Release Date: Dec 31, 2018
Series: Mystic Creek
Heat Level: Sensual
Publisher: Penguin Group
Strawberry Hill is the first book by Catherine Anderson that I have read and is book 5 in the Mystic Creek series, this book can be read as a standalone. I was a bit confused about who exactly this story is about, the prologue begins with the origin story of an orphaned blonde black bear that is caught in a hunting trap.
Slade Wilder finds the bear and calls upon his fellow ranchers to help get the bear free. There are a few characters introduced in this prologue, and the story could really go any which way from here. The novel then starts with an exchange between Wyatt, a deaf rancher, and Erin, the county patrol officer which led me to believe that Strawberry Hill would be their story…..but it was not. The novel actually was about the rekindled romance between Slade and Vickie Brown, his ex-fiancée who he has not seen in forty years. Now that they were both in their 60s Vickie decided it was time to confront Slade about the past and get answers for all the questions that she has had.
Besides the initial confusion about whose story this is, overall I did enjoy this love story. It was different from the usual 20 to 30 something age group of heroes and heroines, and a first for me since I had before never read a novel about a couple in their 60s falling back in love. The side characters (including that little black bear) were also a great addition to the book, I am looking forward to one that actually does focus on Erin and Wyatt more. All of the characters are funny and strong in their own way, I never felt like anyone was carrying another person throughout the book which was great (I love strong and independent characters, especially women).
The reason I did not give this book a higher rating was that a lot of the premise of the book was very frustrating for me as a reader. Vickie and Slade essentially were apart for most of their lives due to miscommunication and a lack of communication. I couldn’t really understand how Vickie, who seems to be a confident and smart woman, did not just stand up and talk to Slade before running away. So much wasted time all because of one thing! I just couldn’t get over that, even though I did enjoy the story at the back of my mind I was just like “this could all have been prevented!” I also just did not really understand Vickie’s reasoning for staying away as long as she did. It just didn’t make sense to me with the way her character is described. I also did wish that more of the book was given to developing the ending a little bit more; Vickie finds out the truth and then the book essentially just ends. I would have preferred a little bit more information about the fallout of everything and maybe a little less of Wyatt and Erin since the story isn’t even about them really.
Overall, this book was a nice and easy read. I would recommend it and will likely keep my eye out for more novels by Catherine Anderson.