Series: True North, #2
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.
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.
For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s 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 turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.
She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.
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’ve been a big fan of Sarina Bowen’s books since I stumbled upon The Ivy Years series a couple of years ago. I admire the way she takes on complex social issues within her sexy romances. It gives them a realistic feel and something deeper for the reader to think about. Plus, her writing is captivating. I’m always consumed by her books from the very first page.
I went into Steadfast expecting another fun, sexy farm romance like I found in Bittersweet (True North, #1). What I got was something completely different, maybe even better. It was a grittier story, filled with the hope of second chances and redemption.
“My name is Jude Nickel, and I am an addict. Also, I’m a big fucking idiot.”
I loved the care with which Sarina Bowen tackled Jude’s substance abuse. She stripped addiction down and made it both understandable and relatable. I have to admit, Jude’s perspective has made me look differently at the lives of those I know who struggle with drug addiction. I really respected Jude and the choices he made in this story. He accepted his past, dealt with it and made the changes he needed to move forward. There was such strength in his character. He might not have thought he was one of the good guys, but underneath it all he truly was. Jude just needed to know someone loved and believed in him.
“Of all the things I’d lost – my good name, the chance to get a decent job, my carefully restored care – none of them mattered as much as Sophie.”
Luckily, that person was Sophie. Her support of Jude was admirable. She went above and beyond what I would have expected from an ex-girlfriend whose life was destroyed by his actions. Although, I do have to admit I did question Sophie’s thoughts on the accident that ripped their relationship apart at times. She never seemed to hold a grudge against Jude for what happened or even fault him. She was angry with him for breaking her heart, but not for causing the accident. It surprised me a little. Anyways. It didn’t detract from my love of this story, so it didn’t take any stars away from my rating.
Jude and Sophie’s clandestine affair was sexy as hell and they shared such a beautiful connection, and this is normally where I would go on and on about it, but it wasn’t what kept my attention. For me, this book was all about Jude and his recovery. Their relationship was part of that, but it wasn’t what I fell in love with. That’s kind of weird since this is a romance novel.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Steadfast really touched me and I want to thank Sarina Bowen for writing such a profound second chance love story. It was so beautifully written, amazing and should be on every romance fan’s to-read list.
Seriously. Get your copy as soon as it comes out tomorrow.