Tuesday 29 June 2021

🍺 THE SPEAKEASY TAPROOM 🍺 #1 & #2 🍺 The World of True North 🍺

  ©  Bianca ✰ Janeane 

The Speakeasy Taproom Series is a complete standalone series, but it is part of the new World of True North Series and slightly connected aka a spin-off to Sarina Bowen's True North Series!
So if you're weird like us - read #Bittersweet first ☺

• Book #1 in the Speakeasy Series
 • 29 June 2021
• Standalone Sexy Small-Town Romance

4 Stars

Sam doesn't think love is in the cards. The cards disagree.

When Phoebe Stevens' life implodes in a spectacularly public fashion, she's desperate to escape Manhattan. So the offer of a job setting up a new Vermont gastropub couldn’t come at a better time. Driving a U-Haul on winding mountain roads is Phoebe's personal version of hell. But when the caretaker of her guesthouse answers the door tousled, shirtless, and baking cinnamon rolls, her first impression of Vermont dramatically improves.

Sam Trembley believes everyone gets one true love, but he’s already blown his chance. He's spent five years avoiding relationships. Now he’s back in Colebury where sunrise tarot draws and moonlit hikes soothe his soul. But why do the tarot cards keep showing him this nonsense about soulmates? Could it have anything to do with the jaded city girl on his doorstep?

Playing tour guide is fun, but taste-testing her culinary creations as she shimmies her luscious hips around his kitchen is downright irresistible. Soon their chemistry burns hotter than the pub's wood-fired oven.

 Has fate brought them together for a summer of love...or a lifetime of happiness?

 Touchstone contains craving-inducing menu planning, a sassy white witch grandma, seismic sexy times, and tarot cards on a mission to prove soulmates are real.

ARC received for an honest review
Yaaaaass b*tches! We're back in the True North-verse, and I can't get enough!
And not only are we backin Vermont, we are back at the Speakeasy.

When life gave Phoebe lemons, she should have thrown those lemons at her douchey ex, but instead she made lemonade...and  plenty of other delicious goodies, and I was very jealous of her landlord/new friend/more Sam who got to taste test it all

I could feel the pull between them through the pages, even though neither of them wants it.

I did like Sam's grandma, though I am so not into the new agey/white witchy stuff, but it was kind of adorable with Sam.

One thing that did annoy me (and thank goodness that it did stop the second half of the book, as it was sooooo eyeroll-worthy) was the "kegel" thing,  You will see it when you read it, and it might not annoy you as it did me.

I loved getting more of the characters I have grown to love in the past, and am looking forward to more of the Taproom series.

We're back in Colebury, Vermont.

Phoebe + Sam.

Phoebe was about to finally open her restaurant in Manhattan, when all her dreams died a very painful and public death!
Now, thanks to her old chef-friend Audrey Shipley, she's on her way to Vermont to oversee the opening of their new Gastro Pub.
Enter Sam. He's Phoebe's new landlord.
But he's so much more from the second they meet.


Sam and Phoebe insta connect and it's so cute and funny and sparky to watch their love story!

I could've done without the whole crystals and 'magic' and tarot stuff. That is SO not my thing. And it made Sam a bit unlikable for me. I really loved him without all that stuff, but there was just too much of that in here.
But still - this was a really cute love story. I loved reading it.
I want to eat ALL THE FOOD Phoebe made!

I'm excited to see all the other stories in this new and final True North World series!

I could read these kinds of books every day for the rest of eternity!

I also wouldn't mind seeing this whole world on Netflix one day!

Can't wait to get more Vermont soon!

TOUCHSTONE was such an adorable + funny + foody + Vermonty romance! I loved reading it! Run to your nearest amazon for your own Sam - he'll be sold out in no time!


I’d changed into a black tunic swing dress and capri leggings, and a gust of air flared the skirt Marilyn Monroe-style the second I stepped outside.

“Hey.” Sam’s grin was like a beacon luring me toward him. “Did you get a chance to rest from your drive?”

