Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Secrets of the Lost Summer: A Swift River Valley Novel by Carla Neggers

Beneath the surface lie the greatest treasures
A wave of hope carries Olivia Frost back to her small New England hometown nestled in the beautiful Swift River Valley. She’s transforming a historic home into an idyllic getaway. Picturesque and perfect, if only the absentee owner will fix up the eyesore next door…
Dylan McCaffrey’s ramshackle house is an inheritance he never counted on. It also holds the key to a generations-old lost treasure he can’t resist…any more than he can resist his new neighbor. Against this breathtaking landscape, Dylan and Olivia pursue long-buried secrets and discover a mystery wrapped in a love story…past and present.

Series: Swift River Valley #1 | Author: Carla Neggers | Publisher: Harlequin MIRA | Source: Purchased | Rating: 4 Cups

When Olivia Frost is betrayed by a friend she helped, Olivia decides it’s time to move back to her small hometown of Knights Bridge and focus on her new task at hand: transforming the historic home she purchased into a bed and breakfast. The only problem is the new owner of the house next door has let the yard turn into a dump.
When Dylan McCaffrey receives a note from Olivia asking that he clean up the house he owns, he’s curious about two things, the mysterious house he never knew he inherited and the woman who sent the letter. Determined to learn more about the house and the woman as well as his treasure-hunting father who died much too soon, he heads to Knight Bridge and discovers more than he ever intended to find out.
Secrets of the Lost Summer was my first introduction to Carla Neggers and I have to say that I was pleasantly pleased and eager to learn more about the residents of Knights Bridge.
If you’re looking for a novel that’s purely romance, perhaps Secrets of the Lost Summer is not the book for you. While it does have romance in it, it’s not dominated by it. Rather it reads as more of a small town saga with a bit of mystery thrown in.
Instead of focusing solely on Olivia and Dylan’s relationship, as the blurb on the back of the book would have you believe, the novel focuses on the relationships between Olivia’s sister and her boyfriend and her parents. As this is a small town book, it also focuses on the relationship between the residents of the town as well.
The characters:
Olivia was a hard nut to crack. She’s very tight-lipped and keeps things close to the vest so I had a hard time connecting with her at the beginning and occasionally I found her to be a bit annoying with the way she was constantly keeping things to herself. It wasn’t like it was a huge earth-shattering event. She helped a friend and the friend then betrayed her, I’m sure at some point in every woman’s life they’ve had the exact thing to happen.
Dylan was interesting, although I didn’t feel as though I got to see as much of him as I would have liked. He has a lot going on in this story. He’s slowly stepping back from his friend’s company, he’s just discovered his deceased father has left him a house as well as a mystery pertaining to missing jewels, and he’s starting to fall for Olivia.
Jess (Olivia’s sister) and her boyfriend Mark added their twist to the story. She’s afraid she’s inheriting her mother’s anxiety while wondering if her relationship with Mark is at a standstill. Mark was a bit of an odd duck—Jess is coming up with all of these travel plans and he’s like, ‘been there, done that. Don’t want to leave Knights Bridge’.
Olivia’s Parents—they added another layer to the story. Her mother is suffering with anxiety, the cause of which is revealed near the end of the book, yet she’s making these extensive travel plans. Olivia’s dad is the moral support in the story. He’s the one they turn to to talk things out.
The mystery
This book contained two mysteries: The missing jewels as well the mystery book that Grace wrote. While I did enjoy both of them, I figured them out fairly early on.
Overall, I enjoyed the start of the Swift River Valley series. The vivid description of Knights Bridge truly brought the book to life and the characters felt real
What I was a bit disappointed with was the fact that there was so much going on in the book with the various plot lines I felt the romance took a back seat. The scene changes were a bit awkward. Right when you expect to see a pivotal moment, the scene changes and when it finally goes back to the two characters, it’s the next day and the events are only mentioned in a flashback. 


The Swift River Valley Series

The Spring at Moss Hill
Red Clover Inn

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