Speakeasy is everything I love about small town romance, and I never want to leave Vermont. ~ Ava, Guilty Pleasures
Sometimes you fall for Mr. Right. And sometimes for Mr. Right Now…
Did you hear the one about the girl who walks into a bar and catches her live-in lover kissing someone else? No? You’re the only one in town who missed it.
Luckily Alec is there to wrap me up in strong arms and carry me out the door before things get too ugly. And that’s not all Alec is good at. Our unexpected chemistry makes him the perfect rebound guy.
I should know better than to hook up with my rival’s little sister, but the fiery look in May’s eyes really turns my crank. She needs cheering up, and I’m just the guy for the job.
It’s not like I’ll fall in love. Not even after a string of scorching hot trysts, and the realization that we’re good at the same things: wild nights and familial disappointment. I don’t do love, never have, never will. So this is the perfect arrangement, for both of us.
Nobody would approve, but nobody has to know…
Sarina Bowen’s True North series, encompasses everything I love about small town romances, and easily become one of my top series. The Shipley’s, are humble, relatable characters, who live their lives not all that different from the rest of us, complete with all the drama and relationship dynamics that stem from them.
I’ve been watching May’s backstory unfold and was unsure how much I’d enjoy reading about her and love interest from the previous books. I just didn’t ever feel like I was attached to her, and it seems Sarina had that all lined up in her masterplan!! May’s crush on her best friend Lark (from book 3) came to light and laid foundation for May to come out to her family as bisexual, and an alcoholic. She has a black sheep idea of her place in the Shipley clan. In SPEAKEASY she’s been doing well with her recovery, but this breakup at the start of the book has everyone in her orbit concerned she’ll relapse.
Alec, oh my goodness, ever since I met him I’ve wanted to know more about Zara’s brother and how sweet he was with baby Nicole. And now, because of the great descriptions of him, I keep seeing Dr. Doug Ross from ER flirting with the nurses. ? (sigh) Alec, is the life of the party, the always up for a good time, never seems to take life too seriously. Random girls fall at his feet and he is always up for a casual hookup. He is seriously so easy to love. I mean he’s rational, he’s calm, and he’s just such a great balance to May’s more tightly wound personality. Sarina has a way of writing men, that I’m enamored with, and I’d be falling all over Alec’s feet too.
There’s one quote though from Alec’s POV, I just wanted to include because it made me laugh so much, because I felt it:
I’ve known the Shipleys my whole life. They’re like a postcard family—two boys and two girls—everyone smiling and wearing hand-knit sweaters and singing campfire songs together.
They probably do that for real.
The Rossi clan, on the other hand, is a rougher, trailer-park version of the Shipley family. There are four boys and one girl. We’re louder, and—to my lovely mother’s dismay—a little cruder. We have tattoos and punk-rock T-shirts instead of knit sweaters. We smile, too, but usually while we’re pummeling each other.
Now they both seem to be typecast by their families into roles that no longer fit them. May, is truthfully much stronger than she seems, but also struggling to keep on her game face and her path to sobriety is an on going internal battle she tries to conceal from those around her. Alec, has become a serious business man with plan for the Gin Mill and future of his business… but no one seems to look past the party boy throwing keggers in highschool. They try to keep it casual, and keep it underwraps, but you know that never works out ? I think May is really conflicted getting involved with Alec after coming out to her family as Bi.
Together May and Alec see more in each other than those around them, and the easy going way of their interactions is refreshingly absent of angsty behavior. As always there some drama, and some challenges to overcome, but Sarina always keeps it so relevant. Both in the real world and this safe one she’s created just for our enjoyment. I never want to leave Vermont.
EXCERPT: Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen
Someone appears in my peripheral vision. I get half a glance at a lithe body and long hair as a woman appears and then just as quickly retreats.
Wait. Was that…?
I ease my way down the aisle, past the snowboard bags and ski duffels, and then I peer around the corner just in time to spot May Shipley exiting the store.
Several lengthy strides carry me right out the door after her. May has exquisite long legs, so she’s making good time escaping from me across the parking lot. I put two fingers in my mouth and make a cat-call whistle.
May halts midstride. Busted. She turns around and regards me with a sheepish smile.
God, just one smile from her and I feel better already. I raise a finger and beckon. Then I lean against the brick exterior of the shop and wait.
She lifts her chin and walks toward me.
“May Shipley,” I complain as she approaches. “Am I crazy or did you just leave the building to avoid me back there?”
