Review: Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen


Title: Bitterweet (True North #1)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Genre: Contemporary romance, Small-town 
Release Date: 14 June 2016

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My rating: 3 Stars


If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

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.


I will start with saying that I absolutely love Sarina Bowen's writing. Her Ivy Years series is my favourite NA series and her M/M hockey romances Him and Us, co-written with Elle Kennedy are just as amazing. I was really excited when I heard she will be writing a new series, sort of small town romances and I jumped at the chance to read the first book, Bittersweet.

On paper I should have loved this, a sexy hunk ex-sports star in college turned into a farmer and cider maker and the super sexy, somewhat flighty college hook-up who is trying to make it in the restaurant business.

I enjoyed a lot in this story, yet it ended as an OK read for me. Whole food business and Audrey's struggles and adventures in it were quite fun to read. And what I liked the most in this book is Griff's life on the farm - the interactions within his family and friends, the small-town feel - shone through the story and warmed my heart.

The romance is where I struggled a bit. It's a second-chance love story, with Griff being more involved even back in their college days. Their present-day chemistry was off-the-charts, but for the relationship lacked depth. It read like your usual, cliched and stereotypical NA college affair - it was all about lust and sexual pleasure and felt like feelings and real intimacy were lacking, at least initially.

I expected more maturity in the relationship, both Griff and Adrey acted like adults in the other aspects of their lives, or were at least trying to live up to their responsibilities and the expectations the others had of them.

In general I think there are one too many stereotypes (the evil ex-girlfriend who turned out to be a nice person after all, the super evil mother who also had a change of heart by the end, and more) which make the story just average and in many ways predictable.

I still enjoy Ms Bowen's style and have high hopes for the next books in the series, which I definitely plan to read. If you don't mind some instalust and NA angst in your romance, you should give this one a try. It wasn't a big hit with me but it might work better for you.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks

PS: The second book, Steadfast, which tells Jude's story is out already and I enjoyed it much more and will be reviewing it soon.

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