O’Hara’s debut romance stars a former Major League Baseball superstar with a major chip on his shoulder, a woman with an aversion to commitment, and a raucous crew of elderly vacationers.
In the second book of the Thurston
Hotel series, our romantic heroes meet-cute on a tour bus containing 50-odd
senior citizens, headed for Golden, British Columbia. Oliver Pike, 28, is the
straight-laced tour guide who’s running the bus company temporarily for his
sick brother. He discovers Page Maddux, 25, an orphan who attempted to stow
away in the bus’s luggage compartment because she didn’t have money for bus
fare; it was so cold inside that it left her as blue as the dyed streaks in her
hair. Although she thaws relatively quickly, she finds herself squashed between
two scantily clad seniors, Mavis and Avis, who debate the ethics of “checking
if the collar and cuffs match.” It takes longer for Oliver’s icy temperament to
warm up. When a winter storm strands the entire group in Harmony, Alberta,
Oliver hires Page to help wrangle the pensioners. Although the younger couple’s
will-they-or-won’t-they plot is good fun, it’s the “oldsters” who are the real
heart of the novel. They include Mr. Dubois, an impeccably dressed resident
“geriatric sex machine” who specializes in “horizontal crocheting,” and Mr.
Lee, an elusive vacationer who later reveals unusual skills and a dry wit.
O’Hara shows a mastery of situational comedy, as when 95-year-old Mrs. Horton
snoozes through Page’s erotic dancing debut at the Wobbly Dog, as well as
tragedy, as when Mavis and Avis deliver some heartbreaking news. All the while,
Page is on the hunt for a mysterious man who stole her backpack from the
luggage hold, and Oliver gradually copes with the accident that ended his
baseball career; both make for nice subplots. It all leads up to a finale
involving a seedy man with a snowmobile, snow kayaking, and, naturally, a
marriage proposal. If O’Hara’s next books are anything like this one, she’s got
a long career ahead of her.
A sweet, heartfelt series love story.