Tag: True North

Review: Bountiful by Sarina Bowen

Posted November 16, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Bountiful by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5) by Sarina Bowen
Narrator: Seraphine Valentine, Teddy Hamilton
Series: True North #4, Brooklyn Bruisers #4.5
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast (True North #2), Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful (True North, #4), Speakeasy (True North, #5), Bittersweet (True North, #1), Steadfast (True North, #2), Fireworks (True North #6), Keepsake (True North, #3), Rookie Move, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter (Brooklyn Bruisers #2), Pipe Dreams, Pipe Dreams, Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers, #3), Brooklynaire (Brooklyn Bruisers #4), Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 20, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 315
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

No last names. No life stories. Those were the rules.

Once upon a time a cocky, copper-haired tourist sauntered into Zara’s bar. And even though she knew better, Zara indulged in a cure for the small-town blues. It was supposed to be an uncomplicated fling—a few sizzling weeks before he went back to his life, and she moved on.

Until an accidental pregnancy changed her life.

Two years later, she’s made peace with the notion that Dave No-Last-Name will never be found. Until one summer day when he walks into her coffee shop, leveling her with the same hot smile that always renders her defenseless.

Dave Beringer has never forgotten the intense month he spent with prickly Zara. Their nights together were the first true intimacy he’d ever experienced. But the discovery of his child is the shock of a lifetime, and his ugly past puts relationships and family out of reach.

Or does it? Vermont’s countryside has a way of nurturing even tortured souls. The fields and the orchards—and hard won love—are Bountiful.

I was really looking forward to this book. I’m a fan of reunion stories. I even like secret baby books. This wasn’t exactly a secret baby, but it was as close as you could get without being one. I can’t quite put my finger on what didn’t do it for me. It wasn’t that I hated this book. I didn’t. I didn’t particularly like it. I just sort of feel blah about it.

I listened to this book on audio. The narrators were pretty darn good. Sometimes Dave sounded like kind of a dunce, but I got used to it. He just seemed sort of slow, but I got over that and just let myself enjoy it.

Zara runs her uncle’s bar in a small town in Vermont. She’s kind of bitter after her ex finds someone else so quickly (see Griff Shipley from Bittersweet). She’s basically ripe for a one night stand. Except her one night stand with Dave No-Last-Name ends up being a summer fling. One they agree will end when his time in Vermont ends. Dave is a hockey player for the Brooklyn Bruisers and has no intention of settling down. Zara is a bitter shrew and neither does she have any intention of settling down. That’s before Dave leaves her a bun in the oven. He once mentioned his last name in passing. Even her twin brother, Benito’s law enforcement contacts are unable to find Dave. So she has her baby on her own and keeps the father’s name a secret.

Two years later she is happy. Her baby girl is thriving and she has a new business with (who would have guessed it) Audrey Shipley, her ex’s new wife. Then her her world is thrown into chaos when Dave walks into her new coffee shop. Dave couldn’t be more excited to see her. Zara doesn’t exactly feel the same way. She never planned nor particularly wanted to see Dave again. She doesn’t want to share her daughter, Nicole. She doesn’t know Dave. She doesn’t want to explain Dave to her family. Unfortunately her past has come calling.

Dave hasn’t forgotten Zara in the two years that have passed. He’s blown away when he learns that he has a two year old daughter. It’s abundantly clear when he looks at her that Nicole is his daughter. Before long he’s doing daddy-like things and he couldn’t be happier. The problem is that Zara still doesn’t want more from him than sex. He’s determined to convince her that he is worth taking a chance on.

Zara was a bitter, bitter woman. It was hard to stomach at times. I just didn’t understand her hangups. It was just weird. I couldn’t get past what her issue was. And it was an issue. As much as she overcame her problem with Griff, became best friends with Audrey, and was a wonderful mother to Nicole, I just couldn’t understand why she was so bitter. It was weird. Plus she used Nicole as an excuse more than was acceptable to me.

The ending was real shit. It showed that a couple doesn’t just ride into the sunset. They both had lives outside of each other. She was a business owner. He played professional hockey. They couldn’t just stop their lives. I thought Sarina Bowen did write the ending rather well. Still, this was not my favorite book of the series.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

True North

three-stars


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Review: Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

Posted November 15, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Keepsake by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
Keepsake (True North, #3) by Sarina Bowen
Narrator: Erin Spencer, Teddy Hamilton
Series: True North #3
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast (True North #2), Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful (True North, #4), Speakeasy (True North, #5), Bittersweet (True North, #1), Steadfast (True North, #2), Fireworks (True North #6), Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 25, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 312
Length: 10 hours, 8 minutes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

There's a first time for everything.

