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Review: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #2
Genres: Contemporary
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 12th 2016
Source: ARC received for review
Rating: ★★
Amazon - Barnes & Noble
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.

If you missed the memo, I absolutely loved Sarina Bowen's Bitterrsweet, the first book in the True North series. So, when this baby showed up, I was quick to ditch my read at the time to jump right into Steadfast. Sarina Bowen continues to shine with this series. Steadfast turned out to be a heartbreaking and hopeful love story with a lot of heart and I'm so so happy with the way the author went about writing this book.

Even though I was expecting it, given what we find out about Jude in the first book, I was slightly taken aback by the shift in tone. While Bittersweet was light and flirty, Steadfast was mildly darker. This was understandable because after all, this was Jude's story - Jude who had suffered too much in his past. So, while it took me a bit of time to get adjusted to this new darker tone, once I settled in, I was hooked to the story. This may be a love story, but this was also very much Jude's journey to finding his strength and healing from the past that pushed him into prison. He was a quiet man in Bittersweet, but here, the layers of character unraveled and I loved discovering more about the kind of person he was. And let me tell you, I'm in love with the person that Jude is. There was something heartbreaking about his voice and Sarina Bowen captured his emotions so beautifully. He was hardworking, willing to be a better individual and he gave his utmost best into battling with his addiction. It's not always easy watching Jude's fight with his addiction because even though he has been clean for a while, the temptations are everywhere around him. But Jude made me so proud with how he avoided them. My heart ached for Jude, and I loved him so much.

Going into Steadfast, I thought I had Sophie's character figured out. I thought for sure she would be angry at Jude and would have a hard time forgiving him. But she surprised me with how sweet, genuine and loving she was. I wouldn't have blamed her if she had been bitter and angry at Jude, but I liked that she proved me wrong. Her family life hasn't been the same since her brother's accident - her mother is suffering from depression and her father is even more controlling than he was before. Sophie abandons her dream of pursuing a degree in music in order to take care of her mother, but no one appreciates how much she has sacrificed. Despite her circumstances, especially that horrid father of hers, Sophie shined with her positivity and kindness. She's an incredibly brave young woman and as the story progressed and she discovered that maybe her brother's accident wasn't what it was made out to be by her cop father, I fell harder for her. Throughout her investigation, she was smart and though I was afraid about what would happen to her if her father figured out she was investigating her brother's death and Jude's imprisonment, she remained fearless.

Sophie and Jude's romance was a second chance romance. I love second chance romances because they are always so achy in a really good way. What's great about Steadfast's romance was that we got to see how the two of them fell for each other through flashbacks peppered throughout the story. I shipped these two even as they were little high-school babies with opposite personalities. They had a sweet, intense and passionate romance. When they reunited years after being separated because of the accident, the intensity of their feelings was even stronger than before. Sophie and Jude's romance the second time around was even more angsty and even more painful, but dammit if it wasn't beautiful. Sarina Bowen did a phenomenal job at weaving together the passion, the pain and the pure love between this two as they healed together. I was in agony, but I was obsessed and it was all so worth it.

I admit that I missed the farm setting from the previous book a bit and I would have liked to see more of the Shipleys, one of my favorite fictional families, but Steadfast was still an incredible book. I'm totally in awe with Sarina Bowen has crafted here. Now, I'm so ready for Zach's story - it might just turn out to be the best of the bunch.

What are some of your favorite second chance romances?
Let me know in the comments below!