I love fruit.
I love cooking and/or drinking.
I love strapping men who are well-versed in both.
Chef Michael Chernow makes me want to eat meat.
I love second chances.
So, it stands to reason that a book that has all three, a great story, a leading lady that makes me so happy, and the perfect, not over the top, HEA would be SO SO good to me, right?
Which is why on Friday, I was freaking over the MOON when I picked up this gem…
Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen (chief last name, BTW, Sarina ap Owen!) did not feel bitter to me at all. It wasn’t purely sweet, but for a NA/almost adult contemporary, there was truly very little bitterness.
If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.
The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.
At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.
Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.
They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.
I immediately went on Facebook to proclaim my love of this book. I’ll admit, there was a line near the beginning that had me worried this would be anti-feminist. NOPE! Just anti-mother! I can so get behind some mommy issues. (I seriously hope my kids never say this, but I’m me, sooooo….my hope is small.)
Main characters Audrey and Griffin’s chemistry may have been seeded in college, but it grows so much with age. (I hate myself for italicizing the play-on words, but I can’t bring myself to delete them.) But the book isn’t poetic, though it does feel classic.
For some reason, this book reminded me a lot of a modern Persuasion. Not that they were engaged in college, but there was an abandoned potential, and that potentiality stuck with Griffin and Audrey even if they weren’t aware of it. And Griffin, like Captain Wentworth is just so genuinely good. (He also loves Audrey despite her fucked-up family, so, there’s that.) FEELS!!
All those feels. I found myself having the unique experience of laughing tingles. Oh, you don’t know what the laughing tingles are? It’s where you get the happy love bubble in your heart feeling, WHILE you are laughing. It’s charming. It’s, well, it’s radiant.
Bittersweet also has a great mix of external and internal conflict, never having one more important than the other. Yes, there’s the big bad corporate evil, and there’s the internalized “but, oh, I don’t know…” but together they make for a cohesive arc that does not grow stale or shallow. The characters are passionate, and two passionate people can often lead to too much conflict, but with Griffin being such the sustainable agriculture sansculotte, and Audrey making magic in the kitchen, their passions are uniquely balanced, and they can really heat it up.
All said, Bittersweet gets the bloom of love exactly right. Sarina Bowen gifts the reader with hours of pure joy and the eager anticipation of what the next installment may hold.
Four Stars. or apples. Whichever.
I settled on summer burst tomatoes even though I had SO MUCH to draw inspiration from in this novel. Audrey is a chef, and Griffin is a farmer/brewer. Granted, I pretty much hate hard cider, but my platonic soul mate tells me this is because I’ve only had shitty ciders. She was right about sauvignon blanc, so I will admit that she might be right about this as well.
Time and taste will tell.
The seasonality of summer burst tomatoes is what drew me to the idea. It isn’t yet apple season, and cherry season is gone. This left me thinking, “what does pretty much every backyard gardner grow? What is the most delicious this time of year?!” I couldn’t make gin from scratch, and it’s really hard to grow, so I went with the next best thing–tomatoes.
Mother of hell I love these things, but, I can’t just eat them raw all the time. Cooking them makes their lycopene more bioavailable, and it caramelizes and develops those natural sugars that just make you want to slap your mommy issues. With the addition of fresh garlic, olive oil, dill, and my super secret ingredient, screw slapping your mom, you’ll be too far gone into foodgasm to give a crap about how she blames you for ruining her life.
Summer Burst Tomatoes
Review: Bittersweet by @SarinaBowen and recipe: Summer Burst Tomatoes #books #eattherainbow #sustainableeating Click To Tweet
What Goes In?
- 1 pound grape tomatoes
- 15 ml (about a tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
- 10 grams (about 2 tsp) chopped fresh tarragon
- 5 grams chopped fresh garlic
- good pinch of salt
- good pinch of pepper
- 10 grams (about 2 tsp) chopped fresh dill
- chopped fresh dill and taragon
- poke all the tomatoes with the tip of a paring knife or a wooden skewer a few times.
- combine oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and herbs in a lidded tupperware that will accommodate all the tomatoes.
- add poked tomatoes and gently combine.
- marinate in fridge for 3 hours or overnight.
- preheat oven to 375F/200C
- spread onto a cookie sheet in one even layer.
- roast 10 minutes
- toss gently
- roast 10 more minutes or until they’re just wilted
- top with more herbs.