Book Review | A reader happily returns to #ButternutLake in “Moonlight on Butternut Lake” by Mary McNear the 3rd novel in an expanding series with upcoming new installments in 2016/17!

Posted Wednesday, 26 August, 2015 by jorielov , , , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By:

Curious story: I participated on the “Butternut Summer” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours in 2014; wherein I was able to request reading “Up at Butternut Lake” which I received outside of the blog tour and posted my ruminations for my own edification and a review of “Butternut Summer” as part of the blog tour itself. When “Moonlight on Butternut Summer” went on tour this Spring with TLC Book Tours I missed jumping on board the blog tour by mere days, and took it upon myself to contact William Morrow directly.

Unlike other book bloggers, I tend to rely on the touring companies to bring authors and their stories to me rather than contacting publishers directly for books in exchange for honest reviews. I have become a bit more bold in requesting books directly from publishers over the past year, as I have several reviews upcoming this September where I made the enquiry myself rather than as a blogger with a touring company. When it came to the next installment of Butternut Lake, I felt it in my bones it was the right choice to extend a note to William Morrow because I have believed in this series since I first read “Up at Butternut Lake”.

Due to health reasons and severe lightning storms, the past several months have been a bit unique and my blog’s schedule has been adjusted to where most of my reviews for Spring and Summer are shifting into September or Autumn directly. During these months, as I sought to re-schedule this review, JKS Communications approached me about reviewing or interviewing the author attached to “Moonlight on Butternut Lake” which I took as a positive sign I had an extended delay! Therefore, not only can I post my review but I was able to coordinate an author Q&A about the Butternut Lake series!

I received a complimentary copy of “Moonlight on Butternut Lake” direct from the publisher William Morrow in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. I received the Press Kit Materials direct from JKS Communications to use on my review and the interview which posts in conjunction with it.

Inspired to Read: 

I originally posted this explanation on my review of “Butternut Summer” and it still is a good summary of why I fell in love with the series as a whole and why I was itching to read the then unknown title of this novel which is it’s third installment. I can add that I was hoping against hope Butternut Lake might find wings to expand past the original trilogy – especially as I hadn’t known about the novella Butternut Lake: The Night Before Christmas. I found the novella has been released in print and it is a current request through my local library’s ILL (inter-library loan) services.

On my review for Up at Butternut Lake, I discussed my general interest in reading a Contemporary Romance novel, but tonight what I wanted to share about my inspiration to read Butternut Summer is simply motivated by being stirred with such an evoking of narrative as to tempt me to devour the sequel without pausing for breath! The characters inside Up at Butternut Lake are incredibly inspiring due to the spirit of who they are individually and as a community at large. These are the types of stories that I cherish discovering as they not only encourage your spirit and heart as you read them, but they enliven your hours with such a beautiful expanse of fiction that your bubbling over in pure joy for having read them! I could not wait to dive into Butternut Summer, and it was a bit grieving to realise there would be a long wait until the conclusion of the trilogy; except to say, the small excerpt in the Appendix of this P.S. Edition truly helped provide a salve!

Book Review | A reader happily returns to #ButternutLake in “Moonlight on Butternut Lake” by Mary McNear the 3rd novel in an expanding series with upcoming new installments in 2016/17!Moonlight on Butternut Lake
by Mary McNear
Source: Direct from Publisher

Mila Jones, a young woman fleeing a dark past, has accepted a job on Butternut Lake taking care of Reid Ford, who is recovering from a car accident that nearly killed him. This is Mila’s chance for a fresh start. But Reid, brooding and embittered, does everything he can to make her quit. Mila refuses to give up.

Against all odds, Mila slowly draws Reid out. Soon they form a tentative, yet increasingly deeper, bond with each other, as well as becoming part of the day-to-day fabric of Butternut Lake itself. But the world has a way of intruding, even in such a serene place…and when Mila’s violent ex-husband becomes determined to find her, she and Reid are forced to face down the past.

Perfect for lovers of Susan Wiggs, Debbie Maccomber, and Kristin Hannah, Moonlight on Butternut Lake is a novel of courage, romance, and resilience that is to be savored and shared.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Also by this author: Up at Butternut Lake, Butternut Summer, Interview with Mary McNear

Series: Butternut Lake, Butternut Lake Trilogy


Also in this series: Up at Butternut Lake, Butternut Summer


Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945)


Published by William Morrow

on 12th May 2015

Format: P.S. Edition Paperback

Pages: 384

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The Butternut Lake Trilogy turns into a Series:

Up At Butternut Lake, No.1 (synopsis)

Butternut Summer, No.2 (synopsis)

Butternut Lake: The Night Before Christmas, Novella (synopsis)

Moonlight on Butternut Lake *this review!*

Book No.4 *releases 2016* | Book No.5 *releases 2017*

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Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #ButternutLakeSeries, #ButternutLake, and #MoonlightOnButternutLake

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Author Biography:

Mary McNear

MARY MCNEAR, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Butternut Lake series, writes her novels in a local donut shop where she sips Diet Pepsi, observes the hubbub of neighborhood life, and tries to resist the constant temptation of freshly made donuts. Mary bases her novels on a lifetime of summers spent in a small town on a lake in the northern Midwest. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, two teenage children, and a high-strung, minuscule white dog named Macaroon.

 Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

Ms McNear uses Facebook exclusively in comparison to Twitter; although I do send her tweets as I’m reading her novels on the oft chance she decides to use Twitter in the future.

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Listen an Excerpt of the Novel:

via Tantor Media

(note I found this a bit abrupt & out of order to the novel as much excerpts of audiobooks are within the first pages of Chapter 1 or shortly thereafter; this one is further inside than most)

Audio Excerpts of Books 1 + 2 via Downpour

{ I personally love Downpour as an Indie choice for Audiobooks }

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Why the writing style of McNear entices me to return to Butternut Lake:

Mary McNear has created a trilogy for readers who appreciate realistic Contemporary novels:

Her keen observational skills as a writer and her sense of continuity are strong in this beautiful companion to Up at Butternut Lake, as it did not even feel as though a year had slipped past me, but rather it was simply the next chapter in the townepeople’s lives and one that I was happy to become a part of again. Most sequels extend quite a bit past where the last volume left off, not always mind you, but they do have the tendency to have gaps but what I appreciate about the writers I regularly gravitate towards reading in succession of their serials is the way in which they have a kinetic sense of how the story of their characters want to appear in a novel. McNear is amongst the short few who have a guiding compass to perfect the timing and tone of her serial fiction.

– quoted from my book review of Butternut Summer

My Review of Moonlight on Butternut Lake:

The backstory into Mila’s life is going to be a jarring one for sure, however, at her entrance into Butternut Lake I saw a self-assured survivor whose going to champion her circumstances and take a resolute step into the future whilst not allowing her past to be vindictive of what her life can become. She has a past she wants to firmly leave behind her, but I have a good sense about how McNear writes her stories now to level out a presumption her past and Butternut Lake are on an intersect course. One that will hopefully leave Mila a bit less scarred than she is at her arrival and a lot freer to pursue a new tomorrow.

I appreciated how we segued from her arrival by bus into the transition to meeting Reid at a coffeehouse where he’s about to meet Mila; he’s in need of an aide who lives with him whilst Mila is in need of an occupation far removed from the city. They are both in transition yet I find Reid a bit more stilted towards accepting his current reality in exchange for his previous one; although trauma can affect everyone differently. I know a bit about pride and recovery, as my relations in the past spent time at rehab centers and nursing homes; mind you, they thankfully asked for help as they needed it, but I still can nearly recall echoes of other residents who were full of pride and refused any help whether it was warranted or not. It’s one thing to embrace your independence, its quite the other to accept there are moments where it is necessary to lean on others who can help aide your recovery. As soon as I met Reid I knew he falls into the category of stubborn mules but who might surprise you with a heart of gold.

Reid certainly knows how to get on the wrong side of a person’s tolerances, as his blunt honesty isn’t even tempered with kind remarks but rather the icy jaunt of a Winter’s first storm! His first conversation matched wits with Mila until he turnt the tables on her and gave her a reason to withdraw her kindness.

In an unexpected moment, my smile emerged as McNear has comic timing inside her stories to offset the seriousness of the story at hand. She makes you remember that despite the heaviness of life, there is always apt time to laugh and ways in which to encourage humour out of darkness. In this instance, it was a level of wanting to giggle inside one of Mila’s flashbacks – where we get to see what has inspired her path in healthcare. Her resilience and her aptitude to succeed were with her all along but it’s the kind-hearted guidance of everyday angels who intersected her path which made the difference.

Reid is a complicated character – you want to feel sympathy for him because he’s gone through an extreme tragic accident and yet, a part of you wishes he could find a kind courtesy to extend a semblance of grace towards those who care about him most. He’s keenly writ to exhume an wall between himself, his conscience, his memory, and the outside world. Not wanting to draw attention to what is concerning him, frightening him more like it, nor does he notice there is a similar internal conflict he’s struggling to get a hold of is also attached to Mila. They are two defiant souls attempting to circumvent what they both are not willing to face – at least, not at first.

This novel truly pushes you to the edge and then because of the intuitiveness of the writer, pulls you back to safety – it has a high level of suspense in the latter chapters, this ominous feeling that your unsure if you can handle the intensity of where the chapters are building up to the climax of what is going to happen – until you reach that moment of no return where you have to turn the page or admit your too scared to turn the page. Very few times have I reached that questioning point where I was debating if I could handle what was going to happen. McNear guides you past that point with a bit of guidance of keeping just enough hope tied to those crucial moments where you find yourself willing your fingers to turn another page and then another to see how it all ends.

