{Review} Heartland by Sarina Bowen (with Excerpt)

Heartland Sarina Bowen

We’re sure you’ve noticed that we’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, but we had to come out of hiding to bring you the latest in Sarina Bowen’s True North series, which you know is a favorite of ours! We’ve got a fun excerpt for you along with our thoughts on the book, but first, here’s the 411 on Dylan Shipley’s book: Heartland!

***About the Book***

{Review} Heartland by Sarina Bowen (with Excerpt)Heartland by Sarina Bowen
Also by this author: Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Us, Rookie Move, Good Boy, Goodbye Paradise, Stay, Hello Forever, Temporary
Series: True North #7
Published by Tuxbury Publishing on January 28, 2020
Genres: Christmas, College Romance, Contemporary Romance, Friends to More, New Adult, Player Falls in Love, Small Town Romance
Character(s): Farmers, Rockstars/Musicians, Students
Pages: 329
Goodreads  Buy the Book

An emotional friends to lovers romance full of risky secrets and late-night lessons in seduction.

Dylan is my best friend, and the only person in my life who understands me. He doesn’t mind my social awkwardness or my weird history. The only glitch? He doesn’t know that I’ve been hopelessly, desperately in love with him since the first day we picked apples together in his family’s orchard.

But I know better than to confess.

Now that we’re both in college together, I’m seeing a new side of him. College Dylan drinks and has a lot of sex. None of it with me.

Until the night I foolishly ask him to tutor me in more than algebra…and he actually says yes.

But the cool morning light shows me how badly I’ve endangered our friendship. And I don’t know if anything will be the same again.


“So why were you having a bad day, anyway?” Ellie asks. “Man trouble?”

“Not exactly. It’s more like a lack of man trouble. I kissed my hot algebra tutor. And I wasn’t supposed to.”

Her big eyes widen. “Which hot algebra tutor? You never said.”

He doesn’t work at the lab,” I say hastily. “He’s a friend. And he wants to stay that way.”

“Oh.” She looks deflated. “That is a bummer.”

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

“No.” She makes a face. “It would be nice, though. This year is kind of lonely. My roommate is a total bitch.”

“Oh, I have one of those, too.”

“Yeah?” Ellie’s eyes brighten. “Does yours steal your clothes and then lie about it?”

“Um, no. She wouldn’t want any of my things. We have singles, anyway. Just a common bathroom.”

“Lucky! She must be easier to stand, then.”

“You’d think.” I take a gulp of mint tea.

“My roommate took my brand-new scarf. With the tags still on! And when I called her out on it, she tried to gaslight me.”

“Gaslight?” I feel my cheeks flush like they sometimes do when I don’t understand the idioms that people use.

“You don’t know Gaslight? It’s a movie from the forties.”

“Ingrid Bergman,” says Dylan’s voice. “We haven’t got around to the classics yet.”

I startle, sloshing my tea over my hand. And when I look up, Dylan is right there. Clear brown eyes. Tousled hair. Tight, muscular body that’s clothed in a nice sweater and ripped jeans. A handsome face that I finally kissed.

Keep Reading the Excerpt for Heartland

Keep Reading the Excerpt for Heartland

Pain slices through me. Because I’m never going to get over him. There will never be a day when I look at Dylan and don’t wish for more.

“Can I talk to you for a quick second?” he asks, taking the mug and grabbing a napkin off the table. He wipes the tea off my hand.

“Now is not a good time,” I say quickly. Because I don’t want to cry in the coffee shop in front of my only new friend.

Dylan actually rolls his eyes. “Fifteen seconds, Chass. Give a man a break.”

I’d talk to you.” Ellie raises her hand like a school girl. “Pick me.”

And that’s just what I need—another girl in my life who’s swooning for Dylan. Because that always turns out well.

“Fine. Fifteen seconds.” I jump to my feet. Let’s get this over with.

Dylan takes my arm and tows me gently over toward the bulletin board, where nobody is currently reading the flyers for meditation circles and ski equipment sales.

“Look, I’m sorry,” is his opener. “You’re avoiding me. Not that I blame you. I’m sorry things got so out of control.”

Which things?” I ask warily. Because I don’t want an apology for fooling around with me.

“Pick one!” Dylan raises his hands. “All the things. I shouldn’t have been so inappropriate.”

“But…” I know Dylan was in a serious state of drunken depression when he kissed me. It’s not like I was expecting to hear those kisses made him as happy as they made me. But would it kill him to be a little less patronizing? “Dylan, I’m not twelve years old. It was just a kiss or two. I don’t think I’ll need a full course of therapy to recover.”

He blinks. “Okay. Good?”

“So did you really need to drag me over here to apologize a third time? Did you apologize to all the girls you kissed during Spin the Bottle in seventh grade?”

I heard about Spin the Bottle and Seven Minutes in Heaven only last year, by eavesdropping on Debbie and her buddies at another bonfire. I’d been transfixed by their tales of who’d kissed whom over the years and how often.

At thirteen, Spin the Bottle would have sounded like heaven to me. Seven minutes in a closet with a boy? I would have lobbied for eight. I was always the most inappropriate girl in the bunch.

Yet somehow Dylan sees me as some kind of innocent child.

