Book 3, True North
This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.
There’s a first time for everything.
Lark Wainright used to be fearless. She led her life as a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her last overseas adventure was one too many. She’s safe now, but her family is still consumed with worry and 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 into her little car and heads to Vermont. But her night terrors 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. He’s good with animals, and he’s good with his hands. 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 more than farm labor.
"By now you'd think I know better than to start a Sarina Bowen book after 10 PM. The flow of Keepsake feels so natural, you barely realise time has passed." -Kirke at Total Book Geek
"This book. Not enough stars in the heavens. 6++++++ Bright Vermont Stars." -Kindle Friends Forever
"Sarina Bowen delivered a wonderful story!" -Rachel Reads Ravenously
"We were left breathless!" -Kindle Friends Forever
For anyone who loves realistic and flawed characters, seriously steamy love scenes, and food!
Wow. I didn't think there was a way to top the last two installments of Sarina Bowen's True North series, but I was wrong. Sarina has gifted us with an amazing, gentlemanly hero who is loyal, generous and stalwart, but also still dealing with the aftermath of a loveless, cruel childhood where he was isolated from the rest of the world. Zachariah Holtz is rock-solid, in both body (yum!) and mind, and yet, he's real. He's had a powerful attraction to Lark Wainright, one of his employers' best friends, since he first met her.
Lark is a vivacious, adventurous woman just coming back from a work trip in a dangerous part of Guatemala, where she was kidnapped and held hostage for several weeks. Yeah, it's not pretty. Lark is dealing with severe PTSD, including terrifying nightmares. Her best friend, May Shipley, invites her up to the family farm for the apple harvesting season, in the hopes that Lark will be able to deal with her issues more there.
I won't give away much more than this, because the way that Zack and Lark get together is just as complex as their characters. Lark is such a beautiful contrast of strong and broken, sassy but scared. There's a reason that Griffin Shipley nicknames her "Wild Child", but there's also a lot of a different person in there after what happened in Guatemala. Bowen paints her and her trauma so realistically. It's just such an honest and thoughtful portrayal of two people dealing with their demons and how all kinds of love can heal - but sometimes it's not the only thing that's needed.
Bowen has said that this book took her a long time to write and perfect, and it was the first book written in the True North series - but one that was stewing in her head for three years. I think the time and rumination did it so much good, because it's definitely the most deftly written book in her oeuvre, and the most carefully plotted. You feel the care Bowen takes with the characters, to do right by them and ensure we get the best possible story.
Aside from the romance and characters, Keepsake offers more looks at gorgeous Vermont, the Shipleys and Jude and Sophie from the first and second book, and just a feeling of the wonders of harvest season. Like the first two books, Keepsake made me desperately want to go apple-picking, eat a cider donut, and go to the farmers' market. It's definitely a book for foodies and nature lovers, but more, it's a book for anyone who loves realistic and flawed characters and seriously steamy love scenes.
Just go read it. Now. =p
All the Stars
I am head over heels for Sarina Bowen’s True North series and can truly say that every moment spent in the company of the Shipley family is time (very) well spent. Keepsake is the latest installment in this series and it is pure poetry. I knew even before I turned the first page of this book that it would be a powerful experience. These are two characters whose lives may not necessarily match, but Zach and Lark’s hearts are an absolutely perfect fit. Sarina has woven a love story that is equal parts romantic and emotional, so hold on to your own heart as you read Keepsake.
These characters have left their mark on me. Their words, their thoughts, their feelings and just how they connect with each other all combine for this gorgeous story that took my breath away. Zach is an amazing soul who has seen the best and worst of this world and yet maintained an open-eyed faith. He has this innate goodness spills over into every facet of who he is he is. But don’t read that goodness as naiveté, Zach is a slyly brilliant man with a work ethic that is untouchable. While she may be shuttering it, Lark is force of nature with a passion for all thingsand that really can’t be hidden away. Every moment spent in her shoes is a lesson in resilience. My heart hurt for Lark in many ways, but at the same time, I could feel myself ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with her as worked to find her way out of her own pit of despair. She is simply remarkable.
From Bittersweet to Keepsake and all the books after, I am hooked on the True North Series. In telling these stories, Sarina Bowen has given us characters who are passionate about their life’s work, family, friends and community. We are also getting an education about farming, pressing and bottling cider, managing livestock and so much more. Right along with getting swept away with the romances, I love the learning the details of the family’s day to day life, it adds an element that brings the stories and characters home to the reader.
Let each one of these books find their way onto your device (very) soon. They are the perfect companion for a chilly fall day and they will put you in the mood for snuggling, cranberry apple pie and big strapping farmers/cider makers. Enjoy!!
Laurie’s Rating: 6++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Bright Vermont Stars
Another beautifully written story my Sarina Bowen. Zach will melt your heart. I enjoyed all the complimentary characters so much because they enriched the story. I laughed and cried and enjoyed the journey this story took me on.