First, I owe Ms. Mallery my apologies for jumping to conclusions. I have read all of the Fool's Gold books and I have enjoyed most of them. When Charlie was first introduced with two other women, I went, "Uh, oh, methinks the next three-book arc is a-comin'," and I was right. The second thought I had was "Please don't soften Charlie."
Smug in my guessing right on the arc, I was afraid I was seeing signs of the "softening." Charlie was giving clues to her back story, a negligent/careless/self-centered mother was mentioned, she was a prettied up bridesmaid, the softening was beginning, or so I thought. I was just getting a little leary of what I saw as clues to "let's get her some makeup, grow her hair a bit, put her in a cute little dress and call her a girl."
But it didn't happen. What we got was a Charlie that was true to herself and her persona as shown in the previous stories, even this arc of three. I was not happy with the first two books of the arc, but I am glad I read them to get to this one.
Well, as you can see, I was emotionally invested in Charlie being Charlie. At first I was so thrilled with this, I wasn't really paying attention to the rest of the story and my willing suspension of disbelief was in full-contact mode. I was there, I was in the story. I was even impressed that Charlie's mother was not softened. Yep, the definition of a negligent, uncaring, clueless mother was our Dominique. And I loved that, too.
But then certain plot elements dealing with the male part of the couple-to-be, Clay, started to creep into my consciousness. Really, Clay, you have a modeling/butt double career and you had time to work out, go to NYU and get a degree and NOT tell your family as well as do an apprenticeship in Vermont that no one knew about? My family is not what you would call close but I can guarantee that if one of us was graduating from NYU a parental unit had better be informed or there would be murder and mayhem. I get that he is a grown man, paying his own way (and conveniently married to his 14-years-older wife), but even grown men inform their family they are going to college.
There were a number (at least three, the bones, the poisoned seed, the fact his estranged-from-everybody-but-Clay sister had her leg conveniently broken on national TV while they were all watching together) of components thrown out that seemed to be sequel bait, and that is not even counting the Dante-based sequel bait. But I love sequel bait on a series I am enjoying, and Fool's Gold has been enjoyable as a whole.
There were a number of issues, including the above-mentioned sequel bait, that seemed to be prettily-boxed-and-tied-up-with-a-bow plot devices. But that's okay, you have to get to the end somehow. I think if I had read this book in one sitting and not had time to think on certain elements, none of this would have bothered me.
Other issues included a rushed ending;, the lack of mea culpas required of Clay, although that probably goes with Charlie's no nonsense personality, too; the heretofore unintroduced members of the community, setting them up for the next installments, that got a bit annoying.
All in all, if I had a half a star to give, this would be a 3.5. But since I did enjoy that Charlie and Dominique were left with their previously shown personalities for better or worse, I give it a 4.
BUT one big caveat, I do think that if one has a rape trigger or a more-than-shallow experience with therapy, a large portion of willing suspension of disbelief might be taken up and some books/Kindles may be thrown against the wall. While it makes sense to me that Charlie has dealt with her issues the best she can on her own, I don't know that self-prescribing sex with a trusted acquaintance will sit well with those who have had personal involvement with such matters. Not being a particular sticking point with me, I let it go.