“No. Good point.” He crosses his delicious arms and smiles at me. “You are in a feisty mood today.”

“Is that so wrong?”

“No.” He shakes his handsome head. “Not at all. Are we going to hug it out?” He opens his big arms wide.

Oh boy. I can’t resist stepping into them. And when he pulls me in, I experience the familiar hormone rush that always happens when I’m close to him. Rapid heartbeat? Check. Goosebumps? Check. My nose lands against his flannel shirt.

My mouth is mere inches from his, of course. But this time he has no interest in kissing me. It takes all my willpower to give him a squeeze and then step back.

“Be well, Chass. I’ll leave you to your tutoring session, even if you’re basically cheating on me right now. But we’re still making caramels this weekend, right? I told Griffin we could use six gallons of goat’s milk. Don’t make a liar out of me.”

“I won’t,” I say quickly. I might be slightly irritated at him, but it will blow over. My capacity to forgive him for not loving me back is basically infinite. “We’ll leave right after Friday classes?”

“You got it. And this is for you. Share it with your friend.” He pulls something out of his pocket. “More market research.”

He puts a little box in my hand and then walks away.

As always, it takes me a second to get over my hormone rush. I stand there blinking for a long moment until I realize Ellie is grinning at me from the sofa. So I go back over to her and sit down.

“Wow…” she says, stealing a glance at Dylan’s retreating backside. “Is that hot hunk of Vermont male your algebra tutor?”

“Yes.” My voice is gravel.

“And your future ex-boyfriend?”

“Nope. I’ll never get that chance. He’s my best friend, but…” There’s no tidy explanation.

“But you want more. I would if it were me.”

I nod, miserable.

***About Sarina Bowen***

Author Sarina BowenSarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

In 2016, Sarina became a Rita Award winner! The Romance Writers of America honored HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy with Best Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length.

Find Sarina Here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***Our Thoughts***

Kassiah: Whenever I get a new Sarina Bowen book, I am downright giddy. She writes some of my very favorite characters and (almost) always totally scores. I feel like I’ve been waiting for Dylan Shipley’s book foreverrrrr, so when I got an early review copy, I dropped everything to read. My expectations might have been a smidge too high, but I did enjoy this book.

Dylan Shipley is almost the youngest in the Shipley clan. He goes home from college every weekend to help out on the farm, doting on his adorable goats.

cute goat

Chastity escaped from a religious cult two years ago and landed at the farm next door to the Shipley’s. She and Dylan are best friends, and pretty much everyone knows she’s been pining for him for a long time. When her evil college roommate becomes Dylan’s girlfriend, it’s almost more than a girl can take.

The following week she didn’t come home at all on two different nights. At first I thought this was a terrific development. I loved having our suite to myself. But then, just as I was crossing the center of campus and congratulating myself on figuring out a shortcut to the math department, I’d seen them. Kaitlyn had been standing under a tree with Dylan. And then he’d leaned in and kissed her.

No–that isn’t even an accurate description. He practically devoured her right there between classes in broad daylight. I’ve never walked away from anything faster in my life.

Three weeks later, and I’m still not over it.

Chastity and Dylan come up with a business plan making organic delicious caramels, ensuring that they spend even more time together than usual. When Dylan’s eyes are opened to the fact that Chastity wants more with him than being BFFs, will they risk their friendship for a physical relationship?

heartland friendship sarina bowen

It’s not going to really surprise you, but I loved Dylan. He was every bit of “hot farmer boy” I was hoping for. He’s sweet and helpful and loyal and swoony and loves The Princess Bride. I also really liked Chastity. She was strong and I felt like the way her backstory was explained was relatable (even though escaping from a religious cult is actually totally unrelatable but her bravery and power was inspirational) and the way she felt about Dylan and her place in the world was realistic. I really loved their friendship.

“Oooh. I love Leah’s cornbread.”

“Same.” And I knew that already, so I left the bigger piece for her.

And of course, their chemistry was sizzling.

It’s like gravity, really, the way we come together. His lips feel inevitable as they slide toward mine. His breath is warm and minty as our lips finally touch. I get a glimpse of soft brown eyes before they drift closed.

He sinks into our kiss, the way you side into a hot bath. And that’s exactly how it feels–hot and wonderful and all encompassing. Heat sizzles through my body, and I part my lips helplessly.

The storyline was good, but I felt like it was missing a little of the magic that I’m used to from Sarina Bowen. There’s so much that’s total cliché, but maybe that’s real life? 🤷

This series is so fantastic, and I am always thrilled when we find out we’re getting another. One of my favorite things about Sarina’s books is how much I love the characters and enjoy checking in with all of the couples and other characters from the other books in the series. I don’t think we got enough of that here, except a bit from Griffin (Bittersweet). My problem with that was Griff was pretty much an asshole most of the way through, until we got to the end. There was a little interaction with the other characters, but not enough to make someone think OMG I HAVE TO READ THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES RIGHT NOW!!! Which, if you haven’t, you really should because they’re wonderful and swoony and …

swoony gif

Sarina Bowen definitely set things up for another book in the series, and I’m really hoping for it. I loved the chemistry and the swoon and the characters in Heartland. New Adult Collegiate book-lovers and True North fans are going to eat it up. And that cover’s not so bad, either. 😉

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