Author: Sarina Bowen


Goodbye Paradise Review

March 31, 2017 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Goodbye Paradise ReviewGoodbye Paradise (Hello Goodbye, #1) by Sarina Bowen
Published by Rennie Road Books on March 21st 2017
Pages: 266
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Bittersweet (True North, #1), Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)
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Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.
In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.
But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.
It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.
Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.
Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?
Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord's name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone.

I’ve been a fan of Sarina Bowen’s books for over a year now. Some of her books are kind of hit or miss for me, but I can proudly say that this one was definitely a hit for me. Though it was so heartbreaking at times, it was still such a romantic and refreshing romance between two fabulous men. If you’re looking for an m/m love story that doesn’t have ridiculous drama, has a unique setting, and has wonderful characters that you can’t help but cheer for, this book is probably for you. I recommend picking it up! Sarina hasn’t let down here with this new series. I only wish that I had read it when it was first published under a different name a few years ago.

Josh is such a sweet and caring guy. There honestly isn’t anything that I disliked about him. He had such a wonderful and pure personality. I really sympathized with all the years that he spent inside the cult. He was bullied by a particular group of people inside of it that targeted him for being gay. I can’t say this enough, I just enjoyed him as a character. He had so many awesome personality traits that made him instantly likable. For example, Josh is great at taking care of Maggie’s baby. More on her later, but through taking care of her, he learned how great he is at taking care of babies in general. I loved getting to see him figuring out his strength and true passion.

On the other hand, we have Caleb. I also loved Caleb. I loved how passionate and sure he was about Josh, even when Josh had his doubts about whether or not them being together was okay. Caleb was always very careful and understanding when Josh had these doubts, and I loved that about him. He’s a decent guy all around. He may not be good with kids like Josh is, but he discovered his passion for working with cars while still in the cult. I’ll admit that I did get frustrated with Caleb for a hot minute towards the end. I’m not going to say much about it, but it made me want to shake him. Thankfully, the drama didn’t last longer than a couple of pages so it didn’t turn out to be a huge deal.

Caleb and Josh make such a powerful and beautiful couple. I was a little surprised by how early on in the book that they get together. As soon as they leave the cult, they end up hooking up, which was surprising. However, they did already have an established friendship so that made it believable. They are such a sweet and lovely couple, you can’t help but cheer for them to have a happy ending because of all the bullshit they were put through for most of their lives. So the romance was hot and fantastic. It was one of my favorite aspects of the book for sure!

So the supporting characters were memorable as well. Once they escape, they hitch hike a ride from a kind trucker named Washington. This dude is so freaking nice and you can’t help but instantly love him. Though he’s mostly in the first part of the book, he doesn’t go away, and the boys never forget all he did for them. The boys move in with Maggie who escaped the cult years back and is now married. Her husband Daniel is just as hilarious and caring as his wife. They become Caleb and Josh’s family, and you fall in love with those two (and baby Chloe) just as much as you do with the boys. Sarina Bowen is amazing at writing well developed characters, even if they are simply supporting.

As a whole, this was a fun book to read. I won’t lie, I wasn’t able to stop reading once I first picked it up. I was just automatically swept away by the characters, both main and supporting. Caleb and Josh are two compelling and well written characters. I can’t talk about them enough without just continually rambling. So I’m going to repeat that you should read this if you’re looking for something sad, but not completely heartbreaking. It might have some sadness, but there’s a lot of funny moments in there as well. You should just read it and judge it for yourself!



Rookie Move Review

September 9, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★

Rookie Move ReviewRookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1) by Sarina Bowen
on September 6th 2016
Pages: 336
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Bittersweet (True North, #1), Goodbye Paradise (Hello Goodbye, #1)
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The first novel in a sexy new series featuring the hockey players of the Brooklyn Bruisers and the women who win their hearts—from the USA Today bestselling author of the Ivy Years series.

In high school they were the perfect couple—until the day Georgia left Leo in the cold...

Hockey player Leo Trevi has spent the last six years trying to do two things: get over the girl who broke his heart, and succeed in the NHL. But on the first day he’s called up to the newly franchised Brooklyn Bruisers, Leo gets checked on both sides, first by the team’s coach—who has a long simmering grudge, and then by the Bruisers’ sexy, icy publicist—his former girlfriend Georgia Worthington.
Saying goodbye to Leo was one of the hardest things Georgia ever had to do—and saying hello again isn’t much easier. Georgia is determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, but when a press conference microphone catches Leo declaring his feelings for her, things get really personal, really fast....

I’ve been looking forward to this book since I read The Ivy Years earlier this year. Sadly, the book was a little on the disappointing side. I’m always going to be a fan of second chance romances, but this one felt like it was just lacking something crucial. While I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in this series, I’m sad to say that Rookie Move wasn’t more enjoyable for me. In my opinion, it simply doesn’t stand up with the other amazing sports NA books that I’ve read. I recommend it if you’re a fan of Sarina Bowen’s and if you like books about hockey.

