Series: Chesapeake Shores #13
Published by Harlequin MIRA on Sept. 29, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: the publisher through NetGalley
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Also in this series: A Seaside Christmas, The Christmas Bouquet, Dogwood Hill
Also by this author: Midnight Promises, Where Azaleas Bloom, Catching Fireflies, A Seaside Christmas, Home to Seaview Key, Swan Point, The Christmas Bouquet, Dogwood Hill
Spirited, spontaneous Carrie Winters has grown up under the watchful eyes of not only her grandfather Mick O'Brien, but the entire town of Chesapeake Shores.
Now that she's home from Europe, a glamorous fashion career behind her and her heart broken, there seem to be far too many people watching to see if she'll live up to the expectations her family has for her.
As if that weren't enough pressure, Carrie finds herself drawn to sexy, grief-stricken Sam Winslow, who is yearning for someone to help him raise the nephew who's unexpectedly come into his life after a tragedy.
With her own life in turmoil, is Carrie really ready to take on a new career and a new man? Or is Sam exactly what she needs to create the strong, loving family she's always wanted?
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
I enjoyed Willow Brook Road far more than I did last year’s A Christmas Bouquet, which featured O’Brian granddaughter Caitlyn Winters. Willow Brook Road focuses on Caitlyn’s twin, Carrie, whom I found much more likeable. It also introduces Sam Winslow and Sam’s darling nephew Bobby, to whom I totally lost my heart.
Carrie is back in Chesapeake Shores, getting over a (somewhat) broken heart and the loss of her job; the two are related, since her former boss was also her lover. (Can you say bad idea?) Now she’s trying to put herself back together and figure out what to do with her life.
Sam has always avoided commitment or settling down, but the deaths of his sister and her husband have thrust him abruptly into the world of single fatherhood. Sam loves Bobby deeply, and wants to do what’s best for the boy, but he has zero confidence in his own parenting abilities.
While the main focus of the book is on Sam and Carrie — not only their relationship but their individual journeys of growth and self-discovery — Woods weaves in an ongoing subplot involving Carrie’s cousin Susie, who is devastated after the adoption she has dreamed of falls through. Susie’s subsequent behavior, while understandable given her distress, is disturbing not only to her husband Mack but to Carrie, who receives the brunt of Susie’s irrational jealousy.
Carrie is less driven and in some ways more level-headed than her twin, Caitlyn (who frankly irritated me.) Carrie is also less sure of her career path than Caitlyn or pretty much anyone else in her family; in fact, what she really wants is marriage and children, and a career is secondary. As someone who also put family in front of other career goals, and never felt driven to pursue one calling above all others, I was really able to relate to Carrie. And as it turns out, there is a perfect vocation for her, but she has to open her eyes to the possibility. Once she does, she becomes as passionate and sure of herself as any other O’Brien, while still retaining the kindness and levelheadedness that make her who she is.
Sam’s journey has as much to do with learning to trust himself and his ability to be a dad as it does with letting himself fall in love (or acknowleging that fact to himself.) Watching him try to figure out how to parent made me smile more than once; Bobby is charming and Sam is obviously smitten even though he’s terrified. I lost my heart to both of them.
I would love to live in Chesapeake Shores, given how much the people there seem to care about each other. Of course, they all seem to be related to the O’Briens in one way or another, which is lovely in a series but might become a bit much in real life! And when I think about it, the county where I live isn’t so very different. Oh, we have the Potomac instead of the Bay, and there’s much more economic and racial diversity (which is one of the few flaws in the Chesapeake Shores books), but the friendliness and small-town feel are very similar. That’s not too surprising, given that Ms. Woods lives part of the year in a small waterfront town just down the river from our county; she’s well familiar with the sense of community these small towns can have, and it’s part of the background of almost all her books.
You really don’t need to have read the other Chesapeake Shores books to enjoy this one, but the family relationships and dynamics might be a little easier to follow if you have. Willow Brook Road may not be my top favorite in the series, but it’s warm, charming, and easy to like.
Sherryl Woods’ Chesapeake Shores Series (series review from 2012)
The Chesapeake Shores books in order:
- 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
- A Christmas Bouquet
- Dogwood Hill
- Willow Brook Road (this review)