The Christmas Bouquet (Chesapeake Shores Series #11)

The Christmas Bouquet (Chesapeake Shores Series #11)

3.7 20
by Sherryl Woods
     
 

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When it comes to family and Christmas, #1 New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods always looks to the O'Briens for a little holiday magic

For the very driven medical student Caitlyn Winters, catching the bridal bouquet at a Christmas wedding has set off a chain reaction that she's sure is more curse than blessing. Not only has she fallen in love with

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Overview

When it comes to family and Christmas, #1 New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods always looks to the O'Briens for a little holiday magic

For the very driven medical student Caitlyn Winters, catching the bridal bouquet at a Christmas wedding has set off a chain reaction that she's sure is more curse than blessing. Not only has she fallen in love with family medicine resident Noah McIlroy, but an unexpected pregnancy threatens her well-laid plans for the future. It doesn't help that Noah—with a whole lot of help from her O'Brien relatives—is completely on board with the prospect of marriage and happily-ever-after.

It takes a whole lot of patience, love and family persuasion to help Caitlyn realize that she can still have everything she ever wanted, including a home in her beloved Chesapeake Shores and a man who understands all of her dreams.

"Love, marriage, family, and forgiveness all play an important part in Woods's latest richly nourishing, holiday-spiced novel." —Chicago Tribune on A Chesapeake Shores Christmas

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Sherryl Woods writes emotionally satisfying novels about family, friendship and home. Truly feel-great reads!"

-#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber

"Woods...is noted for appealing character-driven stories that are often infused with the flavor and fragrance of the South."

-Library Journal

"Woods always thrills with her wonderful characters, witty dialogue and warm and loving family interactions and this O'Brien family saga is no exception."

-RT Book Reviews on An O'Brien Family Christmas

"Infused with the warmth and magic of the season, Woods's fourth addition to her popular small-town series once again unites the unruly, outspoken, endearing O'Brien clan in a touching, triumphant tale of forgiveness and love reclaimed."

-Library Journal on A Chesapeake Shores Christmas

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780778316626
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
10/07/2014
Series:
Chesapeake Shores Series, #11
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
143,619
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.30(h) x 1.30(d)

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The Christmas Bouquet


By Sherryl Woods

Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Copyright © 2014 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7783-1662-6


CHAPTER 1

It was all because of that blasted bridal bouquet, Caitlyn Winters thought as she stared in dismay at the positive pregnancy test in her hand. From the moment she'd caught the bouquet at Jenny Collins's Christmas wedding in New York a little over a year ago, she'd been doomed. That instinctive grab of an object flying straight at her had changed her life.

Her twin sister, Carrie, who'd all but shoved her aside to try to snatch the bouquet from the air, was going to laugh herself silly at what had transpired since that night. So were the rest of the O'Briens, for that matter. They loved irony.

Noah Mcllroy, the family medicine resident whom she'd met soon after the wedding and with whom she'd been having a serious relationship since last September, tapped on the bathroom door.

"Caitlyn, are you okay?"

A hysterical laugh bubbled up, but she fought to contain it. This was no laughing matter. "Fine," she managed to squeak out just as the door opened. Noah's gaze shifted from her face to land on the test strip she was holding. Concern immediately evolved into astonishment.

"You're pregnant?" he asked, his eyes filled with surprise, but a smile already tugging at his lips.

His wonderful, sensual lips, which had gotten them into this mess, she thought wryly. Of course, she was well aware those lips hadn't caused her pregnancy. Heck, she'd known about the birds and bees long before that, thanks to all the romances in Chesapeake Shores and among her amorous O'Brien relatives.

But it was her inability to resist Noah's heated kisses that had led to all the rest. That and an apparently defective condom. Given her cautious nature, she probably should have insisted on at least three methods of birth control, but no, she'd trusted Noah when he'd assured her that the condoms would be sufficient.

The man had cast a spell over her from the minute they'd met, literally one week after she'd caught that blasted romantic bouquet with all its superstition attached like streamers of satin ribbon. The deft catch had earned hoots of laughter from her family and a stunned, disappointed scowl from her twin, who'd been angling for the bouquet all evening.

