Saturday Excerpt: Red Clover Inn by Carla Neggers

It doesn’t hit shelves until April, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a head start right now. Check out the latest book from Carla Neggers, Red Clover In!

About Red Clover Inn:

New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers delivers an irresistible story about love, family and finding a place to call home… 

Marine archaeologist Charlotte Bennett is no stranger to risk, but her dives into sunken wreckage are always meticulously planned. However, being the maid of honor in her cousin Samantha’s English wedding gives her a new perspective on her life as a nomad who’s given up on romance altogether. Though an encounter with roguish wedding guest Greg Rawlings leaves her unsettled, the other people she meets make a trip to the tranquil town of Knights Bridge, Massachusetts, enticing. Acting on impulse, Charlotte offers to house-sit at Red Clover Inn while Sam and Justin Sloan are away on their honeymoon.

The quaint inn isn’t open to the public yet and Charlotte will have quiet time to plan her next project. It might also give her a chance to see how her cousin found love and a sense of family. But the peace is immediately disrupted when Greg shows up at the inn. The Diplomatic Security Service agent lives a dangerous life, and he, too, wants to clear his head before his next assignment. Juggling work, raising his two teenage children and nursing a wounded heart has left him jaded, and the last thing he expects is to find himself falling for the willful Charlotte. As the attraction between them flares, Charlotte realizes she might be in too deep. And each of them must decide if they can put love first before it’s too late.

***

The Cotswolds, England

Charlotte Bennett was no stranger to trouble but never had she encountered it in the form of a US fed­ eral agent who was exhausted, somewhat inebriated or both. “Agent Rawlings.” She paused, debating

the wisdom of continuing. “Are you by any chance armed?”

“Armed with a smile.”

And smile he did, as if to prove his point. It was a casually sexy smile, his turquoise eyes crinkling at the corners. Charlotte didn’t know when and where a federal agent was supposed to carry a weapon, but certainly not while drinking beer at a party the night before her cousin’s wedding in a quiet village in En­ gland. She couldn’t see a weapon but he could easily have one under the jacket he wore over a charcoal­ gray lightweight sweater. He had ultrashort­ cropped dark auburn hair and looked as if he knew his way around weapons of all kinds.

“No worries, okay? I’m not in the UK on official business. You’re safe with me.”

He was amused. She could tell. She’d arrived at the party late and had chosen a small table by a window slightly open to the damp June evening. She’d had exactly two sips of her wine, a lovely, chilled white, when he sat next to her on the cush­ ioned bench, placed his near­empty beer glass on the small table and introduced himself as Greg Rawl­ ings. Charlotte had recognized his name as the fed­ eral agent Samantha, her cousin whose wedding was tomorrow, had mentioned was a last­minute guest.

Charlotte took her third sip of her wine. “You know, I didn’t invite you to join me.”

“You can kick me out if you want,” he said with a yawn. “I’ll go quietly.”

He didn’t look as if he did anything quietly unless it suited him. “Agent Rawlings—”

“Call me Greg. What’s your name?” “Charlotte. Charlotte Bennett.”

“Ah. Another Bennett. Live here or in the US?” “I’m American but I live in Scotland.” For now,

she added silently.

“Well, Lottie, you need to kick back and relax.” He was having fun. Definitely. She wanted to have fun but she wasn’t in the mood, at least not yet. Once she saw Samantha and got into the spirit of the wed­ ding festivities, maybe. But she didn’t like weddings.

“It’s Charlotte,” she said. “Don’t call me Lottie again.”

Greg Rawlings smiled, his eyes half­closed. “Or… what?”

He knew he was sexy. Totally knew it. She re­ turned his smile. “I promised my family I wouldn’t get in a bar fight tonight.”

“You’ve been in bar fights, Char?”

“Not in a while. And Char isn’t going to work, either. Charlotte. That’s it.”

“As in Charlotte’s Web?”

“No. As in my parents liked the name.”

“Is Charlotte the spider? I don’t remember. I guess it makes sense she’d be the spider, or why would it be her web?”

Charlotte didn’t respond. She watched him fight back another yawn. Maybe he wasn’t inebriated— maybe he was just tired. He’d sat at her table with­ out invitation, but there weren’t enough tables for the number of guests, deliberately so, she knew, because the idea behind the party was for guests to mingle ahead of tomorrow’s wedding. She’d assumed he’d had too much to drink and had picked an argument with him.

Maybe argument was too strong. She’d walked into the Cotswolds pub and found her way to the private­function room intensely aware she needed a distraction. She’d hoped a glass of white wine would do the trick. Then enter a fit, muscular federal agent with attitude.

Maybe he needed a distraction, too. Sparring with her certainly didn’t intimidate him or even seem to bother him. One of those guys who always thought he had the upper hand. She supposed it was a strength in a federal agent, if not necessarily in a drinking mate.

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