Sunday, December 27, 2015

Review: New Leaf by Catherine Anderson

New Leaf by Catherine Anderson
Series: Mystic Creek, Book 2
Publisher: Signet
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780451418357
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

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.

Taffeta Brown has moved to Mystic Creek in order to rebuild her life and regain custody of her daughter. She has no interest in attracting attention and having her past come to light, so when handsome deputy Barney Sterling catches her eye, she decides to keep her interactions with him strictly in the realm of nighttime fantasies. Then a late-night noise complaint throws her in Barney’s path and suddenly she has his attention. It’s then that Taffeta decides to change her plan of action. She needs help to get her daughter back and who better to assist her than a lawman with a sterling reputation? Taffeta proposes a marriage of convenience to improve her chances and repair her reputation, and to her surprise, Barney agrees. But somewhere along the line, what starts as a marriage-in-name-only begins to feel all too real…

New Leaf is a somewhat difficult book for me to review. On the one hand, it’s sweet and charming, featuring characters who are nearly perfect. On the other hand, there’s something just slightly off about the central characters and their actions that kept me from enjoying the story. To start, everyone in the story reads far, far older than the author tells readers they are. It makes sense in some ways for Taffeta, who has lived a hard life and thus would be more mature than her years. Barney, however, shocked me when I learned he was under thirty. When you add in the fact that the main characters – all born and raised Oregonians – speak like they’re from the South, it’s impossible not to be pulled out of the story by the characters’ speech. Everything about this story felt old-fashioned – which I would enjoy – but it wasn’t at all organic. The pacing was uneven, the type of story it was changed and not in a seamless way. Most of all, I found myself deeply frustrated by Barney. He’s supposed to be this perfect hero with a heart of gold, and most of the time he reads that way, to an unbelievable extent. However, he was incredibly focused on Taffeta’s looks, not noticing her until she wore makeup, then asking her over and over to dress sexier and alter her appearance.

New Leaf isn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. The story has charm in parts and all the good guys wear white hats while the bad guys wear black. However, the dialogue was stilted, I never connected with the characters as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t suspend disbelief well enough to enjoy the book, and the last quarter of the story took a religious bent I was not expecting. I don’t think I’ll be returning to Mystic Creek, but I would try Catherine Anderson’s work again in the future.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.