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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Secrets of the Lost Summer by Carla Neggers

Secrets of the Lost Summer by Carla Neggers
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (373 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

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.

Curiosity about others’ secrets just keeps niggling sometimes--even when we know “we all have a right to our secrets”.

Olivia Frost’s simple letter to an absentee owner of property near her sets in motion curiosities and sends ripples of unease through some people in the picturesque community of Knights Bridges in New England—not the least of whom is the ninety plus-year-old Grace Webster, the now-retired English and Latin teacher of Knights Bridge.

Carla Neggers acquaints the reader with intriguing, complex characters that cope with their secrets and needs in ways that tease the senses and stir emotions into a restlessness that whets curiosity and keeps one turning pages. Even the secondary characters have secrets—some who are dead left secrets that influence lives even now.

Olivia Frost almost forgets her own self-worth and forgets to help herself as she helps a “friend” who takes advantage of Olivia’s energy, talent, and goodwill. This life-changing experience turns Olivia’s life in a new direction. She ventures out to try to make her dream for The Farm at Carriage Hill come true. In so doing, she ushers in the breathtaking, bigger-than life Dylan McCaffrey.

When millionaire Dylan McCaffrey gets a letter about property he doesn’t know he owns his curiosity is piqued. He wonders not only about the property but also about the woman who wrote the letter and why his deceased, treasure-hunter father bought the property when he was a confirmed nomad. His curiosity takes him from Coronado, California to New England. His straightforward thinking, ability to read people and his integrity make him invaluable to his genius partner Noah Kendrick and serve him well in his sojourn at Knights Bridge. He quickly notes that some of the people there feel threatened by his interests. He deems it wise to not underestimate them—besides he is not sure he wants to dig deep enough to learn the truth about why Duncan McCaffrey had invested in property in a place like Knights Bridge.

Dylan does know that his feelings for Olivia are not a fleeting attraction. It is an intangible that seems to have a life of its own—intense, exciting, unrelenting in its demand to be nurtured.

The psychological hang-ups, emotional needs, and coping devices of the many characters keep the things in a whirl (even Buster, Olivia’s dog his share). The anxieties, fears, and longings drive the actions of Olivia’s mother, and sister Jess. How they cope makes enthralling reading. Even the paper with colored dots on it becomes meaningful.

However, one of the most captivating characters is Grace Webster. How she copes and has coped through the years is amazing. Her book that is locked away tells a poignant story—a story that started in the 1930s but entangles lives of the now. What Dylan learns from her is not English or Latin. It’s an incredible, heart-touching love story and story of displacement.

Carla Negger’ exquisite writing style, her ability to create lifelike characters, and a many-layered plot make Secrets of the Lost Summer mesmerizing. With skilled use of wry humor, intense undercurrent romance, and titillating mystery, engaging dialogue, and setting that is somewhat of a character in itself, Ms. Neggers weaves together an irresistible tale. Splendid reading!