And now, here she was, barely more than a year later, and pregnant. She hadn't even accepted Noah's repeated pleas that they live together, even though he was in her apartment more often than he was in his own. She'd drawn a line at that, knowing that she'd never be able to keep his presence in her life a secret from her nosy family if they were actually living under the same roof.

And she'd wanted to keep this relationship a secret. After all, she was supposed to be the grounded, goaloriented sister. Carrie was the one everyone had expected to fall madly in love and marry before her college graduation. Instead, Carrie was jetting around the world, leading a completely carefree life, building a career in public relations for a big fashion designer and tossing away men like used tissues while she pined for one unobtainable man. And Caitlyn, thanks to that bouquet, was standing here with a positive pregnancy test in her hand!

She recalled the forget-me-nots that her aunt Bree had tucked into Jenny's simple bridal bouquet and fought back another hysterical laugh. She was hardly likely to forget this moment, that's for sure.

She drew in a deep breath and finally dared to meet Noah's gaze. For a man supposedly as dedicated to his medical career as she was to hers, he looked awfully pleased about this unexpected bump in the road. Of course, he was just a couple of months away from launching his career, while she still had the long years of an internship and residency to complete.

"Wipe that smile off your face," she instructed him firmly. "This is not good news."

His smile only spread, revealing that appealing dimple that had also sucked her right in. "It's the best possible news," he contradicted.

"Noah, you may see the light at the end of the tunnel, but be real. You'll finish your residency at the end of June and you still have to decide where you want to go into practice and get established. I haven't even started my internship. We might not even be living in the same city a few months from now. A baby doesn't fit into the plan."

"You know what they say," he began.

"Don't you dare remind me that God laughs while we're making plans."

She frowned for emphasis as she passed him on her way into the bedroom, where she sank down on the side of the bed. Maybe if she sat for a minute, she could think. Thinking clearly had always been her best trait.

She'd known what she wanted for her life by her teens. After spending a summer volunteering in a doctor's office in a medically underserved community in Appalachia and seeing reports about villages in third-world countries that were even worse off, she'd found her calling. Her reward had been the healthy children who'd clustered around her at the end of the summer to say goodbye, the moms who'd hugged her with tears in their eyes.

Just like her ambitious mother, Abby O'Brien Winters Riley, Caitlyn had thought her future through very carefully. There would be college, medical school, an internship and residency. Then she'd use all that knowledge to help children in parts of the world where medical help was severely lacking. She'd make a difference, just like everyone else in her family had in their own way. This was her way to shine, to live up to all those family expectations and at the same time do the kind of meaningful work she'd been born to do.

She'd been so focused that she'd managed to complete college in three years, then set out to whip through medical school and all of her rotations as fast as they'd allowed her to. Every summer she'd either crammed in more courses or served in another needy community, most recently in Africa with the Red Cross. While Carrie was the social butterfly, Caitlyn had been driven, not allowing a single distraction. Not until Noah, anyway.

She glanced up at him as he studied her with a worried expression. He was so incredibly gorgeous, it was little wonder that her heart seemed to stop whenever she looked at him. But it wasn't his looks that had made her fall in love. He'd seemed as driven as she was, determined to be the kind of old-fashioned doctor who was more concerned with treating his patients with compassion and dignity than racking up huge bucks on office visits and unnecessary testing.

They'd met on her rotation through the family medicine service right after that fateful wedding. She'd been immediately smitten by his dedication, the thoughtful kindness he displayed to everyone from patients to the most inept medical students still struggling to adapt book learning to practical experience. He'd turned her into a better doctor by example, no question about it. He'd suggested she waver from her original intention to focus on pediatrics and steered her into choosing family medicine. He'd helped her see that she could serve even more people with that well-rounded specialty.

Until she'd worked with him, she'd understood everything in her textbooks, but she hadn't mastered the instinctive diagnostic skills that made the difference between being competent and excelling. He'd taught her to listen to more than a list of symptoms, to hear what her patients weren't saying, as much as to what they said.

By fall, when she'd started her final year of medical school, they were in an exclusive relationship, stealing time to be together whenever they could. With their competing, demanding schedules, those stolen moments had been few and far between. Given the test strip she was holding, they'd been more than sufficient to alter her life apparently.

