NEW LEAF - Catherine Anderson
A Mystic Creek Novel
, Book 2
Signet
ISBN-13: 978-0-451-41834-0
January 2016
Romantic Suspense

Mystic Creek, Oregon - Present Day

Deputy Barney Sterling is making his rounds in Mystic Creek when he receives a call about loud music coming from Taffeta Brown's health food store.  What he sees when he pulls up to the curb is the silhouette of a sexy, curvaceous woman dancing behind the upstairs curtain.  Yes, the music is loud, but it's the woman's shadow that gets Barney's full blown attention.  Barney uses his set of master keys to open the shop and then climb the stairs to knock on Taffeta's apartment door.  He's seen Ms. Brown almost every day since she moved to Mystic Creek, and the mousy, plain woman who runs this store gave no indication she concealed such a shapely figure underneath the baggy clothes she wears. When Taffeta finally opens the door, Barney is looking down at the most beautiful woman he has seen in ages.  It's clear that the owner of Healthful Possibilities is far more complex than she appears in the light of an ordinary day.

Taffeta Brown is fantasizing about dancing with the gorgeous town deputy, Barney Sterling, but finding him standing on her doorstep in the flesh nearly has her undone.  Taffeta has worked hard to hide her appearance, hoping to blend into the fabric of regular people in Mystic Creek, rather than draw attention to herself.  She wants to remain as anonymous as possible, lest someone in town learn her secrets.  Taffeta left her home in shame after being falsely accused and sentenced for child abuse by her devious ex-husband.  Phillip, a respected attorney, and the son of another respected attorney, fell into a spiral of drug use and abuse, and even though he mistreated Taffeta and their daughter, Phillip was able to lie his way into divorcing Taffeta and winning sole custody of their daughter.  Taffeta is hoping to quietly live out her probation in Mystic Creek until she can find a way to get her daughter back.  But when the private investigator she hired to keep tabs on Sarah informs her that the girl is in danger, Taffeta knows she must act quickly.  One spur of the moment decision, and she swallows her pride and asks Deputy Barney to marry her!

Barney does not date women, especially any woman who lives in or near Mystic Creek.  He fears the backlash a failed relationship can cause, so he satisfies his needs out of town when necessary and never sees the same woman more than once.  Now, he's sitting here listening to Taffeta's story, which is highly suspicious, and he can't believe that he's seriously considering helping her!   He knows that if she married him, it might help her overturn the court's decision against her, but first, he has to run background checks on her story.  She wouldn't be the first person to lie to him about her innocence.

NEW LEAF is a thrilling and suspenseful story of one woman's struggle to fix the wrongs of her past after being falsely accused by people she trusted.  When she and Barney work out the details of their new relationship, one which will hopefully give Taffeta the solid trust of the court, they embark on a shaky road.  First, Taffeta has to visit pre-school age Sarah, who clearly does not remember her mother.  Sarah is in danger of falling into serious neglect as her father ignores her and her grandparents allow her to literally raise herself, even at just five years of age.  Barney and Taffeta together spark an instant chemistry, but each of them hesitates falling into a relationship until they can keep up a believable and united front that will win custody of Sarah.

NEW LEAF is the second novel in the Mystic Creek series, following SILVER THAW, January 2015.  The characters are dynamic and explosive; there is suspense and drama, and lots of heartwarming and passionate romance.  Both books stand alone, but this series is so special, I advise readers to catch up with SILVER THAW if they haven't read the first novel in the series.

Meanwhile, NEW LEAF is a wonderful book!

Diana Risso