Lark Wainwright 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.

I listened to this book on audio. I’ve really enjoyed listening to the series. The narrators have switched up and they’ve all been pretty good.

Keepsake is a book about survivors. Both Zachariah and Lark survived different kinds of hell. Zach was in a cult as a child and young adult. He finally escaped, but there was a steep price. He’s never forgiven himself for the girl he left behind and often wonders what became of her. He’s built his life around the Shipley farm, but he knows that it will soon be time to move on. That’s something that scares him deeply. Zach has never truly been on his own. When May Shipley’s best friend, Lark Wainwright, shows up at the farm, he recognizes a survivor in her.

Lark has come to Vermont to heal. As an investigative journalist, Lark used to be fearless. She would go from assignment to assignment with no fear that something could happen to her. That all changes when she is kidnapped. Now her nights are plagued with nightmares. She’s hoping that her stay at the farm will bring her peace. She has no idea how broken she truly is until she gets there. She finds unexpected comfort in Zach. She recognizes that he has demons of his own and feels no regret in taking the comfort that he offers her.

I understood Lark. I truly did. That didn’t mean I particularly liked her. Maybe it would have been different if Zach wasn’t Zach. The fact is that Lark flat out used Zach. Sure she had feelings for him. It’s clear, but she used him to cover her own nightmares. The one thing that was admirable about her was that she didn’t lie to herself or to Zach about it. I knew that she was going to have to leave Zach, but geez. It was hard reading Zach’s reaction. The guy has never had a mean thought. He would have done anything for Lark. Even let her go.

In the end, I still loved Zach. I liked Lark, but didn’t love her. She was just so-so. Then there was the way things unfolded with May and Lark. Like where the hell did that come from? I was thrown for a loop and it felt like that was just put in there for shock value. It was really weird.

Rating: 4 out of 5. (For Zach)

True North

four-stars


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Review: Fireworks by Sarina Bowen

Posted November 12, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Fireworks by Sarina BowenReviewer: Rowena
Fireworks (True North #6) by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #6
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast (True North #2), Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful (True North, #4), Speakeasy (True North, #5), Bittersweet (True North, #1), Steadfast (True North, #2), Keepsake (True North, #3), Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5)
Publisher: Tuxbury Publishing LLC
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 343
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Skye Copeland is on paid leave from her broadcasting job after accidentally drawing a pecker on the traffic map.

Let that sink in. Like it’s her fault the traffic pattern that day created a perfect schlong?

Skye isn’t laughing. She needs this job. And that’s the only reason she’s agreed to chase down a story in her least favorite place—that hell on earth known as Vermont.

A quick trip. In and out. Much like - never mind. Skye can sneak into the town that once tried to break her, get the story and get back into the good graces of her producer. Easy peasy.

Except things go sideways even as she sets foot over the county line. Her step-sister is on the run from a violent drug dealer. And the cop on the case is none other than Benito Rossi, the man who broke her teenage heart.

His dark brown eyes still tear her apart. And even as she steels herself to finally tell him off after twelve years, the old fireworks are still there.

Things are about to go boom.

I’m not sure how she does it but Sarina Bowen wrote another winner for me. I’m really enjoying this series and each book just keeps entertaining the socks right off of me. Fireworks follows Benito Rossi as he finally reunites with the one that got away and tries to get things right this time around.

The Rossi’s sure are front and center in the True North series, aren’t they? I wasn’t sure I wanted to know this much about the Rossi family when the series first started but I can’t say that I’m mad that we’re getting all of their stories. I adored Alec in the Speakeasy and Benito? Benito was fabulous in this book.

Benito Rossi is Zara’s twin and he’s a detective who investigates and brings down the bad guys. The bad guy that he’s building a case to bring down? The same bad guy that made life for his sister hard, back when he couldn’t do anything about it. The same bad guy that made things hard for the only girl he’s ever loved. He’s hoping to put this guy away for good because he’s pure scum and he deserves to be behind bars for the rest of his miserable life. He hasn’t seen Skye in 12 years but she blows right back into his life all these years later, complicating his investigation and his life.

