Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

There's a first time for everything.

Lark Wainright 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.

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Book 3
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I have the biggest grin on my face right now. That’s how much I loved Keepsake. I’ve been dying to read Zach’s story since he was introduced in the first book, Bittersweet, but it was well worth the wait because having to wait until book three just added to the anticipation of finally finding out what he’d endured before finding a home with the Shipleys. As it turns out, it was worse than I imagined in some ways, but not as horrific as I was worried it could have been – if that makes sense. Yet all that Zach endured made him uniquely qualified to understand Lark in ways that none of her friends and family could.

This may sound wrong, but I took perverse pleasure in learning that Zach wasn’t nearly as squeaky clean as the Shipleys assumed him to be. Don’t get me wrong, Zach is one of the good ones, there is no doubt about that. It’s just that his lack of experience and failure to remedy that situation wasn’t an indicator of his naivety or disinterest. As it turns out, Zach can be just as hormone-driven as the other guys when in the presence of the right woman – and Lark is that lucky gal, even if she’s not feeling all that lucky when she shows up in Vermont. Because it’s obvious that she’s vulnerable, Zach has no intention of acting upon his attraction to Lark, but he refuses to sit by and watch (or listen to) her suffer, and intervenes when her nightmares take hold. As the summer passes, the two get closer as they spend more and more time together, enjoying the friendship they have and finding a sense of safety and comfort they each needed. Thankfully, when the attraction is mutual, chemistry can be ignored for only so long and when they finally gave in, I too wanted to applaud (don’t worry, you’ll get the reference when you read the book). Even though I knew theirs would not be an easy journey, I still wasn’t prepared to have my heart hurt so much when the inevitable explosion occurred. All I could do was hope that with as big as the fallout was, that the author would give Zach and Lark an even better happy ending – and she did.

Similar to Steadfast, Bowen again tackles some really tough issues in Keepsake – namely non-combat related PTSD. Thanks to the efforts of veteran’s groups and awareness campaigns, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is no longer a shameful secret to be ignored and whispered about. Yet despite the improvements in awareness that have been made, non-combat related PTSD isn’t talked about as often as it should be, thus persons with it are sometimes expected to “just get over it” and move on from the precipitating event with little to no treatment. While Lark was fortunate enough to receive treatment upon her return home, her inability to remember parts of her captivity caused her therapists and her parents to draw erroneous conclusions about what she endured, thus inadvertently putting more pressure on her to get better faster. Through the relationship she develops with Zach, the author illustrates the importance of having people around you who care for you without judging you. However, Bowen does not try to pass off love as the cure all that romance readers often get. No matter how much we wish it were true, love does not heal all wounds and I love that the author shows this in a realistic yet heart wrenching way – even if she did make me cry for Zach and Lark. Kudos to Bowen. She penned the perfect ending for Zach and Lark (hence the grin on my face), and I’m really, really hoping that the scene in the café means that Zara is up next.

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the Brooklyn Bruisers series, the Ivy Years series, and the Gravity series. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Keepsake (True North #3) by Sarina Bowen to read and review.

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