"An unwanted inheritance leads to finding a treasure he didn't know he was looking for."
Reviewed by Sandi Shilhanek
Posted February 4, 2012
For many years now Carla Neggers has been an author I
collect, and read if the mood strikes, because her books
have been hit or miss for me. However, when I saw the cover
of Secrets of the Lost Summer I knew instantly not only
would I have to have this book on my shelf, but I would have
to read it soon.
I'm very excited to say that I was immediately drawn into
the life of Olivia Frost as she moves from being an employed
graphic designer in Boston, to a small business owner in her
hometown of Knights Bridge.
One of the things that Olivia does when she moves back to
Knights Bridge is to track down the owner of the decrepit
house down the road from hers. She wants him to clean up
the yard of junk, but never really expects him to come to
town to do it himself. When he does come to town sparks
begin to ignite but can they be fanned to full out
infatuation or even perhaps long term happiness?
As Dylan McCaffrey starts to clean up the mess in the house
he unknowingly inherited he can't help but feel drawn to
Knights Bridge, Olivia, and yes, even begins to feel closer
to his now deceased father from whom he inherited the house.
Dylan's father was a treasure hunter, and he can't help but
wonder what treasure could be hiding in Knights Bridge, and
which if any of the local townspeople are crucial to
uncovering the treasure.
There are many layers to SECRETS OF THE LOST SUMMER. Each
character is well written and easy to imagine standing
beside you as part of your daily life. While the story does
focus primarily on Olivia and Dylan the secondary characters
are full bodied, and add to the story without stealing the
I'm not a keeper of books, but I do think if I kept
something I would keep... SECRETS OF THE LOST SUMMER would
be one of those I would keep if I had the space.
New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers
returns to her contemporary romance roots with a
heartwarming tale of riches lost and found.
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. Sheâ€™s transforming a historic home into an idyllic
getaway. Picturesque and perfect, if only the absentee owner
will fix up the eyesore next doorâ€¦.
Dylan McCaffreyâ€™s ramshackle house is an inheritance he
never counted on. It also holds the key to a generations-old
lost treasure he canâ€™t resistâ€¦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 storyâ€¦past and present.
ExcerptOlivia Frost dribbled water from a measuring cup onto herb
seedlings lined up in tiny pots on the windowsill above her
kitchen sink. Parsley, dill, rosemary. The window looked out
on the alley behind her Boston Back Bay apartment but
received enough sunlight to grow a few herbs.
No sunlight today, she thought, setting the cup in the sink.
Just when New Englanders hoped they could put away their
hats, gloves and boots, March had decided to turn into a
lion again. The weather forecast promised the dreaded
"wintry mix" by early afternoon.
Olivia sighed at the fresh green of the herbs. She
didn't hate winter but she was ready for spring. March
had less than two weeks to turn into a lamb and usher in
April showers and May flowers. She couldn't wait to
drive out to the hills and quiet back roads of Knights
Bridge, her out-of-the-way hometown west of Boston, and
plant her herbs at the early nineteenth-century house
she'd bought last fall. The purchase had felt impulsive,
but the owners, desperate to make a quick sale, had offered
her a great deal. She had never been one for extravagant
spending and kept her expenses as low as possible in Boston.
Instead, she had saved her money and was able to snap up her
historic house, as picturesque as her hometown itself.
Except for the eyesore just up the road, but that was a
problem for another day.
She had enough problems for today.
"Challenges," she said aloud, turning from the sink.
"Challenges, not problems."
She was already dressed for work, opting for a black skirt
and blue merino sweater. She'd add what she needed to
accommodate the weather, but she had a client luncha
critical client lunchand wanted to dress less casually
than when she knew she'd be holed up at her desk all day.
She'd been too keyed up to sit at the table for
breakfast, instead downing coffee and a bowl of oatmeal with
walnuts at the sink. She liked her apartment, even if it was
small and overlooked an alley. When she'd moved to the
city five years ago, she had talked her landlord into
letting her paint the walls and woodwork, choosing cozy,
cheerful colorsmisty-greens, rosy-pinks, summer-cloud
whitesto offset the dreary light. On her way home from
work last night, she'd picked up a dozen pink tulips and
divided them between two glass pitchers and placed one on
the kitchen table and the other on the dresser in her bedroom.
