Thursday, October 19, 2017

Bountiful (True North #4) [Zara & Dave] by Sarina Bowen

I always gets excited when there's a new release by Sarina. I love her writing and enjoy her realistically flawed characters. I truly enjoy the journey they take, on their own and together before they can find their HEA with one another. This was no different and yet it was. It was a romance story but it was also HEAVILY focused on raising a toddler which is NOT my cup of tea AT ALL. I know for a fact most women would totally swoon at everything little Nicole did. I found it to be tiresome. I guess she WAS cute but what she was for me was a distraction from the main issue as I see it - Zara and Dave's story. 

I don't like babies, I don't find them charming and personally speaking I don't want any and as the years go by, I don't think it will change and since I"ve recently celebrated my 36th birthday it probably won't. So for me romance is NOT about reproduction, it's about the couple finding a "soul mate". The family life would probably happen (in theory) to most romance novels' characters if the story would have been continued but that would be my sign to get off the train and look for a different one with a plot I'm more interested in. 

I'm sorry for the rant.. it HAD to be said. But I also have to admit the truth - I DID enjoy this book. I was surprised with myself when I realized I'm already halfway in, gulping this one and waiting to see how things unfold. I give all the points to Sarina because I don't think I would have read (or rather finished) this book if it wasn't written by her.  

We've met Zara Rossi throughout the True North series, right from the beginning when she and Griff had a "convenient arrangement" between them. It ended shortly before Audrey came back into his life and left the 30 years old Zara in a bad place. She was managing her uncle's bar feeling stuck in her place. She would have loved to have something MORE with Griff but knew he couldn't have that with her so he "cut her loose". It stung so it's no wonder when the yummy guy who kept coming to the bar recently offered her to have a bit of fun together she accepts but she also have her conditions - "No last names. No life stories". She and Dave spend the summer together, mostly having wild sex, and chatting when it wasn't of anything of importance but when his time was up to return home they parted without a real goodbye.

The story jumps two years after this point to today - with her raising Nicole, a 15 months old toddler from a guy she couldn't find due to not even catching correctly his last name.. A lot changed for her in these two years, she is now a business owner with Griff's soon to become wife - Audrey who fast became her best friend (as we've already caught wind of in the previous books in the series). They have a small cafe in a place one of her brothers bought and while it's difficult to be a full time mom and a business owner Zara's the kind of person to pull it off, even though she needs help from her family to make it happen. Zara have 4 brothers, she had a difficult childhood with a single mom (her father was never a present parent and anyhow he disappeared all together when she was a teen). They lived in a trailer, her mother having no money to live in a bigger place, and she got a poor reputation for her "promiscuous" behavior through high school (and beyond). Zara loves sex and doesn't think she should apologize for it (even if society doesn't get it..). Yet with all of that she does have a warm loving family who are there for her every step of the way. 

Dave Beringer had the time of his LIFE two years ago in Vermont. So two years later he is excited to return on his summer vacation with his teammates. If Dave's name rings a bell, it's probably because we've already met him in Sarina's "Brooklyn Bruisers" Series. If you are not familiar with him or this series OH MY GOD YOU MUST READ THEM ALL! Dave isn't a "family guy", his only family is his sister Bess, who is also his manager. He loved her dearly, and their horrible life story of them growing up is something that keeps him from even trying to build a family of his own so when he comes back and realizes he now has a daughter he is truly stunned. Bess is SO excited and he isn't sure what to even do now, it's not something he considered and not something he KNOWS how to do. It's all a HUGE shock. 

Yet what Dave DOES know is if there ever was a woman for him it's Zara and now that they share a child together, he wants to make the right choices though how he can make them is a good question, the hockey season would start at the end of the summer and he isn't even sure what to do with the contract he is offered. He is 32 years old, with a nagging shoulder injury from last season and things aren't looking bright truth be told.. 

Zara has made her life work, with HARD work. When Dave met her 2 years ago she wasn't happy, and now, even raising a toddler by her own and having "debts" to everyone around her for helping her out she is the most happy she have ever been. Dave coming back is a shock to her system because it makes her ache for the things she can't have. She wants him and yet she doesn't want the relationship her mother had with her father. She doesn't want her daughter to have a father who is more absent than present. So even though what Dave offers MIGHT work she is reluctant to fall back into his arms. 

This summer it's time for Dave to grow up. Zara did that the past two years having to deal with so much difficulty yet also so much joy. Once she starts giving Dave a chance she starts to fall for him, as he falls for her, and their toddler. He realizes that he WANTS them in his life and he is willing to make the sacrifices if only Zara would have him. 

I truly enjoyed seeing the journey both of them made before they found their HEA together. I was surprised with the way things ended but I guess it WAS the best solution. I wish I've gotten more of Zara and Dave as a couple, not just either sex-wise or baby-wise. But I'm still happy with this story even if I was struggling at times with a screaming toddler who isn't even real.. Nicole was too present in this book. I guess Dave NEEDED to interact with her and WE needed to see it. But I was weary of it. I don't think toddler are suitable in romance novels. I find them to be the exact opposite especially since what they do is interfere with the couple SO MUCH. It's not like a kid you can have a conversation with or who can take care of himself.. and yet Zara and Dave still managed to be the focus for me. Zara annoyed me at first with her strict rules and the way she behaved towards Dave, but thinking about it just a few chapters later it's SO obvious she was just guarding her heart. Dave annoyed me as the "cocky bastard" at first, trying to man handle Zara for sex, but also with him thinking about where he was back then and the two years of "awakening" her had it all put in a different perspective. They met when he was at the top of the world and she was at the bottom and they re-meet when their places have been reversed. He is so unsure and she is at her best (even if not all is perfect). 

I kindly received this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. 

This book will be out tomorrow - 20 October 2017 - Pre-order it now through the links below.

Read on:
5-6 October 2017

True North is a New Adult / Contemporary Romance series by Sarina Bowen. It takes place in the beautiful Vermont where nature is always present. With Apple trees and exceptionally well made ciders. This series is really awesome! It brings something special and also personal from Sarina's "backyard" with interesting and complicated characters. Some older and some younger. All with unique stories with a very satisfying HEA. Sarina tackles a few difficult life situations in this one and she does it beautifully though frankly I don't expect any less from her. Superb series.  

* If the name Dave Beringer sounds familiar it's probably from another great series by Sarina - Brooklyn Bruisers. He plays for the team but finds his HEA someplace else ;) 

1. Bittersweet [Griffin Shipley & Audrey Kidder] (Published 14 June 2016) ★★★
2. Steadfast [Jude Nickel & Sophie Haines] (Published 12 July 2016) ★★★★★
3. Keepsake [Zachariah "Zach" Holtz & Lark Wainright] (Published 26 October 2016) ★★★★½ 
4. Bountiful [Zara Rossi & Dave Beringer*] (Published 20 October 2017) ★★★
5. Speakeasy [May Shipley & Alec Rossi] (Published 29 May 2018) ★★★
6. Fireworks [Benito Rossi & Skye Copeland] (Published 13 November 2018) ★★★★
7. Heartland [Dylan Shipley & Chastity Campbell] (Published 28 January 2020) ★★★
8. Waylaid [Daphne Shipley & Richard "Rickie" Ralls] (Published 20 July 2021) ★★★

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