Book 2, True North
This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.
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.
Sophie Haines is stunned by his reappearance. After a three year absence, the man who killed her brother and broke her heart is suddenly 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 volunteer in the church kitchen.
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'm crazy about this series. In love with Jude and Sophie, the Shipley's, just the whole family dynamic. EVERYTHING IS WOW. -Angie's Dreamy Reads
5-stars, Top Pick! This story will break your heart and stitch it back together again. -Harlequin Junkie
Utterly fantastic. Well-written romance that runs the full gamut of emotions. Oh, and did I mention steamy? This series has it all. -Red Hot & Blue Reads
This is a must read for any romance reader. If you're having a little bit of overload from the typical storyline and want characters with depth and soul, one click this one. I promise you won't regret inviting Jude and Sophie into your reader world! - City and Book
Another fantastic book by Sarina Bowen! I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. -The Book Hookup
The true definition of a feel good read, it completely consumed me from the first page! - Reviews by Rah
Steadfast has everything you want in a second chance romance and I guarantee it will be in your Best Of 2016 list. -Sasha Says
This book slayed me. I was up until 3am finishing it! -Feeding My Addiction Book Reviews
Sarina Bowen has topped herself again. I couldn't put down Steadfast! -Unapologetic Book Addict
A dark and heart rending story. I was inspired to think more about giving people second chances and the benefit of the doubt. Also? It's really, really sexy. -Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
I thought this was a cute and sweet story
5++ #Gingersnap Stars and recommendation
You know that moment when you are reading a book and you KNOW it’s gonna be one of your “top reads”? With Steadfast, I had that feeling after only a few chapters. Jude Nickel is an addict in recovery, working at the Shipley farm when we met him as a secondary character in Bittersweet. I hadn’t looked to see who book 2 would be about, so when I read the teaser chapter at the end of Bittersweet, I was simply floored. It made so much sense, he was the mystery that I suddenly couldn’t wait to get to know.
Steadfast is truly one of the most beautifully layered stories that vividly looks at the life of an addict and the horrific and cataclysmic event that destroyed the family of the love of his life Sophie Haines. Jude’s addiction and recovery makes for one of the most thought provoking reads. Being in his head as he reasons through his regrets and lives moment to moment trying to stave off the “itch” to use drugs filled it with a unique tension. There’s no doubt that recovery is a condition and Bowen does an amazing job capturing all the norms of addiction/recovery and many of the nuances.
Steadfast is also very much a love story. The connection between Jude and Sophie is palpable, especially while discovering how they are ripped apart after nearly three years together. And they would always face heavy opposition from Sophie’s family so neither had any reason to hope that their connection would hold and how natural it would be to fall back together.
"Kissing her wasn’t a decision I made. It was just inevitable, the way a clap of thunder follows lightning.” ~ Jude
“But even a glimpse of him had given me palpitations. As if my subconscious had recognized a piece of my soul before my brain got a chance to speak up.” ~Sophie
Whether it was sheer loneliness, circumstance or fate that brings them back together, they were both mired in a desperate isolation. Individually they moved forward out of the pure necessity of life, but they are stuck in the aftermath of tragedy. When Jude returns to his fathers’ house and the family garage, he fights to retain control of his recovery:
“Colebury reeked of all my old mistakes and desires. The itchy void in my chest gave a throb, and I rolled over to try to quash it. But that only reminded me of another absence. I stuck my nose in the pillow and took a deep breath, wondering if any essence of Sophie might remain. But she was long gone.” ~ Jude
Sophie is in no better a position. Sophie’s life is hell. You can feel the desperation of Sophie’s life; living under the roof of her tyrant father and essentially motherless. Combine that with losing the love of her life, their separation is utterly heartbreaking.
“My heart believed he had left Vermont just as thoroughly as he’d left my life.
My heart was a goddamned idiot, obviously.” ~Sophie
While the story line is driven by Jude’s life as a recovering addict, ensuring Jude and Sophie can move past the tragedy creates an element of mystery. Bowen very skillfully builds up the suspense and we are left waiting for the other shoe to drop. But she balances this with a passionate and love story. The story told from their alternating points of view and while they both reflect on their past, they slowly work towards a future.
“It wasn’t that I didn’t want Sophie in my life. I wanted her very badly. I just wanted there to be a better me to give her in return.” ~ Jude
“An addiction is when you can’t keep away from something that’s bad for you. Maybe Jude was a drug addict , but I was a Jude addict.” ~ Sophie
The secondary characters, Father Peters and the compassion he shows Jude does much to restore his faith in himself. And surprisingly , Denny made it onto my list of “good” characters. Romantic notions aside, he cares deeply about Sophie and he stands by her as a much needed friend. But it’s the Shipley family that gives the story the essence of the community. It makes me long to spend even a week on a farm, communing with nature and eating cookies.
Ultimately, Steadfast is a story about forgiveness, forgiving oneself and others, and the power of hope.
Well-crafted, emotional read.
Great depth of character.