She puts one hand over her pretty eyes and laughs. “Okay, you caught me. Don’t make me feel worse.”
“Do we have a problem, here?” I reach out and tag her hand, then pull her closer to me. We’re toe to toe, though several layers of winter clothing separate us. Still, my whole body hums at the memory of her riding me in my truck. Gawd. So hot. “I get that our lawyer party date got a little crazy.”
“You think?” she squeaks. “I’m so embarrassed.”
“Why? So we had a little spur-of-the-moment sex. You really enjoyed my spur for a moment.”
“Omigod, stop.” May throws her head back and laughs. Her eyes dance, and I’m wearing a giant smile and feeling much more like myself.
“Don’t be embarrassed. I had a lot of fun.” That’s an understatement. I can’t stop thinking about it. Spontaneous truck sex with a long-legged beauty moaning on my dick? That night has made my personal hall of fame.
“Okay. I’ll try.” But the color in her cheeks is unmistakable. It’s cute as fuck.
“Come here.” I pull her into a hug, and she feels terrific against my body. “Let’s not be weird.”
May lifts her face in surprise. “I said that same thing to a good friend once.”
“Did it work?” I whisper because we’re so close together.
“Nope. Still weird.” She grins.
I laugh. And then I kiss her. I don’t even know how it happens. One second I’m just appreciating her smile, and the next second I’m owning it with my mouth.
May lets out a surprised whimper before her mouth softens under mine. I take my time kissing her until her hands spread the two halves of my jacket, finding my chest, gripping my flannel shirt. I need to taste her, so I part her lips with my tongue.
Suddenly my shoulder blades hit the bricks as May presses me up against the wall.
No, ma’am. I’ve just spent five nights imagining a scenario where our next encounter plays out in reverse—with me in charge. So I spin her around and back her up against the wall instead. And for good measure I pin her questing hands in mine, just because I can.
She makes a hungry noise, and I feel it in my balls. And then I dive back into her kisses, one of my thighs between her long legs.
May fights me, if by fighting me you mean she presses her hips against mine and gives me a nice, dirty grind.
I never liked the Shipleys, but now I realize I was hanging out with the wrong ones.
We lose our minds for several amazing minutes until the door of the ski shop opens suddenly. I take a quick step backward to preserve what’s left of our dignity.
Not that it works. We’re both flushed and panting, and I look like I’m trying to conceal a ski pole in the crotch of my jeans.
The young woman exiting the shop gives us a quizzical look as she bleeps the locks on her car.
“Jesus,” May breathes as we blink at each other.
“I know.” Every part of me is horny now. It’s cold outside, but I’m hot everywhere. My clothes feel constricting. I want to drag May back into my truck and have my way with her again.
“What are we doing?”
“Well, babydoll, we’re dry-humping each other in a parking lot.”
“Alec!” She reaches up, clapping a hand over my mouth. “That was a rhetorical question.”
I nod to show her I understand. But then I stick out my tongue and lick her palm where it’s pressed to my lips.
“Omigod, stop.” She removes her hand and wipes it on my flannel.
“You don’t really want me to. Admit it.”
“No, really I do.” Her embarrassed smile comes back. It’s so fucking cute. “I don’t need to be arrested for indecent exposure.”
“Fair enough. But that’s why you’re going to come over tonight. Late. Like eleven.” I’m supposed to be tending bar until ten and then closing up early, because it’s Sunday night.
“Why do you think? So I can strip you down and lick you all over until you’re screaming my—”
May puts that hand over my mouth again. “Anyone could hear you.”
“Nah,” I say from under her hand. She removes it. “I have brick walls at home. It helps with sound control. So even when my headboard starts to bang while I’m fucking you—”
She tries to cover my mouth again, but this time I catch her hand in midair, because I’m a sex ninja. And I hold it in mine. “Just come over. I’ve been thinking about you all week. Once wasn’t enough.” I lift her palm to my mouth and kiss it tenderly.
“Apparently not.” Her cheeks pink up. “But I really can’t get involved with anyone right now.”
“Duh.” I actually roll my eyes. “I’m your rebound lay. Relationships aren’t my style, and I’m allergic to commitment. So we’ll have exactly the same expectations—some very athletic sex.”
Her lips part on an dreamy expression, but then she snaps them closed again.
“Don’t overthink it, counselor. The judge orders you to his chambers at ten.”