Reading this book was a lot like spending an afternoon with my very sweet, very voluble cousin who, every time I see her, launches into protracted, tedious stories about people I’ve never met and, based on her anecdotes, have no interest in meeting. While she chatters on, I think – and I do always feel badly about this – “blah, blah, bored now, blah, blah, blah.”
Two chapters into this book, I wondered if my cousin had taken up penning humdrum romances, but no, this book is by Sherryl Woods, an author with over a hundred books to her name. Driftwood Cottage is the fifth book in Ms. Woods’s Chesapeake Shores series featuring the O’Brien family. Much of the fanciful – and boy are they fanciful – O’Brien family lives in the Maryland seaboard town of Chesapeake Shores. The O’Briens are a touching (read: fake and folksy), multi-generational (there’s a cookie baking, sappy saying dispensing Grandmother and several cute as a button tykes), loving (meddlesome and gossipy) family replete with contented couples in which the men all seem, well, whipped. One son, however, Connor O’Brien, our hero – and I use that term very loosely — refuses to walk the O’Brien walk. He’s so hell-bent on not being part of a happy, married couple he has refused, for years, to marry the woman he loves, Heather Donovan.
Connor, disillusioned first by his parents’ divorce (It didn’t stick, and Big Mick and Megan are now one more a blissful O’Brien pair) and then by his career as a divorce lawyer for scummy husbands, just can’t commit… to marriage. He’s keen to commit to fidelity, life-long love, and financially supporting Heather and the infant son they share, he just can’t get married. Let’s go over that one more time. He adores Heather and his son – the irritatingly named Little Mick, he wants to live with them, be with them, and pay for them. He just doesn’t want to be married. Are you wondering why? I did. He loves Heather, Little Mick, and the home and life they share. His utter rejection of marriage defied common sense.
Heather is equally unfathomable. She adores Connor, wants him to parent Little Mick, liquefies when Connor smiles at her, and very much wants to be part of the warm goo that is the O’Brien family. She and Connor met in college and she’s never looked at another man. He’s the love of her life and her baby daddy – she had Little Mick well aware of Connor’s “marriage-is-not-on-the-list” mentality. But, after one too many evenings watching Connor come home to their place in Baltimore, down on connubial contentment, she decides she and Little Mick are better off without him. (Really? Has she seen any of the research about single vs. two parent homes?) She takes the baby, heads for Chesapeake Shores, opens a quilting shop, and works on making a whole new life for herself…completely ensconced in Connor’s clan. And why not? The interfering O’Briens are sure, with a little shove here and a huge push there, their Connor will see the light and offer dear Heather the proposal she and adorable Little Mick so deserve.
The novel meanders through countless conversations between various and sundry O’Briens. The elder generation is full of hard won acumen; the younger set is peopling the town. Heather, who has a poor relationship with her own family, sees Connor’s family for the wonderful (read: Disney in the 1950’s) bunch they are and she finds the whole lot of them irresistible. Connor, who’s a fine enough guy when he’s not in his “I will never marry mode,” also loves his family and….
I’m guessing you can see where all this ends. So, if you like heartwarming stories about family, second chances where loves triumphs over all, and happy endings that appear as easily as fireworks on a soft summer night, go buy this book. Driftwood Cottage is sentimental, uplifting, and bursting with heartwarming vignettes. If, however, you yearn for plot that moves rather than plods, characters with more verve than vapidity, and writing that reveals rather than blathers, don’t buy Driftwood Cottage. I plan to buy a copy: It will make the perfect gift for my cousin.