Tulips and herbs. Olivia smiled to herself. All would be well.
With a deep breath, she walked through the adjoining living
room. The wood floor and her sofa were stacked with books on
herbs, artisan soap-making, landscaping, old houses and
painting furniture. All winter, she had half dreamed, half
plotted how she could convert her historic house into a
destination for weddings, showers, lunches and small one-day
conferenceseventually, perhaps, into an overnight getaway.
She hadn't thought of her notes and plans as
distractions, but maybe they were. Maybe, in part, they were
the reason today's lunch was so critical.
She reached into the closet by the front door and
reluctantly got out her scarf and coat, a full-length blend
of black wool and cashmere that she planned to wear for
years. She skipped gloves. She didn't care about sleet,
snow and freezing rain. It was mid-March, and she wasn't
Her iPhone dinged and she saw she had an email from Marilyn
Bryson, another graphic designer and one of her best friends.
Hey, Liv. I can't get together while I'm in town
after all. I'm so busy these days I can hardly breathe!
I love what I'm doing. I look forward to getting up
every morning. I can't wait to go to work.
Olivia noticed Marilyn didn't mention when they might
get together or ask about her, but she pushed back any
disappointment and typed a quick response.
Glad to hear all is well. Have a fun time!
That was diplomatic, she decided, glancing in the small
mirror she had positioned by the door after reading a book
on feng shui. Her dark, shoulder-length hair was still
slightly damp from her shower. She'd fussed with her
makeup more than usual, but it was still understated. She
would have to remind herself to put on fresh lip gloss
before her lunch.
With another deep breath, she headed out, making her way
down the steps of her building, a former single-family
house, to Marlborough Street. Gray clouds had descended over
the city, but there was no precipitation yet. Olivia tried
to focus on her familiar routine. Her lunch was with Roger
Bailey of Bailey Architecture and Interior Design, her
biggest client. Something was off in their recent
communications, and she was worried he was about to jump
ship and had scheduled a face-to-face meeting.
The wind picked up as she walked to her building, a
five-story brick bowfront just past Copley Square. Roger
wanted to refresh the look for his company and she
assumedno, she thought, he'd told
herthat he wanted her to take on the job. Landing his
Boston-based firm as a client two years ago had been her
first high-profile achievement as a graphic designer, and
her work for them had won awards. She and Roger had hit it
off from the start. Losing him as a client wouldn't be good.
Jacqui Ackerman, the slim, fifty-four-year-old owner of
Ackerman Design, one of Boston's most prestigious
studios, greeted Olivia with a quick "good morning,"
then disappeared into her first-floor office. Olivia tried
not to read anything into Jacqui's behavior. She could
be in a hurry. She could have a client on hold.
Olivia walked back to her own office and switched on her
computer as she pulled off her coat and scarf. She had
several small projects that she could clear off her desk
this morning, and she'd go over her Bailey Architecture
and Interior Design files before lunch, so that everything
would be fresh in her mind when she met with Roger.
Three hours later, as Olivia reached for her coat to head to
her lunch with Roger, she received a text message from his
secretary: Roger has an unexpected conflict and can't
make lunch. He apologizes and will call tomorrow.
Olivia stood frozen by the coatrack. The secretary
couldn't call? Did that mean the cancellation wasn't
that big a dealor that it was a huge deal?
In the past, Roger would have called or texted himself.
"This can't be good," Olivia said under her breath.
Bailey Architecture and Interior Design was not only her
biggest and most prestigious client, it was one of the
biggest and most prestigious for the studio. The last thing
Jacqui would want would be for a defection of that magnitude
to start a stampede out the door.
Taking a moment to pull herself together, Olivia put her
coat on, anyway, then finally texted the secretary back: You
caught me just in time. Thanks, and let Roger know I look
forward to speaking with him.
She slid her iPhone into her handbag and left, grateful that
she didn't run into Jacqui or anyone else she knew. It
was just as well Marilyn couldn't get together while she
was in town. Olivia had to admit she was too preoccupied
with her own problems and wasn't in the mood to see her
friend. Marilyn had worked hard to revitalize her own
graphic design careerwith Olivia's help. Marilyn
had been stuck at a mediocre agency in Providence. She
hadn't been bringing in clientsnever mind top
clientsand her work hadn't been setting anyone on
fire. Last fall, she had asked Olivia's advice on how to
break through, and together they had mapped out a Marilyn
Bryson career revitalization plan.
