Review: Keepsake (True North, Book 3) by Sarina Bowen

Review: Keepsake (True North, Book 3) by Sarina BowenSeries:
Narrator: Erin Spencer, Teddy Hamilton
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)

Title: Keepsake by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #3
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Pages: 326 • Format: Audiobook (10hrs, 8mins)
Published By: Rennie Road Books
Purchase Links: Amazon US Barnes & Noble

There’s a first time for everything.

Lark Wainright used to be fearless. Her life was a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her recent overseas adventure was one too many. Now she’s home and in one piece. Mostly. But her nights are filled with terror.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps at the chance to spend fall in Vermont. But her nightmares don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of the Shipley Farm to soothe her when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah is a survivor, too. It’s been four years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult where he grew up. He’s found a peaceful existence on the Shipley’s farm, picking apples and fixing machinery. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. He doesn’t always know what to make of a world where movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV or spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she pushes Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he’s good for much more than farm labor.

four-stars

I enjoyed this book as much as I did the previous one. It had family, damaged characters and the readers finally got to find out Zachariah. Lark and Zach were a great match together. Both characters were at the Shipley Farm in Vermont looking for a safe haven. Zach and Lark were trying to heal from past hurts, so it was so sweet to watch the evolution of the characters.

I am glad that we didn’t know wild child Lark as I am not sure that I would have liked her. However, she was the carrot that drew Zachary out of his cocoon. They were sweet and tender with each other and their connection was intense.

In addition to the romance, I love the tidbits we learn about farming, cider and apples. I never gave much thought to the choices farmers make but it seems to be such an interesting process. I also love the Griff’s family and how accepting they are of everyone around them.

The writing is smooth, entertaining and completely engaging. I really enjoyed this book as well as the series overall. I loved the ending to this story.

 

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

Steadfast (True North #2) by Sarina Bowen

Series:
Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer, Seraphine Valentine
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there's no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie's police chief father. But it's a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.
four-stars
Steadfast Book Cover Steadfast
True North #2
Sarina Bowen
Contemporary Romance
Rennie Road Books
July 12, 2016
audibook; e-book
313

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.
Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there's no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

Sophie Haines is stunned by his reappearance. After a three year absence, the man who killed her brother and broke her heart is suddenly everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never volunteer in the church kitchen.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie's police chief father. But it's a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.


I really enjoyed this sequel. This author definitely puts some thought and research into this book because I felt like I gain a new perspective into the struggles of a recovering addict. I really empathized with Oliver and how every day his thirst for a fix was rated. Wow, my heart went out to both Jude and Sophie.

Jude Nickel’s seasonal employment at the Shipley farm was over and he was forced to return home to Colebury, a town he had been avoiding since he was released from prison and his drug rehab program. There were a lot of painful issues from his father to the loss of the only woman he has ever loved. I was on pins and needles since the relapse rate for recovering opiate addicts released from jail can be as high as 80%. But Jude was determined and with some luck along with the Shipley Clan, Jude was able to establish some routine in his life.

I appreciate the way the author wrote the reunion between Jude and Sophie Haines. It wasn’t all flowers and candy, but it wasn’t as brutal as I had expected. Sophie was a good heroine. She was strong, loyal and persistent. I wonder how she turned out that way because it wasn’t due to her parents. Her fortitude was the perfect counterbalance to the seemingly broken Jude. In her flashbacks, Jude was cocky, brash and sassy. Present day Jude was a man who was doing his best to navigate his land mine of a life. It was apparent that Jude took his sobriety very seriously and it was wonderful to see Mae Shipley and the others keep an eye on him.

Jude and Sophie had that abiding love and it was healing for the both of them. Sophie’s family dynamics was the only befuddling subplot in this book. There was no true explanation for the behavior and it made their actions baffling. It kept this story from being a 5-star read.
I still enjoyed every other character and felt emotionally engaged to their love story. I can’t wait for Zach’s book.

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

Bittersweet (True North #1) by Sarina Bowen

Series:
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld, Tad Branson
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Bittersweet
True North #1
Sarina Bowen
Contemporary Romance
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
October 4th 2016
audibook
9 hrs and 32 mins

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

This is how I felt after listening to this audiobook. Just like dancing. It had all the ingredients you need for an awesome book: humor, food, drink, family, great chemistry and captivating writing.
Audrey Kidder was hoping to get her an opportunity to show her culinary skills but the restaurant owner won’t give her a turn in the kitchen. He finally agreed to let her have more opportunities if she could get some farmers to sign a deal selling their organic crops at a price favorable to the restaurant. Audrey drove from Boston to Vermont and the first farmer she ran into was her ex-hookup from college, Griffin Shipley.

Griff is now the inadvertent patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, his three siblings, and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the flame, who has shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.
The struggle to make sure that trade isn’t comprised by their attraction to each other ensues. For Griff, it is paramount that the farm is financially secure because so many people are dependent on the farm’s success. Audrey has finally found the career where she feels confident and fulfilled, so it is imperative that she finds a way to do well and demonstrate to everyone she isn’t a screw up.