Skye never thought she’d ever return to Vermont because she hated Vermont. She hated the memories that Vermont was associated with and she tried to never think on her time here. She moved on from the girl she was when she lived here and she was living in New York and had a life of her own there. She’s pissed to high heaven that her step-sister talked her into driving to Vermont for a sister weekend and even more pissed that when she gets to Vermont, she finds out that her sister tricked her and left her high and dry. Sure, it worked out for them both since Skye was on a forced vacation from work so she had the time off but still…Skye is pissed to have been left behind in Vermont, of all places.

This story is told in that whole past and present format and that doesn’t always work for me but it worked for me here. I liked seeing Benito and Skye as kids and I loved seeing them get to know the people that they are now. The chemistry that has been between them when they were kids is still there now and watching them come together again made so much sense.

Sarina Bowen created a world that is so easy to fall into and with each book that releases, I’m still invested in everyone in this world. From the Shipleys to the Rossi’s, I love them all and that didn’t change with this book. Benito and Skye were wonderful characters and their romance was sweet. I enjoyed myself with this book and am looking forward to more. I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

True North

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Fireworks by Sarina Bowen

Posted November 11, 2018 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Sarina Bowen is releasing another True North book and if you’ve been paying attention to the blog lately, you will have noticed that we’re all reading her stuff and Casee, well, she’s reading this series for the first time. We’re all big fans of Sarina Bowen and this series in particular so we’re all stoked for Benito’s book. We’re even more excited to share some before it releases this coming Tuesday goodness with you guys. Check it out.

Sunday Spotlight: Fireworks by Sarina BowenFireworks (True North #6) by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #6
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast (True North #2), Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful (True North, #4), Speakeasy (True North, #5), Bittersweet (True North, #1), Steadfast (True North, #2), Fireworks (True North #6), Keepsake (True North, #3), Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5)
Publisher: Tuxbury Publishing LLC
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 343
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads

Skye Copeland is on paid leave from her broadcasting job after accidentally drawing a pecker on the traffic map.

Let that sink in. Like it’s her fault the traffic pattern that day created a perfect schlong?

Skye isn’t laughing. She needs this job. And that’s the only reason she’s agreed to chase down a story in her least favorite place—that hell on earth known as Vermont.

A quick trip. In and out. Much like - never mind. Skye can sneak into the town that once tried to break her, get the story and get back into the good graces of her producer. Easy peasy.

Except things go sideways even as she sets foot over the county line. Her step-sister is on the run from a violent drug dealer. And the cop on the case is none other than Benito Rossi, the man who broke her teenage heart.

His dark brown eyes still tear her apart. And even as she steels herself to finally tell him off after twelve years, the old fireworks are still there.

Things are about to go boom.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

While the bartender makes change, I scan the crowd, trying to reconcile this scene with my life in Colebury. This place is full of happy, prosperous people enjoying craft brews and good company. Except for the flannel shirts and technical fabrics, I could almost be in New York—but on a weeknight, when the crowds aren’t crushing. This bar is really pretty cool.

No, it isn’t, I remind myself. Vermont is a horrible place. I take a sip of my cider, and then notice how good it is—earthy and interesting, sweet and bitter and musky.

It’s really too bad that I hate Vermont because this cider is flipping amazing.

These are my scattered thoughts as a second man appears behind the bar in my peripheral vision. He must have come through a back door somehow. I feel tingles on my scalp, because he’s watching me.

Slowly, I turn to face him. And holy shishkebab. Six-foot-three inches of my high school heartbreak is staring intently at me.

All my blood stops circulating. There stands the man who basically ripped the beating organ right out of my chest and stomped it with a motorcycle boot. I need to look away, but I almost can’t. My heart is pounding wildly inside my chest, and I feel the onset of a fight-or-flight response coming on.

Flight is sounding like a good option.

Yet, because I’m a big idiot, I keep on staring. And he looks good. When did his shoulders get so wide? His eyes are just as beautiful as they always were, so dark and brooding.

From the nose down, he’s not the same, though. He isn’t the clean-shaven high school senior who once kissed me. This version of Benito has a scruffy beard. And his hair is a little too long.

It does nothing to dim his attractiveness, though. On the contrary, the mountain-man look suits him.

This is information that I never needed, by the way. I could have gone my whole life without knowing that he grew up as hot or hotter than he was at eighteen.

Back then, my whole world orbited around this man. Even now I feel my world tilt subtly in his direction. He has his own gravitational pull. And he looks…devastated. For a split second I see hurt in his eyes when he looks at me. And then I blink and it’s gone. His face is impassive.

