Sep 20 2017 10:00am

Sarina Bowen on Bittersweet, Zara’s Hero, and More True North Goodness!

Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

After a wonderful spring and summer, H&H’s E-Book of the Month Club program is going on a short break. We hope you enjoyed the free e-books and will let you know as soon when the next free e-book is available for download.

In the meantime, we’re happy to say that Book Club continues! We invite you to join us for monthly discussions, author Q&As, and more about books we’re loving, like Sarina Bowen's Bittersweet!

We can't help but talk about books all day, every day, and we always take the opportunity to celebrate our favorites. This month, we've decided to continue the book love—and the book club—with our spotlight on Sarina Bowen's Bittersweet. When it comes to farmer heroes, we definitely think his tractor is sexy—especially when that tractor is being ridden by one of Sarina Bowen's heroes! When Bittersweet, the first book in Bowen's True North series, came out, we immediately had a major crush on the cover, and our infatuation only got fiercer when we started reading! Today we sit down with Sarina to discuss everything we love about the True North series, what ciders inspired the Shipley Farm's brand, and, of course, what makes Griff and Audrey such standout characters.

Heroes and Heartbreakers: At 27, Griffin is very young to have to run his family’s orchard and worry about his siblings’ college funds; what appeals to you about responsible heroes like Griff?

Sarina Bowen: The thing about Griff is that he doesn’t have to run the orchard or pay the college tuition. But he thinks he has to. I was drawn to the idea that his greatest strength (responsibility) is also his greatest flaw. He sees himself as Mr. Unavailable until Audrey shows him otherwise.

H&H: Audrey is a bit of a lost lamb in the beginning of the book but flourishes under the attention of the Shipleys. What did you hope readers would take away from her arc?

SB: We don’t all get it right on the first try. Audrey is proof of that. But she’s sunny instead of bitter. She really is Griff’s opposite in this way.

H&H: What would you say is your favorite Griff and Audrey scene in the book and why?

SB: Definitely the pig butchery! Another woman would be scared off, but not our Audrey.

H&H: What made Vermont the perfect setting for the True North books?

SB: This really is my world. Before I began writing romance I did some food writing. I interviewed farmers and got my head around their passions and their challenges. They are nerdy outdoorsmen (and women!) It’s fascinating. We also have about 50 fruit trees and shrubs on our property. No cider press yet, but The Husband wants one.

H&H: Griff’s cider sounds amazing! Have any real-life cider recommendations for us?

SB: But of course. The style of cider that Griff makes is based on Farnum Hill Ciders from the Poverty Lane Orchard in Lebanon, NH. It sells for between $12 and $20 for 750ml (the size of a wine bottle) but on Thursdays the locals can refill a growler (a big gallon bottle) for only $12. My husband tries to get there as often as he can on Thursdays.

I also enjoy the ciders from Champlain Orchards near Burlington, VT. 

H&H: The Shipleys have to be one of the most functional, most caring families in romance, but we have to ask: Do you have a favorite member?

SB: No! I love all my children equally. I have the beginnings of story ideas for May and Daphne in my head. Not Dylan—yet. Whereas Keepsake clearly pointed to Zara’s book coming next, Bountiful isn’t so obvious with its setups. But there are new little hooks here and there for various members of the tribe.

H&H: If Bittersweet were turned into a movie, who would you want to see play Griff and Audrey? Do you picture real people while writing or are they all in your head? (Wait, that came out wrong…)

SB: Sorry to be a party pooper on this topic, but I never “cast” my books like that. Part of the reason is that I don’t watch movies or TV often. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

H&H: What’s it like to go from writing hockey heroes to farmer heroes? And what are the qualities that you think keep romance readers coming back to each type?

SB: All my books have a little bit of glamour in them, one way or another. The hockey players have obvious glamour—fans and bling. The farmers get a more subtle form—amazing food and drink, and beautiful wide open spaces. That’s how I see them—both in great settings—so I don’t feel like I’m writing the haves and the have-nots. They aren’t so very different to me.

Also, both jobs require heroic labor. You can’t be a hockey player or a farmer without grit and sweat. Switching back and forth isn’t a problem.

H&H: Can you tell us anything about True North #4, Bountiful? Is this indeed Zara’s book?! Any hints about her hero?

SB: Want a bombshell? The hero of Zara’s book is a Brooklyn Bruisers team member. The book will come out in late October.

Update: We now know a little more about Zara's hero—come meet hockey star Dave and check out the steamy cover!

H&H: Griff’s sister May and the Shipleys’ seasonal employee, Jude, seem to have a special bond, which we see (spoiler alert!) more of in Book 2, Steadfast. What drew May to him, and do you foresee her getting her own book one day?

SB: (Spoilerphobes, beware! This last answer contains spoilers for Books 1-3 in the True North series.) Jude and May really do have something in common, but it isn’t romance. In Keepsake, May has accepted the fact that she’s an alcoholic. I do have some ideas for her story, but they aren’t well formed just yet.

Want to discuss Bittersweet with fellow readers? Join us in our open Book Club thread!

Learn more about or order a copy of Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen, available now:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

Buy at iTunes



H&H Editor Picks:

Sarina Bowen's Bittersweet Book Club Discussion Thread

Nothing Bittersweet about Sarina Bowen's Masterful Writing

She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy: Farmers Are the New Alpha






Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Kareni
Perhaps I'm overlooking it, but where is the link to download the book?
Heather Waters
2. HeatherWaters
Hi, @Kareni. The free e-book program is going on a short break as we decide on future free books. In the meantime, we're spotlighting other books we've read and loved and hope to keep the conversations going!
Heather Waters
4. HeatherWaters
@Kareni -- Not at all! We don't want to confuse anyone, so I added more of an explanation at the top of this post too. :)
5. JayneH
Loved the first two books in the series. Can't wait to tuck in to the 3rd and 4th! ALL THE FLAILING ARMS for the Brooklyn Bruisers crossover!
7. willaful
Oh, that spoiler was just mean! How are we supposed to wait to find out who it is, huh?! *tries to remember all unattached members of the Bruisers*
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