Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

Bittersweet by Sarina BowenBittersweet by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North, #1
Published by Rennie Road Books on June 14th 2016
Pages: 348
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The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.
At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.
Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.
They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

Two ex-college hookups coming together again? I’m only marginally interested somehow, even if it did get amusing at times. But that’s the brief history Griff Shipley and Audrey Kidder share: two nights at some frat house, before five years of nothing, until work and a flat tire bring Audrey up his path again.

The main draw, strangely, is the entire setting and the context in which this whole story plays out. I’m too much of a city-kid not to notice the beautifully drawn out countryside as well as the fascinating farming community – one that seems to be more geared to organic, specialised, fairtrade produce than the mass market – that Bowen so writes about. Throw in the farmers’ markets, the rich, seductive colours of the seasonal food, the crazy culinary world, that postmodern relationship between growers and restaurants and I’m hooked. Everything about this is contemporary, grounded in a part of a revolutionary culinary/farmer business that’s gaining a lot more attention these days. And if you’re the hipster sort, Griffin Shipley completely fits that type as the big, grumpy bearded farmer – which isn’t quite the thing that get my rocks off.

But it isn’t too far off the mark to say I didn’t feel too much for the main characters. Audrey wasn’t that special to be a standout, memorable heroine – in fact, she reminded me of a drifter, shallow cheerleader-type at first that found her footing late – and the romance between her and Griffin was for me, lukewarm and sort of lacklustre at best. There are steamy times ahead but I couldn’t understand the strange draw they had to each other at all when all that’s being reiterated is the hot sex and their past hot hookups, minus the emotional connection. Call it boredom, perhaps, but I found myself conversely more interested in the secondary characters – the farmhands! – whom I felt I wanted to know more about.