Doing it at: 50%
Catnip: Male Virgin, Farmer Boy, Strapping Men, Sexual Healing, Cults, Food Porn, Dual Narrative, Kidnapping, Pickup Truck Sex, PTSD, Seasonal Romance, Autumn, Beta Hero
Shame Scale: 0%, you can tell people what you’re reading and be like “it’s about developing nations, America’s farming crises, PTSD, religious cults, and apples”
What Does He Taste Like?: The cool night air, the outdoors, and a hint of sweat.
Fantasy Cast: Ryan Gosling, Rosario Dawson
Lark Wainright 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.
Cleone: Mary and I have some very specific catnips, that do not always overlap, so when we stumble on a book that hits so many sweet spots for both of us, we know things are going to be good.
Mary: There’s a virgin beta hero fresh out of a cult, strapping farmers, it’s Vermont in Autumn, and they talk about pie all the time. If you asked me to describe the perfect October book, this one pretty much nails it.
C: Its true, I’m a giant of a woman, and every giant inch of me was so into this book.
Keepsake is the third book in Bowen’s True North series, all of them set in Vermont, and revolving around a working apple farm. Warning: these books will make you lust for fall apples, cold hard cider, and brawny farm boys.
M: It will make you ask your very freshly postpartum baker friend to make you pies.
C: Keepsake is the story of Zachariah and Lark. Zach is the brawny, golden, taciturn farm hand who helps keep Shipley Farms running. And Lark is the best friend come to visit for picking season, after a year abroad in Guatemala goes disastrously wrong. Zach is also a twenty-three-year-old virgin, raised in a polygamist sect in Wyoming, made gun shy about sex and desire by his twisted upbringing.
M: A virgin hero you guys. Have we talked about how much I love books about virgin heroes?
Lark is at the farm, trying to get over a serious case of PTSD with fresh air and apples, rather than intensive therapy. When that goes about as well as you’d expect and she’s having loud nightmares every night, Zach steps up as her nighttime comforter. Things are pretty slow burn for about half the book, he’s just so earnest and respectful.
C: Hero comforting heroine after nightmares is another very specific catnip of mine, Zach is clearly lusting after Lark, but he would never cross a line she didn’t ask him to cross and he’s also just content to have her in his arms in any form.
If there was a heaven, it would be something like this — my arms full of sleeping girl.
M: And then the second half of the book is just as steamy and emotional as the first two books in this series. Zach is a fast learner and it is just delightful.
C: As a girl who enjoys her dirty books REAL dirty, I am always worried that a male virgin book is going to cut down on the filth factor, but no worries here. The love scenes are scorching while still being tender, and Bowen used what might be my new favorite euphemism for coming.
“Sweetheart.” He reached a shaking hand down to cup my chin, trying to nudge me away. “I’m going to spill.”
I don’t know why, but spill just sounds so innocent. I was #teamzach to a very severe degree.
Despite her best efforts to not be a mess from her “incident” in Guatemala, Lark is falling apart rapidly, and even her burgeoning feelings for the steadfast Zach can’t keep the darkness at bay. Everything is devolving quickly, and he’s helpless to stop it. And my heart ached for the two of them to get it together and give themselves the happy ending they deserved.
M: This is the kind of romance that was made for lazy fall Saturdays, with coffee, comfort food, and apple pie. Can’t recommend this series, and this one in particular, enough.
And the next one looks like it’s going to be fan-tastic!
C: Sarina is basically our magical-book-wish-granter at this point. Do yourself a favor and pick up Keepsake!