“Nah, but I did get in a shower. Those rainforest showerheads were amazing.”

“Glad you enjoyed them.”

Was it bad that I was hoping I’d just made him picture me naked? What was wrong with me? I was never this flirty, and not just because I’d been in a relationship the past half-decade. I just…wasn’t. “So whatcha cookin’?”

“We’ve got some jerk pork, some cilantro-lime chicken breasts, and some asparagus. There’s potato salad inside and some fiddleheads.”

“Ooh, fiddleheads. I’ve actually never had them. I thought they were only around in early spring.”

Sam shook his head, deftly turning over pork chops with his tongs. “Not up here. All depends on the winter and when the snow melts. This is a little later than usual for them to be around, but we had snow until May this year so…”

“May? Is that typical?”

He laughed. “The only thing typical about New England weather is that you can never tell what to expect.”

“I can’t imagine having snow until mid-spring. I’m used to Manhattan where a few inches slows everything to a crawl. But I do love when it snows at night. Empty New York City snow-covered streets are a thing of beauty.”

“That does sound nice. Did you grow up in the city?” Sam flipped the asparagus and lowered the lid on the grill.

“Yep. Lived there pretty much my whole life. I spent most summers at the beach, with a good friend. And I did an internship one summer during culinary school, in Boston. That’s where I met Audrey.”

“Right. Audrey. Is that how you wound up with the Speakeasy gig?”

“Yup. I needed a job and her family needed someone willing to get the gastropub up and running.”

“Sounds like divine timing.”

I shrugged and stared at my feet. Flashes of the scene that had led to me needing a job bombarded my brain. “Something like that.”

“You want a beer? Or I have soda, juice, wine…”

“Beer sounds great. Thanks.”

Sam jogged back to the house, hair bouncing. I tried to decide if he looked better coming or going. Which made me wonder what he looked like coming.

Phoebe, stop it. You’re here to do a job and make a plan for your fucked-up life, not to fuck it up more with…complications.

I forced myself to take a deep breath and focus on my surroundings. I hadn’t really looked around when we were moving all my shit into the cottage. The space between the main house and the guesthouse was no ordinary, run-of-the-mill back yard. It was surrounded on all sides by hundred-foot trees—a mix of evergreens and probably oaks, based on the acorn remnants I’d seen on the driveway. There were elaborate flower beds all around the house and a rock garden with enormous sparkling rocks—pink, gray, some sort of marble, maybe? I assumed that was a perk of owning a rock shop. And frog statues. Were they…doing yoga?

Sam appeared and handed me a chilled, bright-yellow can. The cheerful label said Sip of Sunshine IPA. “Your official welcome to Vermont.” He clinked my can with his, and we both drank.

It tasted bright and hoppy and instantly refreshed me. “I take it your aunt likes frogs?”

Sam opened the grill and plated the asparagus. “Actually, I’m to blame for the yoga frogs.” He gave the asparagus a quick squeeze of lemon and then set the plate on the wooden picnic table alongside the grill.

“Oh really?” I sipped some more, hoping to quell the fire or whatever it was that tingled through me every time Sam spoke.

“Legend has it that when I was three or four my grandmother took me to the Christmas bazaar at the all-season market, and I saw one of those frogs…” He scanned the yard. “That one, there, in the lotus pose. And decided I had to get Aunt Iris that frog for Christmas.”

“That’s adorable.”

“I was a cute kid. There’s photographic proof in some of the old photos in the house. But apparently Iris made such a huge fuss about how much she loved the frog, I got it in my head she needed another one every year. And now it’s just tradition. Every Christmas I get her some sort of frog. She took most of them with her when she moved into my grandmother’s house. There are salt and pepper shakers, creamers and sugar bowls, a teapot, bookends, a nightlight…”

“Wow. That’s dedication.”

He chuckled. “I’ve been traveling the last few years, and no matter where I was, I bought frogs wherever I saw them. I’m stocked up for a few Christmases now.”

