A Little Light Realism: Zoe York’s Pine Harbour Series

March 5, 2015


I don’t know about you, but I hate stories where characters are cliches and dialogue is stale and far from believable.  So, when I discovered Zoe York, I *may* have squealed a bit with delight.

My first Zoe York book, Love in a Small Town, was a fun, easy read. There was mystery, there was conflict, there was romance, there was self-discovery, and yes, there was sex.

The first book in the Pine Harbour series, Love in a Small Town is the story of Rafe and Olivia Minelli.  Rafe is a police officer and army reservist, Olivia is his small-town diner waitress ex-wife, and the sparks are definitely still flying after their divorce.

When Olivia has to decide between an exciting new job or a fresh start away from Pine Harbour, she must also choose whether to protect her heart or give it to Rafe…again.

What I liked most was that the main characters were genuine–they were at once likeable and obnoxiously stubborn, and that’s real life. In the real world, marriage is a difficult and delicate balance, and it’s not always easy to find a happy medium between the wants and needs of two people. It can be even more difficult when you throw in demanding jobs and nosy in-laws. I think Zoe York captured all of this beautifully, and I found the turbulence between the protagonists, Rafe and Liv, to be raw and real.  I think this snippet from the book beautifully illustrates both the relationship between Rafe and Liv and the author’s feisty, fun sense of humor:

 “And even though she wanted to grab a butter knife and gouge his heart out, first she wanted one more look at his magnificent ass.”

I also found the resolution to be ultimately satisfying, in that no one character’s sense of self was subsumed by another. The only complaint I had was the use of certain…crude anatomical terms. It wasn’t overwhelming in any sense, and there was one scene in which their use was fitting, but in other places, I would have liked to have seen other descriptors used so as not to break the flow and emotion of the scene. Admittedly, this could just be a personal preference.

Book Two in the Pine Harbour series, Love in a Snow Stormis by far my favorite.  Jake Foster is a contractor and reservist and Rafe Minelli’s best friend.  Dani Minelli is a paramedic and Rafe’s little sister.  Jake has been in love with Dani since she was in high school but, at 8 years her senior, he thought he was too old to act on his feelings.

Dani has been trying to get Jake’s attention since she returned to Pine Harbour from school, and it looks like she might finally have it.  But will they be able to overcome their fears and insecurities to make love work?

In addition to the obvious love story trope of best friend and baby sister, there are also threads of death, betrayal, and the conundrum of secret love in a small town community that give a nice depth to this book.

I think what I liked most about this book was how damn likeable and explosive the protagonists were.  Jake is a sexy and serious small-town man who knows his way around a tool box and “made flipping through grocery flyers dead sexy”, and Dani is a spunky spitfire with a soft side.  When the two collide, amazing things happen.  And, again, the situations and characters’ responses are entirely believable–like this realization from Dani:

 “It was evil.  It wasn’t mature or responsible.  And fuck it all, she was game.”

Is the Pine Harbour series Literature (with a capital L)?  Nope.  Am I pretentious enough to pretend that I only consume high brow novels?  Ha! You’ve seen my bosses, right?

Picture Yeah.  Sometimes, a little escape to a place like Pine Harbour is JUST want the Mama ordered!

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