The new series is set in Vermont. True North is populated by the tough, outdoorsy mountain men that populate the Green Mountain State. They raise cows and they grow apples. They chop a lot of wood, especially when they need to blow off steam. (Beards are optional but encouraged.)
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.
I loved Bittersweet. I really, really hope that this book is representative of Bowen’s writing style, because I cannot wait to check out her backlist while I’m waiting for the rest of this series. The ease with which we moved from Griffin’s point of view to Audrey’s, both written in the first person, was great. I enjoyed spending time in each of their heads, knowing what they were thinking, feeling, and holding back from the other. Yet the author didn’t spend so much time in the characters’ heads that she ignored the actual story – rather their thoughts enhanced the ongoing actions and conversations.
Griffin is a farmer and cider maker in Vermont, and Audrey has been sent by her Boston-based company to obtain organic produce – at rock bottom prices – for their farm-to-table menu. Even though Audrey knew a Griffin Shipley in college, she never expected him to be the man in charge at the first farm she visits. Although their affair in college may have been short-lived, five years hasn’t diminished the heat that simmers between them and the attraction between them sizzles even as they butt heads – repeatedly. After a couple of rough starts, Griffin and Audrey decide that they can no longer deny the attraction between them and “Hello, shower sex!” My favorite kind of scene and Bowen does an excellent job writing it. As Audrey spends more time in Vermont, visiting farm after farm, doing the job her boss sent her to do, she and Griffin continue to scratch that itch. And an itch is all it will ever be as Audrey’s life is in Boston, with dreams of opening her own restaurant, while Griffin’s life is in Vermont, making cider and working the family farm (which I still want to call an orchard as it seemed to be largely fruit trees). When Audrey gets called back to Boston to work in one of BPG’s kitchens, Grumpy Griff returns, worse than he was before Audrey crashed back into his life. And Griffin has to figure out how to make a long-distance relationship a viable option for them because as much as he wants her in Vermont, he refuses to ask Audrey to give up her dream. But a single phone call puts any future of a them at risk of never happening.
There was a lot for me to love in Bittersweet. I loved both Audrey and Griffin – as individuals and as a couple. They complemented each other wonderfully, with their banter being almost as entertaining as their liaisons. Granted, I have a thing for farmers, so Griff already had an edge. Just like Audrey, I adored Griffin’s family and the farmhands who might as well have been family. It was apparent that the residents of Shipley Farm were a close knit group who looked out for one another, including the latest addition – Jude. I was very pleased to learn that book two, Steadfast, will give us Jude’s story as I really want to know what happened and see him find happiness. I can only hope that we get to catch up with the Shipleys again during book two. Bittersweet is a great start to a new series and I’m looking forward to many more installments in the True North series.