I ran my hand over my beer can, tracing the logo. “It’s great how close you are to them. I’ve never had anything like that. Not with family at least. I’m closer to my best friend’s family than my own, but I don’t even see them much anymore.”

“I get it. Growing up, my best friend spent most of his time at my house. His parents were getting a divorce and my grandmother all but adopted him for a few years while that played out.”

“Does he still live in town?”

“Nope. He moved to Maine a few years ago. You’d probably like him—he runs a small bakery and makes crazy-good desserts.”

“Nice. Too bad he’s not closer. I’d hire him.”

Sam stuck an instant-read thermometer into one of the pork chops. “I’ll let him know in case the bakery doesn’t work out.”

“Can I help you with anything?”

He threw me that heart-stopping smile, and my insides flip-flopped. “Nope. You’re gonna be cooking for half the town soon. Tonight, let me do the cooking. Just don’t get too used to it, because I have a very small repertoire.”

“I can teach you a trick or two.”

He muffled another giggle and let his hair swing forward, but not before I caught the hint of a blush on his cheeks. For someone who rarely flirted I sure was managing to make everything I said sound sexual.



• Book #2 in the Speakeasy Series
 • 29 June 2021
• Standalone Sexy Small-Town Romance

4.125 Stars

She needs a fresh start. He wants a second chance…

 My new job as a chef in a small town was supposed to be my ticket to peace and quiet. I didn’t expect to run into the former hockey star who gave me the hottest nights of my life. And, oops, he’s sort-of my new boss. So much for keeping my past where it belongs.

Ty still thinks I’m the fun party girl. He has no idea how much things have changed. One thing that hasn’t changed: the spark between us. It’s hotter than the blowtorch I use on my crème brûlée.

 I’m already keeping secrets, so what’s one more? Our tryst is forbidden, it’s fun, and it gets complicated as fast as you can say “check, please.” I didn’t expect to have a future with Ty. And I definitely didn’t expect to have a baby with him.

 Some falls are harder than others. But it depends on who’s there to catch you...

ARC received for an honest review
Want to meet me at the Speakeasy (really, you do) want to meet me at the Speakeasy, No ifs or buts about it.

I really enjoyed Belle and Ty's story - I mean, who doesn't like a second chance with the one? 

Belle was always the party girl, the way to being a top lawyer - so why has she turned up at the Speakeasy Taproom as the new chef?

Her story is not always an easy one to read - I don't want to say why things are like they are, as I feel you need to go into blind and find that out yourself - but I felt that the author deals with it well.

Ty is just adorable and lovely and I want one of my own.

I have to say it is a few days since I finished this book, and I had already forgotten about the pregnancy mentioned in the blurb. I really had to dive deep into the memory banks and the was oh yeah, that happened. 

So whilst I liked story while I was reading it, it didn't really stick with me like other books in the series did - though Belle really did.

Get thee to a book seller and buy your own Ty!

Belle + Ty.
Something happened to law student Belle a year ago. Something big and life changing. Because today she's starting her new job as a chef at the Speakeasy Taproom.
Former college hockey star Ty is the bar manager there.
Belle and Ty knew each other intimately back at school.
But why is top-student Belle not a lawyer?
What happened? And what will happen now?


That was adorable!
And a bit mysterious at first. And sweet and heartbreaking and sparky and sexy.
I really liked Ty and Belle.
I'm not a fan of our heros and heroines being sick in any way - be that cancer or anything else - I just don't want that in my romances.
But it wasn't too bad here.
What was also weird. That the pregnancy is mentioned in the blurb. That doesn't happen until almost 80% of the story is done... Either make it happen sooner or leave it out of the blurb! Same with the adorable cat! The one on the cover! I wanted that sooner! 🤷‍♀️
But in the end I really liked the story. It won't be in my top five of True North Stories, but it was still cute.

I could read these kinds of books every day for the rest of eternity!

