By: Carla Neggers
Congratulations to "Mae C.", the winner of Carla's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!Join Carla's MY FAVORITE LIBRARY Contest and support your local library! The winning library will receive $1,000.
More than just make-believe.
Librarian Phoebe O’Dunn deals in stories, but her passion for history has taught her that happy endings are rare. Her life in Knights Bridge, Massachusetts, is safe and uneventful…until she discovers the hidden room.
Among its secrets is a cache of vintage clothing, including a spectacular gown—perfect for a gala masquerade in Boston. In the guise of a princess, Phoebe is captivated by a handsome swashbuckler who’s also adopted a more daring persona. Noah Kendrick’s wealth has made him wary, especially of women: everybody wants something.
When Noah and Phoebe meet again in Knights Bridge, at first neither recognizes the other. And neither one is sure they can trust the magic of the night they shared—until an unexpected threat prompts them to unmask their truest selves.
After all, it takes more than just the right costume to live out your personal fairy tale. It takes heart…and the courage to be more than you ever dreamed.
Bumblebees hummed in the frothy catmint on the edge of the stone terrace, the only sound to disturb the hot New England summer afternoon. Phoebe O’Dunn watched a solo bee hover above a purple blossom, as if debating what to do, then dart past the green-painted bench where she was seated and disappear across the herb and flower gardens. None of its fellow bumblebees followed.
Phoebe had met on the terrace with her sister Maggie and her friend Olivia Frost to discuss the upcoming vintage fashion show at their small-town library, but inevitably talk had turned to the charity masquerade ball tomorrow night in Boston, two hours away. Maggie and Olivia were going. Phoebe wasn’t, but she just might be able to help with costumes.
The dresses would be perfect.
If she’d had any doubts, they’d been dispelled when Maggie and Olivia sank into their chairs at the round, natural-wood table across the terrace and said they were stumped. With just twenty-four hours before they had to leave Knights Bridge for Boston, they had no idea what to wear.
Phoebe did. She’d already had the dresses cleaned and now they were hanging in the back room at her little house on Thistle Lane, just off the Knights Bridge common. She hadn’t mentioned them yet because—well, she didn’t know why, except that she couldn’t help feeling as if she were handling someone else’s secrets. She’d discovered the dresses two weeks ago in a mysterious hidden room in the library attic. So far she hadn’t told anyone about them or the room.
“We should have figured this out sooner,” Maggie said from the shaded table. Like Phoebe, Maggie had wild strawberry-blond hair, hers a tone darker and four inches shorter. And they had freckles. Lots of freckles, Maggie especially.
“Dylan didn’t give us much notice,” Olivia said without a hint of criticism. Her fiance, Dylan McCaffrey, had purchased tickets to the masquerade ball to support the cause, a neonatal intensive care unit at a Boston hospital. He’d handed them to Olivia just before he and several friends took off to the White Mountains for a few days of hiking. She added with a sigh, “I’ve never been to a masquerade.”
“Neither have I,” Maggie said. “We must know someone in Boston who can help with costumes.”
Phoebe listened to the bumblebees hard at work in the catmint. She and Maggie had been friends with Olivia since preschool. They were gathered in Olivia’s backyard. Fair-haired and pretty, she’d returned to Knights Bridge in the spring to convert her classic 1803 center-chimney house into The Farm at Carriage Hill. In the process, she’d met and fallen in love with Dylan, a former hockey player, now a wealthy San Diego businessman. His arrival in Knights Bridge had turned the out-of-the-way rural Massachusetts town on its head.
Pushing back stray curls, Phoebe got to her feet. She and Maggie both wore sundresses and sandals, but Olivia had on shorts and an old T-shirt after spending the morning in her gardens. When she’d left Boston, she’d put her graphic design skills and boundless energy to work in transforming her historic house into an idyllic spot for showers, meetings, girlfriend weekends and the occasional wedding—including her sister’s upcoming wedding in September and her own in December.
“You’ve been awfully quiet, Phoebe,” Olivia said. “Any ideas what we could wear?”
“I was just thinking ” Phoebe tried to sound casual. “What if you two dressed up as Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly?”
Olivia pushed back her chair and eyed Phoebe with obvious interest. “How would we pull off Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly? Do you have something in mind?”
Maggie, a caterer with two young sons, stood with her iced tea, the sprig of peppermint and wedge of lemon that she’d artfully hooked onto the glass now floating among the ice cubes. She cast Phoebe an amused look. “Do you see me as Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly? Either one?”
Phoebe smiled at her sister. “Sure, why not?”
“You really do have an imagination,” Maggie said.
“What are they, dresses that came in for the vintage fashion show?”
Phoebe hesitated, framing her explanation. As director of the Knights Bridge Free Public Library, the vintage fashion show was her brainchild, an end-of-the-summer event that would involve the entire community. It would showcase clothing from 1900 to 1975. The various library reading groups were focusing on twentieth-century books, the historical society was helping out, local businesses were donating food and staging materials—it was an all-consuming project that now, finally, was well in hand.
Phoebe had discovered the tiny hidden room while looking through the library attic for anything she could use for the show. It was as if she’d stepped into a time capsule, a secret hideaway. The room was filled with reproductions of dresses from movies up through the 1960s and from different historical periods—Medieval, Regency, Victorian, Edwardian, Roaring Twenties.
Who could have predicted such a thing?
She wanted to know more before she told anyone. Who had set up the room? Who had worked there, left everything behind? Why?
Did anyone else know about it?
And for something fun, vote for your favorite Vintage Hollywood Gown!
And lastly, for a reader leaving a comment here about their favorite library or thoughts on libraries, Carla will be offering away a copy of THAT NIGHT ON THISTLE LANE.
Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Jan. 29th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. US and CANADA mailing addresses only.