Review: Bountiful by Sarina Bowen

Reviewed by Joanna

Back to beautiful Vermont we go, with a new couple ready to apple-pick their way to a gentle HEA. Zara Rossi tends the bar at the Mountain Goat, and in previous books she was the ex-lover of Griff and new bestie of Audrey (book one hero and heroine). While this couple was off finding its way to happiness, rejected Zara was enjoying a hot, hot, hot affair of her own, with a handsome red headed stranger who came to her bar. Hurting from Griff Shipley’s rejection, Zara rebounds right onto this new guy, making a rule that it’s all physical, with no personal details shared. He is tall and gorgeous, only in town for a month and up for her game. Perfect.

And boy do they make the most of it.

Dave Beringer is a professional hockey player on his summer holiday. He’s a good man, but after an awful childhood can’t ever see himself settling down to a relationship. And certainly never having kids of his own. When he hooks up with the spiky and passionate Zara something changes in him, but he still leaves when his time is up as what’s different? She never asked for anything from him, and for the one time in his life, this hurt. Back to Brooklyn he goes.

Little is Dave to know he left more behind than his forgotten watch. Zara finds herself knocked up.

Yes! This is a secret baby book, and Zara goes on to have the super cute Nicole all by herself. Well, her mom and four brothers step in to help / make her feel bad, but she doesn’t know how to contact Dave or even how to spell his last name to search effectively. The baby’s copper penny red hair is her permanent reminder, and she settles into single motherhood in love with her daughter and happyish with her life.

Until one day when a certain summer holidayer returns to town.

Ah, can you feel the tension? I lapped it up. It ain’t easy to tell an ex hook up, ‘Oh! By the way, you have a toddler now! She looks just like you.’ And how do you take that news from the receiving end?

“Zara—no way!” I sputtered, too surprised to be casual. I crossed quickly to the counter, and she lifted her eyes. “I’m back in town, and I looked for you at The Mountain Goat.” The second I arrived in Vermont, I might have added. “Didn’t know you worked here now. We should exchange numbers.” That’s when I noticed her face going pale.

More importantly, can they make it as the family neither of them envisaged? Particularly as his life and multi-million-dollar career is so far away?

There’s a nice tie-in here with Bowen’s Brooklyn Bruisers series, with cameos from a number of the players we’ve seen in those books. O’Doul, Castro (who I’m thinking might have a thing for Dave’s sister Bess) and Trevi. Then we get to see glimpses of the other relationships in this series going strong. There’s a wedding and a pregnancy, but you’ll have to read the book yourself to find out whose.

The setting is just as sumptuous, with Zara’s uncles owning a fruit tree farm, and there’s lots of great foods and ciders. Zara’s coffee shop The Busy Bean (post-baby business venture) has all these lovely muffins and cookies going on. I ate a lot reading this book.

There’s no huge drama or angst to alarm you, and nothing to make you cry or weep. The relationship is hot and the romance and family relationships super sweet. So many lovely moments, mostly on Dave’s side, had me smiling. Particularly with his brand new relationship with his daughter.

In a couple of places I expected something more dramatic to happen but it never did, which is the only reason I didn’t score this full marks. Though the pace was fine, some big questions or set ups for potential excitement or drama (Dave’s childhood background, an ex-cop with a vendetta against the town and Zara, the media finding out about the famous hockey player’s secret baby, his injury, her family) fell away, and I felt the story ended with a bit of a whimper rather than a bang. As my grandmother would’ve said, all of a sudden, nothing happened.

As always, the writing was great quality with only minor issues I noticed, and the characters and depth of world building just right. I fell right into the scenery, and could see the old riverbank buildings Zara lived and worked in as much as I gloried in the sunshine on the Shipley’s farmhouse when we got to spend time back there.

For these significant strengths alone, I will one-click Bowen for the rest of my days.

Rated: B+

Click to purchase: Amazon

Bountiful
by Sarina Bowen
Release Date: October 20, 2017
Publisher: Rennie Road Books

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