Desert Isle Keeper
Fearless at Heart
Zoe York’s Fearless at Heart is the fourth book in her Kincaids of Pine Harbour series, a spinoff series from her Pine Harbour series. It’s got one of my favourite tropes – a second chance romance for a couple that were together as teenagers – and coming on the heels of Wild at Heart which was a favourite last year, I had high expectations for this one. It definitely lived up to them, putting another book on my favourites shelf.
It’s been twenty years since Seth Kincaid lived in Pine Harbour. His brothers are still there, and he’s the only one who went away, first into the military and then setting up his floatplane business in Blind Harbour, close to home by plane, but also close enough to Blind Harbor not have to stay overnight after visiting with his brothers. And January Howe is still there, his secret high school sweetheart, his high school heartbreak. He’s consciously tried to keep clear of her, so as not to open up old wounds. His ten year plan for his business and his life doesn’t include a permanent relationship, or rekindling an old one. But this summer, things could get complicated.
January is happy that her sister August has a chance to go on a reserve army mission overseas, even if it means January will be taking care of her niece, nephew and Howe’s Marina, an inheritance gift from their deceased father that August is trying to keep afloat. A teacher now, January usually isn’t around at the marina any more than necessary, but now she’s living there full time with the kids. And she knows that Seth has signed an agreement to run charter flights out of Pine Harbour three times a week, an agreement he made with August without knowing she’d be gone for the summer. So while January isn’t surprised to see Seth show up early one morning, Seth is knocked for a loop. After being so careful to keep out of January’s way for so long, not only will he be seeing her at the marina regularly, it also (small town and all) turns out that they’ll be involved in the wedding planning for his brother Will and fiancee Catie, Catie being a friend of January’s and Will being her boss (the principal) at the school.
From no contact to plenty of it, January and Seth struggle to balance their feelings about the past with the knowledge that they’ve grown into fully mature, responsible adults who still find themselves impossibly attracted to each other. Carrying on another secret relationship, just like in high school, but with the knowledge that as adults they can say goodbye at the end of the summer and go back to their previously planned futures seems easy, but will it end in heartbreak or happiness?
There’s just something about this author’s writing that grips me every time and no doubt if you check my Goodreads shelves or previous reviews here at AAR, you’ll see that she’s become a favourite. It seems so effortless to really like all the characters she creates, the families and the friends that intertwine into a community that you want to visit again and again. So being back in Pine Harbour is like visiting an old friend, with new and familiar faces making an appearance.
There are some tough memories and topics in this story. Deaths of parents and teenaged grief. And during their high school relationship, January got pregnant. Keeping it a secret from their families, Seth went with January when she got an abortion, fully present, supportive of her choice, giving her emotional and physical support, and knowing it was the right decision for them both. And then Seth, knowing his path would need to diverge from January’s as he entered the military to make something of himself, broke up with her and left, leaving her to pick up the pieces. All of these experiences have been carried with them and so it’s natural that January is wary of opening her heart up to Seth again. I really appreciated that twenty years later, the author makes it clear that neither Seth or January has any regrets over the choice made to have an abortion. Of course, one can think ‘what if’ but both of them have put it in the past and it’s just part of their history now.
As Seth and January start to share things with each other again, as friends, and then friends with benefits, it’s no surprise that their high school feelings come back to the surface, but deeper and stronger. Of course, this scares them both but it opens their eyes to a new possibility, of merging their future plans into one for them both. With emotional and heart-tugging scenes, laughter, sexy lovemaking and strong family relationships, the happy ending for Seth and January finds the compromise they are looking for and leaves the reader fully satisfied. I can’t wait to visit Pine Harbour again!
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I'm a biochemist and a married mother of two. Reading has been my hobby since grade school, and I've been a fan of the romance genre since I was a teenager. Sharing my love of good books by writing reviews is a recent passion of mine, but one which is richly rewarding.