Crystal Malloy is near her breaking point. Her beloved grandfather constantly skirts the rules at the retirement center where he's recovering from surgery. She's caring for his escape artist dog, even if it means abandoning her salon customers, and she has no time for a romantic attraction to the handsome new stranger.
After Tanner's reassigned to Mystic Creek, Crystal can no longer ignore how much she misjudged the man's good intentions. She has known too much sorrow to easily open her heart, but she can't deny that Tanner and his children could gift her with a happiness beyond compare--if only she can forgive herself for the past and accept that she's deserving of such a love.
Comment: Although the previous three books in this Mystic Creek series by Catherine Anderson haven't been as spectacular as I imagined, I feel curious still about the characters and I pre ordered this installment as well. This month, I decided to finally get to it.
In this most recent story, we meet Crystal Malloy, a 32 year old woman who works in a salon and whose life is quite busy now that her grandfather, the man who took her when she was a child, has gone to a care room to rest while he recovers from a fall. The problem is that the facility rules are too much to a man used to living independently and when he asks a friend to help him, both are in trouble.
However, this propels Crystal to get to know Tanner Richards more and they seem to hit it off quite well. But Crystal has also her grandfather's dog to take care of, she has her past as a huge deterrent to avoid relationships... will Crustal be able to feel she is worthy of love after all?
I must say I enjoyed reading this book much more than the previous installments in the series. I've gotten the feeling, with every new book by the author, that what made me appreciate her voice and writing style when I "discovered" her, no longer seems to captive me.
I used to love how her characters were wary of being too close to someone - namely the heroines - because of some issue about their bodies or their emotional state but with time, caring and love, the heroes would help the heroines see they were as beautiful as they deserved. But as the books have gone by, the stories became more and more sugary and the interactions too silly and almost childish to bear.
I feared this book would follow along the same lines but thankfully, my final impression wasn't so.
What I liked best about this story was how the relationship between Crystal and Tanner developed. Although there didn't seem to be much (convincing) passion between then, the emotional bonding felt realistic and I was very happy for them.
Both their personalities seemed to mesh quite well. I admit I focused more on Crystal, she has had a terrible experience in her past and it's a wonder her attitude wasn't even more fragile and that her mind state wasn't more affected.
Tanner is a widow but it seems time has helped see the good things and not being too concentrated on the loss. His children were cute as well.
There's also a secondary love story with Crystal's grandfather Tuck and a woman from the facility he's recovering in. Kudos for the romance with people above their 70s but it was a bit too obvious... or maybe I'm just being picky because the dialogues seemed so...unlikely. Lol, perhaps I'm just not around couples that age who share intimate conversations like theirs.
The author has also introduced some themes to enrich the story. Some I liked reading about, they made me think about issues not usually people even remember (like the older couple's relationships and so on) but others I felt the way they were presented are too biased. Do people really think like that?
I'm thinking about people being ok with giving alcohol drinks to dogs. This made me think that in Oregon there are people who find it cute dogs can drink beer at will? Ok, that was fiction but the impression wasn't very positive.
I also found some character's opinions or ways of talking about something very condescending and sometimes it felt they didn't understand the severity of the situation or the things they discussed.
I feel the HEA wasn't as amazing as it could be. Or maybe the path towards it wasn't as romantic (despite the exchanging of letters and the sharing special moments) as it could which influenced the way things happened. Nevertheless, I had a great time with this book and that counts a lot.