When I was in high school pondering what I wanted to be when I grew up, my first choice was always a librarian. I loved books and wanted to help other people love books too. Sadly, no college I was accepted to had a library science program and I ended up becoming a geographer and catalogued maps instead of books.
So when I had an opportunity to read and review the new Swift River Valley romance by Carla Neggers, That Night on Thistle Lane, the unfulfilled librarian in me jumped for joy and couldn't wait to get my copy.
This second book of the series centers on Phoebe O'Dunn, a small town librarian in Knights Bridge, Massachusetts. Phoebe has been living a happy if somewhat unfulfilled life and she makes a last-minute decision to attend a costume ball in Boston. She figures no one will recognize her with a mask and a wig, not even her sister who also is attending the ball. The costume she choses is one of several that she unearthes in a long-forgotten attic room in the library. For one night she becomes a princess, not just a librarian.
Phoebe never expects that she would be swept off her feet by a dashing swashbuckler, one who comes complete with someone spying on him and reporting back to someone else via cell phone from the coat room. The spy even includes a detailed description of the dress she is wearing as the swashbuckler's dance partner. Sadly after one dance her partner disappears and she returns home.
Days after the party Phoebe is still reeling from the excitement of the ball and her head is full of questions concerning her mystery dance partner and why someone would be spying on him. She also has to figure out what to do about the hidden room with the beautiful costumes. With all this to keep in mind, she has very little time to wonder why millionaire Noah Kendrick is dog sitting for her good friend Olivia, but she does have enough time to notice that there is something very familiar about Noah. She just can't figure out what it is.
Noah Kendrick needs a vacation. His California business had made him rich, but now he is ready to step down and let someone else take over. Somehow a climbing a mountain with an ex-NHL player is not much of a vacation. Neither is attending a charity ball dressed as a swashbuckler, but that at least yields him a dance with a princess. Dylan and Olivia swear they didn't know who she is, but he isn't so sure they are telling the truth.
It's been a long time since a woman caught his eye, but this one certainly leaves an impression. Too bad that guy stalking him shows up, distracts him and lets the princess get away. A gut feeling tells him that his princess was not truly lost and that perhaps a trip to Knights Bridge and Olivia's home might prove helpful in finding her identity. A few days at an inn looking for a missing princess is one thing, but dog sitting is something else entirely. Pretty soon he is going to need a vacation from his vacation.
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading That Night on Thistle Lane. Ms. Neggers has done a fine job of creating a cast of characters you want to get to know and she keeps them very busy which kept me turning pages like a mad woman to see what happened next.
Set in a small New England town among a group of friends and relatives, the story she tells seems plausible enough even though it contains a healthy dose of the rich and famous.
The author has done a good job of adding several different unfolding stories to balance out the main romance between Phoebe and Noah. She uses all of the characters to help fill out the action while never letting you forget who this book is really about. Noah reminds me of many brainy guys I've known in the past and throughout the book I held a soft spot for Phoebe the librarian who had lost out in love and now is getting a second chance. My connections to the two of them really had me rooting for them to get together.
I want to mention that I did not read the first book in the Swift River Valley series, Secrets of the Lost Summer, before reading this book, but that did not hold me back from enjoying this story. There was a short time where I felt like I came into a movie ten minutes after it began, but that passed quickly as Ms. Neggers filled us in on the O'Dunn sisters and their friends.
If you are interested in becoming acquainted with a small New England town and the folks that live there, I highly recommend you begin to read the Swift River Valley series by Carla Neggers, and That Night on Thistle Lane is a great place to start. With four sisters, their friends and the usual ups and downs of small town life, there is never a dull moment.
Reviewed By Shawn Marie Mann
© January 2013