Review: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

E-ARC: 338 pages
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Source of my copy: author
Series: True North #2
She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there's no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie's police chief father. But it's a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

I just read five new adult and romance novels in a row, and Steadfast remains the uppermost in my mind. Not because it's my most recent read, but because it's purely wonderful. It's definitely one of my favorite romance this year.

I'm not going to reiterate Steadfast's plot because the synopsis did a pretty good job of that. I went into this book pretty blind, only knowing what was given in the synopsis, and from what I know about Jude from Bittersweet

I admit was a little nervous because Jude was a different kind of hero. I've come across other romance heroes that were ex-cons before, but all of those heroes went to jail because they were wrongly accused, took the fall for someone, or did something horrible in order to save a loved one. Jude went to jail because he's a drug addict who crashed his car and the guy in the passenger seat died. Have you ever read a romance novel where the hero is a legit recovering addict? I haven't. And the author didn't sugarcoat the fact that he is one either. 

Steadfast alternates between Jude and Sophie. Every time we switch to Jude's POV it tells us his craving meter and there were times when it's high and Jude struggled to control his cravings. I felt for him so much.  

I loved Jude--Sophie was amazing too and I loved her as well, but Jude's character was just so refreshing, you know? He's not out there physically fighting bad guys, instead his biggest fight is within himself and that is a lot harder. He's a different kind of hero, the kind that you don't see a lot in romance novels. I have to give Sarina Bowen props for giving us a hero like Jude.

I liked Bittersweet--it was a really fun read and I learned a lot about apples and the struggles of small family farms (read my full review), but Steadfast blew it out of the water. Was everything tied up too neatly in the end (not Jude's addiction, but everything else)? Maybe. But after all the struggled Jude and Sophie went through, they deserved all the happiness they got so I'm not taking away any stars for that. Can Zach's book, Keepsake, top Steadfast? I don't know, because it's friggin' amazing. But Sarina Bowen, I've come to realize, is a phenomenal author so I wouldn't be surprised.

I am recommending Steadfast to everybody! If you haven't read Bittersweet, it's okay. Steadfast stands pretty well on its own. Or, you can read Steadfast and then go back and read Bittersweet so you won't miss out on Griff and Audrey and their friends' backstory. I know my review is pretty vague, but I think it's best to go into this book pretty blind. Just know that Jude was brilliant, Sophie was great and the sweetest, the (second chance) romance between them was real and lovely with steamy to satisfy any romance reader, and just an all-around excellent read.

Okay, just a couple more things...

Anybody else shipping Mae Shipley with that pierced, tattooed lawyer guy who helped Jude and Sophie out at the end of Steadfast? Mae needs her own book!

Zara needs to her own book too! I really, really want to know who the father of her baby is. My crackpot theory is it's one of the Shipley cousins.

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