Review: Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

bittersweetReviewed by Joanna

This is a sweet and sexy romance set on a farm in Vermont and it is such a lovely book. They grow apples in the sun, make cider, milk cows and it’s all organic and delicious-sounding. Reviewer’s warning: do not read this when hungry.

“He tasted of cider and male hunger, and I felt that kiss everywhere.”

Grumpy farmer Griff runs the place, and Audrey comes by to negotiate on buying some of his produce, accidently running her hire car into a ditch. A damsel in distress is the last thing Griff needs, but as he watches her sexy ass back out of the crashed car, he realizes he knows her. Intimately. Together they shared a couple of very memorable hook ups at college and instant attraction sparks again.

Audrey’s a wannabe chef who’s interning for a renowned corporate restaurant chain (run by serious asshats). She really wants to cook for them, but they keep giving her cruddy jobs to do, and she keeps messing them up. Some are not her fault, like overbooking on reservations as they gave her no systems training. Then some are her fault, like accidentally getting the whole kitchen staff stoned for the evening service. She’s a poor little rich girl, but she’s feisty and funny and her back story ain’t all great – I liked her.

Griff is a big bearded sexy gruff. He has the weight of the world trying to keep the family farm afloat after his father died, and his ex-fling turning up just adds to his problems, no matter that his libido’s springing to attention (ahem). Even so, Audrey ends up hanging around for a night and she fits right in with the family. Being an only child, it’s heaven for her, and having so many people around a table enjoying food is right up her street.

Sounds like a perfect match, but no matter how hot she and Griff are together (and they are – chemistry off the chart), she still lives over three hours away and her dream is a city restaurant. What’s the point in getting all starry eyed over the handsome ex-football player? It’s never going to work out. Also, her job is with the corporate chain which isn’t renowned for being great to farmers, and there’s a conflict between them both in this.

There’s a lot to love here. The characters are great. Griff is hot as F, Audrey is cool and though she’s got an odd family background, it’s no big drama and she doesn’t bemoan her lot. Then the supporting cast – I’ll let Audrey’s words tell you about them:

“Apparently all the people who grew pristine organic food were beautiful themselves.”

Honestly, the place sounds amazing. Sitting in the long grass in the orchard, sipping lemonade in the June sun whilst grasshoppers buzz by. Walking in the dark, barred owls hooting in the trees, the Milky Way stretching out overhead. Nicest. Research. Ever. One imagines.

Oh, and the food. Did I mention that? Cheddar omelettes with applewood bacon and sour cream. Homemade bread, heritage tomatoes, golden sweetcorn. Mmmm. I’ve eaten so much whilst reading this book. I blame SB if I’ve put on weight.

The romance in this starts almost like a repeat of their college experience – swift grabs and passionate clinches. No longing looks or breathy conversations. They both want each other and have at it, but their chances of action are few and their lives are otherwise full.

Also Audrey has limited self-worth and thinks Griff sees her as a fuck buddy. Once he realises this, he does a ton of cute stuff to convince her otherwise. Like hug-the-book kind of stuff.

The only drawback to this novel is that it’s a tiny bit predictable, but it’s so well written I didn’t much care.

It’s an angst-free HEA with a kiss, and also dual perspective which I love. There’s at least another two books in the series, the next due I think in July.

A healthy and happy recommendation from me.

Rating: A-/B+

Click to purchase: Amazon

by Sarina Bowen
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Rennie Road Books

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