Title: Bittersweet (True North #1)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Source: ARC from Publicist
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 change with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay--a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.They's 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.
In the past year, Sarina Bowen has quickly become one of my go-to authors when I want some good romance. I have yet to pick up one of her books and not find myself completely charmed by the characters and swept up in the romance. And it was no different with her latest, Bittersweet.
If you're familiar at all with Sarina Bowen and her books, then you know that her books tend to revolve around sports and athletes. But Bittersweet is a departure from the hockey players, skiers, and snowboarders she's written about in the past. Instead, it's about chefs and farmers and cider makers (as a side note, if you don't find yourself craving hard cider by the time you finish reading Bittersweet, there's something wrong with you...I'm only mostly kidding). Just like with the world of high level sports, Sarina Bowen brings the world of Vermont farmers to life. I'm not exaggerating when I say that Bittersweet made me want to hop into a car and take a roadtrip to the Vermont countryside to see some of the sceneries Griffin and Audrey describe in the story. And if it were fall, I would totally be heading to an orchard for some apple picking. It honestly felt like the setting was a character in this story just as much as Griffin, Audrey and the whole Shipley clan. It just came to life while I was reading. And it wasn't the only part of the story that felt completely real.
Whenever I read one of Sarina Bowen's books, I always want to be friends with the characters by the time I finish reading the story. There's just something about them. As you might have guessed it was no different with Griffin and Audrey. I absolutely loved both of them. I loved Griff despite his grumpy and gruff tendencies. Though I wasn't sure about Audrey's flightiness at first, I was completely charmed by the end of the book. And they just balanced each other out so well. Audrey made Griff less serious and all business all the time by reminding him to just have fun sometimes, while Griff showed Audrey that she was more than the disappointment her mother had led her to believe she was her whole life. They were just so freaking great and adorable together. But Audrey and Griff weren't the only people I wanted to be friends with. By the time I finished Bittersweet I wanted to be an honorary member of the Shipley family. I loved reading about the whole family, and seeing the way they were all there for each other, regardless of if they were related by blood or just someone they had taken in. And I'm more than excited to keep getting glimpses of this big, crazy family in future True North books.
In case it wasn't completely obvious by now, I absolutely ADORED Sarina Bowen's Bittersweet. I completely fell in love with the story, setting and characters and I was sad to reach the final page of the book. Thankfully, Steadfast, the next in the series, is out soon because I cannot wait to get my hands on it!
Q&A with Sarina Bowen
All your previous books (and your new series kicking off in the fall!) feature athletes, what made you was to move away from that?
I love athletes, but I’m surrounded by the coolest, hippest innovative farmers, and I thought it would be fantastic to explore their world. And Griff is an ex-football player, because I couldn’t help myself.
In Bittersweet, Griffin makes artisanal cider. What was the research process like for that aspect of the story?
You should see my recycling bin! #notkidding. We drink lots of tasty ciders at my house, and many of them are locally made. Vermont (and New Hampshire) are ground zero for cider appreciation. It’s awesome.
When you’re looking for your next story, where do you look for inspiration?
I don’t even have to look, they just find me in newspaper stories and blog posts and on Twitter.
What about the romance genre appeals to you as a writer?
Happy endings are really important to me. I love that quest.
Describe Bittersweet in one sentence.
Take one perky chef, add one grumpy farmer, season until scorching and serve hot.