Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Reviews: Bittersweet and Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

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Bittersweet (True North #1)
   by: Sarina Bowen

Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Adult
Source:  e-ARC received via BocciPR in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 348 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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.

Oh Grumpy Griff, I just adore you. Having really enjoyed Sarina's Ivy Years series, I was excited to get my hands on her new series! I definitely enjoyed this one, save for a few minor issues. I felt it was a bit on the longer side for a contemporary romance and there were some parts that I felt dragged on a bit. I also wish Audrey and Griff had actually opened up and communicated a bit sooner than they did. Those small things aside, I really did enjoy being in Vermont with Audrey, the Shipley family, Zach, Zara, and Jude!
As I said, Griffin is a grump. A bearded, former football playing, grump of a beast. And damn, did I love that. He was hardworking and an overall GOOD guy, which I can never get enough of. After his father's passing, he came home to help his mom run the farm and take care of his siblings. He sacrificed his career in professional football to do this, and while most people would be bitter, he takes his role seriously and with pride. He is looking to change things around the farm and I admired his drive to do so.
Audrey is also trying to make her own way, determined to do things on her own and without the help of her micromanaging mother. She found her passion in culinary and in order to hopefully make a name for herself and own her own restaurant, she is forced to do grunt work for a group in Boston. They give her tasks not suited to her career, which is how she lands on Griff's farm. The two knew one another in college and I liked seeing them reconnect. I have to admit Audrey could be a bit frustrating though. She likes Griff and they engage in some very sexy times, but she really holds herself back, knowing they can't start anything with one another due to the fact that she lives and works in Boston. She adores his family, loves helping his mom in the kitchen, and ends up really befriending Zara- all huge motivators for her to figure out how to make it work!
I have to mention Jude. Having just been released from prison, he is taking some time to work on the Shipley farm before heading home. I adored his quiet demeanor and am looking forward to the story he has to tell. He was such a good fit with everyone and really ended up holding his own despite Griff's initial hesitations.
Overall, I really enjoyed this first book in Sarina's new series and am looking forward to Jude's story next!

Steadfast (True North #2)
   by: Sarina Bowen

Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Adult
Source: e-ARC provided via BocciPR in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 313 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 5/5 stars

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.

Oh my goodness gracious y'all. I loved this book so freaking hard. I knew Jude's story would be a good one and Sarina did NOT disappoint. I am the biggest sucker for second chance romances. I adored Jude and Sophie together and I hated how much of their time was spent in secret, not being able to freely be together. It hurt my heart because they both need one another so desperately in each other's lives.
Jude and Sophie have some pretty heavy history together. However, despite everything that's happened, the two still love one another. I thought Jude would have to work harder to get Sophie back, but I felt she was in such a bad place with her own family life, that it was natural for her to crave what Jude once made her feel. He was the only one who actually listened to her and while she knows she shouldn't be going down this road with him again, she doesn't have the energy to stop it.
These two have explosive chemistry and I could feel how much they loved and needed one another coming off the pages. Jude is a very different person now than he once was and while he does still get discouraged about his future and fight off cravings every day, he genuinely doesn't want to fall back into old habits. I admired him for that and I also like that Sarina didn't gloss around the issue of addiction and drug abuse. He has such a great support system too that I'm glad he learned to rely on. The Shipleys are the most amazing people ever and I love them to death. Their Thursday night dinner tradition is one that Jude looks forward to every week. He also goes to group on Wednesdays at a local church and he has taken to volunteering in the kitchen along with Sophie. He loves doing that also and just seeing him feel a sense of accomplishment and value was so awesome.
I have to give Sophie major props for sticking around and dealing with her family as long as she did. I understand her reasoning for doing so, but I can't imagine living in such a toxic atmosphere day in and day out. She isn't a cynical, bitter woman either. Instead, she is kind and forgiving and I just love how right she was for Jude.
I am just so invested in these characters now. I loved seeing the epilogue of this one and I am beyond ready for Zach's book next!

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  1. Great double review. I really enjoyed both books and am on pins and needles waiting for Zach's book to come out. I thought for sure he was Zara's baby daddy or May's secret love but he's not and I'm working around to being okay with that. For the most part I am but I was so shipping him and May. Oh well. I'm sure I'll enjoy it. I always love a good Sarina Bowen book.

  2. I'm loving this series so very much. I can't wait for Zach's book! I'm glad you're enjoying it so much, too. Great reviews lady!

  3. Great review! I've only read Bittersweet so far but I liked it. Loved the setting and Griff but didn't love Audrey. I'm excited for book 3 since I'm not sure Steadfast is for me.


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