"Nostalgic and beautiful story of a woman seeking love and her place in a family."
Reviewed by Kay Quintin
Posted January 21, 2012
Following the family trip to Ireland, the homeland of his
heirs, Luke O'Brien left his heart there with the feisty,
strong-headed Moira Malone. Home again in Chesapeake
Shores, Florida Luke is frantically making arrangements to
set up his first endeavor, an "Irish" pub. The only thing
missing is his sharp tongued Moira and her dry wit. Luke
has his own timetable to meet in proving himself to his
over-achieving family members.
Moira is invited to accompany her grandfather, Dillon
O'Malley, to visit Luke's grandmother, Nell, a childhood
love. Arriving in Chesapeake Shores Moira falls in love
with the beautiful seaside town, founded by an O'Brien, and
its residents. Helping Luke to set up and launch his new
pub, Moira's remarkable photography catches Megan O'Brien's
eye. Encouraging Moira to having a showing of her "art"
begins to pull her in two directions; becoming a wife,
mother and having her own family or deciding on a demanding
career. Moira's visa is due to becoming voided which
precipitates Luke to go against his "timetable" and ask
Moira to marry him. Of course, this is without even the
mention of love which causes an issue with Moira. She wants
marriage to Luke because he loves her and not out of
necessity. Moira, disillusioned, turns him down and makes
arrangements for her departure to Ireland. The clueless
Luke begins to see his mistakes upon his grandmother's stay
in the hospital when she proceeds to give Moira and Luke
both some advice about life.
I feel like I am coming home again with each novel I read of
the wonderful O'Brien family. This is another warm and
touching story of Luke, a member of the O'Brien family in
the Chesapeake Shores series. Sherryl Woods has an amazing
ability to place the reader smack dab in the lives of her
characters, feeling their sorrows, fears and their complete
unconditional love for one another. Moira and Luke fell in
love at first sight; Moira knowing what she wants and Luke
afraid of commitment until the "time was right"! THE SUMMER
GARDEN is a page turner for sure!
Falling for "Maddening Moira" O'Malley was the unexpected
highlight of Luke O'Brien's Dublin holiday. So when she pays
a surprise visit to Chesapeake Shores, Luke is thrilled...at
first. A fling with this wild Irish rose is one thing, but
forever? Maybe someday, but not when he's totally focused on
establishing a business that will prove his mettle to his
Given Luke's reaction, Moira has some soul-searching of her
own to do. Scarred by her father's abandonment, she wonders
if Luke, with his playboy past, is truly the family man she
longs for. Adding to her dilemma, she's offered an amazing
chance at a dream career of her own.
Deep down, though, Moira knows home is the real prize, and
that love can be every bit as enchanted as a summer garden.
ExcerptMaddening Moira was still in his head!
Luke O'Brien had been home from Ireland for a month now.
He'd been obsessing over his plans for the pub he wanted
to open in Chesapeake Shores, worrying about the likely
uproar with his family. He'd gone out a few times with
the sophisticated, delectable Kristen Lewis, picking up
where they'd left off during a brief rendezvous in
Ireland. Truth be told, it was a matter of convenience for
both of them, not a meeting of the hearts, but until
recently it had been an excellent distraction, if only
because it had complications galore that appealed to
Luke's desire for a taste of rebellion.
But then along came Moira Malone with the sharp tongue and
"I'll not be taken in by smooth talk and a
wink," she'd told Luke, firmly putting him in his
place. "I've been around such men all my life."
They'd met on the O'Brien family's holiday
excursion to Ireland a few months ago. She was the
granddaughter of his own grandmother's old flame, Dillon
O'Malley. She was beautiful, but impossible. In fact, it
was entirely likely that she was the most frustrating female
he'd ever had the pleasure of meeting, in part because
she'd been mostly immune to his charm. She'd
complicated his life in an entirely different way. She'd
unexpectedly engaged his heart.
After staying on in Ireland for several weeks after the rest
of the family had returned to Chesapeake Shores, Luke had
eventually come home, ready to move on with his life. Ready
to finally get serious about life, according to his
impatient father, who'd vocally protested the wasting of
his college education.
He had a degree in history, for heaven's sakes! Had
anyone seriously thought he'd use that? He certainly
hadn't. He'd chosen history because he enjoyed the
subject as much as any other and he'd needed to get the
college off his back by declaring a major.
Now, though, the clock was ticking, and the tightly knit
O'Briens were all watching and waiting to see what
he—the youngest of family matriarch Nell's
grandchildren—planned to make of himself. He doubted
that opening an Irish pub on Shore Road was what anyone in
the family would have guessed his calling to be.
Restless after going over his plans for the thousandth time,
hoping to be so sure of himself, so confident of his path
that no one would even attempt to talk him out of it, he
wandered over to his brother's office.
