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.

Series Recap/Blitz – Heat by Chris Quinton & RJ Scott

promo1

~Excerpt~

The office door banged open.

“Where’s the restroom?” Devon demanded. Lewis smiled and pointed.

When Devon returned, he paused by Lewis’s workstation just as he finished filling the piping bag with the very pink buttercream icing. Yesterday’s fairy cakes sat on their tray, their tops already sliced off and halved to make the wings.

“For the dining room?” Devon asked doubtfully.

“No, for my sister.” No one else was in the kitchen at the moment, and the door to the staffroom was shut, so no one could overhear Lewis snipe at the new boss. “And before you say it, the ingredients are my own, bought and brought in for the purpose. I’m sure you can work out how much to charge me for the gas I used to bake them.” 

Devon opened his mouth to say something, then shut it just as quickly. Evidently he didn’t want to grace Lewis’s comment with an answer. Immediately Lewis felt lower than low. He was a trained, sought-after chef, not a kid taking cheap shots at someone in his class he didn’t like. 

Then Devon spoke and any inner commentary about feeling guilty was wiped away in an instant. “What is that crap you kept on bringing me?”

“Peppermint and chamomile. It’s good for migraines and headaches. And it’s mine.” Then he couldn’t resist. “I’ll be sending you a bill later.”

“Fine. You do that.”

“I will.”

“And you can fix me another one while you’re at it!”

“Fine!” Lewis met Devon’s glower with one of his own. The three-inch difference in their heights made a nose to nose face off a little awkward, but he’d be damned if he’d let the man stare him down. Then Lewis saw the amber flecks in Devon’s coffee- dark eyes and lost track of his anger. If he leant forward just a few inches, Devon would be in kissing range. 

Handsome is as handsome does… Em’s voice echoed in his mind, and he stepped back. Devon moved away at the same time, and the subtle tension that had nothing to do with anger faded away. 

Their gazes were still locked, and gradually the silliness of their confrontation struck Lewis. He struggled to contain his smile, knew he was failing and bit his lip. Devon glanced down and focused on Lewis’s mouth. Devon flushed, and suddenly Lewis’s gaydar kicked in. 

It was like a bucket of icy water thrown in his face. Having the hots for a straight man was one thing: they were suitable dream fodder, safe and out of reach. But not for another gay man. Not after Peter. Especially his boss, an ill-tempered arsehole who seemed to be hell-bent on alienating every one of Laurels’ staff.


Heat JPGHeat by Chris Quinton & RJ Scott
Series: Salisbury Stories, Book One
Release Date: October 23, 2014
Pages: 141
Published By: Love Lane Books Limited
Purchase Links:
Love Lane Books  •  Amazon (US)    Amazon (UK)  •  ARe  Smashwords  •  B&N  •  iTunes

Serving up passion, family, love and hate, with a side order of arson.

Lewis has lost nearly everything, and now it seems that Devon is here to take the last thing he has left – working in his beloved restaurant, Laurels. But when an arsonist threatens everything Lewis loves, he realises sometimes everyone has their ghosts, and he discovers an unexpected ally who is prepared to risk everything for him.

* * * * *

Set in the small cathedral city of Salisbury, Master Chef Lewis Mandineau no longer owns the Laurels, the restaurant that had been in his family for generations. Betrayed and robbed by an ex-lover, he’s had to sell to Trelawney Enterprises, an American corporation. That isn’t all Lewis has to contend with. Rachel, his beloved younger sister has been left severely hurt by the car crash that killed their parents, and taking care of her has to be his priority.

Enter Devon Trelawney III, sent to assess the viability of the restaurant and its staff. Devon knows all about family tradition. But he also knows sentiment has no place in business matters, and the Laurels’ potential is swamped by the debts it has accrued. Devon is a hardheaded businessman, first and foremost, but Lewis and Rachel test his resolve in different ways. Soon Devon is forced to admit that what seems like an impossible love can sometimes become something very real.


~Giveaway~

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About Chris Quinton

Chris started creating stories not long after she mastered joined-up writing, somewhat to the bemusement of her parents and her English teachers. But she received plenty of encouragement. Her dad gave her an already old Everest typewriter when she was about ten, and it was probably the best gift she’d ever received – until the inventions of the home-computer and the worldwide web.

Chris’s reading and writing interests range from historical, mystery, and paranormal, to science-fiction and fantasy, mostly in the male/male genre. She also writes male/female novels in the name of Chris Power. She refuses to be pigeon-holed and intends to uphold the long and honourable tradition of the Eccentric Brit to the best of her ability. In her spare time [hah!] she reads, embroiders, quilts and knits. In the past she has been a part-time and unpaid amateur archaeologist, and a 15th century re-enactor.

She currently lives in a small and ancient city in the south-west of the United Kingdom, sharing her usually chaotic home with an extended family, two large dogs, fancy mice, sundry goldfish and a young frilled dragon (Australian lizard) aka Trogdorina.

