True North #4


Sarina Bowen

✮✮✮ 4.5 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.

In this installment of the True North series we get to know the prickly bartender and Griff’s ex-lover Zara who we met in the previous books. She got knocked up and until now we didn’t know who the father of her unborn child was. Suffice it to say that I was more than ready to get her story.

There was a chance that I wouldn’t like Zara – she could be pretty guarded and standoff-ish but she was that for a good reason. She was never unlikable and over the course of the story you can see her rough edges become softer but never smooth out completely.

I’d spent a long time feeling like the girl who had less than everyone else. I hadn’t known it would ache just as much to feel blessed.

She still is in her head very often, analyzing  a situation and expecting the worst but Dave is a good influence. Zara’s little girl means everything to her, she’s a fantastic mother and it was lovely to see how she started to trust Dave with the most important person in her life.

Oh and Dave with the toddler? Goodbye ovaries. Damn!

“I’ll take a turn getting yelled at,” I told her, scooping Nicole out of her arms. “You relax for a minute.” Maybe find some ear plugs. Nicole howled at me when I took her. She opened her mouth so wide I could see her tonsils rattling as she cried. Like the baby on The Simpsons, except cuter.

Dave’s attraction to Zara is instant and he isn’t turned off by her distant demeanor. In fact, he doesn’t intend to have a relationship with her at the start so it’s just as well that they don’t share a lot of details about their lives and enjoy each other’s company.
When he comes back two years later and starts to develop feelings for Zara he doesn’t take offense either, no, he considers it a challenge to win the beautiful mother of his daughter over. I loved that he took it all in good humor, he was a really good, levelheaded man who took responsibility and wanted to do right by his daughter and her mother. It didn’t hurt that he was a sexy, bossy beast in bed.

“You bring out a different kind of horny in me— the kind that wants to buy furniture as well as fuck on it. The kind that would rather be a patient man. Because you’re worth it, honey.”

Sarina Bowen lets us say hello again to the whole Shipley gang and I got some serious MM vibes from Griff’s brother Kieran and the new full-time employee in Zara and Audrey’s coffee shop,  Roderick. Zara’s big family also leaves a lasting impression, especially her twin brother Benito, who I loved! Seems like there is a story too.

Starting one of Sarina Bowen’s True North books is always a little bit like coming home. I get this warm fuzzy feeling of familiarity and the characters feel more like friends than fictional. OK, saying that is even weird for me but what I’m trying to say is that they feel real. But Sarina’s True North books always feel like a late summer evening, when the temperatures are already a bit crisp and you cuddle up in a comforter and have a glass of cider with friends and easy conversation.

Bountiful is a a super sweet story, very low in the angst department with wonderful characters and the promise of more. There is humor and the author’s signature descriptive writing style which I absolutely adore. There aren’t many authors who can go into detailed description about nature and landscape with beautiful prose. So now I can’t wait to see what Ms. Bowen has for us in store next!

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