the table between them.
"What do your parents say about all this?"
"I'm their parents."
"Oh." She swallowed, not sure what tragedy had
brought that about. She would guess Finn was all of thirty,
maybe thirty-two. "How long ago…?"
"You've been raising your brothers since they were
"They were thirteen, but yes."
"Congratulations. You've done a good job."
The smile faded as he scowled at her. "How would you
"They made it into college, were successful enough to
get to their final semester and now they're emotionally
tough enough to stand up to you."
The scowl turned into a sneer. "Let me guess. You're
one of those people who calls rain 'liquid
sunshine.' If I'd done my job with my brothers, they
would still be in college, instead of here, trying to get on
some idiotic reality show."
There was that, Dakota thought. From Finn's perspective,
nothing about this was good.
He shook his head. "I can't figure out where I went
wrong. All I wanted was to get them through college. Three
more months. They only needed to stay in school three more
months. But could they do that? No. They even sent me an
email, telling me where they were—like I'd be happy
She reached for the files on her desk. "What are their
"Sasha and Stephen." His expression cleared. "Is
there something you can do to help?"
"I don't know. As I said, I'm here representing
the town. The producers came to us with the reality show
idea. Believe me, Fool's Gold wasn't looking for
this kind of publicity. We wanted to say no, but were
concerned they would go ahead and do it anyway. This way,
we're involved and hope to have some kind of control
over the outcome."
She glanced at him and smiled. "Or at least the illusion
"Trust me. It's not all it's cracked up to be."
"I'm getting that. All the potential contestants
were vetted thoroughly, background checks on everyone. We
insisted on that."
"Trying to avoid the truly insane?"
"Yes, and criminals. Reality television puts a lot of
pressure on people."
"How did the TV people hear about Fool's Gold if the
town wasn't courting them?" he asked.
"It was just plain bad luck. A year ago a grad student
writing her thesis on human geography discovered we had a
chronic man shortage in town. The hows and whys became a
chapter in her project. In an effort to bring attention to
her work, she shopped her thesis around various media
outlets, where the part about Fool's Gold was picked
He frowned. "I think I remember hearing about that.
Didn't you get busloads of guys coming in from all
"Unfortunately. Most of the reports made us sound like a
town of desperate spinsters, which isn't true at all. A
few weeks later, Hollywood came calling in the form of the
She flipped through the stack of applications of those who
had made it to final selection. When she saw Sasha
Andersson's picture, she winced. "Identical
twins?" she asked.
She pulled out Sasha's application and passed it to
Finn. "He's adorable." The head shot showed a
happy, smiling, younger version of Finn. "If he has a
personality more exciting than that of a shoe, he's
going to get on the show. What's not to like? Plus, if
there are two of them…" She set down the folder.
"Let me put it another way. If you were the producer,
would you want them on the show?"
Finn dropped the paper. The woman—Dakota—had a
point. His brothers were charming, funny and young enough to
believe they were immortal. Irresistible to someone looking
to pull in ratings.
"I'm not going to let them ruin their lives," he
"The show is ten weeks of filming. College will still be
there." Her voice was gentle and hinted at compassion.
Her dark gaze was steady. She was pretty enough—had he
been looking for that kind of thing. All he cared about
right now was getting his brothers back to college.
"You think they'll want to go back after all
this?" he demanded.
"I don't know. Have you asked them?"
"No." To date he'd only lectured and issued
orders—both of which his brothers had ignored.
"Did they say why they wanted to be on this show?"
"Not specifically," he admitted. But he had a theory
or two about their thinking. They wanted to be out of Alaska
and away from him. Plus, Sasha had been dreaming of fame for
a long time.
"Have they done this sort of thing before? Run off
against your wishes, given up on school?"
"No. That's what I don't get. They're so
close to being finished. Why couldn't they suck it up
for one more semester?" It was the responsible thing to do.
Until now, Sasha and Stephen hadn't given him much
grief. There'd been the usual driving too fast, a few
parties with friends and plenty of girls. He'd sweated
bullets waiting to hear one of his brothers had gotten a
girl pregnant. But so far that hadn't happened. Maybe
his thousands of lectures about using birth control had
gotten through. So them wanting to leave college for a
reality show had stunned him. He'd always figured they
would at least finish school.
"They sound like great kids," Dakota said.
"Maybe you should trust them."
"Maybe I should tie them up and throw them in the back
of a plane headed for Alaska."
"You wouldn't like jail."