I also wouldn't mind seeing this whole world on Netflix one day!

Can't wait to get more Vermont soon!

HEARTWOOD was an adorable kinda-second-chance romance! Run to your nearest amazon for your own Ty - he'll be sold out in no time!


Belle’s wide brown eyes held mine, and I wanted to lean over and kiss the freckles on her cheeks. Uncertainty flickered in her gaze, but it passed quickly. She surprised me by lifting her hand and smoothing a fingertip over one of my eyebrows. Her lips curled in a small smile as her hand fell to rest on my chest. “It was messy,” she explained.

“My eyebrow?”

She nodded, blinking as her cheeks went a little pink.

“Well, thank you then,” I offered somberly.

She bit her lip and laughed. I took the moment to let my eyes absorb the sight of her. With her flushed skin, her bright eyes, and her swollen lips, she was disarmingly delectable. Hell, I could’ve gone another round right then. I hadn’t been living as a monk, but I also hadn’t exactly found much time of late for women, much less women who got to me the way Belle did.

If I was being honest with myself, no woman got to me like Belle. She was singular in her ability to set me on fire. We were just that good together. It was easy and fucking hot.

Just then, I noticed she was still wearing her skirt. I chuckled, and she asked, “What’s so funny?”

“We never got your skirt off.”

She grinned, and a sly look entered her eyes. “Maybe not, but at least I got my panties and boots off.”

I laughed, and she traced circles on my chest with a fingertip. I lifted a palm, needing to touch her. I smoothed it over the sweet curve of her shoulder, my eyes landing on the tattoo at the top of her shoulder blade. With her angled toward me, it was just visible. “This is new.” It was a heart, drawn as if carved into wood, the lines of the grain etched in varying subtle shades of brown and gold. “It’s beautiful,” I added.

“How do you know it’s new?” Her big brown eyes lifted to mine, a saucy hint contained there.

“Because I would remember if you had it before. I didn’t forget anything about you.” The moment I said that, my heart gave a tricky kick. Belle had this way of sliding right through my defenses. I revealed perhaps too much with that comment.

She blinked as a wash of pink bloomed on her cheeks. She swallowed, her lashes sweeping down again. “I didn’t have it before. My father’s a woodcarver in his spare time. I always loved watching him on the weekends when I was little.” Her lashes lifted again, vulnerability flickering in her gaze for a flash. “It’s to represent heartwood. That’s the densest and strongest part of the tree.”

I absorbed that as I traced the edges of the heart with my fingertip. “It’s beautiful,” I repeated.

Quiet spun out between us. She dipped her head, nipping lightly on my shoulder. I shifted closer and laid another kiss on her, for no other reason than that I loved kissing Belle. She had a sassy tongue, and she never hesitated to throw herself into kisses.

When I drew back, she asked, “Is this when I find a way to gracefully depart?”

“Hell, no. I’ve got you for the whole night.”

Her throaty laugh rang out, and I pulled her on top of me, kissing her again because I wanted her, and I wanted to dive into her fire. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to think too hard about just how fiercely I wanted her to stay.


Books by Sarina Bowen:

🍎🍏🍎 True North Book #1 🍎🍏🍎

🏳️‍🌈 Wes & Jamie 🏳️‍🌈

Good Boy

The Company Book #1

Hockey #5


YA Rockstar Romance-ish


Sarina Bowen writes steamy, angsty Contemporary Romance and New Adult fiction from the wilds of Vermont.

She is the author of The Ivy Years, an award-winning series set amid the hockey team at an elite Connecticut college.

Waiting for more Ivy Years? You can read more about upcoming volumes in the four book series at

Also, the Gravity series.

Sarina enjoys skiing, espresso drinks and the occasional margarita. She lives with her family, eight chickens and more ski gear and hockey equipment than seems necessary.

To be kept abreast of new releases, please feel free to sign up for the mailing list at

Or visit the her Facebook page, or tweet her @sarinabowen.