Moonlight on Butternut Lake isn’t quite a Romantic Suspense novel but it has strong elements inside it that paint quite a high level of fear for the reader whose hoping for an ending they can live with once the story ends. I wasn’t disappointed if anything, I was thankful for McNear to have the foresight to include the Epilogue because within that chapter, I smiled quite blissfully at the completeness of the novel. Her skill in continuity and tying together secondary story-lines is brilliantly lovely.

Why I am overjoyed this trilogy turnt into a series:

Quite curiously, when Mum enquired where ‘Butternut Lake’ was located the night before my review was meant to go live, I curiously responded with my head tilted sideways ‘Minnesota? Isn’t it set in Minnesota?’ to which Mum replied, ‘I believe it is.’ Such is a life of a book blogger whose personal life during the Spring and Summer months has been a bit upturnt outside the ordinary where little details such as which state is Butternut Lake located in fall a bit sideways, and yet, somewhere in the deep well of my literary memory I found it’s location percolating back out of the recesses! You see, Butternut Lake feels like a Minnesota towne even without having visited this lovely place for nearly a full year come October!

It’s a series I happily shared my bookish chatterment about with Mum, who like me, appreciates a wicked good story set in a small towne! We have the tendency to take-on appreciations for the same authors and the stories which knit inside my bookish soul curl up inside hers just as readily if not ahead of my own readings! Thus we typically have mirrored personal libraries and borrow the same books right after the other at the local public library, which oft-times tickles the librarians a bit silly seeing how much our readerly habits align together!

Although I have noted there is the tendency to compare this series to another one currently adapted into a television serial, to me, the two series stand on their own outside of each other. In fact, whilst having read the first five novels of the other towne, and the first three of Butternut Lake I find myself a bit perplexed why the two are being exchanged for each other. I grant you, they both have a locale set near water and are both filled with quirky characters but there is a distinctive difference between them which altogether endears you in different ways to their characters and settings.

I will admit I have a personal preference of what I reference as ‘small towne fiction’ both in serial formats and stand-alone exploits – if there is a small towne out there, odds are in favour I will one day meet-up with it’s quirkiness and settle heartily into it’s dialogue. A quick nod towards my entreaty into my first Blessings novel is proof solid of this or my happy encounter with Coorah Creek (and my itching desire to read The Wild One) even more evident!

Small townes have a way of soaking you inside a world back-lit with a community whose focus on each other and on the humanistic side of our shared journey allow us to see the hope we all want to find in our own cities. Stirring contemporary fiction and small towne fiction equally render a realistic impression on what is happening right here and now intermixed with a fond flaire of how we hope our reality will match the mirrored reality inside a story whose community elevates the essence of being neighbourly and supportive of each other. Whichever way you find yourself tucked into Butternut Lake, odds are your next visit will be as happily devoured as your first; as I can honestly say this to be the case on my own behalf!

I simply never fathomed my little wish to see Butternut Lake expand past a trilogy might come true – then again, if I were to be truthful I never told Ms Gover I had wished against hope Coorah Creek was going to either a duology OR a bonefide series in it’s own regard because I wanted to go back to this small Outback towne and find out what had happened in my absence! The best stories set in locales like Butternut Lake and Coorah Creek or even Henry Adams, Kansas are the ones where the writers have found a way to instill such a lifeblood of honesty and compassion for humanity – you simply want more of what they can give you of the towne which as bewitched you.

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This book review is courtesy of:

William Morrow & JKS Communications

Be sure to visit my author interview with Ms McNear!

JKS Communications Reviewer Badge

Previously I shared my ruminations on behalf of Up at Butternut Lake + Butternut Summer, books one and two of the Butternut Lake series. I will happily be sharing my thoughts on behalf of the novella Butternut Lake: The Night Before Christmas this Winter whilst awaiting the fourth and fifth installments due out in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

See what I am hosting next by stopping by my Bookish Events page!

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Kindly share your thoughts on behalf of the Butternut Lake series!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Moonlight on Butternut Lake”, book synopsis, author photograph of Mary McNear and the host badge were all provided by JKS Communications and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Comment Box banner created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

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I’m a social reader | I tweet as I read:

{lightning storms notwithstanding}

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 26 August, 2015 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book | Novel Excerpt, CNAs and Home Health Aides, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Humour Therein, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Domestic Violence, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, JKS Communications: Literary Publicity Firm, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Life Shift, Medical Fiction, Minnesota, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Singletons & Commitment, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Writing Style & Voice




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