Happy release day to this sweet and emotional country romance! Even though I live in a big city, I have always thought that deep inside me is buried a country farm girl who would like to wear jeans and boots every day, and get my hands dirty planting things, fixing fences, and handling animals. So it was a great change of pace to immerse myself into a book set in eastern Oregon ranch country. Thank you so much to Berkley Publishing for giving me the chance to read this book ahead of time through NetGalley. Read on for a synopsis, my candid/unbiased review, and some of my favorite quotes.
Title: Huckleberry Lake (Mystic Creek #6) (Amazon, Goodreads)
Author: Catherine Anderson
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
My Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Erin De Laney came to Mystic Creek hoping that the slower pace might rekindle her enthusiasm for law enforcement. Instead she feels as frustrated as she did in the city and when her disillusionment with the job increases, she takes a position on her uncle’s ranch.
Her life has enough complications without her attraction to handsome, deaf cowboy, Wyatt Fitzgerald, the foreman on the ranch. Wyatt has sworn off dating, and Erin fears that nothing she does will ever change his mind. Yet while working with an abused horse under Wyatt’s guidance, Erin comes to better understand herself. She also learns that love can heal almost anything.
Wyatt yearns to take Erin into his arms, but he’s hesitant to pursue a romantic relationship. When their work sends them out alone together into a wilderness area, Wyatt is even more determined to hold Erin at arm’s length.
But out of their time alone together on the mountain blossoms a chance for a once-in-a-lifetime love if only he’s willing to give her his heart and make her his.
I really enjoyed this sweet and emotional story. Erin and Wyatt each have some pretty big problems related to difficult things in their pasts, and it makes it very complicated for them to find their way in a relationship. We don’t get anywhere near them actually figuring things out for the bulk of the book, but I am glad the author took her time with their development. It felt more real and honest that way. It’s not a quick romance, but by the end, you are really cheering for them, and I love that.
This book touches on some difficult topics, including emotional abuse during childhood (unattainable parent expectations) and rape. If you would rather steer clear of those issues, this is probably not a good book for you to read. The topics are dealt with sensitively and tenderly, and I thought they added to/were integral to the story and character development; they aren’t just there to be sensational. As a speech therapist, I work with many deaf and hard-of-hearing children, so I particularly enjoyed the insight and care the author took in exploring Wyatt’s deafness and how it affected him throughout his life.
Aside from the main characters, we meet lots of side characters, including Erin’s best friend and her love interest, Wyatt’s little brother and his love interest, and of course, Erin’s uncle Slade and his wife Vickie (the central story of the previous book in the series, Strawberry Hill–you don’t have to read this book to know what’s going on, but I think it probably adds to the depth of Erin and Wyatt’s story if you do). I really enjoyed that we got chapters from the perspectives of these other characters. It added to the vibrance of the setting to feel what it means to all these different characters. If you are intrigued by the slow country lifestyle and small town gossip and relationships, then you’ll love this book.
Overall, if you’re looking for a sweet and emotional, not too fast-paced romance to read this mid-winter, then this might be just the book for you.
“She wore a pink top the same color as some of the petunias, one of those silky-looking things that had cutouts at each shoulder, a style that mystified Blackie. When he bought a shirt, he wanted all its parts to be present. He sure as hell wouldn’t let clothing manufacturers save money on fabric by convincing him it was the style to go around with sections of his arms naked.”
“Erin knew she was arguing her case inside her mind, which was a normal thing for people to do. But with bone-chilling alarm, she realized it wasn’t her voice she heard. It was her father’s. What on earth was that all about? She hugged her waist, shivering as if from the cold, only it was a balmy afternoon.”
“One good thing about being deaf was his ability to shut other people out by simply not looking at them. He was still congratulating himself on that when a pine cone hit him in the shoulder. He glanced up to find Erin grinning at him.”
“What guy alive could turn his nose up at an offer of a week’s vacation in the arms of a beautiful woman, with no strings attached?”