About R.J. Scott

My goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

I’ve has been writing since age six, when I was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies and the mixing bowl. You can’t tell a six year old not to lick the bowl!

I was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader myself, I can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, my first real true love will always be the world of romance. I love my cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and love to write dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men. (Yum)

With over 90 titles to my name and counting, I am the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway, which was All Romance Ebooks best selling title of 2010.

I’m also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

I’m always so thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers.

Heat by Chris Quinton & RJ Scott

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.

Heat JPGHeat by Chris Quinton & RJ Scott
Series: Salisbury Stories, Book One
Release Date: October 23, 2014
Pages: 141 • Format: eARC
Published By: Love Lane Books Limited
Purchase Links:
Love Lane Books  •  Amazon (US)    Amazon (UK)  •  ARe  Smashwords  •  B&N  •  iTunes

Serving up passion, family, love and hate, with a side order of arson.

Lewis has lost nearly everything, and now it seems that Devon is here to take the last thing he has left – working in his beloved restaurant, Laurels. But when an arsonist threatens everything Lewis loves, he realises sometimes everyone has their ghosts, and he discovers an unexpected ally who is prepared to risk everything for him.

* * * * *

Set in the small cathedral city of Salisbury, Master Chef Lewis Mandineau no longer owns the Laurels, the restaurant that had been in his family for generations. Betrayed and robbed by an ex-lover, he’s had to sell to Trelawney Enterprises, an American corporation. That isn’t all Lewis has to contend with. Rachel, his beloved younger sister has been left severely hurt by the car crash that killed their parents, and taking care of her has to be his priority.

Enter Devon Trelawney III, sent to assess the viability of the restaurant and its staff. Devon knows all about family tradition. But he also knows sentiment has no place in business matters, and the Laurels’ potential is swamped by the debts it has accrued. Devon is a hardheaded businessman, first and foremost, but Lewis and Rachel test his resolve in different ways. Soon Devon is forced to admit that what seems like an impossible love can sometimes become something very real.

four-half-stars

What a lovely story this was, a truly lovely and well paced romance that sucked me in and made me so comfortable among the time, place and characters, I didn’t want to leave.

Lewis is a man of honor, he is a man of noble intentions and he is man drowning under responsibility. He has been betrayed financially by an ex-boyfriend, left orphaned and has become the care taker of his now disabled sister. When an American company buys his family’s restaurant and sends over an employee to assess the fate of the restaurant, things get hot in and out of the kitchen.

I fell hard for Lewis right away. He is this soft man at heart and only wants the best for those he cares about. The reputation of Laurels, the restaurant that has been in his family for generations only comes in second to his devotion to his sister Rachel. Lewis wants to right the wrongs caused by Peter, his ex-boyfriend, save the restaurant and live a decent life. But when Devon Trelawney shows up with his arrogance and attitude, emotions collide and arguments happen. We know that when folks find each other attractive and argue, it’s all really foreplay. Am I right?

I am a true sucker for redeemable assholes and that is how I classify Devon. From the first meeting his is rude and all he looks at is the profits that Laurels is no longer bringing in because the establishment is so far in debt. He wants to turn the place around in a weeks time or shut it down and move on. He doesn’t have time for feelings or relationships but what we think and what we want aren’t always on the same page. Are they, Devon?

This was a slow paced and light type of romance and just what I was looking for. There are sparks and a decent amount of UST between the men and their chemistry was believable. I like how Devon went from this jerk to his true self with the help of Rachel. Rachel herself was a wonderful addition to the story as Lewis’ sister who suffered trauma from the accident that killed their parents and left with her with the emotional capability of a child. Her love for the Aristocats movie melted my heart and her telling Devon he was doing things wrong made me smile every time. She truly was a piece that brought out the man from the business with Devon and allowed him to be open to possibilities.

The romance was oh so romantic. First kisses are my favorite and I loved the first kiss with Devon and Lewis. I loved how Lewis made Devon apologize for it and how Devon promised to apologize for each kiss. *sigh* It was sweet and adorable and yes, sexy but you felt that these men were always going to be more than just a one off. There was too much between them before anything physical happened to deny the attraction would eventually lead to more.

The deal with Stan was creepy and though I figured out what he wanted before Lewis did, the revelation of the letters was pure ick for me and I can’t say I am sorry how that all turned out. It was a rough patch for the men to get over but how they get over it was pretty worth it because these two together makes me smile.

Heat was more than I planned for. I thought I would read a book and just like it but I fell in love with this. I knew there was another book in the series but it wasn’t until I finished this that I took a peek at the blurb and really hope that Jon’s story gives us a bit of Devon, Lewis, Charlie, Rachel, Em and GA to let us know how they all are doing.

