Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen – Jenn’s Review

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Sarina Bowen is one of my Top 3 authors. I’ll read anything she writes.


off the charts


The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

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I’ve not made it a secret that Sarina Bowen is a favorite of author of mine. I have loved every book she has written, and that streak continues with Bittersweet, the first book in her True North series.

What’s not to love about a grumpy apple orchard owner and farmer, who loves his family and his cider equally? Nothing! Griffin Shipley is not sure he is living the life he was supposed to be, but he is hell bent on providing for his family, and will stop at nothing to give them the lives they deserve.  Audrey Kidder knows she is a great chef, if the restaurant company she works for would just give her the chance to prove it. Instead, they send her to Vermont to meet with an August Shipley…. and as it turns out, not for the first time.

“I had a flicker of a memory of the last time I’d seen Griff Shipley. We were in his room at the frat house, and he had me up against his bedroom door.”

Griff tried to play the part of the former college football star turned cantankerous farmer, but he was much more sweet than crabby. There was an undeniable chemistry between Griffin and Audrey. They might have had a brief past, but whatever was happening now was on a different level.  Watching Griffin try and figure out how his feelings for Audrey fit into his life running a farm provided some of the best moments of the book. I just love when the grouchy hero finds the girl he realizes he can no longer live without. I enjoyed every minute of his struggle.  Audrey may have felt the same, but she had a job to do, and it was difficult to watch her try and balance her feelings for Griff with her restaurant dreams. She was making connections in town and growing close with Griff’s family (who are all awesome), but you could see that knowing she couldn’t stay was tearing her up. I really connect with strong females, and that’s what I loved most about Audrey. She could have forced her dreams to wait after reconnecting with Griff, but she refused to compromise her vision for her future. She was driven by her goals, and that made her all the more desirable.

As with every Bowen book, you get exceptional writing, story flow and character development. I’ve come to expect this, and Bowen delivers. The inner thoughts of Audrey and Griffin are just as witty as their banter. She gets so deep inside of her characters, knows them so well, and fully develops them, that you feel like you could be their best friends. You know their secrets and desires, just as clearly as Bowen. When you finish reading, it’s like saying goodbye to your best friend from grade school. Another remarkable aspect to Bowen’s writing is her knowledge of what she’s actually writing about. This wasn’t a few lines about what it takes be a farmer…getting up early, being super hot and dirty all day, and working long hours. If I didn’t know better, I would think Bowen owned an apple orchard, milked hundreds of cows every day, and ran the day to day operations of a family farm. That’s how detailed she was…and not in a boring way. I found myself glued to the page whenever Griffin would describe his farm and his workings. Knowing your material goes a long way with me, and Bowen gets it right every, single, time.

Bittersweet was a low-angst, love story that took a former college hook-up straight from bitter to sweet. I loved every word of this perfect story. It’s another hit from Sarina Bowen. I will be anxiously awaiting Jude’s story.

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