New Leaf by Catherine Anderson

The second installment in her paperback Mystic Creek series, New Leaf by Catherine Anderson is another excellent read by one of my favorite authors. It is most definitely a romance novel, but the book also touches on some very real social issues trending in the world today; attitudes toward law enforcement officers, as well as how wealth and dishonesty can affect court decisions. I think the author addresses these issues in a very real and believable way.

An evil mixture of a vengeful ex-husband and a wrongful court decision in which a mother loses custody of her child makes New Leaf a compelling story of heartbreak, sacrifice and true love. Still reeling from losing everything she loves, Taffeta Brown moves to the small town of Mystic Creek, Oregon to make a new life for herself. She puts on a brave face each day but is actually hiding a terrible secret that might make the townspeople turn on her. How bad is her secret? Her wealthy ex-husband used his family's money and connections to set her up and have her convicted of child abuse of her five-year-old daughter Sarah. Once in Mystic Creek, she opens a health food store and tries to live a normal life, hoping and praying that one day she will regain custody of her daughter. Taffeta does everything she can to stay under the radar and not draw attention to herself but, as in any small town, nosy neighbors and a noise issue prompt a visit from the local deputy sheriff, Barney Sterling. It's evident from the start that Barney and "Taffy" are attracted to each other. Though a little predictable, it is heartwarming to read how their romance begins, unfolds and evolves. Before moving to Mystic Creek Taffy had hired a private detective to keep an eye on Sarah. When she receives a report from the detective that her daughter could be in danger she turns to Barney for help. Taffy is so desperate to help her daughter that she propositions Barney to marry her (in name only) so she can fight to regain custody of her daughter. Not sure if he believes in her innocence, Barney turns her down. But, his upbringing and values soon win out, and he agrees to help her. During the process of helping her, they fall deeply in love. I loved the language style, vivid descriptions, and humor, and the way the perspective alternates between Taffy and Barney. This story shows that money and power do not always win in the end and that true love can come from an unlikely place.

The first book in the Mystic Creek series is titled Silver Thaw if you would like to read it first, but I think New Leaf can be read as a standalone.


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