Mulberry Moon (Mystic Creek #2)
Jove / January 3, 2017 / $7.99 print & digital
For Sissy Sue Bentley, childhood wounds—particularly living with an alcoholic father—have made her wary of attachments to men. She’s doing just fine on her own and she doesn’t need help, thank you very much. There is one man though, Ben Sterling, that has her taking notice, if not of him, then his gorgeous dog Finnegan. Catherine Anderson has a way of describing the relationships between people and animals that melts the hardest heart. And friendly Finn is a bachelor’s best asset.
Walking to his vehicle, he saw his dog, Finnegan, watching him through the back cab window. Eight months old, the blue merle Australian shepherd had the mottle of black, gray, and white fur common to blues…He bounced from side to side on the bench seat, acting as if he’d been alone for hours.
Ben made his fortune on the rodeo circuit but at the age of thirty, he hung up his spurs and returned to his ranch. For a guy who grew up in a large, noisy family, a rambling, empty house felt pretty lonely.
Finn had provided the perfect antidote, snuggling with Ben in the recliner while he watched TV or read novels, always eager to play, barking joyously, and offering a warm presence beside him in bed at night. Hello, when a man couldn’t find Miss Right, no matter how hard he searched, sometimes he had to settle for companionship from a four-legged friend. There were worse fates than being loved by a dog.
Not that Ben is searching very hard, because he has his heart set on a “petite woman with cropped dark hair, blue eyes that dominated her heart-shaped face, and a figure that was perfection on a small scale.” Sissy is devoted to the Cauldron, her small restaurant, and works tirelessly to make it a success—to the extent of serving up fresh eggs laid in her backyard coop—but try as he might to be friendly she treats Ben “as if he had a contagious disease.” She serves him meals but that’s about it. Trust Catherine Anderson to find an ice-breaker with animals at its heart to get a harried owner/chef out from behind the stove.
Just then Ben saw her dart from behind the coop in pursuit of a brown hen. She lunged at her target, slipped, and did a belly flop on the ground. Ben winced. The lady had been unfriendly to him in the past, greeting his polite overtures with icy disdain. He owed her nothing and almost made a U-turn. But the fowl had fled in all directions…
Poor Sissy is wary of Ben but she is in a pickle. He wants nothing more than to reassure her.
She gestured at the fleeing chickens and cried, “Nobody ever told me they can fly! What kind of hatchery sells chicks to people without telling them that?”
Ben wondered if this was a trick question. “Um, well, they are birds. Right?”
She placed her fine-boned hands on her hips. “Not all birds can fly. Penguins, for instance! And emus! Name me one time you saw a chicken soaring in the sky!”
Ben struggled not to grin.
Doesn’t Ben and Sissy’s repartee remind you of the banter between Linda Howard’s feisty ranch couple, Reese Duncan and his bride Madelyn Patterson? Mulberry Moon reminded me of Duncan’s Bride because the struggles between both couples were so elemental. Financial reversals, accidents, inclement weather, and the strong ties and impact of family are themes that are woven through Mulberry Moon.
Sissy tells Ben, after they come to an agreement that Ben will build her chickens a coop in exchange for Sissy’s delicious meals, that “God must have a sense of humor.” Why? Because Ben isn’t her type—but Ben calls her out on that.
“I get the feeling that I am your type, and that’s why you act like a porcupine around me, because I scare you.”
Sissy and Ben have this amusing discussion under the glow of a September full moon, called a mulberry moon by Native Americans. The name possibly has something to do with the fermented berries of mulberries but more to the point, it’s famous for the legend that “any man and woman who stand together under a mulberry moon are destined to fall in love and live happily ever after. Mulberry Moon is a warm, engaging book with which to start off a new year of reading.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Mulberry Moon by Catherine Anderson, available January 3, 2017:
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Janet Webb aka @JanetETennessee moved from the San Francisco Bay to eastern Tennessee. Baseball is my passion: I follow the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Nashville Sounds (farm team of my beloved Oakland Athletics). Social media devotee. Stories on royals and politics catch my eye. Ottawa born. Grew up on Georgette Heyer and Helen MacInnes. I also review at Criminal Element.