The push and pull of love versus occupation is a clash as old as time. I certainly think of produce (bruised or not) in a different way because I never really gave the farmers a second thought when I go to the supermarket.Now I will look at fruits differently.
Griff and Audrey’s second chance came at a better time for the both of them. Life has forced them to mature and it showed this time around. What makes this story superb is the storytelling! Sarina Bowen isn’t wordy, it is just fluid, clear and gripping. This is not an audiobook that you will want to stop until you finish it. The characters are fleshed out well, the plot is developed and the almost everyone is likable. The supporting cast really added flavor to this story. I look forward to learning more about their individual struggles.
I think the author is on to something really special with this series and I am already listening to book 2: Steadfast.

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

SteadfastSteadfast by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North, Book Two
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Pages: 313 • Format: eARC
Published By: Rennie Road Books
Purchase Links:
Amazon B&NiBook • KoboGoogle

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there’s no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s police chief father. But it’s a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

 

five-stars

 

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. ~ Saint Augustine. 

Goodness. This was gorgeous.

I have a confession to make. I stopped reading hetero contemporary romance because 90% of the female leads got on my nerves for one reason or another. There was always something that kept me from connecting with them and I gave up, but kudos to Sarina Bowen for bringing me back to the genre. I connected so much with Sophie and got lost in who she was and how she loves Jude. Sophie is stunning in her unwavering love and loyalty to Jude. From their first meeting together as young teens in high school, she knew where she stood with him and she knew what being with him meant and she took it all. I absolutely loved her! I cried with her numerous times, fretted with her over choices and fell in love with her first love right along with her. The backstory of Jude and Sophie is a romance all by itself but seeing them fight their way to another level of love and togetherness was breathtaking and was a special treat to read. It really solidifies who they are as individuals and how they came to be this devoted couple. To exclude their past would have been a shame and I am so happy we get all the important parts of their history.

The title of this book, it’s so true for their love… it’s steadfast. It’s forever.

They are forever.

Sophie is the daughter of the police chief and dating the tattooed bad boy of the town is not looked highly upon by daddy dearest. But she doesn’t care. Jude is the only person in her life who gives a damn about her and shows it. He is the only person who truly listens to her and always has. But Jude is hiding a dark secret of addiction from Sophie and everyone close to him and one fateful ride with her brother, changes their lives forever.

When the accident happens and the family is told, Sophie is sad for the loss of her brother but she repeatedly asks about Jude. She needs to know that Jude is okay and when he is sentenced to prison for manslaughter, she writes him but all her letters are refused. It breaks her heart that Jude has rejected her and yet, he is never far from her mind or her heart for the three plus years he is gone.

Goodness. I knew when I met Jude in Bittersweet he was going to be an amazing character and seeing him this way just solidifies my intuition. I love Jude. He is this strong and amazing man who has made some terrible choices in his life and carries the weight of it and more on his shoulders. So much that he wants is wrapped up in his sobriety and in Sophie. It’s twisted, it’s turbulent and it’s terrific.

I have a soft spot for characters with addictions. There is something that tugs at me to see the struggle to stay sober and the redeeming of the wrongs that have been made. It’s not an easy thing, overcoming addiction and it’s not easy trying to understand someone with addition. The author did a beautiful job of showing how Jude fights it, how he feels from day to day and that he knows it would be so easy to slip and just give in but he wants more than the chase of a high. He wants a life and he can’t have that if he falls off the wagon.

Wow. The twists and turns this book takes really brings it to another level. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t but it was good. It was hard to read and broke my heart but it was all worth it.

This was just a wonderful romance. I held my breath waiting for the first face to face meeting with Jude and Sophie and it was beyond my expectations. Everything about this book was beyond what I was expecting and while it seems like a simple second chance romance, it’s so much more. I loved that Sophie never gave up, that she dug into the accident to get the answers no one would give her. I loved that Jude finally found a home with the Shipley’s and how special Thursday’s became to him and to me. It wouldn’t be part of Jude’s story if we didn’t visit the Shipley farm (why do I find it poetic that Jude lost everything crashing into an apple tree and found his life again working on an apple farm?) and get that feeling of home and acceptance he craved. Oh and the bits with Zach… can I just say I am jonseing for his story! Yeah, Keepsake is going to be so good.

But back to Jude and Sophie. They owned me. This was so sweet and so freaking sexy and just so good that I am once again doing my rambling thing and if you know me, that means something.  I know I have said a lot already but I just loved the hell out of this book. It amazes me to write that and it shocks me that I am giving it five stars but it deserves it. Yeah, this book was so damn good and I can’t help but sigh at the whole of it and fall head over heels for both Jude and Sophie.

One last thing. When I read the “Dear Reviewer” note from the author at the beginning of this book I was floored. It was so heartfelt and emotional I had a feeling if the book made me feel one eighth of what the note did, I would fall head over heels in love with this story. Score one for a gingers institution.

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.