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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Echo Lake by Carla Neggers

One of the best parts about NetGalley is that it allows me to try authors that have been on my radar but maybe not had any priority for me. Since the decline of Mallery's Fool's Gold series and the end of Jill Shalvis's Lucky Harbor series I've been throwing my net out looking for a good small town replacement. Over Christmas I read Neggars's Christmas novella and enjoyed it enough to move on to the next in the series, Echo Lake.

Here's the summary:
In snowy Swift River Valley, unexpected romance is just around the corner… 
Heather Sloan has landed her dream job—the renovation of Vic Scarlatti's stately 1912 country home overlooking the icy waters of Echo Lake in Knights Bridge, Massachusetts. It's the perfect project for the family business, but for once, Heather is in charge.  

Diplomatic Security Service agent Brody Hancock left Knights Bridge at eighteen, a few steps ahead of arrest and the wrath of Heather's older brothers. Though Brody had never planned to return, Vic, a retired diplomat and friend, needs his help.  

Staying at Vic's guest house makes it impossible to avoid running into a Sloan at every turn—especially Heather. Seeing her again has affected Brody more than he wants to admit. But Heather is wary of Brody's sudden interest in her, and she suspects there's more to his homecoming than he's letting on….  

Set against the scenic backdrop of a New England winter, Echo Lake is a captivating tale of family, friends and the possibility of new love.

Sounds promising enough, right? While I enjoyed it enough while I was reading it, in the time between finishing it and writing this review, I've found a few holes. I think that while I'm not ruling Neggers out, I'm probably also not going to rush to read the next one.  The romance has little to hang on, they barely knew each other as teens and they barely spend any time together in the book. I couldn't quite put my finger on when and how they fell in love. It certainly wasn't in this book. That said, the attraction between them is clear enough, and the scene of their first kiss was really terrific, with just enough heat and romance to make it memorable for me.

Heather is really the central figure of the book, well overshadowing Brody, who does little but hang around and has little to recommend him. Heather is fairly fleshed out and I love that she doesn't shrink under the observation of her five older brothers. She's happy working for the family but she also knows she wants more than that, and is willing to chase those dreams, even before it makes a convenient bow at the end.

I did have some problems with the book. First, there's no real explanation for why Brody left town, aside from some references to a fight involving Heather's brothers. They are wary of each other, but the animosity I'd expect from the summary just isn't there. I understand there's a fine line between making a believable bad boy and making him irredeemable and Neggers just doesn't nail it for me. It was lame. Second, the entire plot with Vic needing Brody's help? Also lame. Third, Heather is renovating this giant house, but she spends 90% of her time in the cellar. And last, winter? Seriously? I live in South Dakota. We have winter and snow and ice. If there's too much ice on the ground to walk to your car, waiting an hour or two for fresh snow to fall on top of it is NOT going to make it safe for you to drive home in.

Would I read more Neggars? Sure, but I'd probably wait to read a review of a spectacular one first, another mediocre one would convince me to move on, too many books, too little time.

Echo Lake was released today.

1 comment:

  1. I like her but she's more a nice read than a spectacular read. I haven't read this one yet but I'm not surprised to hear there's some plot holes and something that don't quite gel. She has another series that seems to be more suspense based that I'm curious about. I have one but haven't read that either.


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