Friday, February 1, 2019

Catherine Anderson - Strawberry Hill

As a camp cook, Vickie Brown loves feeding any size crowd in the great outdoors--with one notable exception. She never would have predicted she'd join the crew led by gruff cowboy Slade Wilder, the man who broke her heart just days before their wedding.
Life has gone on since Vickie left him, but Slade can admit his attraction to the one woman he's ever loved remains stronger than ever. If he wasn't in such desperate need of an experienced cook for his paying guests, he would send Vickie packing. He knows better than to seek out the company of the woman who broke off their engagement so many years ago.
Except there's no escaping each other in the confines of the wilderness area, especially once their anger begins to soften in the shared close quarters. But after Vickie finds the courage to confront Slade, it will take a leap of faith for them to put their past behind him, even if it's the only way to recapture their once-in-a-lifetime love.

Comment: I've liked this author's book for a while and this is the most recent installment in her current Mystic Creek series so, of course I'd be interested in reading it too. However, I feel this book or the content of it wasn't well thought in general.

In this book the protagonist is Slade, a man who has his ranch and his friends but who didn't have a big support from his family and who also lost the love of his life after a bad break up around 40 years ago.
Vicky had what she thought great reasons to break up with Slade but after all this time and with a son she never told Slade about, she decides it's time to get some things straight, and for that she applies to a position Slade put on craigslist to find a cook for the camps his ranch organizes for clients who want to spend some time around real nature.
Can these two overcome a mistake such a long time ago and still find common ground to grasp the happiness once denied to them?

My favorite book by this author is My Sunshine, from 2005. I started liking the author's books much later than that and the trend I saw in her books is that all her heroines had suffered some kind of trauma or had some disability. The "fun" part was to see them overcome that and be happy with an understandable hero.
However, I've also noticed that from around 2010, her books still have a sweet romance developing but they aren't as romantically done and the surrounding plot/secondary action/etc isn't as compelling. It just seems what made her books so amazing for me is slowly disappearing. I can't explain why but it's a feeling I can't avoid and that reflects on my enjoyment of her stories.

I also think that happened here. There is the inclusion of some situations that can be quite reliable for those who live in the Oregon area (where most of her stories are set in) but they are often weird somehow too.
In this book's case, I failed to be impressed by why Slade and Vicky were separated for more than 40 years due to pride and miscommunication. If this book had been intended to be an angsty ridden plot, then the feelings exploited could have been more understandable... but because this is a romance, it just feels so pointless to let so long happen. Then, if we were talking about 14 years, there would still be time to fix things but it's 40, which means the main characters are in their 60s and although I have nothing against love rekindled in such an age group, it's not what I like to read the most about.

I won't include spoilers but let's just say there are many secrets to uncover between these two namely the fact Vicky had a son and Slade was not made aware. This is something we find in chapter 2 and despite understandable why some information got lost I just an't accept the fact Vicky wouldn't have found another way to tell him if she really wanted. Apart from this vital information, there are other stuff going on but the thing is: the whole book is for them to get used to each other again, the pace is very slow, and I meant it, but the resolution of the 40 years of separation and doubts is solved only in the epilogue. A resolution we are made aware of but don't see happening!!!!
This means thew more than 400 pages were spent on vague and random things which could have fit a novella instead! Very pointless, I felt.

Let it be said as well that part of those 462 pages (according to my edition) were also dedicated to a secondary character, Wyatt (Slade's foreman at the ranch) and Erin (Slade's cop niece). Again, I would say it's sweet to see them interact but it's all on the friendship base so apart from having the first scenes with them, nothing really happens. I assume their story will be further developed but in this book it wouldn't have been necessary of the author really wanted to stay focused on the main couple.

I think it was really a pity this story went the way it did. It had so many interesting elements (namely about ranch life, the wildlife protection, mainly regarding wild bears and how to deal with them) but all the stalling lost on the main couple's reunion and the promising but unsolved secondary romance just made this book feel like a division between two different stories and my interest wasn't always very high. 
Back to what I said at first, it doesn't give me the same "vibe" of her older stories which seemed to be more romance oriented and even the character's pasts/obstacles were deal with in a much more definitive manner. I still like her overall style and I really hope the next one can be much better.
Grade: 5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment