Love in a Small Town
Zoe York is an author I know I can rely on to do a great job giving readers a well-balanced and written small town romance, but Love in a Small Town – the first volume of her Pine Harbour series set in a small, rural Canadian town – isn’t quite her best outing thanks to a weak conflict and an annoying mother-in-law.
Olivia – Liv -Minelli is still in love with her ex-husband Rafe even though their relationship has been over for the past two years. Their marriage fell apart for familiar-to-the-reader reasons – he devoted himself to his (two) jobs to the exclusion of their time together, she felt alone in his small home town with no close friends and nothing to do when he deployed. Now Liv has to see him every single morning when he comes into the diner where she works, and that doesn’t help the endless roundelay of gossip that follows the two of them around – gossip that blames Olivia for their separation. When he brings what appears to be a date to the diner one morning, she is less than pleased.
Rafe, a cop and army reservist, knows he’s messed up when he brings a girl to his ex’s place of work – especially because she’s wearing his shirt – but he hasn’t slept with her. As a matter of fact, she was on the couch the night before, and though he flirted with her that’s as far as things went. Liv is upset to think that Rafe is moving on, but he definitely isn’t over her, and neither of them are over the divorce, yet she always pushes him away when he tries to get closer.
But fate works in mysterious ways. Olivia lands her dream job – scouting local places for a production company to shoot footage in Pine Harbour – which has the inadvertent effect of warming Liv up to the small town she’s been yearning to get away from. But will it fully turn her heart back toward Rafe – and give her the courage to ask for a second chance?
There is no doubt, from the first page on, that Olivia and Rafe are going to end up together, which makes Love in a Small Town low on the tension scale. The sex is great but it feels like a lot of the bonding moments and little bits of romantic syncopation happened before the book began – so we get a lot of yearning and lust for the way things were, but miss out on that half of Liv and Rafe’s story.
And then there’s Rafe’s mother, who’s been a thorn in Liv’s side for years. It takes forever for Rafe to finally tell herown to be quiet and mind her business, and until then it is steep sledding. This – like the non-tension of the couple’s initial separation – doesn’t come to a satisfactory conclusion.
Liv’s feelings of ambivalence about Pine Harbour are settled through her attempt at finding a job that will let her move, which I liked, but I didn’t really feel like she’d found the right calling by the end of the book.#
But what makes Love in a Small Town an all-right read? York’s timeless skill, which transports us easily to this little small town, and gives us two decently likable characters. In the end, that’s what keeps it from D-territory, but it’s not enough to clench a higher grade.