Note: This ARC was provided by Nina Bocci PR in exchange for an honest review.
Bittersweet is in no way, shape, or form a bittersweet story nor would I even dare call this a second chance romance. This is a love story between two people who interacted in college--he as a senior and she as a freshman--and acted on their baser instincts twice before inadvertently letting whatever ties they had fall to the wayside. When twenty-seven-year-old Griffin Shipley and twenty-three-year-old Audrey Kidder lock eyes on each other again, it's with Audrey stuck in a ditch on Griff's family farm. She's sent there to try and convince Griff to sell his apples and cider at the lower than rock bottom prices the company she works for has set. Griff doesn't trust the conglomerate but he's also aware of what having his wares may mean for the farm financially and how it will help his family, both in the short term and in the long run. His father's sudden death meant dreams of playing professional football would have to end in favor of keeping the farm running. He can't afford distractions and past experience has shown him just how much of one Audrey can be. But maybe, this time around, Audrey is the very distraction he ultimately needs in his life.
I am an admitted Sarina Bowen fangirl, having read almost all of her available novels, save for the Gravity series, although it's already on my ever-growing to-be-read list and must be read before the year ends (finger crossed!), and her announcement regarding a new series set in Vermont had me grabbing my notebook and adding on more titles to my TBR list. The fact, though, that True North is her first non-sports-related romance series had me doubly excited, not because I don't love sports romances (hers are all on my list of all-time favorites), but because this is something different from Sarina Bowen. Now that I'm done with the series starter, Bittersweet, let me tell you that it is, indeed different but in every good way possible while still retaining that blend of sexy, snarky, and sweet that has become the author's signature touch. So, does stepping away from the world of hockey rinks and college life make the story of a grumpy but oh-so-gorgeous former hockey-playing farmer and his two-time college hook-up slash promising chef and aspiring restaurateur a worthwhile one? Yes, and I can't wait for more of True North.
Griff and Audrey have the kind of banter that makes them feel real. They're neither overly antagonistic nor are they sickeningly saccharine. The button pushing is like foreplay with these two, both unable to rein in their sarcasm but still able to turn the silliness on when the occasion calls for it. They've earned their way on my list of favorite fictional couples because they're irresistibly adorable and came off as authentic. When you add in the rest of the Shipley family (from Griff's mom and younger siblings to his grandfather and cousins), as well as Zach and Jude--both farmhands--and even Zara, Griff's former regular hook-up and manager of a local bar, you end up with a cast of characters that are worth taking note of, with each one etching their way into my heart in one form or another. The book gives the happily-ever-after that countless romance readers crave for, but the journey Griff and Audrey take to get there is uniquely theirs and is both entertaining and memorable. Bittersweet sets the bar high for the rest of the series, and I'm already itching to get my hands on Jude's story next. This series starter is a recommended, five-star read. ♥
Release Date: 14 June 2016
Date Read: 13 June 2016
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