Friday, July 8, 2016

Christie's Review: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

Title: Steadfast
Series: True North #2
Author: Sarina Bowen
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Cliffhanger: No
Rating: 4.5 stars


She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there's no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie's police chief father. But it's a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

One minute at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time, I kept going.

Steadfast was such an emotion packed read, filled with tender angst and an incredible forbidden second chance love story. I was not prepared for how much this book would take me over and keep me so completely riveted right from the start. I've seen some glowing status updates and early reviews, and let me assure you, every one is warranted. I was almost a little book giddy while reading this.

The more I read, the more Jude captivated me and drew me in with his vulnerable daily struggle with addiction. And the ache he had for Sophie, his high school girlfriend was so genuine it made you yearn right along with him. There were so many beautiful quotes when it came to his feelings about her. My highlighting finger was getting one hell of a good workout.

This starts out with Jude driving back to Colebury, his hometown after his three month job at the Shipley farm ended. Just recently released from prison for vehicular manslaughter, he's not the returning town hero. He's the one that got high and with one fatal decision to get inside of his car while wasted, his whole life awas altered forever. He was shameful. Ashamed. And being back where it all happened was eating away at him with each tick of the clock. Every second was a struggle to not fall prey to his cravings and depression.

I didn't want to live like this-full of confusion and guilt all the time, and heartbroken in a hundred different ways at once.

Sophie has her own war waging in her head. Her defiant loyalty to the boy whom she aligned her future with led both of them down a path of destruction. Her family was completely destroyed and rendered dysfunctional after that fateful night that sent Jude to prison. Her father is filled with rage and her mother is catatonic. Leaving her to hold them all together by a thin thread. And the guilt she carries never fully goes away. Because even after all this time, she still feels him. Still hears the echo of their past around every corner.

When Jude and I were alone together, the rest of the world didn't exist. That's what I thought anyway. Until our little world cracked in two.

Seeing Jude again is like pouring salt in an unhealed wound. They're both changed. Yet at their core, their love never faded. These two have so much stacked against them, the hopelessness was very heavy. The scorn of the town, her father's aggressive hatred toward him, and his addiction that continued to eat away at his mind was a constant reminder that attempting to forgive and forget was futile.

Sophie was a great heroine. Yes, she took the mistreatment of her father on a regular basis, and let her mother's self-indulgent state of shock slide. But with the guilt eating away at her part in the tragedy that fell on the family three and a half years ago, she needed them all to be happy again. She was just stuck and unable to move forward.

I cannot tell you how much I loved Sophie and Jude together. When they were around each other, there was a sense of coming home. There was perfect completeness there if only they could break free from the ties of the past.

When our tongues slid together, it only confirmed what I already knew-she tasted like the sweetest gift I'd ever been given.

This is told in dual POV and can read as a standalone. Reading Bittersweet will give you more background of the Shipleys that Jude worked for and became friends with, but it isn't absolutely necessary. There is enough explanation here to get you through.

This story had so much heart to it, it was full to bursting. Not only was the love story filled with enough angst to squeeze your chest tight, but Jude's brave battle to continue to conquer his addiction was so honestly depicted. I've read quite a lot of second chance romances and this is easily one of the best I've read in a very long time. Faithful follower, new reader, or somewhere in between, Steadfast is sure to impress. I'm eagerly awaiting Zach's book
Keepsake in October.


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