Carla Neggers writes strong and unique main characters in Red Clover Inn. Charlotte is a tough marine archaeologist who is taking some time off to attend her cousin’s wedding … and mentally recover from a diving scare. Greg is a diplomatic security agent attending the same wedding and recovering from a gunshot wound.
I was pleasantly surprised that these two took time to develop a sturdy friendship before having a physical relationship. I enjoyed watching them maintain their cool facades – what they’re used to in their jobs – while intuitively seeing what’s really underneath in the other person. Neggers managed to write the push and pull without being annoying or cliche – outstanding!
While Charlotte and Greg leave the wedding in London and fo their separate ways, they coincidentally end up in the same inn in Massachusetts. They fall in to solving a couple of little mysteries and meeting some of the many locals who are related in convoluted ways. Neggers could have done without trying to explain how everyone was related – I skipped over those parts because they weren’t necessary to the plot, and they held me up.
I do think the writing is classic Carla Neggers – a really good plot but technically uneven. The creative storyline and intriguing characters made up for it, and I couldn’t put down my kindle because I needed to know what was happening next!
Like most of the Carla Neggers Swift River Valley novels, A Knights Bridge Christmas has beautiful descriptions of setting and a range of characters Neggers magically makes real. Even Daisy, now deceased, enamored me. Neggers hugs the reader with ice rinks and hot cocoa, mittens and hats, decorating a historical home for the holidays, and falling in love.
A bit of unnatural dialogue and a too-trusting heroine took me out of the magic here and there. Some conversations were stilted and felt thrown in as an afterthought. And Clare just blindly agreeing to Logan’s suggestions seemed totally unrealistic.
I’m always willing to overlook a few things for a holiday love story. This one includes a little mystery, a little adventure, and a happily ever after.
I love the descriptions of the setting in this most recent Neggers’ Swift River Valley novel. Snowy paths, an icy lake, views of the woods from the old farmhouse. I felt like I was there! Wine by the fire, cheese from the local dairy… I live for this stuff. Neggers does such a great job making it authentic – and I live in New England so I can vouch for that!
The plot was interesting too – long lost daughter meets long lost father, successful diplomat retires to backwoods town, hometown troublemaker makes something of himself and returns to town to the surprise of many, sole sister of five brothers wades through their protectiveness to prove herself. And there’s a romance that ends in a happily ever after. 🙂
The problem with so many good plots is that the story as a whole seems unfocused. I prefer one main plot and one or two subplots… Echo Lake had five plots fighting each other for the spotlight. It was disconcerting.
So the characters….
The alpha hero is the silent-est strong, silent type I’ve ever read, and his love interest is okay with that. The retiring diplomat is a little sappy. The house-sitter’s character isn’t quite clear to me! The five brothers are mostly in the background but well-written.
The main character, Heather, is a strong young woman, can rock sequins as well as sweatshirts, and stands up to her family when needed.
All in all I liked Echo Lake and will read the next in the series, but I’m hoping subsequent books are a bit more focused.
I think 2014 was the first year I read anything by Carla Neggers, and I’ve become a fan. I was happy to see that Neggers wrote a Christmas novella, set in the part of Massachusetts where my mother grew up.
Christmas at Carriage Hill is a contemporary romance with an old-fashioned feel. There’s an impending wedding, New England snow, ice skating, English scones, and a military man who won’t let go of his true love.
Alex and Ian dated, broke up, then ran into each other while traveling abroad for a wedding. While the plot wasn’t thoroughly fleshed out and the secondary characters were a little flat, those are acceptable in a novella. I appreciated the great scenery, the main characters, the recipes, and the happily ever after. The power of nostalgia got to me, too, as I remember visiting the Quabbin as a child.
I enjoyed this light, uplifting, Christmassy novella by a favorite author… and it’s a steal at 99¢.