But he’s still staring at me.

Trying for casual, I lift the cider glass to my lips and take another sip. I study him.

“Skylar.”

At the sound of his sexy rumble, my hand wobbles, and I actually spill a drop of cider on my wrist. Smooth, Skye.

He ducks under the bar, which puts him right beside me. I get a whiff of him, and it wrecks me all over again. Leather and pine needles. “Come over here and talk to me,” he says in a soft voice that brings out goosebumps all over my body. Then he takes my wrist in one large hand and leads me across the room.

Everything is happening too fast. His hand is wide and warm, and my brain is all swimmy. If only I could go meditate for a half hour somewhere, to clear my head. But who am I kidding? A prepaid week at a yoga spa wouldn’t be enough to restore my equilibrium right now.

Benito nudges me toward a booth, where I sit down hastily, tucking my duffel bag against the wall and setting my drink on the table. I’m breathing too quickly as Benito shrugs off his leather jacket and tosses it onto the opposing seat.

I have no choice but to look up. The first thing I see when I lift my chin is his black T-shirt. It hugs an impressive set of abs. I lift my gaze slowly, taking in a chest far more sculpted than even my fantasies and a muscular arm propped on the table.

Wow. He must have spent the last twelve years at the gym.

Then, when it can be avoided no longer, I look up into his face. And there it is—the cognac-colored gaze that had always regarded me softly. When we were friends, I looked into those big eyes a thousand times, and they never let me down.

Until the night when they did.

True North

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Gleam widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: November 2018

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About the Author

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is the RITA® Award winning author of over two dozen contemporary and LGTB romance novels. She most recently hit the USA Today bestseller's list in February, with Brooklynaire. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Sarina holds a BA in economics from Yale University.

Sarina Bowen is a New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country since the 1760s. Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. On a few wooded acres, she lives with her husband, two boys, and an ungodly amount of ski and hockey gear.

Sarina's books are published in a dozen languages on four continents. In 2016, The Romance Writers of America honored HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy with a RITA award for Best Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length.


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Review: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

Posted November 7, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Steadfast by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
Steadfast (True North, #2) by Sarina Bowen
Narrator: Seraphine Valentine, Jeffrey Kafer
Series: True North #2
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast (True North #2), Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful (True North, #4), Speakeasy (True North, #5), Bittersweet (True North, #1), Fireworks (True North #6), Keepsake (True North, #3), Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Length: 10 hours, 17 minutes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-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.

I listened to this book on audio. This series has been highly enjoyable to listen to so far. I know it’s only the second book, but what can I say?

I wasn’t very interested in Jude after I read Bittersweet. I just wasn’t. He was in prison, he was an addict, and he just seemed sort of pathetic. Even when Holly and Rowena told me how amazing he was, I still didn’t see it. Then I listened to the book and holy crap…Jude is amazing. He is such a strong character that you can’t help but love him. From the beginning, he knew he screwed up his entire life and that he wasn’t getting back what he had. Namely Sophie Haines, the girl he loves. Since he went to prison for killing her brother, he knows that he will never have another chance with her. And he accepts that. That’s what was so amazing about Jude. He just accepts how things are. He accepts that he’s an addict and he does everything he can not to relapse.

Sophie has loved Jude since she was a teenager. Her whole life changed the night that her brother died while Jude was driving under the influence. She had dreams of going to Julliard and becoming a singer. That is no longer possible as she now has her parents to take care of. Her mother is a shell of her former self. In the three years that have passed, she has not moved on or grieved for her brother. Her dad is just bitter. When Jude shows back up in town, she knows she needs to stay away from him. That becomes difficult when he turns up everywhere she seems to be.

It was so heart wrenching when Jude went into the hospital unconscious and was given pain medication. His desperation when he woke up? A knife to the heart. As for Sophie…I didn’t really understand her. She seemed to want to prove to herself and Jude that the accident that killed her brother was somehow not his fault. All the evidence points to the fact that it was. There was a police investigation. Just because her father is police chief doesn’t make it any less so. Still, it almost seems like Sophie won’t accept Jude unless she proves he’s innocent in some way. It didn’t bother me a whole lot while reading the book, but it bothered me after when I thought it over.

There was also Sophie’s dad. He was flat out abusive. Why did Sophie take that? I know she lived at home for her mom, but why did she risk her own safety? It didn’t make any sense to me at all.

In the end, my love of this book was all about Jude. I heart Jude.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 (for Jude).

True North

four-stars


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