cover image New Leaf

New Leaf

Catherine Anderson. Signet, $7.99 mass market (416p) ISBN 978-0-451-41835-7

Anderson returns to Mystic Creek with an uneven contemporary romance that’s disappointingly similar in plot to the first book in the series, Silver Thaw. Mystic Creek is a warm and friendly town in the Pacific Northwest, and among its most prominent citizens is Barney Sterling, the handsome deputy sheriff. He investigates a report of inappropriate behavior and finds the usually unassuming Taffeta Brown getting rid of all her frustrations by dancing up a storm in the privacy of her room, not realizing her seductive moves are visible through the curtains and have been scandalizing the neighbors. Taffeta’s new to town; she runs a health store and dreams of one day regaining custody of the daughter she lost in a bitter legal battle with her dissolute ex-husband. Desperate to rehabilitate her reputation, she takes advantage of Barney’s interest in her and proposes to him. When kindhearted Barney realizes how much Taffeta needs him, he agrees to marry her. The warmhearted Sterlings specialize in assisting women in jeopardy, but Taffeta needs to put her own effort into figuring out whether she can save her child and make her marriage work. Anderson manufactures conflict rather than fleshing out her plot with fully drawn characters, but she does know how to tug the heartstrings. Agent: Steve Axelrod, Axelrod Agency. (Jan.)