Keepsake (True North #3) by Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: October 25th 2016
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary.
Find: Goodreads | Amazon
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.
The True North series has everything you could possibly want in a New Adult book. Romance, a stunning rural setting, wonderful characters and a lot of heart. Zach has been present in the first two instalments of this series and in this book he takes centre stage. As established in the first two books, Zach has a quiet but friendly presence. Having been raised in a cult environment, Zach grew up with a community that sees social norms, such as sex and intimacy, as a punishable offence. Following his exile from this community, Zach now works as a farmhand on the Shipley’s farm and the family were quick to embrace him as one of their own. Therefore, when Lark appears looking to spend the summer with the family, the last thing expected was for a romance to blossom between the two.
The connection between Zach and Lark was undeniable and full of support. Both these characters have some personal issues to resolve but the calming presence they find in each other sparks the beginning of a beautiful romance.
As a couple, Zach and Lark are as different as they are similar. Lark is known for her free spirited, fearless approach to life; that is, until a traumatic event abroad sees her return to home with a slew of demons to face. Her journey is not an easy one to explore. The PTSD is a constant present in her life but what was refreshing was that while the trauma still plagued her, you still get a strong sense of her personality beyond the trauma. She still has a zest for life and adventure but her experience has made her more wary of the world. PTSD is not something that magically disappears and as Lark struggles to cope with the trauma, she finds a comforting presence in Zach. This does not mean that his love magically “cures” her, but she does find an ally and support system in him. She knows that the only person that can tackle the issue is herself, but she doesn’t shy away from letting Zach stand by her side as she battles these demons.
Zach has his own issues to face in this book as well. Grateful for everything the Shipley’s have done for him, he feels like he has to prove his gratitude and to do that he works tirelessly on the farm. On top of that, question about his goals continue to taunt him. It’s a daunting thought to consider, especially when he grew up in an environment where he was never given the chance to explore the options available for him. But with the reassurance and support from the Shipley’s he starts to open his mind to the possibility that awaits him.
It’s also no secret that Zach is a virgin in this book and what I loved about this was the fact that it didn’t define him. Sure, some of the other guys tease him for it but when it comes down to it, Zach wanted his first time to be with a woman he cares for and not a meaningless night. Zach is a woman’s dream. He is sensitive and is not ashamed to show emotion, he’s kind and thoughtful, hardworking and incredibly supportive. That doesn’t mean that the romance isn’t passionate because when Lark and Zach embrace the connection between them, the chemistry sizzles.
We return to the Shipley farm for this book and it was an absolute joy to spend more time with the family and check in on them. These guys are so much fun to read about because they’re all so full of character. Yes, they might grate on each other sometimes but the support and love between them is unbreakable.
It’s safe to say that Sarina Bowen has made it onto the favourite author list. Keepsake was a beautiful story of healing and love. The romance between Zach and Lark was tender and the support they provided each other was heart warming. I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the True North series.