by Carla Neggers
Series: Swift River Valley #3
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Unlikely partners bound by circumstance…or by fate? Being rescued by a good-looking, bad-boy firefighter isn't how Samantha Bennett expected to start her stay in Knights Bridge, Massachusetts. Now she has everyone's attention—especially that of Justin Sloan, her rescuer, who wants to know why she was camped out in an abandoned old New England cider mill. Samantha is a treasure hunter who has returned to Knights Bridge to solve a 300-year-old mystery and salvage her good name. Justin remembers her well. He's the one who alerted her late mentor to her iffy past and got her fired. But just because he doesn't trust her doesn't mean he can resist her. Samantha is daring, determined, seized by wanderlust—everything that strong, stoic Justin never knew he wanted. Until now…
I am not going to lie, I saw the synopsis and jumped at that chance to read Cider Brook by Carla Neggers, before realizing I was stepping into book three of the Swift River Valley series. I mean can you blame me, look at that synopsis. Firefighter. Treasure hunter. Rescuer. While this can be read as a standalone, I think I would have enjoyed this more from the beginning. Mini review: Low romance, interesting treasure hunt, small-town magic.
Samantha Bennett comes from a long line of treasure hunters. Her grandfather got her started on a hunt for a pirate and his lost treasure. That has led her back to Knights Bridge to solve a three hundred year old mystery and to salvage her good name. Justin remembers Samantha as he spotted her a year ago and notified her mentor she was snooping around. A storm, a break-in and a rescue bring these two face to face but can they trust each other and find something more?
Samantha is cautious, curious and determined to unravel the mystery her beloved grandfather entrusted her with. I was unsure of her in the beginning but as she grew throughout the novel I found her to be likable and wanted her to have her happily ever after. Justin is sweet, sexy and concerned. He is attracted to Samantha but unsure of her motives. He cares about the people in this close knit community. Despite his concerns, I like that he didn’t try to change Samantha and just wanted to understand her. The two had instant chemistry, but this was a very slow building romance with very little heat. Secondary characters and those from previous stories were present, and while I got to know them I feel I missed out by not having read the previous books.
Cider Brook had elements I love from mystery to small-town dynamics. I loved the small-town workings and the family interaction. While the town and Justin were unsure of Samantha, I like that they opened up and made her feel welcome even if some grilled her. The romance really took a back seat in this tale, and I lost some of the connection. There were some tender moments, but we never really saw it develop instead it became the back-story. Neggers weaves an excellent tale and the mystery engaged me. I loved the story her grandfather gave her regarding the pirate and his lady. The old apple cider mill and its history appealed to the romantic in me. The story of the family who lived there made me shed a tear. The side stories involving other characters were good, but again I floundered a little as we had no prior history. The ending wrapped up well with answers to Samantha’s quest and a promise of happily ever after.
Cinder Brook offered a fascinating mystery with a sweet romance. I truly think I would have felt more had I read the previous books, Secrets of the Lost Summer and The Night on Thistle Lane. It is my recommendation you read them in order. Carla Neggers is an author I will try again.
Three cups of coffee out of five
I used to read all her books up until I got hooked on paranormal a few years ago. She has some older series that are really good. I read a more recent one and the romance was barely there.So when I had the chance to get this, I chose not to. Not sure why she’s writing more mystery then romance in her books. Glad you enjoyed most of it. I do like the small town aspect too.:)
hmm, I was expecting more romance. Glad you enjoyed her earlier works.
I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who accidentally reads a book later in a series. 🙂 I would have requested this book too. I love a good treasure hunt.
Thanks you Pam, sometimes I click and agree to reply back without researching especially when I like what I see..LOL
Sounds like you may have connected better if you’d started with the first. It really does sound good! I love the different aspects of it and don’t mind the romance being a back seat. But I will remember if I read it, to start with the first book!
I think so too Candace 🙂
This sounds good, and no, you should not be able to resist a blurb like that. Thanks for the nice review Kimba.
hehe..my thoughts exactly Aurian!
Treasure hunt? firefighters and a bit of magic? Okay I think I can do with a little romance because the other parts are exciting. I will go with your suggestions and look up the first two books first.
she writes really good suspense/mystery Lily. Enjoy them!
That blurb would have sucked me in too! I’m glad to know that it’s part of a series, and I should start from the beginning.
thank you Diana, I am glad I am not the only one who would have lost their head and send yes to tour. LOL
This sounds like an interesting read! I’ve done that a few times too; jumping in to a book mid series without realizing it. I love stories with small town charm and mystery. The whole treasure hunting aspect sounds intriguing. Too bad there was low romance, and very little heat! I enjoy my books with a lot of romance, and a lot of heat! Great Review Kim 🙂
the mystery/treasure hunt and that barn loured me in..LOL I need to go back and read the others
Awesome review Kimberly. I have always had a soft spot for treasure hunter stories…. could’ve been because I watched Indiana Jones A LOT as a kid! This sounds like a fun tale, glad it was a nice read for you!
Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace
I do too Naomi that and quests!
This is an author that I always see on blogs but haven’t read yet, this one sounds great so I’m hoping to get the first book in this series from the library but if I get this one first I won’t complain 🙂
I will be reading them too Kimberly, enjoy!
Thanks for your review. I try to read books in order when I know they are part of a series. Your advice was helpful and this sounds like a good read, but will definitely want to read the others first!
So do I Stephanie but when I get a request from publisher I don’t always pay attention..LOL
I thought you were going to mention the bad-boy part of the blurb luring you in. 😉 It sounds cute, but if I read it, I’ll make sure to read the first two books.
