NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR CARLA NEGGERS DELVES INTO A 300-YEAR-OLD MYSTERY LURKING IN A NEW ENGLAND CIDER MILL
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…
New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers’ books have been called “riveting,” “magical” and “stunningly effective.” Now she returns to the lush Swift River Valley with the irresistible story of one woman’s quest for treasure and redemption.
(Swift River Valley #3)
Harlequin MIRA; Jan. 28, 2014
Paperback, 384 pages
$7.99 U.S./$8.99 CAN.
Excerpted from the book CIDER BROOK by Carla Neggers. Copyright © 2014 by Carla Neggers. Reprinted with permission of Harlequin. All rights reserved.
Samantha Bennett slipped her grandfather’s antique silver flask into an outer pocket of her khaki safari jacket. He’d claimed the flask was from an old pirate chest, but she’d discovered in the three years since his death at ninety-six that not everything he’d told her had been factual. Harry Bennett had been a grand spinner of the strategic tall tale. He’d probably been drinking run from the flask when he’d spun the pirate-chest story.
No rum for me, Samantha thought, glancing around her grandfather’s cluttered office on the second floor of the Bennett house in Boston’s Back Bay. She’d filled the flask with the smoky Scotch he had left in one of his crystal decanters. If she was going to hunt pirate’s treasure, she figured she ought to have whiskey with her.
Although what could go wrong in little Knights Bridge, Massachusetts?
Her grandfather smiled at her from a framed black-and-white photograph hanging on the wood-paneled wall behind his massive oak desk. At the time of the photo, he’d been forty-seven roguishly handsome wearing a jacket much like hers. He’d just arrived back in Boston after the Antarctic trip that had sealed his reputation as a world-class explorer and adventurer. It had almost killed him, too. Her couple of nights’ camping in an out-of-the-way New England town hardly compared to an expedition to Antarctica.
She buttoned the flap of her jacket pocket. There were endless pockets inside and out. She was already forgetting where she’d put things—her phone, compass, matches, map, the earth-tone lipstick she’d grabbed at the last second, in case she went out to dinner one night during her stay in Knights Bridge.
Out to dinner? Where, with whom—and why?
If nothing else, a few days away from her grandfather’s clutter would do her good. He had been born on a struggling New England farm and had died a wealthy man, if also a hopeless pack rat. Samantha hadn’t realized just how much he’d collected in his long, active life until she’d been hired by his estate—meaning her father and her uncle—to go through his house and his Londom apartment. She swore she’d found fum wrappers from 1952. The man had saved everything.
The morning sun streamed through translucent panels that hung over bowfront windows framed by heavy charcoal velvet drapes. Her grandmother, who had died twenty-five years ago, when Samantha was four, had decorated the entire house herself, decreeing that gray and white were the perfect colors for this room, for when her husband was there, being contemplative and studious—which wasn’t often, even in his later years. He’d spent little time in his office, mostly just long enough to stack up his latest finds.
Samantha appreciated the effect of the filtered sunlight on the original oil painting that she’d unearthed from the office closet a few weeks ago. The painting was unsigned and clearly an amateur work, but it had captivated her from the moment she’d taken it out into the light. It depicted an idyllic red- painted New England cider mill, with apples in wooden crates, barrels of cider and a water wheel capturing the runoff from a small stone-and-earth dam on a woodland stream. She’d assumed it was untitled but two days ago had discovered neat, faded handwriting on the lower edge of the simple wood frame.
The Mill at Cider Brook.
Her surprise had been so complete that she’d dipped into the Scotch decanter.
She didn’t know if the mill depicted in the painting was real, but there was a Cider Brook in Knights Bridge, barely two hours west of Boston.
Of all places.
A quick internet search had produced a year-old notice that the town of Knights Bridge was selling an old cider mill in its possession. Had someone bought it? Was it still for sale?
Samantha had checked the closet for anything else her grandfather might have stuffed in there related to Cider Brook. Instead, she discovered a legal-size envelope containing about fifty yellowed, handwritten pages—the rough draft of a story called The Adventures of Captain Farraday and Lady Elizabeth.
She suspected but had no way to prove that the story was by the same hand as the painting, but it didn’t matter. It had sealed the deal, and now she had Harry Bennett’s antique silver flask tucked in her jacket and her plans made for her return to Knights Bridge—a town she had expected, and hoped, she would never have to visit again.
Carla Neggers has been spinning stories ever since she climbed a tree with pad and pen at age 11. Now she has millions of copies of her books in print in more than 30 countries, and more than two dozen of her books have placed on the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. Cider Brook is the third novel in her acclaimed Swift River Valley romantic mystery series that launched with Secrets of the Lost Summer and That Night on Thistle Lane. Secrets of the Lost Summer spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and garnered rave reviews, including a starred review from Booklist and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews. Growing up in rural western Massachusetts with three brothers and three sisters, Carla developed an eye for detail and a love of a good story. Her imagination, curiosity and sense of adventure are key to creating the complex relationships, fast-paced plots and deep sense of place in her books.