We were introduced to Georgia in the last book of The Ivy Years, and I was eager to read her and Leo’s romance. She was a pretty solid character. My heart definitely broke for her regarding the terrible event that happened to her during her senior year of high school. I enjoyed how she’s such a strong and independent character. She’s a publicist with the Brooklyn Bruisers, and a woman being in that position in a “man’s sport” like hockey is rather rare. She does her best to come across as “icy,” in order to win the players respect. I really respected her attitude in that regard, because it’s certainly understandable that she feels like she has to impress everyone even more just because of her sex.

Leo Trevi is an amazing love interest. We were introduced to him in most of The Ivy Years books, though he had a not so great girlfriend back in those days. Anyway, I always found him to be an intriguing guy and I was beyond pumped for him to receive his own HEA. In those books, I honestly didn’t realize what an incredible guy he was. We get to learn more about how loving he was to Georgia when they were together in high school and how he was completely faithful to her when the horrible thing happened to her a few months before they graduated. He’s the textbook definition of a good guy, but he also brought some major swoon to the table as well, which I’m always down to see.

As a couple, I did like them. Naturally, Georgia and Leo had a lot of history. However, they haven’t seen each other in six years. They had major chemistry from the start of their reunion, though it takes them a rather long time to finally get together again. While the love story itself is a solid one, for some reason it still wasn’t my favorite. I feel like Sarina Bowen has written a lot of better romances in the past. I can’t exactly explain what was missing from this one, I just know that I wasn’t absolutely in love with it for whatever reason. Some of the drama between them was ridiculously drawn out. Though I kind of understood why Georgia was holding back, it still seemed like she held back a lot longer than she should have. Another complaint is that some of the romance felt downright cheesy and not all that genuine.

Another thing I didn’t like was how mean her father, who also happens to be the new coach is towards Leo. In the past, he was Leo’s mentor, but now, he hates Leo and no one really knows why. I didn’t get why Georgia didn’t make more of an effort to discover the reason behind this newfound hatred. I wasn’t all that invested in the sports side of things, though I do think that Bowen knows what she’s talking about when it comes to this sport.

All in all, this was a relatively satisfying read. It just didn’t quite live up to my rather high expectations that I’ve set for it ever since I read The Fifteenth Minute. I will say that Sarina Bowen has written yet another interesting cast of characters and I’m dying to read the rest of their stories. I REALLY want Nate and Becca to be the focus of the third book, but who knows. Like I said, I recommend this if you’re a fan of sports romances/a reader of this author’s previous books. I don’t think that you HAVE to have read The Ivy Years, but I think you’ll have more knowledge about Georgia and Leo, as well as brief appearances from two characters that were the focus of one of those books.



Bittersweet Review

June 18, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★

Bittersweet ReviewBittersweet (True North, #1) by Sarina Bowen
Published by Rennie Road Books on June 14th 2016
Pages: 348
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1), Goodbye Paradise (Hello Goodbye, #1)
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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.
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.

So a romance between a farmer and a chef is a concept that never really interested me at all. However, I was instantly drawn in by the fact that it was a Sarina Bowen book. In the past, I’ve found some of her stories to be extremely sexy and also with some greater depth to it as well. In certain areas, Bittersweet definitely excels. I’ve seen a few people on Goodreads write that they were giving up on the book, and I can totally understand why they would. The start is a little bit slow, but in the end, Sarina is able to deliver a beautiful novel with a memorable set of supporting characters.

Audrey is a sassy chef who has big dreams about opening a restaurant of her own. Unfortunately, she has a habit for failing things and disappointing her mother. She’s determined to do everything on her own without any help from her cold mother who she doesn’t relate to at all. So for now, Audrey is stuck working for a horrible restaurant. After a major incident happens in the kitchen, she’s sent to Vermont to buy produce from farmers in order to keep her job a little while longer. I really respected Audrey in many ways. She’s a girl who knows what she wants, it just took her quite awhile to get there. She’s my kind of heroine: doesn’t take crap, witty, and just super cool all around.

Griffin is a character that might seem rough around the edges, but he is very selfless and has a huge heart. He gave up his dreams of playing in the NFL when his father had a heart attack and he had to step in to run the farm. He doesn’t do it all by himself, he has plenty of help. Ultimately though, the responsibility of taking care of his family by running the farm properly does fall on him. I’ll be honest, he’s a pretty grumpy dude. Somehow, Audrey brings out a different side of him and he turns out to be a whole lot nicer when she’s around. In the end, he turns out to be a swoony cool guy that you can’t help but respect.

The romance between Griffin and Audrey is an interesting one. Back in college, they ended up hooking up, and Griff had a serious crush on her before and after that happened. Not going to lie, there’s a lot of a physical relationship between them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude. The scenes are super hot, there are a few that are just a bit excessive in a way. I feel like there needed to be more of a development emotionally instead of physically. Once you get past some of the earlier moments, the relationship does end up developing further and I truly enjoyed seeing that build.

Why was it off to such a slow start? Well, there was a lot of information about crops and farming in general. Look, I get that this is a book about farming so clearly the information needs to be included to a degree, it just felt like a lot for only the beginning of the book. There were also some later scenes that I didn’t love because of all the farming and cooking lingo. If you can look past it, you’ll be able to find a well written romance novel that will definitely make you swoon. I’m totally going to stick with this series! I can’t wait to read Jude’s story, which is actually coming out in less than a month!