Noah dropped down beside her now and took her hand in his. "We're going to be okay," he said softly, his warm brown eyes filled with tenderness.

When she didn't answer, he touched her chin. "Look at me, Cait." Only after she'd turned her head, fighting tears, did he repeat, "We're going to be okay."

"How?" she asked him, unable to imagine it, unable to accept his confidently spoken reassurance.

"We'll get married," he said without hesitation. "I know we haven't talked about that yet, but you know I love you. I want a future with you. This just bumps up the timetable. I'm all but finished with my residency. I'll go into practice in July. You'll finish your internship and residency. Then you can join me in the practice."

She listened to the logical simplicity of his plan and regarded him incredulously, panicked by the certainty in his voice.

"That's your dream, Noah. Not mine. You know what I want, what I've worked so hard for. There's a big world out there in desperate need of medical help. I want to save the lives of babies in third-world countries who might not make it without a doctor in their village. The two weeks I spent in Africa last year ..." Her voice trailed off and hitched as she thought about the desperation she'd seen everywhere she'd turned. "That time confirmed everything for me. I was meant to do that kind of work. I promised I'd be back."

To his credit he didn't dismiss her dream or the promise she'd made. They'd talked about it often enough. He knew how much it meant to her to go where she was needed. It was what she'd stayed up nights studying for. She'd known it from the first time she'd seen those malnourished children with their wide desperate eyes on the news. Every volunteer assignment she'd taken after that had only solidified her resolve.

"Then how do you see this going?" he asked quietly.

She wanted to blurt out that she'd have to end the pregnancy, but how could she? While she might believe in every woman's right to choose, she knew she'd never be able to live with herself if she chose abortion. She was a healer. And this was Noah's baby, an unexpected blessing under any other circumstances.

"I don't know," she whispered, hot tears falling.

Noah pulled her into his arms and held her against his chest, surrounding her with his strength and heat and that scary, unwavering certainty. "We'll figure it out," he promised. "Together, we'll figure out what's best."

For just an instant, Caitlyn allowed herself to believe that. She desperately wanted to hold on to the possibility that there was an answer that worked for both of them. But in every scenario she envisioned, she lost.

Noah knew a baby wasn't in Cait's plans, not right now, anyway. It killed him to see her so utterly miserable when he wanted to shout his joy from the rooftop. The timing might be lousy in so many ways, but the news filled him with hope that this child would bind the two of them together forever.

She'd been right about one thing: marriage and sharing a medical practice was his dream. He'd wanted that from the minute she'd started on his service at the hospital with her exhaustive textbook knowledge of medicine, her instinctive diagnostic skills that even now she didn't recognize that she possessed and her unquenchable thirst to learn everything he had to teach her. Her silky skin and untamed red curls had captivated him, too, no question about it. Every male at the hospital stared after her as she bounced through her days with boundless energy and optimism, spreading smiles in her wake.

Over the next few weeks they'd shared enough late nights and coffee it was a wonder either of them had ever slept a wink with all that caffeine racing through their systems. He'd never been much of a talker, but with Caitlyn, he hadn't been able to keep quiet. There'd been so much he'd wanted to share, so many things about her he'd wanted to learn.

She'd made him laugh with her endless stream of stories about her large IrishAmerican family and teased him unmercifully because his own background was Scottish. She'd claimed she could never take him home because of it.

He'd thought at the time she was joking, but now he couldn't help wondering. They'd been inseparable for most of the past year, but he still hadn't been invited to Chesapeake Shores, which wasn't that far away. Was he wrong about how much he meant to her? Was he only someone with whom she could spend time until the day she finished her residency and went off to begin her "real" life? Did she view him as safe, someone she could leave behind without regrets?

No, he thought heatedly. He wasn't wrong about their feelings. He couldn't be. He wasn't the only one in love. Cait loved him, too. He might not have a lot of experience with serious relationships—how many doctors had enough time to properly date during all those years of school and training, after all?—but he could recognize that what he'd found with Cait was special.

