Strawberry Hill is the 5th book in the Mystic Creek Series by Catherine Anderson!
The first thing you need to know is that Strawberry Hill is actually classified as contemporary women's fiction, according to Amazon.
Amazon also classifies this book as "Family Life" and "Domestic Life". And because of all of these classifications, you should know that while there is some romance in this story, there's more than romance happening.
And that's what we find when we read this book, more than one story throughout.
The main characters of this story are Vickie Brown and Slade Wilder. And yes a chunk of the story is about them, but this book also is about Erin and Wyatt.
Erin is a deputy for Mystic Creek and Wyatt is a ranch foreman for Slade. There are complete chapters about these two. Complete chapters that are only about Erin and Wyatt and the dynamics that are happening between them.
You will find that the next book is actually about their romance, but it doesn't happen till then. Check out Huckleberry Lane for their full story!
As this book was published in 2018, there's only one book cover to look for!!
There're no sexual details to worry about at all. It's completely clean.
This is a full length novel with no cliffhangers and has over 490 pages. So it's not an easy read so be finished in one sitting.
Anderson uses a lot of flowery language to describe the scenery and the landscape that the characters are in. And that makes for longer chapters.
Because this book has basically 2 sets of main characters, I'll tell you about Slade and Vickie first.
Slade and Vickie were high school sweethearts and even got to the point where they almost married. But due to a terrible fight and a lie that went with it, Vickie took off just before they got married.
And then lived a hard life of hardship and basically poverty.
And she had Slade's son.
So when she sees an ad for a camp cook for Slade's outfit, she decides that it's time that he manned up and owned up to the fact that he had a son.
Now, when she finds out about this cook position, it's been 40+ years that she's seen or heard from Slade. 40 years!!
So both of these main characters are well into their 60s. Now I know that love can find anyone, but usually romance stories are about characters in their younger years with a life ahead of them to enjoy! That's what most readers anticipate anyway.
But not this story.
Vickie may be older but she's still young at heart and is a force to be reckoned with.
What I thought was a bit much was that she believed this lie that someone else told her instead of believing Slade, for 40 years, she continued to believe this lie.
When she heads up to this camp to be the cook, she's determined to get back at Slade for not being a father to her son, Brody. So she devises a plan, with the help of her daughter, to play practical jokes on Slade while at camp.
Only one goes horribly wrong and his whole tent burns down. He gets back at her and then finally the truth comes out as to why.
They did finally get together, but that was only after the liar that lied in the first place owned up to those lies. That was an interesting scene.
And then there was Erin and Wyatt.
They play a huge role in this book too, but in the same storyline. Usually in romances, you have story loops that enable us to read about upcoming characters and what kind of role they might play.
But this took things to a whole new level.
There were whole chapters about just Erin and Wyatt and their budding romance. They never even so much as held hands but the beginning of their story in this book, not in the next book, book 6, Huckleberry Lane.
And this story is left hanging.
The whole book is not a cliffhanger, the story about Slade and Vickie comes to a complete conclusion even with a fun epilogue that shares with us "what happened after" kind of thing!
But it leaves Erin's and Wyatt's story for us to continue in the next book.
There are aspects of this book that I liked and that I didn't like.
I thought it was tender and sweet how Vickie and Slade finally found each other after so many years and after some heated discussions, they were finally able to bury the hatchet and get back together again.
I liked the beginning of the romance between Erin and Wyatt. It's very promising and very intriguing! I'm looking forward to reading more in the next book.
What I didn't like was how this book was formatted. To have whole chapters about Erin's and Wyatt's budding romance that had nothing to do with Slade and Vickie made the story very disjointed and unfocused.
Just as you were getting to enjoy anything about either couple, the story would switch to the other. So you really didn't get to know either really well at all.
And then right at the end, when Slade and Vickie decide that they want to be together again, the story just ends. You have the epilogue that gives us the "what happened after" but that didn't go into detail about what happened when Slade was introduced to Brody or any of the other issues that this couple had.
They were just resolved without any page time.
Don't get me wrong, the story is well written. The characters are interesting and captivating! But I don't feel like I got to know them very well. There was too much time focused on Erin and Wyatt to really be able to understand Slade and Vickie and who their characters were and why they did what they did.
Check out the other books in the Mystic Creek Series:
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