REVIEW: “Bountiful” by Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen’s True North series got together with her Brooklyn Bruisers and had a “Love Child” named “Bountiful”.  It is simply sublime.  Sarina Bowen delivers an excellent story and sightings of all both series favorite characters.  Dave Beringer road-trips (twice) to Vermont and bringing his hockey teammates with him.  We are treated to Trevi, O’Doul, Castro and my favorite back-up goalie Silas!  Zara’s book features the wedding of Audrey and Griff.  All of the Shipley’s make an appearance as well as Zachariah, Lark, Jude and Sophie.  Zara’s brother’s Benito and Alec are the most prominent.  However we meet three out of her four brothers plus a couple of uncles and her mom.  We meet Dave’s sister, and manager, Bess.  Both main characters have terrible childhoods which hinders their potential romantic relationship.  Dave’s is so bad it gives him nightmares which makes him more wigged out about his surprise baby.

“Bountiful” begins when the first True North book, “Bittersweet” begins.  This is a couple of month after Griff breaks off his “Friends With Benefits” arrangement with Zara.  Just after Audrey first returns in Griff’s life.  Dave’s on an unofficial Summer team vacations with a few teammates.  He’s in Lust at First Sight with Zara and goes to The Mountain Goat to see her almost nightly.  Zara’s still hurt over Griff dumping her but finds Dave to be an attractive distraction.  Her rules include no-sleepovers, no extraneous personal information, and their game is that they pretend they don’t know each other.  Dave craves more but he acknowledges he’s only in Vermont until August then he’s back in Brooklyn for Training Camp.  This is why Zara never contacts Dave; she never got his last name nor his phone number nor his profession.

Two years later Dave decides to return to Vermont.  He never forgot Zara and his memories are all sweet.  He goes to The Mountain Goat bar but she’s no longer a bartender there.  By sheer luck Leo Trevi needs caffeination and happens into Zara and Audrey’s Coffee Shop.  Dave doesn’t go in because he’s on the phone discussing his contract with his sister.  When Leo comes out of the shop he practically demands that Dave go in.  Dave begrudgingly goes in and remembers Audrey from one of the nights in the bar years ago.  Then he sees Zara and she mildly freaks out.  Zara tells Dave he’s the father of a fifteen month old little girl then he’s the one freaking out.  The exchange is awkward and not really pleasant.  It takes Dave’s sister Bess coming to Vermont from Michigan just to see her niece that puts everything into perspective.

Dave and Bess’ childhood was horrific.  Their mother turned tricks to support her drug habit.  Then when Dave was five years-old he discovered his mother’s dead body from a drug overdose.  Their father got custody of them and unfortunately he was physically abusive.  It took a desperate action on Dave’s part to get he and his sister out of that Hellish situation.  They ended up being raised by their apathetic grandparents.  Now Dave’s convinced he’s not marriage and family material.  He’s certain he’s not cut out to be a father.  However Dave’s sister has a completely different opinion.

Zara grew up in the small Vermont town.  She was a rebellious wild child and had quite the reputation.  She grew up watching her mother constantly waiting around for her husband to hopefully show up.  He never did.  She was a single mother to five children but was always waiting and hoping to see her husband.  Zara vowed never to get caught up in a man to that extent.  Until Dave and by the time she realizes she needs him it’s too late.  She can’t remember his last name and neglected to ask for his phone number.  Dave did what Zara wanted; whenever he ever tried to provide personal info or ask questions she shut him down.

When Dave arrives back in town and discovers he has a daughter he’s in over-his-head.  He and his sister only have each other.  The minute Bess learns about her niece she flies to Vermont laden with toys and baby clothes.  Zara is touched and amused by Bess.  Benny, Zara’s twin, is moving back to town.  She’s staying in his “under-construction” apartment located above their brother Alec’s bar, The Gin Mill until he returns permanently.  Dave and Zara’s reunion is nothing like he imagined it.  Zara wants to keep things innocent in order to protect not only herself but her daughter.  Because Dave is a professional hockey player based in Brooklyn, New York he might not stick around.

Dave himself at first isn’t sure about his “Dad-ability”.  But the more time he spends with his baby Nicole the more he wants to be in her life.  The question is how.  Dave still wants Zara; now that he’s spent time outside of bed with her, he discovers he really likes her.  He’s smitten and wants to convince her to give him the chance to be part of both of their lives.  Between contract agreements, geography, and ornery relations their potential relationship is in peril.  Zara doesn’t want to become her mother forever wondering if her man will show up.  She especially doesn’t want that for her daughter.  Always questioning if there’s some reason her father doesn’t think she’s worth showing up for.

“Bountiful” is fun, loving, sweet, sexy, and all the ever-loving goodness that Sarina Bowen always brings to her books.  Kiernan Shipley works for Audrey and Zara at the coffee shop.  He’s surly and works a few jobs.  Very mysterious.  Also he’s very much against Audrey and Zara’s new hire at the end of the book.  Another character who’s appears briefly in the first part of the book is an old friend of Zara’s, Jill.  I think she’s important and we’ll be seeing more of her in future True North books.  Zara caused the break-up of Benito and his “true love” I’m looking forward to this storyline too!  Also I hope we get more of Dave’s sister Bess – she’s a fun character and conveniently a sports agent.  Fingers crossed for Silas!  I love both Sarina Bowen’s True North series and her Brooklyn Bruisers therefore “Bountiful” is the perfect mash-up!

I’m giving “Bountiful” 5 Lightning Bolts and a Storm Warning.

 

This novel was provided, voluntarily read, and honestly reviewed.

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