Sunday, 17 July 2016

Steadfast (True North #2) by Sarina Bowen


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.

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Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: July 2016.

Have you ever picked up a book with zero expectations about how you think the story will play out and yet finish it thinking WOW! That is so not what I expected?? Now I know I probably sound crazy, but the thing is I didn't really have any idea how Ms Bowen would craft a story about a recovering addict, from the first book in the True North series I expected laugh out loud funny, I expected steamy sex, I expected those swoony moments that Bowen writes to perfection, what I didn't however expect was to read a story about a recovering addict and all the pain and regret he experienced, all the hurt he left behind, but most of all I didn't expect a story to capture so eloquently the destruction addiction causes. From Jude's introduction in Bittersweet I *knew* that he would be something special, addiction isn't only hard on the addict, but on those that love and care for them.

Even knowing very little about the man Jude Nickel was before he went to prison for vehicular manslaughter, it was easy to see how much his time incarcerated changed the man he is now. Three years in prison and six months in rehab is an awfully long time to spend reflecting the choices and mistakes you made, even the least repentant person would struggle under the weight of that kind of solitude. Beating addiction might have been the one of the hardest things Jude ever had to do, but returning to his hometown, of Colebury Vermont , confronting the ghosts of his former life, the ghost of the only woman, the only person who ever loved him was infinitely the hardest.

"Keeps me sane, knowing that if I stay strong all week I get to see you."

Sophie Haines was once the perfect stepford daughter, she did exactly what she was told, she played along with whatever her Sherriff father wanted, she lived her life in the shadows, a quiet  but lonely existence, Jude Nickel was the badboy she'd lust after from afar, a boy like him would never go for a good girl like her, meeting him, changed her, their teenage romance changed each other, in him she found wild and crazy, lust and romance, support and love. At seventeen she thought their love was invincible, but one night changed both of their lives and she was left heartbroken and alone, trapped with a mother who still hadn't mourned her son's passing and a father who blamed her for his death.

"He didn't keep me sane - he made me crazy. Until he'd shown up I hadn't realized how lonely I was."

Two people's lives changed irrevocably one night, one man died, and two families were left broken, addiction is insidious, it breaks trusts, damages lives, shatters families, I know this from personal experience, addiction leaves gaping holes in it's wake, rehabilitation is never an easy fix, it's a statistic universally proven that the rate of return use amongst users is extremely high, as a society we seem to believe that the hard part is admitting you have a problem, is rehabilitation, either forced or voluntary, but the simple fact is that that is the easy part, staying sober while in a regulated treatment program isn't hard, it's returning to your life once your out that shocks the body, that challenges that heart and soul, it's the cravings that tempt you, while all the things you once found so hard to deal with are back breaking down your resolve, it's the knowing how easy it would be to find your drug of choice, Reading books that deal with addiction is difficult because I've heard the I'm sorry's, the I won't do it agains, the I didn't mean its, the I'm tryings, I've heard them so many times that they lost their meaning, they became blank words, a void, and yet the more I read of Jude and Sophie's story the more I let go of some of the anger I didn't realise I was still holding onto.

"Those are just bullsh*t labels. And since when are you interested in other people's opinions."

Jude and Sophie's story isn't one of your typical addict, nor is it one of your typical badboy tempting the good girl, it's multi layered feel left me clutching my chest, it often left my heart feeling heavy, and my soul in need of support, it dealt with a topic that is a trigger for so many and dealt with it with sensitivity and respect, without demonising or sugar coating the reality of it. Steadfast isn't only about drug addiction and recovery, nor is it only about young love, it's paints a beautiful message about forgiveness and redemption, of others and yourself. Steadfast was raw, heart wrenching and utterly addictive in the best possible way.

About Sarina Bowen:

Sarina Bowen is the USA Today bestselling author of steamy, angsty Contemporary Romance and New Adult fiction. She lives in the wilds of Vermont. Sarina enjoys skiing, espresso drinks and the occasional margarita. She lives with her family, eight chickens and more ski gear and hockey equipment than seems necessary.

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