Review: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

steadfastReviewed by Joanna

This second in the True North series takes a turn from the food, health n’ sunshine meets organic farm of book one, and puts us into the gritty and grim world of Jude after his six month stay with the Shipleys had ended. Winter is here and there’s no work on the farm ’til next year. Jude has to go home, where drug dealers lurk everywhere and denying what his body is screaming for is an ongoing and daily battle.

See Jude is a drug addict. Painkillers after he broke a limb as a teenager, heroin in prison. (Cheaper, apparently. Yikes.) He had a wonderful relationship with high school girlfriend, Sophie, daughter of the local police chief, but all went to hell when one night the car he was in left the road and the other person in it died. Sophie’s brother. The police chief’s son. The chief already hated him, but they really throw the book at him and he spends 3 years in the clink.

We met Jude in book 1, (you don’t have to read it cos this is fine as standalone) and what we started there and continue here is a keen insight into what it’s like to be a recovering drug addict. Sarina Bowen took a difficult subject area and enabled me to feel an affinity with, not just sorry for, the hero. How hopeless it is to come out of prison, be clean from drugs, but have zero opportunity to get back into regular society. No one wants you and everyone judges you. For Jude, it’s worse with the police watching his every move. He’s got it tough, but he’s badass and he’s determined. And he’s got Sophie, to some degree at least. He refused her mail in prison but once they run into one another again, they can’t help but fall back into each other’s lives. But so much is against them, it was hard to see how it could work out.

There’s so much to love about this book. It has one of the sweetest and hottest first-time sex scenes I’ve read in a long time. So well written. Then Jude is a darling who I just wanted to hug. Sophie was level headed despite the shitty family situation she’s got, and there’s a whole plot line about redemption and the truth of what happened with Jude which was gripping. I was hooked.

It slowed a little at the end and I’d have welcomed some more dramatic scenes to conclude the main plot, but you can’t have everything.

Oh and Jude? Patron saint of hope and lost causes. Love it.

Rating: B+/A-

Click to purchase: Amazon

Steadfast
by Sarina Bowen
Release Date: July 12, 2016

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