Matthew was currently proving himself to be almost as
talented and innovative an architect as their world-renowned
uncle Mick. Like most of Luke's family, Matthew had
discovered his passion early on. Luke had envied everyone in
his family, not only for knowing what they wanted, but also
for succeeding at it, sometimes phenomenally well. He had
daunting examples to follow.
When Luke arrived, Matthew was so absorbed in the blueprints
on his desk he never even glanced up, which gave Luke more
pacing time to get his thoughts in order. He intended to try
out his idea first on the most receptive audience he was
likely to find.
Eventually, Matthew looked up, spotted him and blinked.
"How long have you been here?"
"Long enough," Luke said. "How many towns and
villages have you designed today?"
"Only the one," Matthew replied, grinning. "I
think the plans for this community in Florida are just about
set to go to the developer for final approval. He's very
anxious to break ground, judging by the frequency of his
calls for updates on my progress."
Luke had seen his share of architectural renderings over the
years, but he had to admit that he lacked the vision to
translate them into brick-and-mortar towns. Still, he peered
over his brother's shoulder, prepared to feign the
proper enthusiasm. What he saw, though, as he leafed through
the pages, left him dumbstruck.
"You designed this? From scratch? A whole community,
from houses to Main Street to schools, a library and even a
church? You just looked over a few acres of vacant land and
imagined all this?"
Matthew's grin spread as he nodded. "Pretty awesome,
if I do say so myself."
"I guess all that time you spent playing with Lego as a
kid wasn't wasted, after all. Has Uncle Mick seen it?"
"Of course. He's in here pestering me every other
day. I gather when he isn't calling me, the
developer's calling Uncle Mick to nudge things along."
"Uncle Mick says it's as good as anything he's
ever done," Matthew said, looking pleased.
"Which means it's a thousand times better," Luke
concluded. "He's not going to say so on your first
big job and risk your having a swelled head and demanding a
Matthew shrugged off the compliment. "Things can always
be better. Uncle Mick has even talked to me about things he
would have done differently if he had Chesapeake Shores to
design over again."
Luke regarded him with surprise. "Really? Like what?"
"He admits that Uncle Thomas was right about wanting the
community to be built in an environmentally friendly way. He
says he wouldn't have given him such a tough time about
Luke laughed. "No, he'd just give him a tough time
on general principle, the same as he does with Dad."
"More than likely," Matthew agreed. "So what
brings you by here at the end of the day?"
"I was hoping you'd have time for a drink."
"Sure. Mind if Laila tags along? I was going to meet her
for dinner in an hour. You can join us."
"That'll work. There are some things I'd like to
run by her, anyway."
His brother regarded him suspiciously. "Just what do you
and my wife have to talk about?"
"Maybe we're conspiring to throw a surprise party
for your birthday," Luke teased, knowing how much his
brother abhorred the whole concept of surprise parties, even
though he'd determinedly pulled off his own
almost-surprise wedding in Ireland, keeping Laila mostly in
the dark until his Christmas Eve proposal.
"My birthday was just a couple of months ago, and
neither of you is that much of a long-range planner,"
Matthew retorted. "Try again."
"How about I explain it over drinks?" Luke countered.
"Fine. Brady's okay?"
"Actually, I have someplace else in mind. I need to stop
by Dad's office first. Why don't I meet you on Shore
Road in front of Panini Bistro in twenty minutes?"
"Suits me," Matthew said. "I'll call Laila
and let her know. If I get there first, I'll grab a
"Actually, don't do that," Luke said. "Wait
for me in front, okay? Tell Laila to grab a table, though,
if she gets there before we're back."
"Back?" Matthew gave him an odd look. "Curiouser
"Trust me, okay?"
"Always," Matthew said at once. "See you in a
Luke gave him a wave, then headed for his father's
office. He was hoping to find his father gone for the day
and perhaps only his sister still there. Susie might give
him grief over his request, but she was less likely to pull
rank and demand answers.
Even better, he found the real estate management company run
by his father to be closed for the day. Using the key he had
for the occasions when he helped out showing properties, he
went in, plucked a key off the board for the properties they
owned or managed and closed back up.
He beat Matthew to their appointed meeting spot by mere seconds.
"Where to now, o secretive one?" Matthew inquired.
"Not far," Luke said, heading down the block to a
large empty space that had been occupied by a French
restaurant that had gone belly-up, unable to survive during
the slower winter months. Personally, he thought it had
failed because of the god-awful uncomfortable chairs that
had made the customers squirm through the torturous minutes
it took to eat their overpriced food, but what did he know?
He led the way inside and flipped on lights, then turned to
his older brother. "What do you think?"
Matthew looked blank. "Of what? It's an empty
Luke held his gaze. "Think you could help me turn it
into a warm and welcoming Irish pub?"