"They'd have to catch me first." He stood again.
"Thanks for your time."
"I'm sorry I can't help."
She rose and circled the table so she was standing in front
of him. "To repeat a cliche, if you love something, set
He stared into her dark eyes. They were an interesting
contrast to her wavy blond hair. "If it comes back, it
was meant to?" He managed a smile. "No, thanks. I
fall into the 'if it doesn't, hunt it down and shoot
"Should I warn your brothers?"
"They already know."
"Sometimes you have to let people mess up."
"This is too important," he told her. "It's
"The key word being theirs, not yours. Whatever
happens here isn't unrecoverable."
"You don't know that."
She looked as if she wanted to argue more. She wasn't a
yeller, and he appreciated that. Her points were well
thought out. But there was no way she could change his mind
on this. Come hell or high water, he was getting his
brothers out of Fool's Gold and back to college, where
"Thanks for your time," he told her.
"You're welcome. I hope the three of you can come to
terms." One corner of her mouth twitched. "Please
remember we have a very efficient police force in town.
Chief Barns doesn't take kindly to people breaking the
"I appreciate the warning."
Finn walked out of the small trailer. Filming or shooting or
whatever they called it was due to start in two days. Which
gave him less than forty-eight hours to come up with a plan
to either convince his brothers to return to Alaska on their
own or physically force them to do what he wanted.
"I owe you," Marsha Tilson said over lunch.
Dakota picked up a French fry. "Yes, you do. I'm a
highly trained professional."
"Something Geoff doesn't appreciate?" Marsha,
the town's sixty-something mayor, asked, her blue eyes
sparkling with amusement.
"He does not. I have a Ph.D.," Dakota muttered.
"I should make him call me doctor."
"From what I know of Geoff, I'm not sure that would
Dakota bit into her fry. She hated to admit it, but Mayor
Marsha had a point. Geoff was the producer of the reality
show that had invaded the town—True Love or
Fool's Gold. After randomly sorting twenty people
into couples, the pairs would be sent on romantic dates,
which would be filmed, edited and then shown on television
with a one-week delay. America would vote off the couple
least likely to make it.
At the end, the last couple standing would receive $250,000
to share and a free wedding, if they were really in love.
From what Dakota could tell, Geoff didn't care about
anything except getting good ratings. The fact that the town
didn't want the show around hadn't bothered him at
all. In the end, the mayor had agreed to cooperate on the
condition that there be someone on his staff who was looking
out for the interests of the good citizens of
All that made sense to Dakota, though she still didn't
know why she'd gotten the job. She wasn't a
public relations specialist or even a city employee. She was
a psychologist who specialized in childhood development.
Unfortunately, her boss had offered her services, even
agreeing to pay her salary while she worked with the
production company. Dakota still wasn't speaking to him.
She would have turned down the assignment, except Mayor
Marsha had pleaded. Dakota had grown up here. When the Mayor
needed a favor, the good citizens agreed. Until the
production company had shown up, Dakota would have sworn she
would happily do anything for her town. And, as she'd
told Finn a couple of hours before, it was only for ten
weeks. She could survive nearly anything that long.
"Have the contestants been picked?" Marsha asked.
"Yes, but they're keeping it a secret until the big
"Anyone we need to worry about?"
"I don't think so. I've looked over the files
and everyone seems fairly normal." She thought about
Finn. "We do have a family member who isn't
happy." She explained about the twenty-one-year-old
twins. "If they're half as good-looking in person as
they are in their pictures, they're going to be on the
"Do you think their brother will make trouble?"
"No. If the boys were still underage, I would worry that
he would try to ground them. As it is, he can only worry and
Marsha nodded sympathetically. Dakota knew the mayor's
only daughter had been something of a wild child, then had
gotten pregnant and run away. It couldn't be easy,
raising a child. Or in Finn's case, two brothers. Not
that she knew about being a mother.
What do you think about this review?
2 comments posted.
Re: A captivating story about letting go of those you love so they can find their own way.
Unique subplots, very true, the dating show, took something away for me. I'm not into dating shows to begin with, so I think I went in with my mind already made up about that. I loved the relationship Dakota has with her sisters, I found those three to be so enjoyable to read!
(Jennifer Hutson 5:02pm July 27, 2011)
I loved this one as well! Such a great storyline. Man shortage?? Wouldn't that stink!?! looking forward to Only Yours and Only His!
(Tiffany Schlarman 8:44pm August 1, 2011)
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