cover image The Inn on Mirror Lake

The Inn on Mirror Lake

Debbie Mason. Forever, $8.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-1-5387-2063-9

Mason returns to the picture-perfect town of Highland Falls, N.C., for the fourth time (after Falling in Love on Willow Creek) in this high-stakes contemporary. Ellie MacLeod fights to help her grandfather keep control of the family’s historic Mirror Lake Inn, even as her mother works to sell the property to an investor. Meanwhile, her friend Nate Black, an undercover agent with the State Bureau of Investigation, is determined to avenge his best friend’s death. Love isn’t at the top of the list for either Nate or Ellie—but with Ellie’s mother using increasingly drastic tactics to fight for the inn, the pair agree to fake date, reasoning that Ellie’s mother will be less likely to “mess with” Ellie with the law on her arm. But as their faux romance turns all too real, Mason ramps up Ellie’s family drama and delivers plot twists aplenty in Nate’s investigation. She anchors these dramatic turns with strong character development while sensitively handling the topic of domestic violence in a fraught subplot involving Ellie’s sister. It’s a lot to pack into one volume, but Mason pulls it off, and she also finds time to gratify series readers by checking in on the happy couples of previous installments. Small-town romance fans will be thrilled. Agent: Pamela Harty, Knight Agency. (Mar.)