Sitting across the room on the edge of the bed where she'd left him, he watched her now as she pulled her strawberry-red hair into a severe knot intended to tame the curls. He smiled as a few escaped to brush her cheeks. It reminded him of the way she lived her life, desperately trying to control everything, but a wild streak coming out when she least expected it. He could recall with total clarity the last time she'd cut loose with total abandon. He liked imagining that was the night this baby had been conceived, with neither of them thinking of anything but each other.

"Cait," he said softly. "I think it's time I meet this crazy family of yours."

In her mirrored reflection, he saw her eyes go wide with alarm.

"Now?"

"Can you think of a better time? They have to be told about what's going on."

She shook her head. "Not a chance, Noah. Not until we know what we're going to do. Maybe not even then. My mom, she's great. She'll handle this okay. My great-grandmother—"

"Nell O'Brien, right?"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Christmas Bouquet by Sherryl Woods. Copyright © 2014 Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet 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.

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The Christmas Bouquet 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If i were Noah i would drop catlyn and call a lawyer
rhonda1111RL More than 1 year ago
4 STARS I do like the O'Briens of Chesapeake Shores. Caitlyn Winters is a spoiled. She is upset that her plans to be a doc. and return to poor countries to give them medical help has run into a road block. Now granted she does want to do good when she becomes a Doctor. Noah McIlroy is going to be done in a few months and be a full doctor. He wants to serve in a small community that needs a Doctor. I am more a Noah fan. He is happy with the prospect of being a father. He loves Caitlyn and wants to meet her family. Their is a lot of O'briens who interfere when they find out that their will be a new generation to be born. Noah can't get Caitlyn to make plans so he goes ahead and change his plans in a small ways. He decides that he could be needed in Chesapeake Shores. It is a community that needs doctors. He will be close to Caitlyn as she finishes her training. It does take forever it seemed for Caitlyn to make up her mind of what she can live with. I like Noah's attitude of letting Caitlyn make up her mind without pressure except for one important thing. He let her know that he loved her and would be their for her. I like the idea of giving back. The different areas they can make a difference but to realize you can only do so much. It is always fun to see the O'Briens in action. How they all think Mic is behind everything but than they all do the same thing. Now we need to see Caitlyn's twin sister find her passions. I was given this ebook from Net Galley and Harlequin. In return for honest reviews of The Christmas Bouquet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book, loved the story line. I have read all of he Chesapeake Shores series and loved every one of them, as I have with all of the books by Sherryl Woods that I have read. Her books are very easy to relate to, they are very true to life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The lead character, Caitlyn, is selfish and whiney. It is hard to read because you just want to tell her to grow up already. Noah, the love interest, needs to man-up. This was my least favorite book by Sherryl Woods.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not as good as previous books in series. Main character, Caitlyn, is a spoiled, self-centered brat and it took her until the end of the book to stop thinking only of her self and what she had as goals and their timing. She didn't deserve a such a special understanding guy like Noah. It would have served her right if he got tired of waiting. If this was the only book I'd read in the series I probably wouldn't want to read any others. Her selfishness was carried on way too long.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Woods writes well. Glad to have read book 1 in this series before reading this volume. Fortunately, the author does not spend an excessive amount of time on back story.
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
Now this was a Christmas romance.  It had family, holidays, love, and surprises in it.  Just about everything a person needs for the holidays.  I was a little worried about Cait and Noah for a long time in this story.  Sherry Woods did an excellent job of drawing things out without making it tiresome.  Both of our stars have reasons for wanting things done their way, and neither one is willing to completely back down. Caitlyn was a little too focused on her goal of returning to countries in poverty and providing medical care (a very selfless goal).  When life throws a baby in her path she can't seem to find a path where she has the family and her previous goal working together.  She's convinced she won't be able to do what she planned with her life.  Noah is set on showing her that she can have it all - just on a slightly different timeline.  It takes a whole village (literally) to help bring them together, but it was well worth it. I have not read other books in the Chesapeake Shores series and this worked nicely as a stand alone.  There are several loving couples in Cait's family, and I'm going to have to add this series to my list of books to keep an eye out for, because I bet the rest of the stories are just as good. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
