A Moment of Perspective: With my penchant for classic or highly acclaimed English literature it may come as a surprise to most that my first book review on this site is a novel from the romance genre. My reasoning is two-fold. First: I was asked. Given the opportunity, I chose not to decline. Second: I have a respect for the writers of the genre. After two years of university and then two years off from university in which I got pregnant, got married and gave birth to my eldest son (in that order)… I went back to school. It was there, in the midst of brain strain from simultaneously reading Chaucer for one literature class, Shakespeare for the next, Tennyson for poetry class, Sophocles for drama and Aristotle for literary criticism, that a friend suggested I pick up romance novels as “light reading” to rest my mind in between assignments. I scoffed. Then I followed her advice. What I discovered is that romance writers (most of them, anyway) have a ridiculously astounding grasp on humanity… emotions, fears, motives, etc. They also have a gift for composing dialogue. Yes, sometimes that dialogue is incredibly cheesy. Yes, sometimes the stories are over-the-top; but, very often they are real and tangible, though fictional, character driven tales of life.
Driftwood Cottage: A Chesapeake Shores Novel
Author: Sherryl Woods
Publisher: MIRA Books
Single mom Heather Donovan’s dreams of home and family are tantalizingly within reach when she settles in Chesapeake Shores. The welcoming arms of the boisterous, loving O’Brien clan embrace her and her son. But accepting their support seems to further alienate her son’s father, Connor O’Brien. His parents’ divorce and his career as a high-powered divorce attorney have left him jaded about marriage.
Heather is a woman who has given up on her version of Happily-Ever-After once realizing she wants more than Connor O’Brien, long time love and father of her son, is willing to give. Despite becoming involved with him knowing Connor’s strong negative feelings toward marriage, reinforced by his career as a divorce attorney, Heather decides that she does want the wedding ring… and so she walks away to make a life on her own in Chesapeake Shores, the town where Connor was raised, and where his family opens their lives and sometimes meddlesome hearts to Heather and little Mick. She opens a quilt shop and lives in the apartment above. Connor’s visits to see his family and his son strain the resilience both he and Heather have to their own stubborn viewpoints.
Driftwood Cottage has two major strengths: characters and location. Connor comes from a large family and the presence of someone in the O’Brien clan becomes expected in almost every scene. Each appearance draws more information, good and bad, about Heather and Connor onto the page while simultaneously feeding the reader snippets of family history or teasing with enticingly delightful future stories. Every character has a background due to the charming world Sherryl Woods has created in Chesapeake Shores. Despite being the fifth book of the Chesapeake Shores series, Driftwood Cottage manages to keep new readers from feeling entirely detached from preceding story lines... which is no mean feat for the author.
Sheryl Woods has a gift for painting a picture with words and for making the reader genuinely care for the characters in her pages. I intend to spend some more time in Chesapeake Shores in the near future. Had Driftwood Cottage been a stand alone novel it would have been good but it is the power of a completely thought out and realistic community that gives this book its magic. And, just because it’s a romance novel and the preconceived notion is always there that things will all work out in the end doesn’t mean Driftwood Cottage doesn’t have a surprise or two hidden between the front and back cover. Overall, it was a lovely escape to a seaside town where I got to visit for a short time with one amazing family.
My one major disconnect? The cover art. It does not work for me... or the story.
On a traditional rating scale, I give Driftwood Cottage 4/5 stars… or hearts, as it were.
“Though there were a lot of words on the tip of his tongue, things he wanted to say but knew he shouldn’t, Connor turned and walked away. Unlike so many times when they’d parted, for some reason this time felt a whole lot more like goodbye.” ~Sherryl Woods, Driftwood Cottage