ARC Review – Keepsake (True North #3) by Sarina Bowen

I love visiting Vermont in Sarina’s stories, and I felt reading this series in the fall is the BEST, so if you haven’t started on Bittersweet, or Steadfast, you MUST read them all. Fabulous series, I hope to see continued next year. ~ Ava, Guilty Pleasures 

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There’s a first time for everything.

Lark Wainwright used to be fearless. Her life was a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her recent overseas adventure was one too many. Now she’s home and in one piece. Mostly. But her nights are filled with terror.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps at the chance to spend fall in Vermont. But her nightmares don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of the Shipley Farm to soothe her when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah is a survivor, too. It’s been four years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult where he grew up. He’s found a peaceful existence on the Shipley’s farm, picking apples and fixing machinery. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. He doesn’t always know what to make of a world where movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV or spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she pushes Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he’s good for much more than farm labor.

Review copy provided for an honest review

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ZACH!!! I’ve been so anxious to read Zachariah’s book since we met him in Bittersweet. Chewie isatruegemaward the ultimate nice guy, with a sweet-sweet personality that I just love.

Zach is naive about much of American pop culture; and it makes for lots of fun opportunities (for everyone on the farm) to teach him something new. That inexperience stems from his life growing up on a polygamist cult compound. This totally fascinated me, I read an article several years ago, I think it was in PEOPLE magazine, titled The Lost Boys, a gut wrenching account of young men excommunicated from everything they’d known, oddly for being men, because the simple math of multiple wives, means they need more women than men. Anyway it was a heartbreaking story and it stuck with me how unfairly these boys were treated and abandoned by those they believed were family. I’m so glad we meet Zach on the ‘survivor’ side of his experience. He’s physically healed and emotionally he’s come a long way since he was exiled from his life in Wyoming. He has a few challenges to overcome, but for the most part he remains the steady hardworking character we’ve grown to love throughout the True North series. Everything about Zach is so humble and sweet. As a reader, I tend to avoid virgin plot lines. Just a personal preference, and this will sound totally sexist, but I have enjoyed every virgin HERO book I have read. Kinda funny right? Zach is a considerate, attentive man and that theme just works for this book.

Lark is May’s friend and she’s just returned from a life changing trip in Guatemala. I was very curious about her character because her name had been mentioned in a previous book, but I didn’t really remember her from the series. Maybe I was thinking Zach would wind up with Griffin’s little sister Daphne (who has had a major crush on him). Lark’s an awesome character going through a really rough time. Her trademark adventurous streak is in shambles after a traumatic abduction experience. After returning home and suffering from nightmares, she escapes her overprotective parents Boston home to the Shipley farm to recoup in peace.

When I look back on my risk taking behavior during that point in my life I’m always, appalled at the chances I took with my personal safety. It’s like as a confident young woman, you’re not totally aware of risky behavior until YEARS later if you’re lucky enough come out of those experiences unscathed. Unfortunately for Lark her confidence landed her peril in Guatemala and though she’s physically healed, emotionally she’s ‘ignoring it.’ Zach is totally and completely the calm and steady influence Lark needs at this point in her life. The slow building of trust and patient development of their connection is a perfect fit for these two people. I am so thankful Zach on his own wasn’t a “cure” for Lark’s challenges, and that she needed to stop ignoring what was going on in her mind before she could completely heal herself. How many women do you know (and love) who have ignored their mental health? It’s truly all too common and I applaud authors bringing these challenges to light, because mental health is no joke, and normalizing the need for therapy is important to our society.

As always Sarina’s writing is peppered with interesting information about farming in Vermont, food, cider, apples and important cultural topics while not overwhelming the reader with too much at one time. Keepsake is set mostly at the Shipley Farm . Zach and Lark get plenty of time with all the secondary characters we’ve met and loved in the past two books. I love visiting Vermont in Sarina’s stories, I felt reading this series in the fall is the BEST, so if you haven’t started on Bittersweet, or Steadfast, you MUST read them all. Fabulous series, I hope to see continued next year.

5silver-stars

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