Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Blog Tour Review - - Lilac Lane

Lilac Lane
By Sherryl Woods
Publisher: Harlequin / Mira
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Reviewed by Janga

After her husband decided he preferred the bottle to his family and left her with two pre-school sons and an infant daughter to rear, Kiera Malone gave up on romance and focused on supporting her children. It was not until those children were adults that Kiera allowed herself to be wooed by Peter McDonough with his gentleness and his humor. But Peter is dead of a heart attack just hours after they became engaged, and Keira is shoring up her defenses to protect her heart. At the urging of her father and her daughter, both of whom are happily married to O’Briens of Chesapeake Shores, Maryland (The Summer Garden), Kiera leaves Dublin, at least temporarily, to spend time with her family, to help care for her granddaughter Kate, and to serve as a cultural consultant for her son-in-law’s Irish pub.

Kiera adores young Kate, is grateful to establish a closer relationship with Moira, and enjoys time with her father from whom she was estranged for years after her marriage. She is surprised at how quickly she makes friends among the O’Brien women, especially Megan O’Brien, wife of Mick, the designer and builder of the idyllic coastal town, and mentor to Moira. Life in Chesapeake Shores would be wonderful if it were not for Bryan Laramie, chef at O’Brien’s Pub. Kiera and Bryan clash at every turn. In fact, the only thing they agree on is the need to ignore the sparks of attraction between them.

Chef Laramie’s life has not turned out the way he imagined it. As a young man, he was driven by ambition, certain that he would one day own his own restaurant and win renown for his culinary creations. Then, he lost what he loved most, and he has spent the years since in a fruitless search to recover his treasure. Despite having reached the point of accepting that his search may be hopeless, he has found a measure of contentment and pride in his work at O’Brien’s and a staunch friend in Nell O’Brien O’Malley. He does not need a fiery-tempered redhead challenging him in his kitchen or elsewhere.

The O’Briens are all in favor of keeping Kiera in Chesapeake Shores, and if Nell thinks matchmaking will increase the odds of doing so, they are all prepared to do their parts. One step is to ensure that Kiera moves into the cottage next door to Bryan’s home, trusting that the sparks they have observed plus propinquity will lead to romance. The attraction is real, and Kiera and Bryan discover they actually like each other as well. But they are both wary of risking their hearts. Will the matchmakers win their bets, or will Kiera and Bryan’s old wounds and strong defenses prove stronger than love?

Lilac Lane is the fourteenth story in Woods’s popular Chesapeake Shores series, which is also now a Hallmark television series. I like the O’Briens, and I have followed this series from the beginning. One of its strengths has been the evidence that romance is not only for the young. Mick and Megan’s reconciliation was much anticipated in the early books, and the widowed matriarch Nell’s sweet reunion with the love of her youth, Dillon O’Malley, arced over two books—An O’Brien Family Christmas, #8, and The Summer Garden, #9. The renewed focus on romance between mature characters was a welcome one. Kiera and Bryan are interesting characters who have earned their HEA. Most of the large O’Brien family shows up in minor roles, with Luke and Moira, Mick and Megan, and Nell and Dillon playing more substantial roles. Fans of the series will doubtless be pleased to see them all. Woods once again proves her skill at creating these sweet, family-centered tales.

If you are a fan of small-town romance with extended family heavily engaged in one another’s lives and not shy about taking an active role that some would label blatant interference, you will likely enjoy this one. I confess that I did, even if I could not quite silence the skeptic in me that questioned if this book and, based on the frequent references to Kiera’s wild Irish sons, probably more books to follow as a bit too obviously providing more material for the television series. I suspect the cost of the book, considerably more than the earlier books, may also reflect the television connection.