Title: Moonlight on Butternut Lake by Mary McNear
The Butternut Lake Trilogy Book Three
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
From the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Up at Butternut Lake comes the third novel in the Butternut Lake series—a dazzling story of two wounded souls seizing a second chance at life and love.
On the run from her abusive husband, Mila Jones flees Minneapolis for the safety and serenity of Butternut Lake. Ready to forge a new life, Mila’s position as home health aide to Reid Ford is more than a job. It’s a chance at a fresh start. Though her sullen patient seems determined to make her quit, she refuses to give up on him.
Haunted by the car accident that nearly killed him, Reid retreats to his brother’s cabin on Butternut Lake and lashes out at anyone who tries to help. Reid wishes Mila would just go away. . .until he notices the strength, and the secrets, behind her sad, brown eyes.
Against all odds, Mila slowly draws Reid out. Soon they form a tentative, yet increasingly deeper, bond as Mila lowers her guard and begins to trust again, and Reid learns how to let this woman who has managed to crack through his protective shell into his life. While the seemingly endless days of summer unfold, Reid and Mila take the first steps to healing as they discover love can be more than just a dream.
Moonlight on Butternut Lake is the third installment in Mary McNear’s magnificent Butternut Lake Trilogy. This latest release is a beautiful novel of healing but it is the heartwarming romance between protagonists Mila Jones and Reid Ford that makes it such an outstanding read.
Mila desperately needs to put some distance between her and her abusive husband Brandon so a temporary job at a secluded cabin is perfect for her. The only downside is her new patient, Reid, has already scared off two other home health care aides, but she is confident she can handle him. He certainly lives up to his well deserved reputation, but Mila is not intimidated by her ill-tempered patient. Despite her best efforts to coax Reid out of his self-imposed exile, he will not co-operate with her or his concerned brother, Walker. However Mila refuses to concede defeat and slowly, but surely, Reid begins to participate in everyday life. Just as their relationship deepens, Mila’s past comes back to haunt her and threatens to destroy their newfound happiness.
Mila’s childhood was anything but happy so it is understandable that she was unable to resist the attention that Brandon showered on her. There were several warning signs that she ignored before they married, but he easily charmed her into overlooking them. It did not take long for her to realize she had made a terrible mistake marrying him, but leaving him was next to impossible. Luckily she discovered a kindred spirit who recognized that Mila was in a very dire situation and she offered her the opportunity to safely escape from Brandon. Although Mila never stops looking over her shoulder, she steadily regains her confidence and she finally begins to trust again.
Reid’s childhood was just as unhappy as Mila’s and he found solace in making a success of the boat making business he co-owns with Walker. Before his car accident, Reid was a workaholic whose romantic entanglements were casual and short-lived. In the aftermath of the accident, he refuses to co-operate with his family and he is plagued with PTSD. Everyone tiptoes around him so he is stunned when Mila finally stands up to him. This becomes a turning point in his recovery, but he continues to retreat from her efforts to convince to get treatment for his PTSD. Their relationship deepens as Mila helps him cope with his nightmares and their mutual attraction catches both of them off guard.
The relationship between Reid and Mila is very uneasy in the beginning. Although Reid is gruff and reclusive, she instinctively trusts him. She is frustrated by his self-pity and ingratitude and after she calls him on it, he begins to interact with the people in his life. Reid finally takes stock of his life and once he admits it is severely lacking, he decides to make some much needed changes. This coincides with Mila’s ongoing recovery from her abusive marriage and their relationship slowly turns romantic. However, Mila has been less than forthcoming about her past and she does not see how she can possibly have a future with Reid.
Moonlight on Butternut Lake is a very touching novel that deals with some serious, true to life issues. Mary McNear handles these difficult topics with a great deal of sensitivity. The resolution of the various story arcs is unhurried and although some parts of the storyline are a little predictable, the novel is still quite enjoyable. The romance between Reid and Mila is sweet and it is such a delight watching them help one another heal the wounds of their respective pasts. This heartfelt addition to The Butternut Trilogy can be read as a standalone, but I heartily recommend the entire series.