Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Release Day ARC Review:Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

Happy Release Day Sarina Bowen!
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.

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What I thought about Keepsake

Wow! I'm not sure I can even put into words how much I loved this book. Zach has been a relatively quiet character in the previous two books in the series.  We didn't know much about him, other than he had come to Vermont after escaping from a cult-like environment out west.  In Keepsake, we get to  see his heart, and it's absolutely beautiful.

When May's friend Lark comes to stay at the farm, Zach tries to hide his growing feelings for her, but she's working through some serious issues. When her nightmares waken her at night, it's Zach who comforts her.  What starts out as solace turns into something else as Lark struggles with the demons of her past. Now, don't get me wrong. There's no insta-love here -- there's a gentle and touching progression of feelings that just made my heart sing.  

Unfortunately, Larks problems are so much bigger than Zach or the Shipley's can handle.  When everything comes to a head and other secrets are revealed, well, it isn't just Zach and Lark's heart that breaks, mine did too. These are two strong people pushed to the breaking point and there's a lot of pain between the pages. Lark's descent into darkness is handled with sensitivity and realism and I appreciated that. 

I adored this book.  I couldn't get it out of my head for days afterward and writing this review makes me want to read it again.  There is so much love in this story, it filled my heart over and over.  It wasn't just Lark and Zach -- it was all of the Shipley family and their neighbors, Isaac and Leah as well. 
Besides Lark and Zach's story, one of the things I loved about this book is the way Sarina Bowen showed how important family farming is to the fabric of our country.  Here is a family that eats together, works together and stands together to love each other through the good times and the bad.  Griff was just amazing in his support of both Zach and Lark, and again, I could feel the emotional connection between them.

There's just so much love in this story, the love of family and friends, and the love of the land and it's fruits of labor. I particularly liked the secondary story regarding Zach's insecurities about his place in the Shipley family. It was done just right, and there's a great moment between Griff and Zach that just brought tears to my eyes.  

I thought everything about this book was perfect. Sarina Bowen's words effortlessly carry the reader through the story and will have you falling in love with all the characters.  This entire series is terrific, and Keepsake is the book I know will be at the top of my "comfort" reads list.

5 big bright stars and a hearty recommendation for all the books in this fabulous series.

ARC provided for review. 

About the Author

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont's Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

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