Series: Chesapeake Shores #10
Published by Harlequin MIRA on 2013-09-24
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: the publisher
Also in this series: The Christmas Bouquet, Dogwood Hill, Willow Brook Road
Also by this author: Midnight Promises, Where Azaleas Bloom, Catching Fireflies, Home to Seaview Key, Swan Point, The Christmas Bouquet, Dogwood Hill, Willow Brook Road
As the only child of a single mom, Jenny Collins wanted nothing more than to be part of a large, rambunctious family like the O'Briens. Ironically, though, when her mother married into that family, Jenny found herself feeling more like an outsider than ever.
Now, after years in Nashville as an established songwriter, Jenny's drawn back to Chesapeake Shores to collaborate on a Christmas production…and to make peace with the past. As if that's not challenging enough, Caleb Green, the singer who broke her heart, has followed her to town, determined to win her back.
With the help of a little O'Brien holiday magic, will Jenny and Caleb find a way to make sweet music forever?
Sherryl Woods makes a welcome return visit to Chesapeake Shores and the complex O’Brien family in this heartwarming second-chance romance. Country star Caleb Green broke songwriter Jenny Collins’ heart a year ago, when photos of him with another woman were splashed across the cover of every tabloid. But their relationship had already been on the rocks, the tensions fueled by Caleb’s drinking and long absences while on tour. Now sober, Caleb knows how badly he messed up — and he’ll do almost anything to woo Jenny back.
Jenny has come home to Chesapeake Shores to write songs for a Christmas play written by her friend and aunt-by-marriage, Bree. But her return isn’t without its challenges; Jenny’s relationship with her mother was strained by her mother’s remarriage and the birth of her little brother four years earlier. Despite her deep longing for family, Jenny has never accepted her stepfather or his large and boisterous extended family. The same can’t be said of the O’Briens, who consider Jenny one of their own despite her long absence.
When Caleb shows up in town, Jenny wants nothing to do with him. But it’s not long before Caleb has won even the protective O’Brien men over to his side. With Caleb and the whole family ranged against her, Jenny isn’t sure she can continue to protect her heart — or if she even wants to.
I loved Jenny and Caleb’s romance. Jenny’s pain and Caleb’s unequivocal acceptance of his mistakes ring very true, so it was easy to understand both Jenny’s reluctance to trust and Caleb’s perseverance. The chemistry between them is strong, and it’s clear they are meant to be together if Jenny can ever get past the history and forgive him. Caleb is almost too perfect now; I heaved a sigh of relief when he finally lost his temper a bit, because it showed he was (still) human. I also loved the musical thread that runs through the whole book. Woods describes some of Jenny’s songs so well that I wished I could actually hear them.
The strain between Jenny and her mother felt so real that I found it painful to read. It was a relief to see them slowly, tentatively rebuilding their relationship. Given how much of Jenny’s issues around family, trust, and abandonment have to do with her absent father, I was surprised that that he never showed up — surprised, but pleased. Too often, romance writers try to fix everything that’s wrong in a main character’s life. It was refreshing (not to mention realistic) to see Jenny dealing with her issues without that resolution.
The O’Brien family is a delight, as usual, and we get at least a glimpse of almost everyone. Briony, Jake, Jess, and Thomas show up most frequently, and of course Mick can’t resist putting his oar in. Matriarch Nell is her usual wise self, and her delightful Irish husband Dillon is still on hand.
If you’re new to Chesapeake Shores, A Seaside Christmas works just fine as a standalone romance, though there are more than the usual number of secondary characters to keep track of. On the other hand, if you’re a fan been longing to return to Chesapeake Shores, you’re in luck. Grab a copy, tuck an afghan around you, curl up with a cup of hot chocolate, and let Sherryl Woods enchant you all over again.
Titles in the Chesapeake Shores series: The Inn at Eagle Point; Flowers on Main; Harbor Lights; A Chesapeake Shores Christmas; Driftwood Cottage; Moonlight Cove; Beach Lane; An O’Brien Family Christmas; The Summer Garden; A Seaside Christmas. You can read my review of the whole series here.