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New Release Review: NEW LEAF by Catherine Anderson (Mystic Creek #2)

New Leaf
by Catherine Anderson

Synopsis:

The New York Times bestselling author of Silver Thaw returns to Mystic Creek for a new novel about a love that inspires the courage to start over…and the strength to reclaim a dream. 

When Taffeta Brown was viciously betrayed by her wealthy husband, she lost everything—including custody of their daughter, Sarah. Now that Taffy has moved to Mystic Creek, Oregon, to start over, she unexpectedly meets the one man who might help her get Sarah back.

Barney Sterling, a local lawman, finds himself drawn to the lovely, guarded Taffy, but he’s stunned by her proposition—that they marry immediately to improve her chances of regaining custody of her daughter. Barney takes marriage too seriously to commit himself to a woman he hardly knows. Yet soon his sympathies fall with the desperate Taffy, and pretending to be in love becomes the easiest part of the plan. But they have no idea what they’re up against, or what they’re willing to risk to make a miracle come true in Mystic Creek.

Review:

New Leaf was a sweet romance that deals with fresh starts and stresses the importance of families, both the ones you’re born with and the ones you make for yourself. I haven’t yet read the first book in the series (Silver Thaw) but that wasn’t a problem at all–New Leaf worked fine as a standalone.

Things I enjoyed:

I liked the main characters, though their names were awful–but hey, there’s plenty of unfortunately-named people out there in the real world too, so it was actually refreshing to read about people who don’t have cookie-cutter “pretty” names like they do in so many books. I enjoyed their romance; they were very sweet together. Taffy teasing Barney about naming their son Barnabas was cute, and was something I would have done too in her place.

Things that were more problematic:

The story’s pacing felt a bit off at times–for example, the two moved awfully quickly from a hands-off marriage of convenience to jumping into bed together, which especially with Barney’s feelings about the sanctity of marriage felt jarring. Barney also seemed to be awfully hung up on Taffy’s looks in the beginning, which didn’t seem to match his heart-of-gold lawman persona. The dialogue in much of the book–the last third or so especially–didn’t feel quite natural. And wouldn’t CPS have gotten involved in Sarah’s case, especially when the kindergartner is coming to a small, private religious school talking about strippers wearing plastered-on makeup?

Overall I did enjoy New Leaf though it’s not my favorite book by Ms. Anderson. I would definitely take another trip to Mystic Creek, however–Barney’s large and close-knit family and the small-town location were both quite appealing.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

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