At the heart of Lilac Lane is Keira Malone, who raised her three children alone after her first marriage broke apart, and who, after years of guarding her heart, finally finds love again. But that love is short-lived when her fiancé suffers a fatal heart attack. Grieving and unsure of what’s next, Keira agrees to move from Dublin to Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, to spend time with her daughter, Moira, and her new granddaughter, Kate, as well as to help her son-in-law, Luke, with his Irish pub, O’Briens.
Not wanting to live underfoot, she rents a charming cottage on Lilac Lane, replete with views of the ocean and her neighbor’s thriving garden—not to mention views of the neighbor himself. The neighbor is none other than Bryan Laramie, the brusque and moody chef at the pub, with whom Keira is constantly butting heads. But things get real when Bryan’s long-lost daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a baby, shows up out of the blue. As Bryan and Keira each delve into their pasts, reopening wounds, the rest of the town is gearing up for the Fall Festival Irish Stew cook-off, and making no bones about whose side they’re on. It’s Kitchen Wars meets This is Your Life—a recipe for disaster…or a new take on love?
The death of Peter McDonough would have been a blow at any time, but coming as it had on the very day Kiera Malone had finally accepted his proposal of marriage left her reeling. After her first husband, Sean Malone, had abandoned her with three young children, she had vowed never to let another man into her life, much less into her heart. She’d clung to her independence with a fierce protectiveness. She’d made a practice of scaring men away with her tart tongue and bitter demeanor, even knowing as she did so that she was dooming herself to loneliness. Better that than dooming herself and her children to another loss, another mistake.
After the death of his wife, Peter, bless his sweet soul, had waited patiently on the sidelines for Kiera, running his pub in Dublin, supporting her daughter, Moira, in her efforts to make a career of the photography that Kiera herself had thought of as nothing more than a hobby, and making the occasional overture to Kiera.
To Kiera’s confusion, not even her best efforts to push him aside and make clear her lack of interest, efforts that had chased off every other man who’d approached her, seemed to dissuade Peter. He took her rebuffs in stride. If anything, his not-so-secret crush had deepened.
More troubling, aside from his thick, curly hair and firm jaw, he had a combination of traits that drew her to him— strength balanced by gentleness, bold determination tempered by patience and a booming laugh that could fill her heart with unexpected lightness. He was, in all respects, a man who knew exactly what he wanted, and he wanted Kiera. She had no idea why.
The prospect of starting over, though, was a scary business. As harsh and difficult as her life had been, it was a niche in which she felt comfortable. With children to support on her own, she’d stopped taking chances. Moira was exactly right about that. She’d put her family first. Wasn’t that what a mother was meant to do? The thought of taking a daring risk now was beyond terrifying and yet, perhaps, just a little intriguing.
And there he’d been, day in and day out for the better part of two years, always with a quick-witted comment that made her laugh or a gesture that softened her heart. And his patience truly had been a revelation to her. He’d done not one single thing to make her feel rushed, to make her put up her well-honed guard. Nor was he one to overindulge in Guinness, a habit that would have sent Kiera running even faster after living with Sean’s uncontrolled bouts of drinking and subsequent abusive talk.
And so, eventually, one by one, her defenses fell. She found herself looking forward to their late-night talks after the pub closed, to his interest in her opinions. Maybe most of all, she’d basked in his kind and steady company that made her feel secure as she hadn’t since the very earliest days of her marriage to Sean Malone. She’d last felt that way before Sean’s drinking had started, before he’d walked out the door of their home for the very last time, leaving her with two sons who were not yet ready to start school and a daughter just home from the hospital.
Because she’d made such a show of rebellion in marrying Sean in the first place, Kiera hadn’t allowed herself to go running home to her parents back then. Instead, she’d struggled to make do, surviving on her own, if barely. It was only when her mum lay dying that she’d reconciled with her parents and eventually allowed them back into her life and the lives of her children. Her sons and daughter hadn’t even been aware that they had grandparents who might dote on them if given the chance.
Now with all three of her children grown and finding their own paths—albeit in the case of her sons, a path she wouldn’t have chosen, the same one their dad had taken—Kiera had been at loose ends when she made the move back to Dublin.
She’d perhaps been more vulnerable than she’d allowed herself to be in years.
She couldn’t claim that Peter had taken unfair advantage of that. He’d been too fine a man to do so, but the fact was, she’d finally been ready to reach for a little happiness. Peter had offered the promise of that and more. And exactly as Moira had predicted, his sons were happy enough to have her in their father’s life and working by his side at the pub. The future looked bright with the sort of promise of love and stability she’d once dreamed of, but never imagined truly finding.
And, then, on the very day she’d said yes, when she’d opened her heart and allowed Peter to put a ring on her finger, a ring he’d claimed he’d been holding on to for years for just such a glorious day, he’d betrayed her as surely as Sean Malone ever had. He’d suffered a fatal heart attack just hours later, and once again, Kiera was alone and adrift. Abandoned. Wasn’t that just the way of the bloody world? she thought, her protective bitterness returning in spades and her fragile heart once more shattered into pieces.
About the Author
With her roots firmly planted in the South, Sherryl Woods has written many of her more than 100 books in that distinctive setting, whether in her home state of Virginia, her adopted state, Florida, or her much-adored South Carolina. Sherryl is best known for her ability to creating endearing small town communities and families. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 75 romances for Silhouette Desire and Special Edition.