It worked, too, Olivia thought as she crossed the street and
walked toward Copley Square, not even certain where she was
going. The wind was biting, bringing with it sprays of cold
rain mixed with sleet. She pulled her scarf over her head
and tucked in her chin, rushing with a small crowd across
From November to mid-January, Marilyn had called almost
every day and often emailed throughout the day and into the
evening. She was focused, determined, hardworking and open
to constructive criticism and advice from wherever she could
get them. Olivia had admired her friend's resilience,
her insights, her dedication to her work.
"When I'm successful," Marilyn would
say, "I'm getting all new friends."
A joke, of course. An irreverent way for her to deal with
her uncertain situation. She and Olivia had met at a graphic
design and digital media conference in Boston not long after
Olivia had started at Ackerman Design and had been friends
Not only did Marilyn revitalize her career, she opened her
own studio in February, immediately wowing everyone. It was
as if she had reached critical massa tipping
pointand her success only brought more success. No
longer in need of advice and moral support, enormously busy
with her work, she got in touch with Olivia less and less
frequently and took longer to respond when Olivia initiated
contact. Visits to Boston and invitations to Providence for
late-into-the-evening brainstorming ended. By early March,
Olivia realized their friendship was in a lull if not in
jeopardy, and she backed off, letting Marilyn take the lead.
Nothing happened. Marilyn disappeared, until the email two
days ago that she would be in Boston this week and would
love to get together. Then came this morning's email,
Olivia turned into the wind on Newbury Street and half
wished she'd woken up with a sore throat and had just
stayed home and planted more herbs, but it wouldn't have
changed anything. She continued down the block, finally
reaching one of her favorite restaurants. She descended
concrete steps to a small open-air terrace that in warm
weather would be filled with diners. It was empty now, a few
handfuls of salt and sand scattered on the concrete. The
interior of the restaurant, however, was crowded with people
who had braved the lousy weather.
Lowering her scarf, Olivia pushed open the glass door. She
would enjoy a pleasant lunch by herself and think about how
to restart her own career if Roger defected. She
couldn't deny reality any longer. He was on his way out.
The signs were there.
The cold, wet wind followed her inside as the door shut
behind her. Then again, maybe she'd just never mind her
high-stress, competitive career for an hour and think about
her herb garden and the color scheme for her house in
Knights Bridge. She had never been one to stay in a rotten
mood for long. Even if she wasn't as super-hot as
she'd been two years ago, she was still an established,
respected designer. Designers and studios lost clients all
the time. It was the nature of the business. Why should she
She unbuttoned her coat and pulled off her scarf. She was
looking forward to warming up with a pasta sampler plate and
salving her wounded ego with a glass of Chianti.
The bartender, a slender, black-haired man, waved to her as
he filled three glasses in front of him with red wine. The
restaurant was narrow, with small tables lined up along a
brick wall on one side and a dark-red painted plaster wall
on the other, both walls decorated with inviting
black-framed prints of Tuscany. Five years ago, Olivia had
celebrated her first night in Boston at a table in the far
corner. She hadn't known if she would last six months in
her graphic design job, but she was still there, still working.
She noticed that the far-corner table was open, but as she
started to take off her coat, her gaze fell on a man and a
woman seated across from each other halfway down the brick wall.
Olivia didn't need to look twice. The woman had her back
to the entrance, but Olivia recognized Marilyn Bryson from
her glistening pale hair and the way her hands moved when
she was animated and trying to make a point. The man was
even easier. He faced the entrance where Olivia was
standing, coat half off. She only needed a glimpse to
recognize stocky, gray-haired Roger Bailey.
She was positive that Roger and Marilyn hadn't seen her.
They couldn't see her.
Olivia had never been good at the small social lie and knew
she couldn't come up with one now, under pressure.
Instead, she mumbled something unintelligible to the
bartender, then fled, pushing past a couple coming through
the door. Ignoring the icy conditions, she raced up the
steps back out to the street.
Out of sight of anyone in the restaurant, she adjusted her
scarf and debated her options. Just go back to work? How
could she? She'd have to tell Jacqui what she'd just
Unless Jacqui already knew.
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