The words were no sooner out of his mouth than he heard a
hoot from the doorway and turned to see his uncle Mick
"I come to check on why lights are blazing in an empty
property and find you making plans to open a pub?" Mick
said, his expression incredulous.
Luke sighed. He hadn't wanted such a tough audience
right from the outset, but maybe it was for the best. Mick
had a good business head and a real understanding of what
this town needed. He wondered if Mick would see the value of
a gathering spot in the heart of town, a warm and welcoming
place in the Irish tradition.
"That's what I'm thinking," Luke confirmed,
looking Mick directly in the eye. "What's your
Mick's gaze narrowed. "What makes you think you can
do this? You never worked as a bartender, as far as I know.
Never worked in a restaurant, either."
"Not entirely true," Luke said. "When I stayed
on in Ireland, I worked for a time at McDonough's, the
pub where we spent so much time while we were there. I also
traveled all over the country visiting every pub I could
find, from those in cities to those in small villages. I
asked a million questions, took copious notes and cooked my
share of fish 'n' chips. I even bought an antique
bar in a place that was closing. It's being shipped over
here for arrival in a month's time."
Matthew's expression was now as stunned as his
uncle's. "I thought you stayed in Ireland after the
family and Kristen left because you developed some misguided
crush on the impossible Moira."
"That's what I wanted everyone to think," he
admitted, and it had been partly true. "I wasn't
ready to have all of you shoot down this idea of mine. I was
still formulating it, testing it out in my heart and my head
to see if it felt right." He leveled a look into his
brother's eyes, pleading with him to understand and back
him in this. "It does."
"But a pub?" Matthew said, his concern evident.
"In a weird way, it was something Mack said a while
back," Luke explained, referring to his sister
Susie's husband. "I was giving him some advice and
he made an offhand comment that maybe I should consider
being a shrink like Will. He was actually being sarcastic,
but the idea stuck."
"And that led you to this pub idea?" Mick said.
"What kind of sense does that make?"
"Everyone knows people pour out their troubles to
bartenders," Luke explained. "I like listening, not
in any official capacity, the way Will does, but just being
a sounding board. When we were in Ireland, I saw that kind
of thing happening in every pub we went to, and it all kind
of fell into place. Pubs create their own kind of community,
not just for drinking but for food and friendship, for music
and laughter. At least when they're done right. I'd
like to be at the center of something like that."
"Well, I'll be," Matthew said.
Luke studied his brother's face to see if shock was
edging toward approval. "So, do you think I'm
insane?" he prodded.
"A little," Matthew said. "But I can also see it
working. How about you, Uncle Mick? Look around. Imagine
that antique bar across the back wall with a big mirror that
will bring in the view of the bay, at least during the day.
Maybe not as dark as the usual Irish pub, but one suited to
a seaside town. Laila and I saw one like that in Howth with
a view of the marina."
He glanced toward Luke. "You mentioned music. Does that
mean you'd like a small area for a band?"
"Absolutely," Luke confirmed. "Nothing too large
or fancy, just an area where musicians can set up. I'm
hoping to book some authentic Irish groups from time to
time. Bands, singers, whatever I can find."
"Got it," Matthew said, jotting notes on the pad
that was ever-present in his pocket. "Uncle Mick, what
do you think?"
Mick shook his head and began to pace. Only after he'd
been at it a few minutes did Luke realize he was mentally
measuring. When he halted in front of Luke, he looked him in
the eye. "You have a business plan? Times get tough
around here in winter. You have to be able to weather that."
"I think the music will keep the locals coming in and
maybe draw people from around the region. My figures seem
sound enough to me, but I was hoping Laila could take a look
at them," he said. "Math was never my strongest
suit. I'm hoping she'll have time to take over that
end of things for me, keep the finances on track and yank my
chain when I'm tempted to bust the budget for one thing
or another, as she does for Jess."
"Ah, so that's why she's waiting for us now at
Panini Bistro," Matthew said. "We should probably
get over there. Uncle Mick, care to come along?"
"Try to keep me away," Mick said at once.
"I'll just walk to the corner, which is where I was
headed when I spotted you two, and get Megan. She should be
closing up her gallery about now."
On his way to get his wife, Luke surmised, Mick had
apparently crossed paths with Luke's cousin Connor, who
was meeting his wife, Heather, at her quilt shop and invited
them along, because Connor and Heather accompanied
Connor's parents to the restaurant.
By the time they were actually seated at Panini Bistro, they
needed just about every vacant seat in the tiny restaurant.
Naturally, it was Mick who seized the moment to announce
Luke's news, which caused a noisy eruption of input from
everyone in the room, until Mick finally slapped a hand on
the table to get their attention. Then he turned to Luke.
"What do you plan to call this bar of yours?"
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