Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Maple Leaf Harvest by Catherine Anderson
Series: Mystic Creek #7
Published by Berkley on August 24, 2021
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Lane Driscoll has been having nightmares where she’s chased by a strange man. When she has a threatening run-in with someone who looks just like the man from her dreams, she decides to leave her hometown until she figures out what’s going on. Lane seeks refuge in beautiful Mystic Creek, where she gets a job working at the local perfume shop. Soon after she arrives, a handsome customer seems to think he recognizes Lane, but calls her by the wrong name.
When Jonas Sterling, a local psychologist, encounters his ex-girlfriend, Veneta, in town, he can't believe his eyes. He hasn't seen her for years. Jonas is even more baffled when it turns out the woman is a total stranger to him. There's no way two people could look so similar without being related. Jonas discovers Lane was adopted at the age of three and is now twenty-six years old—the same as the woman he dated.
After initial shock at the idea she could have a twin, something clicks inside Lane—and now she needs to locate her missing sister. A romance blossoms as Jonas agrees to help her. But when the man from Lane's nightmares shows up in her dreams again, Jonas and Lane realize Veneta may be in grave danger, and their search for Lane's sister turns into a heart-pounding race.
The bizarre dreams and voices in her head are back, but this time they have leaped into real life when Lane Driscoll gets accosted by the man who was strangling her in her nightmare. A change of scene brings her into contact with another man who confuses her with someone else except Jonas Sterling claims that she isn’t crazy and he presents her with a startling answer to her troubles.
Maple Leaf Harvest is the seventh of the Mystic Creek small town contemporary romance novels that can all be read standalone though there is a moderately loose tie among some books in the series. For instance, Jonas is the last of the Sterling brothers to find romance, but his story is separate from all of theirs.
Opening like a thriller, Maple Leaf Harvest got off to an exciting start. Lane is a woman hounded by a mental difficulty all her life. She’s heard the same voice, Neta, all her life from childhood and into adulthood. But this time, she’s getting nightmarish dreams, too, that spill over into real life. A man accuses her of getting away from him and that he will find her and kill her. Lane runs and hides in Mystic Creek where she encounters Jonah who tells her she is the spitting image of his ex-girlfriend from college, Vaneta.
The romance was a slow progression while Lane and Jonah work out what is going on within her head and then figure out that Neta is in trouble. The pair decide they have to help find Neta. They are attracted, but know they have to focus on the situation at hand. All the while, Lane tends to hold back. Unlike what she is learning about her lost twin’s vivacious sometimes over the top personality and struggles with substance abuse and relationships, Lane lacks confidence and doesn’t see herself as attractive in looks or personality. She can’t imagine Jonas being into her and mistrusts when he compliments and respects her and later tries to tell her that he’s into her and wants a relationship. I was sad for her, but also wanted her to make an effort to take what Jonas’ was offering and not keep pushing him away.
The book was heartwarming and engaging particularly when Lane was settled in Mystic Creek and meeting the special people there and Jonah was settled in his home town as a psychologist and close to his family. Loved Ma and her gift shop and how she took Lane to her bosom.
However, I vacillated between enjoying it and getting distracted when it seemed to stall out a few times especially in the middle stretch of the hunt and later as Lane has to get her ducks in a row. It had uneven pacing. It rockets out the gate with an exciting start and then takes a gentler pace through the getting to know you portion, but then grinds it out during parts of their amateur investigation. The end picked up again between the suspense thread and the coming to a head of the romance conflict, then dawdled a bit getting to the resolve which was a lovely, romantic moment.
All in all, I liked it, but it isn’t one of my favorites in the series. I do hope our youngest Sterling sister gets their chance at romance now that all the brothers have been taken care of. Readers who want a small town romance, characters who face some serious struggles, and sometimes a suspenseful romance should definitely pick up this series.
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