Secrets of the Lost Summer - Carla Neggers
Released February 2012
Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth
After a friend steals her clients, the heroine in Carla Negger's Secrets of Lost Summer, Olivia Frost, returns to her hometown hoping to turn an old home into a thriving bed and breakfast. In Knights Bridge, she's dismayed to find the only other home on her remote street is littered with old appliances and overgrown shrubbery. As appearances mean everything to her business plan, she contacts the owner asking for permission to clean it up or to have him clean it up.
Dylan McCaffrey is stunned to learn he owns a home in Knights Bridge. The former hockey player has never been to the area, so he can't imagine how he came to own a home. After learning his late father, a known treasure hunter, purchased the home shortly before he died, Dylan heads to Knights Bridge to see if he can learn why his father purchased the house. This leads to a century old mystery that he becomes determined to solve.
Shortly after meeting Olivia, Dylan starts to wonder if his life in California is really what he wants. He doesn't want to tell her what he's learned about the mystery involving his home, as he's not sure who in the town knew about a crime committed in a nearby city that has ties to Knights Bridge. The longer the stays, the more he starts thinking about making Olivia a permanent part of his life, if she'd even want him around for the long run.
I love Carla Neggers books, so I do think that makes me slightly biased. I've yet to find one of her books that didn't grab me, mainly because her settings always feel personal as many books take place in towns and cities I've spent a lot of time in during my life. Secrets of Lost Summer takes place in Massachusetts, not too far from Boston. Again having a setting I know drew me into the story.
One of the things I wasn't as fond of with this story was the inclusion of stories involving Olivia's family. I honestly found myself tired of her sister's and mother's fears interrupting the main story. I understand anxiety more than many, I've dealt with panic disorder for decades, but having it repeatedly pop up with the minor characters grew tiring.
Despite that one gripe, Olivia and Dylan's romance was amazing. I enjoyed their chemistry and liked watching them work together to solve the mystery. Another character I loved was the former owner of Dylan's home, Grace Webster. She's a former Latin teacher and highly respected within the town. As she's one of the town's original residents, her insight is key to the mystery. I loved when the book would go back to Grace's days as a young woman watching her home town demolished to become a man-made reservoir to supply Boston with water. That aspect of the story really was intriguing.
Overall, even with my complaints, Secrets of the Lost Summer is a book that drew me in and held me captive until I'd read the final page. It's the perfect book to curl up near the fire and read non-stop for a few hours.