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Review: Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #1
Genres: Contemporary
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 14th 2016
Source: ARC received for review
Rating: ★★★1/2
Amazon - Barnes & Noble

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 fully and shamelessly admit that I picked up Bittersweet because of the mention of a grumpy farmer. Grumpy heroes are my weakness, you guys! I can't help myself. Bittersweet had so much more to offer though. It was a delightful, charming and funny book that every romance reader will enjoy.

The whole cast of Bittersweet was so damn loveable. There wasn't one character that I even remotely disliked. We have Audrey, our heroine, who was truly a breath of fresh air. She was a fun and super bubbly heroine that brought happiness wherever she went. I instantly connected with her POV in the book and by the end, I wanted to become her best friend. Audrey's background was also an interesting one. She was conceived through IVF to a man-hating, smart mother, who expected nothing but the best out of Audrey. She grew up with a lot of pressure on her shoulders to become a business woman like her mom, but she was just not meant for career like that. I easily sympathized with Audrey because the expectations that her mom had of her were truly stressful. What I loved about her though was that she did at least attempt to live up to her mom's expectations, but when she realizes that nothing will ever make her mom happy, she decides to go on her way and chase after her own dreams. I loved the passion that Audrey had and I loved that she worked so hard to achieve her dreams of becoming a chef and to get where she wants. She faced so many obstacles, but she did it without a word of complaint, and I so admired that about her.

She met her perfect match in Griffin, the sexy Vermont farmer, who Audrey has to convince to sell his products to her company's restaurant group and who also happens to be a guy Audrey slept with in college. To say that I loved Griffin would be such an understatement. This guy, with his broody, moody and gruff attitude, made me melt into a puddle. There was just lots to love about his personality. He was so devoted to his family and his farm that he even forwent a potential lucrative career in football. I loved Griffin's loyalty to those he loved so much. He was also the kind of guy who wasn't afraid to sweat a little to make sure his family and farm were thriving. I find men who aren't afraid to get down and dirty to be incredibly sexy and Griffin was totally that kind of guy. The best part about him though was even with his grouchy attitude towards everyone, he was in reality a big warm fuzzy bear on the inside who wanted the love of a woman. Are you in love with him yet? ;)

The romance between Griffin and Audrey was amazing! It has got to be one of my favorite romances of all-time. They had that past connection between them, and they were just so good together. I loved the banter they exchanged, the teasing name-calling and the thick sexual tension between them. For me, what made Griffin and Audrey work so wonderfully as a couple, one that I wanted to ship with every fiber of my being, was the fact that they brought out the best in each other. Audrey drew out the light and playful side of Griffin, making him undeniably happier, while he was able to help her understand that she was appreciated and pushed her to be more outgoing, at the same time giving her the space she needed to make her own decisions. He was a complete gentleman with her, despite being one big protective and possessive guy. The chemistry between them was explosive and when they finally gave in to the intense attraction between them, it was so steamy, I kept having to fan myself. Another truly refreshing aspect about this romance was how it remained drama and angst free all throughout. I would love to have more romances like this with no miscommunication or misunderstandings.

Yet another part I loved about Bittersweet was how family-oriented this book was. Griff's family were an endearing bunch and I loved how close-knit they were. They were always supportive of each other, even when they made mistakes and they were so warm and welcoming towards Audrey. I loved how they made her feel at home and like a part of the family and how they were even bigger shippers of Griffin and Audrey than I was. Besides the loving characters and the fiery romance, I also adored the farm setting. Sarina Bowen seems to know first-hand the life and goings on a farm, and you could easily gauge that from the vivid and picturesque way she presented the Vermont farm setting. I loved every scene involving the farm from the milking of the cows to the cider-making. At the end of the book, I honestly found myself wanting to take a couple of weeks off at a farm. Her writing was what I like to call book-crack-worthy and after reading this, I can't wait to devour more of her books.

Bittersweet is a book that once you pick up you'll have a really difficult time putting down, while reading will have a giant smile plastered on your face and by the end have you wishing you could get in a car and drive to a mountainous farm town to find yourself a sexy and grouchy farmer.

Who are some of your favorite grumpy heroes?
Let me know in the comments below!