Yes I recommend that..lol it’s not always about the bad boy, well mostly 🙂
I’ve read several of Carla’s books (but none from this particular series), and found them to be entertaining reads.
She spins a good tale Angela 🙂
Did you say mystery? Gimme, gimme, gimme. 🙂
Anna from Shout with Emaginette
LOL, my thoughts exactly!
I haven’t seen this book around and it sounds really interesting. I’m glad you enjoyed but I think that I’d need a little bit more passion in that romance part of the story. Great review, Kim 🙂
Thanks Tanya, I expected more romance, but enjoyed this despite it 🙂
Kimba, I LOVE Carla, she’s a must read author for me. I think you’re right that you would have enjoyed the novel more if you had the back story, but it still reads well as a stand alone. Neggers is great at romantic suspense. Try her Sharpe and Donovan Series.
Thanks for the great review
Yes, I think had I known the secondary characters I would have felt more connected despite the subtle romance 🙂
Melissa (Books and Things)
I haven’t read a book by her yet. I’m curious though but will start with these in order. I’m kind of shocked that it wasn’t more of a standalone so you didn’t feel like you may have missed out on something. Still, sounds good enough for me to try! 🙂
I think because the romance was a side dish, and I didn’t really know the town or secondary characters that I kind of felt left out despite how interesting the mystery aspect was.
I’m so impressed that you went for this even though it was book three! I agree, the synopsis definitely makes me want to read it too. Glad you enjoyed it, even if the prior books would have made the read better. I do love small town romances and mystery.
Ha, sweetie I said Yes, before I checked things out..this is where a good cover and synopsis make me go cray-cray. Having said that, I enjoyed it and will certainly check out the previous books 🙂
Props to you for reading out of order, I have learned to do it when I am short on time and sometimes you can get away with and sometimes you find your read is lacking something, as is the case here. I think the idea of the old mill sounds charming!
*facepalm* It was an accident on my part, but it did work as a standalone.
Oooh, a treasure hunter! That sounds very cool!
I loved the pirate and treasure hunt mystery in this Megan and Neggers knows how to spin a tale 🙂
Felicia the Geeky Blogger
I have started and stopped this one like 3 times. I don’t think it is the book (clearly there were some very good moments), it is a mood thing. I will keep it though instead of passing it on since your review makes me think in the right mood I would like it.
There is no fire with the romance and that hurt. Look at it as a mystery. It was a solid read but I wasn’t spellbound.
Braine Talk Supe
Jumping mid-point in the series is something I’m familiar with. It does make a difference reading a series in order even if the books can be read as stand-alone.
But I don’t blame you, the synopsis is good and I think I would’ve done the same. Good thing you can always backtrack and start with book 1, maybe after you’ve read the first two you’ll feel differently about this.
hehehe..it was a total accident, a case of jumping without looking first cause I liked the cover and synopsis. 🙂 I hope to check out the first two books 🙂
I think the setting in this sounds wonderful and I do like the fact that it can be read a stand-alone series. Great review.
I love the setting too Jenea, small-town, old barns, history..yes please 🙂
I enjoyed this one too! I’ve got the Thistle Lane book waiting for me to start and I’m interested in seeing how much that improves Cider Brook.
I really think reading it from the beginning would have given me more of a connection 🙂 thanks Katherine!
That’s a little disappointing that the romance took a back-seat in this book. I would expect it to be quite heavy on the romance, but I suppose the author wanted to focus more on the mystery and the small-town setting. Glad you liked it overall, Kim. Hopefully, the other books in the series will be better.
Agreed, usually it is a strong secondary thread woven throughout but it was mild and I wanted heat and kisses!
I am a sucker for those small towns! This sounds like it was a sweet romance.
It was sweet Ali, and I loved the mystery/hunt.
I have to be in the right mood for a sweet romance — I usually like mine a bit more snarky, a bit more heated. However, I do like a good mystery and Carla Neggers rarely disappoints.
Agreed I like to feel sexual tension, and see sparks. The mystery aspect was well done and kept me reading on 🙂
Oh man, now there are three more books to add to my TBR list. I just *can’t* read a book out of order. This book looks great!
Jessica @ Tales Between the Pages
I am usually the same way but didn’t do my homework. I will be picking up one and two for sure 🙂
I love small town settings, but…I like my romances to have romance as the primary focus, so I think I’m probably okay with skipping this one. That old apple cider mill sounds so wonderful, though!
I don’t mind if the romance is served on the side but I want kisses, and tension and passion 🙂
I’ve done that before: read a book because of the blurb without realizing it was book something in a series. Oops. Happy it was still good though.
Exactly *facepalm* thanks Jennifer it is good to know I am not the only one sucked in by a great synopsis and cover before doing my homework.
Small town romances in general always works for me 🙂
Agreed, Linda and this was a decent read.
I agree with you the synopsis is really interesting. I’m glad you liked Samantha more and more along your reading. And I confess I’m curious about the mystery, it’s always intriguing to have something like that. thanks for the review.
thanks Melliane I love my romance mixed with a good mystery or suspense 🙂
Good thing this can be read as a standalone, too, but then you had a bit of floundering moment because of missing the first two books from the series. A small town sweet romance, albeit it took a backseat, sounds like a good summer read. (It’s summer here, at least the weather is starting to change!)
Ooo summer and flip-flops so jelly Dre. It is almost Spring here and 68 today but tomorrow, yeah SNOW!