Steadfast by Sarina Bowen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I don’t know where to begin, and nothing I say will do this incredible story justice, but I have to try. I loved Bittersweet, #1 in the True North series; but I adored this sequel. Sarina Bowen seamlessly wove all of the best things about Bittersweet – including its setting, its sense of realism, and its wonderful characters – into the fabric of Steadfast, and in doing so, she set a new benchmark for greatness. This book moved me as much, or more, than any I’ve read so far this year.
Do you love stories that make your heart swell until it aches with love? A story that grips your soul with hope and dread at the same time? A story so emotionally charged and psychologically suspenseful you can barely stand to turn the page? A story so heartbreakingly real that you physically feel the pain of its characters, as if their struggle were your own? If so, Steadfast will quickly find its way into your heart and stay there forever.
We first met Jude in Bittersweet, as a young man just released from drug rehab after a 3-year prison sentence. We see his struggle with insomnia, cravings, flashbacks, nightmares, agonizing guilt and remorse. We see him begin to reclaim his life when the Shipley family offers him a chance to continue his recovery as a day worker on their farm. And when autumn comes and the season is over, we see him head back home, to the place where his addiction nightmare began: a place where nothing has changed; a place where the love of his young life, and the source of his deepest regret, Sophie, may or may not be waiting for him. But one thing is certain: he’s alone, he’s afraid, he’s nearly broke, and he’s in constant danger. The town hasn’t forgotten – or forgiven – his sins. His dealers know where he lives. And he’s ever at risk for falling back into old habits when his demons come to call.
Steadfast is Jude and Sophie’s story, and it is positively spell-binding. Sophie is strong, compassionate, and smart; she is also extraordinarily lonely. As the surviving sibling in a family tragedy, she bears the burden of survivor’s guilt as well as the devastating effects of dysfunctional family grief. Jude’s spiral into addiction, and its aftermath, nearly broke her, and it changed her life immeasurably. But she can’t let him go – he is inextricably linked to her past, and now her present…but what about the future? Can there be a HEA for two people destroyed by addiction and its tragic consequences? Can she afford to take that chance?
This is a story of secret, lies, betrayal and cover-ups. It’s full of twists and turns that will leave you breathless, but desperate to continue. It’s full of power, passion, and overwhelming love. But it’s not just about romantic love; it’s also about the kind of unconditional love and steadfast faith that makes addiction recovery possible for those who are able to break free. It’s a story of transformation, not just for its primary characters, but for others you will come to care about as you read it. It’s also full of new – and utterly unforgettable – characters I hope we’ll see again as the series continues.
The series title says it all. The True North series is all about finding your inner compass – the one that helps you find your way home. Despite the odds against them, the steadfast love that Jude and Sophie share makes anything possible. And that makes for a truly amazing read.
Do yourself a favor and start this darkly passionate, sexy, sweet, suspenseful love story today.
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