Cheryl-S More than 1 year ago
3.5 Stars Caitlyn Winters caught the bouquet at Jenny Collins's Christmas wedding a little over a year ago.  She thinks that's why her life has changed so drastically.  She started a relationship with Noah McIlroy shortly after the wedding and now she's pregnant because the condom broke.  She still has her internship and residency to go through to be a doctor and she plans to go back to Africa and help with medical care after that.  How long before she realizes that plans change when you least expect it and everything doesn't always work on your scheduled time line? This book should have been a short story.  It would have been easier to take if I didn't have to read so much about Caitlyn's selfishness.   Noah was patient, maybe too patient, kind, smart and caring.  Caitlyn's family was wonderful.  I think pregnancy hormones changed who she was and she became almost impossible to deal with. Sherryl Woods writes some amazing books and I will continue reading even though this was not one of my favorites. Received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
ReadYourWrites More than 1 year ago
Reviewed for Read Your Writes Book Reviews by Kim There aren't any surprises with The Christmas Bouquet. You know going in that there's going to be a happy ending. You know that Caityln is going to have to come to terms with her pregnancy and that she's not going to be able to fulfill her dream of going to Africa. What I didn't expect was for Noah to be so caring and understanding, knowing what Caitlyn needed and doing whatever it took to give her time to come to grips with her new reality. I seriously love the O’Brien family and the Chesapeake Shores series. But the fact that the family was constantly pressuring Caitlyn to get married to the child’s father was really old-fashioned. I found it to be very frustrating that no one seemed to understand or care that her unplanned pregnancy was going to mean that her dream for the future was over. But with all of that said, I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. **Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest unbiased review.**
MissBethBC More than 1 year ago
I was so excited to read Sheryl Woods's The Christmas Boquet.  I thought it would never be released, but finally the day came, and I held the hardback in my hand and I turned to the first page.    Unfortunately, it took me days to read a book that I thought could be read non stop in one.    Why would that happen?    Was I too hyped on anticipation?   Had I built it up in my mind that there was no way it could live up to my expectations?   Well, I don't think that was what happened.    Here's the deal, the female protagonist, Caitlyn Winters, was a character, I just could not connect with. Now I liked the male protagonist, Noah McIlroy.   He was patient and sweet and really loved Cait.    When she shared her unexpected pregnancy with him, he showed all the signs of true caring and happiness.   Cait on the other hand, did not want to accept this new reality.    Throughout the book, I just wanted Noah or one of her O'Brien relatives to beat some sense into her head.    Yes, she had a well planned future and having a baby didn't really work into her perceived timeline at all.   She wanted to help children in Africa, that was her dream.    But her own little bundle of joy didn't seem to matter til near the end of the book.   It was painful for me to support this line of reasoning from a main character. Naturally, all's well that ends well, so eventually Cait overcame her doubts and the grip she held on her life plan and she saw the benefits of marriage to Noah, her true love and the birth of their baby in wedlock.  I was glad I had continued to read the story through to the end, but I was never anything but annoyed with Cait Winters.   Noah however, should have been inducted for sainthood! Although I was satisfied with the ending, the full story, just didn't connect with me.
DarkAngelCT More than 1 year ago
I was so excited when I saw this book appear on NetGalley I had been having a romance withdrawal in regards to this family. I love their stories and was sad when they ended but alas they have been coming back and I'm eager to see what everyone is up to! In this book we get to follow Abby's daughter Caitlyn Winters as she has just found out she is pregnant with her boyfriend Noah McIlroy. This news changes everything Caitlyn had been working towards which was returning to Africia to help people who need medical care. Noah has plans that he wants to accomplish, Marry Caitlyn, have a family and set up a practice in Chesapeake Shores. What he didn't count on was how meddling the O'Brien's can be and how stubborn Caitlyn is being with her world changing. What I loved: I loved seeing all those crazy O'Brien's back in the swing and not missing a step with the meddling. All of them in their own way are on a meddle overdrive situation with Mick at the helm of the crazy train. I loved watching Caitlyn and Noah try to figure out what they want and if they can get there together or not at all. I loved reading more about Caitlyn and Carrie and their relationship. I loved how Noah didn't pressure Caitlyn and let her come to her own conclusions and find her way to him, and decide that she can have it all even if it takes time to make that happen!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I left my plate empty but stomach full of hatred for myself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago