Keepsake by Sarina Bowen, narrated by Erin Spencer & Teddy Hamilton

face and upper chest of a shirtles guy. A dark-haired woman is embracing him from behind and he's holding her arms to his chest, her face buried in his neck, his face turned toward her. There are trees in the lower foreground to signify the Vermont setting.Why I read it:  This one is available via the #AudibleRomance package.I have it in digital format too but hadn’t found time to read it.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  There’s a first time for everything.

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.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I have all of the True North books on my TBR but I haven’t read any of them yet. Keepsake works as a stand alone novel however and I didn’t have any trouble following the story. The blurb attracted me and I was in the mood for an angsty listen so I loaded it up on my iPod. It wasn’t as angsty as it could have been actually but I enjoyed, particularly, Zach’s vulnerability in the story. He’s a bit of a cinnamon roll hero (h/t Olivia Dade) and I have soft spot. Also, I’ve recently listened to Goodbye Paradise and Zach had also been at Paradise Ranch so there was a link.

Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen, narrated by Teddy Hamilton & Dake Bliss

extreme close up of a picture of two shirtless guys laying down (should that be lying down?) about to kiss. The picture is off-centre so one face is in the top left and the other (what is visible at least) is in the lower rightWhy I read it:  I bought the book when it was re-released last year but hadn’t found time to read it. The audiobook is part of the #AudibleRomance package so I listened to it instead.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  The trajectory of the romance between Josh and Caleb in Goodbye Paradise is unusual for the genre. For one thing, they’ve known each other all their lives. There’s no meet cute. But the main difference is that they always love each other. We don’t see the development of those feelings, there is no courtship as such. Rather, the story is about how the two men reveal their existing love for one another and how they eventually come out into the open, showing that love to everyone by doing so.

Falling from the Sky by Sarina Bowen, narrated by Tanya Eby & Aiden Snow

close up of a fair-haired woman and a dark-haired man (with a beard) about to kissWhy I read it:  I received a review copy via the publisher.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  She’s the woman he doesn’t remember. He’s the man she can’t forget.

Bad boy Hank “Hazardous” Lazarus used to have everything: a gorgeous girlfriend, a career as a freestyle snowboarder and a spot on the US Olympic team. Nine months ago, after a bad crash in the half pipe, he woke up in the hospital, unable to move his legs. Now he’s landed there again, but gravity is not the culprit. With his family pressuring him to try a groundbreaking treatment, Hank self-medicates with too much tequila instead.

Doctor Callie Anders has the courage to restart a patient’s heart with a thousand volts of electricity, yet she’s afraid to risk her own. So she doesn’t confess to her newest patient they they met just before the accident, an encounter that he doesn’t remember. Even as their friendship develops, she won’t admit that she regrets turning down his dinner invitation, or that her heart stutters every time those inked shoulders roll through the door of the therapy department.

With another Vermont winter coming again, Hank needs a hand out from under the avalanche of his disappointments. If only Callie were brave enough to take the job.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I’ve had the ebook version of Falling From the Sky on my TBR (of Doom) for ages but never found the time to read it. Tanya Eby is one of my favourite narrators and I’ve heard good things about Aiden Snow (although many of his romance audiobooks seem to be geo restricted for me so I previously had limited opportunity to give his narrations a try). My TBL is shorter than my TBR and I was motivated to bump this one up the queue.

As is commonly the case with audiobooks, I didn’t read the blurb before I started listening. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t that the hero was going to be rendered paraplegic in the first chapter, or that he would not make a miraculous recovery. So the book went in a different direction than I thought it might. That’s not a complaint and really, if I had read the blurb I’d not have been surprised at all. Still, I did experience a bit of a gut wrench when I found out that Hank had been so seriously injured so there is something to be said for not reading blurbs first IMO.

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