About Chris Quinton

Chris started creating stories not long after she mastered joined-up writing, somewhat to the bemusement of her parents and her English teachers. But she received plenty of encouragement. Her dad gave her an already old Everest typewriter when she was about ten, and it was probably the best gift she’d ever received – until the inventions of the home-computer and the worldwide web.

Chris’s reading and writing interests range from historical, mystery, and paranormal, to science-fiction and fantasy, mostly in the male/male genre. She also writes male/female novels in the name of Chris Power. She refuses to be pigeon-holed and intends to uphold the long and honourable tradition of the Eccentric Brit to the best of her ability. In her spare time [hah!] she reads, embroiders, quilts and knits. In the past she has been a part-time and unpaid amateur archaeologist, and a 15th century re-enactor.

She currently lives in a small and ancient city in the south-west of the United Kingdom, sharing her usually chaotic home with an extended family, two large dogs, fancy mice, sundry goldfish and a young frilled dragon (Australian lizard) aka Trogdorina.

About R.J. Scott

My goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

I’ve has been writing since age six, when I was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies and the mixing bowl. You can’t tell a six year old not to lick the bowl!

I was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader myself, I can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, my first real true love will always be the world of romance. I love my cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and love to write dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men. (Yum)

With over 90 titles to my name and counting, I am the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway, which was All Romance Ebooks best selling title of 2010.

I’m also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

I’m always so thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers.

When Adam Fell (Foothills Pride #4) by Pat Henshaw

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.

WhenAdamFellLGWhen Adam Fell by Pat Henshaw
Series: Foothills Pride 
Release Date: February 24, 2016
Pages: 92• Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
Dreamspinner • Amazon • ARe

A Foothills Pride Story

When his lover Jason’s drug addiction spiraled out of control, TV celebrity chef and cookbook author Adam de Leon walked away from him. Adam also abandoned his renowned restaurant in San Francisco to start a small bistro in the Sierra Foothills.

Five years later Adam is battling the conservative leaders of Stone Acres, California, to open a new restaurant in historic Old Town when Jason turns up on his doorstep—a recovered Jason, now going by the name David and claiming he’s overcome his addictions. What’s more, he begs Adam to take him back and says he’s ready for their happily ever after.

Adam has enough on his plate with problems plaguing the opening of his restaurant. And now he’s having a hard time deciding which to follow—his head or his heart.

three-half-stars 

I am a sucker for a second chance romance and when that second chance romance includes an MC who was an addict who is now clean and doing well for themselves? Well, my ginger butt can’t resist reading about them because I love redeemable people.

This is a short story told from the POV of Adam de Leon, celebrity chef and owner of a small bistro in the town of Foothills Pride. Adam is doing well for himself even though he quietly laments the love, lover and friend he lost in Jason five years ago. Walking away from a strung out Jason may have been the best thing he could have ever done but losing your love, losing your first love is always painful and carries baggage. When said love walks back into Adam’s life with proof of not only sobriety but success and redemption, things get interesting.

The letter Jason gives Adam was unexpected. I thought it would be one of the traditional make amend deals with the 12 step program but this so wasn’t. I like the twist of the list Jason gives Adam and how we learn the way the men met. Seeing them as young and in school, well that’s another thing I am a sucker for, the childhood friends to lover deal, I like seeing them as boys to how they are now and where they heck will they end up? I had to keep reading to find out.

At first it may seem odd that Jason comes back as David five years later but not when you really think about it. I can’t how many times in my younger years I wanted to just change my name and start over and for Jason, which is David’s middle name, he took the idea and ran with it. He didn’t change his name to Clover or something silly, just in my opinion, grew up and started using his first name and became the man he’d always wanted to be with David and left all the crap Jason did in the past.

So, David is back and has asked Adam for a job and Adam just so happens to have a position, among other things, needing to be filled and they begin to work together on the planning and opening of a new restaurant in Stone Ares which proves to have a few problems of its own.

Seeing David and Adam work together, to learn how to be with one another after being apart and yet having the history they do between them was bittersweet. I kept wanting them to give in and do more than just lie on a bed while mattress shopping, I wanted these to heal and be together again.

The cast of side characters in this Novella was enriching. I admit to not reading the previous books in the series and while I believe this can be read as a stand-alone, I am intrigued enough to know how everyone else and their story as well.

When Adam Fell is a lovely story about redemption and learning to love again.   It’s a story about forgiving the ones who hurt you and forgiving yourself for your part in the hurt. It’s a story about being strong enough to lean on someone for support and being there for that same someone, so neither of you fall.

About Pat Henshaw

Pat has lived on both coasts and in the middle of the United States. Pat’s been a book reviewer for too many years to count as well as an English composition instructor and theatrical costumer. Places visited include Canada, Mexico, Europe, Egypt, Nicaragua, and Thailand. Pat’s found that people everywhere are remarkably similar.