That Night on Thistle Lane
That Night on Thistle Lane is a small-town romance of the New England variety, which basically means the neighbors are less nosy and there’s more herb gardening than in its Southern counterpart. This book has the sort of tranquil mood to it you might expect in one of those small New England towns, but sometimes that tranquility translated to boringness.
Phoebe O’Dunn is pretty predictable. She lives a quiet life in Knights Bridge, a small rural town in Massachusetts. She is the local librarian, lives in a cottage near the town center, and spends free time with her sisters and friends. She’s pretty much an open book, but she does have a few secrets. Like the attic room she discovers at the library, filled with beautiful vintage dresses. One night she says she is staying home for the evening, but sneaks out in one of those dresses to a charity masquerade ball in Boston. While there, she meets a swashbuckler who sweeps her off her feet and then disappears — But not before Phoebe overhears a stranger talking about them.
That “swashbuckler” is Noah Kendrick, Dylan McCaffery’s best friend and business partner (Dylan, of course, being Phoebe’s best friend Olivia’s fiancé, and the hero of the previous book in this series, Secrets of the Lost Summer). Their company is going public and Noah’s leadership is no longer crucial, so he and Dylan are at a crossroads. Dylan has Olivia, but Noah is still figuring things out. One thing to occupy him, at least for a little while, is the mystery surrounding a man who has been following him. When Noah sees him in Boston, he’s surprised to see that this man has followed him from San Diego and intends to find out who he is and why he’s investigating Noah. And if staying in Knight’s Bridge and maybe finding his mysterious dancing partner is how he’ll solve this problem, then all the better for him.
Noah and Phoebe figure out who each other are pretty quickly, but not for the first few times that they meet each other. Neither is what the other expects, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Noah may be a handsome billionaire businessman who has dated Hollywood actresses, but inside he’s still a math geek who has a hard time reading people. Phoebe is a cautious woman, dedicated to her family and town, and has had her heart broken in the past. She broke character by going to the masquerade that night. Their romance is sweet, but not particularly exciting.
The story falters with the mystery component about Noah’s stalker and the secret room. The pieces don’t all come together neatly, and the characters take a lot of leaps of logic to get to some conclusions – and the biggest of these happen off-page, and are summarized later. This is actually the exact same problem I had with Secrets of the Lost Summer, and I’m always twice as disappointed when an author makes the same plotting mistakes two books in a row.
Not a whole lot really happened in this book. It was mostly small, day-to-day events. For some, that might be the appeal to this book. I thought it was too calm, though, to the point that events that should have raised conflict and caused excitement were quickly and unceremoniously downplayed, and any plot developments that came from them were stifled.
I have liked Carla Neggers’ books in the past, particularly her romantic suspense. However, this book was a disappointment. It’s not bad, just slow and it failed to capture my attention or interest.