4 stars · Contemporary Romance · Healing · Sizzler

Keepsake (True North #3) by Sarina Bowen

Keepsake Book Cover Keepsake
True North #3
Sarina Bowen
Contemporary Romance
Rennie Roads Books
October 25, 2016

There's a first time for everything.

Lark Wainwright used to be fearless. Her life was a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her recent overseas adventure was one too many. Now she’s home and in one piece. Mostly. But her nights are filled with terror.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps at the chance to spend fall in Vermont. But her nightmares don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of the Shipley Farm to soothe her when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah is a survivor, too. It’s been four years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult where he grew up. He’s found a peaceful existence on the Shipley’s farm, picking apples and fixing machinery. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. He doesn’t always know what to make of a world where movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV or spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she pushes Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he's good for much more than farm labor.

ARIANNA’s review


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“Even the safest place in the world felt more elusive after you’d visited some of the ugliest ones.”

When I pick a book by this author, I always know what to expect – effortless storytelling, endearing well portrayed characters and a lovely romance that makes me smile and swoon. ‘Keppsake’ is the third installment in her ‘True North’ series and like its predecessors, it can be read as a standalone. This third installment much like the other two was well written, heartwarming and also emotional at times; a wonderful story about healing, second chances, friendship and love.

“Zach wasn’t just a guy I happened to be attracted to. He was special. Zach was a better person than… well, just about anybody. He ought to be handled with care.”

Zack was born and raised on a compound by a religious cult, until the age in 19 when he was thrown out for breaking the rules. He arrived shoeless and hungry after many days at the Abrahams, a family of two escaped the religious cult years ago, but with some help from them and a little later from the Shipley’s he managed to create a life for himself. After four years working for Shipley’s, he’s still feeling like the new guy, every day trying to adapt more and more at a ‘normal’ life. He’s shy and quiet and he appreciates everything The Shipley’s done for him, caring for each one of them in his own way.

“She looked vivid, as if God had painted her features with bolder paints than he used on the rest of the world.”

Lark used to be fearless, loving the adventure like no other. Her life was changed completely when she decided to take a twelve-month assignment in Guatemala for the non-profit organization she was working for. Lark came home a different woman. A shell of a woman, whose nights are filled with nightmares, with terror. Needing to escape her overwhelming parents, Lark decides a change of scenery is in order and comes to visit her best friend, May Shipley in Vermont, agreeing during her stay to help at the farmers’ markets.

”I can handle it, Lark. Just lean on me. I’ll be your Apostate Farm.” Tears spilled out of her eyes. So many tears. But I just hang on. It’s what a do.”

While the story was on the slower side, I really enjoyed it. It was a really great and wonderfully written tale that kept my interest from start to finish. I really enjoyed how the story unfolded and of course how the friendship between Zack and Lark blossomed gradually in something more.

Zack was such a wonderful hero. Even if I prefer another type of hero, I have to admit I fell for him from the very beginning. He was so sweet, so caring, so thoughtful and considerate, attentive and with such a big heart…in other words, pretty damn perfect. His vulnerability and his innocence made me love him even more as the story unfolded. He was unique and also relatable and overall he was very realistically portrayed character. I appreciate how well his background was developed, how loyal he was with those who helped him years ago and most of all how patient and honest he was with Lark at times.

Lark was a tortured heroine I felt deeply for. My heart broke for her! She was strong and courageous, yet vulnerable at times and as Zack, she was a great, loyal human being and I loved that about her. As much as I didn’t want for her to stay away from Zack, I totally understood her reasoning.

“With one smooth thumb she brushed water off my cheekbone. The sweep of her skin against mine was at once familiar and electrifying. Whenever she touched me, I felt as if I’d loved her my whole life.”

The slow burn relationship between Zack and Lark was fantastically done. As much as I enjoyed their friendship, I have to say that I loved the romance that slowly developed between them. They were so cute together, so good for each other, bringing out the best in each other as the story unfolded. The connection between them was palpable, their chemistry off the charts and the sex scenes passionate, yet very sweet.

All in all, ‘Keepsake’ was a delightful read with two endearing characters, a bunch of engaging supporting characters and a lovely, heartwarming romance I highly recommend if you are looking for a comfort/healing story.

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