NEW RELEASE: SARINA BOWEN – WAYLAID

WAYLAID, Sarina Bowen’s next book in her True North series, is now available!

Scroll down to read an excerpt and for our review!

CREDITS
Photo by Wander Aguiar

COVER DESIGN
by Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations

It’s a tale as old as time: the bad boy meets the good girl. He makes a daring proposition. Then the boy gets a mysterious head injury and loses a year of his life…

The first time I meet Rickie, I don’t know what to make of him. The second time we meet, he doesn’t remember the six hours we spent together. Or standing me up afterward.

I’m not the same, either. I’ve got secrets. I’ve told lies. Bad boys aren’t my type, anyway. Even the ones with troubled gray eyes.

But now we’re roommates. Cue the awkward moments in the hallway when he’s wearing only a towel and a smile. He’s determined to win me over, and his talented hands weaken my resolve.

It’s all fun and games until my past rears its ugly head and his secrets come to light, shaking our fragile connection, maybe even breaking it…

Note: this is Daphne Shipley’s story. Contents include Vermonty ice cream flavors, nerdy awkwardness, tattoos, and a playboy grandpa.

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I read all the way to the highway exit, but I only get halfway through the first article. It’s dense and full of statistical analysis that’s over my head.

By the time Rickie rolls down the exit ramp, I feel the onset of a full-blown case of imposter syndrome. Dr. Drummond is expecting me to be sharp. What if they ask me to work on this type of analysis, and I can’t do it?

“I see the ice cream place,” Rickie says. “But there’s no entrance back onto the highway. What the hell?”

“Doesn’t matter,” I mumble. “It’s three miles down a side road to exit 6.” I close the journal with a sigh. I feel so panicky right now. I’ve always tried to be the smartest girl in the room. But it’s all an act. I’m obviously the worst kind of dunce—the kind that can’t see her own mistakes until it’s way too late. (See: the last twelve months of my life.)

Is it normal to have a midlife crisis right before your twenty-first birthday?

Rickie rolls into the gravel parking lot of the Dreamy Creemee and puts the truck in a shady spot. He rolls down the windows before killing the engine. It’s getting toward dinner hour, so there aren’t many people here. Just a couple of moms pushing toddlers on the swing set.

And I’m quietly having a panic attack in the passenger seat.

I take a slow but shaky breath. Do I even want ice cream? Is there a flavor on that signboard that could take me out of my own head? I reach for the door handle, but Rickie stops me.

“Look,” he says. “About that time we shared a ride home from Connecticut…”

No,” I say forcefully. If he makes me relive that embarrassing experience, I might lose my cool. “Just forget it, okay? So what if you ghosted me?”

His eyes widen. But my rant is only picking up steam.

“None of that matters. I didn’t even blame you. And the only way I’m going to make it through this year is if I put Connecticut behind me, okay? Just leave it alone.”

My voice cracks on that last word, and I realize that I might actually cry. Which is a thing I never do. But Harkness College was my dream, and I blew it. My damn eyes get hot and my throat constricts.

“S-so just forget it,” I squeak. “It’s already in the past. It can just stay there.”

Rickie’s gray eyes are soft now. And they’re moving closer. To my utter surprise, he leans forward and presses a kiss to my lips.

So soft, my brain sputters.

“Shh,” he says against my lips. His kiss is warm and unhurried. Like a ray of sunshine when you’re shivering.

For once, my squirrel brain forgets to scurry. And I just let it happen. He kisses me again. It’s still gentle. His bright eyes measure me. I don’t know what he sees. But whatever it is, he decides he likes it.

Those soft lips brush and press. Again. And I’m only human. Rickie’s surprisingly tender kiss has caught me at a vulnerable moment. I lean in, experimenting with the slide and pressure of his mouth against mine. A sizzle of heat flashes across my skin. It’s the strangest sensation—as if he’s transferred an ounce of that devil-may-care attitude across the steering column and right into my soul. I drink him in, lips parted. Ready for him to take it further.

But then it ends. Rickie sits back, his head cocked to the side, as if in deep contemplation.

I’m bereft. “Wh-what was that for?” I stammer.

I expect a smirk. But his expression remains soft. “You seemed a little freaked. So I brought you to an ice cream place on a hot summer’s day. But that wasn’t enough, apparently. You needed even more distraction. So I gave it to you. And I’m good at that. A real specialist.”

Replying is impossible. All I can do is sit here and try to process that kiss. That lovely kiss.

He really has some nerve.

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The True North series gives me the warm fuzzies. Spending time with the Shipleys is such a treat for me. This time around Dylan’s twin sister Daphne meets her match and let me tell you, Rickie is one of my top favorite heroes in this series. There is something so sexy about a man who knows what he wants.

Rickie works on the Shipleys’ farm over the summer full time. The only Shipley who doesn’t fall under his spell is Daphne and he can’t quite figure out why. He’s a natural charmer but Daphne is a hard nut to crack.
Bad boys are…bad for Daphne’s soul, especially after being burned by an elitist douchebag. Rickie is just another distraction she can’t afford. Also, the guy stood her up and Daphne can hold a grudge like a champion. She is a planner and after the disaster at Harkness she has her future mapped out and a guy like Rickie doesn’t have room in it.

I adored Rickie’s easy-going nature, despite his memory issues and the psychological issues that come with it. He has no recollection of the details how he ended up losing a whole year of his life. And when Daphne realizes that he can’t remember having her stood up a tentative friendship begins and that was the part I loved most. Their friendship was so honest and it showed the depth Rickie actually had. He was super-smart, thoughtful and sweet. He was 100% committed to win Daphne over. Daphne was just as smart. She made some bad calls in previous books but the impression I had of her made a 180 in her own story. Sarina Bowen is good at that. I really loved her, prickly, snarky nature and all. She got over her and Rickie’s issues quickly, once she understood what happened to him. I love their flashbacks to when they first met because it showed their instant and easy connection.

As per usual we get to visit with all the other Shipleys and that’s always a joy. What tickled me silly was grandpa dating two women at the same time. That man is hilarious and always good for a one-liner that’ll crack you up.

I loved everything about this <a href=”https://www.audible.com/pd/Waylaid-Audiobook/B098TSB429″>audiobook</a>. Not only is the narration buy two of my favorites, Zachary Webber and Callie Dalton top notch – they are two of my favorite narrators and staples among audiobook narrators – the story is just heartwarming and emotional. It’s also sweet, sexy, cute and fun. I was a big dollop of “AWWW” when I finished. I can’t recommend this enough.

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.

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