No one writes about friends, family and home better than Sherryl Woods. Told with warmth and humor, Lilac Lane is a brand-new story in her beloved Chesapeake Shores series, one readers all over the world have waited two years to read!
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?
You won’t want to miss this epic return to Chesapeake Shores, a place we’re betting you’ll want to stay forever.
Read an excerpt:
On the quick drive to the pub, Luke ran through the short list of waitstaff, many of whom were college students working part-time. “You’ll be working most closely with the chef, Bryan Laramie,” he concluded. “Bryan’s pretty easygoing, but he considers the kitchen his domain.”
“The name doesn’t sound Irish.”
Luke chuckled at that. “No, Bryan’s a New Yorker by birth, a graduate of the Culinary Institute, who landed somehow in Baltimore working at a deli. I’ve never heard the whole story about that. He doesn’t talk much about himself or his past.”
“Isn’t a deli one of those places known for matzo ball soup and pastrami on rye sandwiches?”
“Among other things, yes.”
“Why would you hire someone like that to run the kitchen in an Irish pub?” Kiera asked.
“Of all the applicants, Moira and I liked him the best. And Nell put him to a test with some of her best recipes and he won the position hands down over two others we considered. You’ll see. He knows his way around the kitchen and we’re building something of a reputation for the quality of our food, as well as for our selection of ale and the fine Irish music we bring in on the weekends.”
“Then I’ll keep an open mind,” Kiera promised.
Luke gave her a worried look. “Kiera, O’Brien’s runs smoothly because we operate as a team. We all know our roles and respect each other’s contributions, from the wait-staff and kitchen staff all the way through to Moira and me.”
“And where exactly am I to fit in?”
“Once you’ve spent a little time learning the way we operate, getting to know our regular customers and so on, you’ll make recommendations just as any of the rest of us might. We’re always open to fresh ideas. And anything that ensures our customers of a true Irish experience will be especially welcomed. We’ll trust you about that.”
It all sounded perfectly reasonable to her, even if offering a little less control than she’d been anticipating. Still, she would have Luke’s ear if there were changes she felt needed to be made in the name of Irish authenticity.
“How will you be introducing me to the staff?” she asked “Am I to be one of them, or a consultant only, as Moira suggested, or a nosy troublesome mother-in-law who happens to be visiting from Ireland and can’t keep her opinions to herself ?”
Luke gave her a curious glance. “Are you in need of a formal title?”
“Not for my ego,” she replied tartly. “But it will be a help to all of us, if I know my place.”
“Since I can’t give you an official position just yet until Connor settles that paperwork, why don’t we just say you’re helping out and lending us your expertise from years of working in pubs in Ireland?”
Kiera nodded slowly. “So a voice, but no authority.”
“Something like that,” Luke said, his tone cautious. “Are you okay with that for now?”
“I’ll do my best to make it work,” she said. She’d spent years under similar restraint in her old job. She’d had far more freedom and say at Peter’s pub, but she could put that aside for now. At least she hoped she could, if only in the name of family harmony.
Bryan looked up from the Irish soda bread he was about to put into the oven to see Kiera Malone regarding him intently, her expression radiating disapproval.
“Something on your mind?” he asked.
“Just observing,” she said, backing off a step.
“But you have something to say. I can see that you’re practically biting your tongue. Just say it.”
Ever since Kiera had been introduced to the staff at O’Brien’s, she’d been lurking about, observing as she put it. It was driving him a little bit crazy. He didn’t like extra people milling about in his kitchen, especially with an unmistakable hint of judgment in their eyes. He’d grown used to being respected, thanks to regular praise from not only the customers, but from Nell O’Brien, who was his go-to person for inspiration with the menu and its execution.
To be fair, from what he’d seen, Kiera was a hard worker in general and she got on well enough with the customers and even the waitstaff. She wasn’t still for a minute and was always eager to take on any task that was given to her, even pitching in to help out washing dishes or scrubbing the floor after hours. All of that was admirable.
It was the way she watched him as he worked, though, that made him want to banish her from his kitchen. It was only out of respect for Luke and Moira that he’d kept his mouth shut till now and tried to accept her presence underfoot.
He studied her expression and could tell she was torn between speaking out and staying silent. “Just say whatever’s on your mind before your head explodes,” he told her impatiently.
“The soda bread is going to be hard as a rock,” she blurted finally.
He frowned at her. “And just why is that?”
“You were pounding it as if you had a grudge against it,” she told him.
Bryan drew in a deep breath to try to calm himself before he said something he’d regret. It was true, he’d been taking out his frustration over Kiera’s presence on the dough. And, quite likely, she was right. Overkneading would be the kiss of death for the soda bread. It would likely be inedible.
Rather than admitting as much, however, he simply gestured to the array of ingredients. “Would you like to show me how it’s done?”
Her expression brightened at once. “You won’t be offended?”
Given that it was his way of saving face when his own loaves of bread were tossed in the trash, no, he wouldn’t be offended at all.
“Have at it,” he said, instead. “I have other work to do if we’re to be ready when the doors open for lunch.”
When he turned back a few minutes later, Kiera was lovingly kneading the bread with a touch that stirred an annoying hint of longing. Out of the blue a shocking image of those hands on him, massaging his shoulders at the end of the day, made him more irritable than ever. Images like that were not only inappropriate, they were totally unwelcome. At this rate, the woman was going to drive him to the brink of insanity and she hadn’t even been underfoot a full week.
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