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!
You know when you start a book and it’s just terrible? And you try to decide whether it’s a Did Not Finish, or whether you’ll stick it out? I’m experiencing that with this book right now.
First, though we rarely write reviews where we don’t recommend a book, I really can’t recommend this book UNLESS you really want a nice, New England-y story and you don’t care about the writing so much.
From the beginning Neggers pushes anxiety, worry and fear. I had no idea why everyone was running around scared, why a private investigator was hired, why certain characters showed such contrived reluctance to be transparent. Then when I finally sorted it all out, I was still confused why Neggers made such a big deal out of some very little issues.
Anyway, this book needs a rewrite. It could use streamlining, some re-organization, and some changes in how it begins. Big edits.
I’m sticking with it (currently at 60%) because I like to know how books end. And despite the disorder, I’m sort of invested in a couple of characters. 🙂
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¢.
It’s kind of funny – when I love a book and it’s perfect for me, the review is easy and fun to write. But when I am ambivalent, a review is much more difficult to write. My sentences don’t flow as well, my organization is off. So, the writing of this review reflects some of the disjointedness I perceived in Cider Brook.
Cider Brook got me curious about pirates and the Quabbin and all kinds of New England history that I’ve never been interested in before. I wished for more facts and some closure regarding the pirate part of the story. I loved the reserved personalities of Samantha and Justin. I got a kick out of the vocabulary – words like “parse” make me happy. As a fellow New Englander, I recognized many of the places mentioned in the book, and enjoyed the local flavor.
The love story was just okay. There was chemistry, there was banter, there was flirtation, but there wasn’t a whole lot of substance. There’s a happy ending, but for two people who kept their feelings hidden, they certainly surprised the reader getting from point A to point C, bypassing point B. It just wasn’t believable.
There were also too many characters, in my estimation, but that could be because I didn’t read the series from the beginning. The only other flaw was that I felt like the story set me up for a romantic suspense… But it wasn’t really a suspense novel at all. Again, maybe I’d have been better off reading from the beginning of the series. 🙂
All in all, I did enjoy the writing, plot, and characters, but the story development just didn’t flow for me.