I gorged myself on Sarina Bowen’s True North series. I started with Bittersweet and gobbled them up like I was afraid I would starve without them. I shouldn’t have been surprised, I loved her Brooklyn Bruisers series, but for some reason, a small-town series set in rural Vermont wasn’t grabbing me. It wasn’t until Audible sponsored a group listen on Bittersweet that I figured I’d go ahead and start, and then I was hooked. (Never mind that I never figured out how to join in the group discussion, I inhaled those books.)
Speakeasy is the 5th book in the series. We get even more acquainted with May, who is Griffin Shipley’s (hero of book 1) little sister, Jude’s (hero of book 2) ride to Narcotics Anonymous, but we also learn more about Alec, who is Zara’s older brother (heroine of book 4). May and Alec both have reputations in their family of being the screw-up. That bumbling person that keeps messing up. (And while I feel like that title is quasi-deserved by Alec, May is rocking it and it’s mostly her low-self-esteem talking.) We learn in book 3 that May is an alcoholic, and that she’s been in love with her female best friend forever, but unfortunately for May, Lark is straight and also in love with a man. Book 4 shows us that May is moving on; she is in a committed relationship with another woman and seems to mostly have her feelings and her addiction under control.
If I can’t have Lark, I want a drink. It always comes back to this. A drink would be such a relief right now. It sounds like a small thing, really. Why can’t I have it?
Then May throws caution to the wind, and has sex with Alec, someone she’s barely spoken to before the past several days, in the cab of his truck in a parking lot. Before this, she’s assumed that despite her bisexuality, she would likely only be with women going forward. She wanted to feel a strong bond and connection with someone, and reasoned that it must be easier with another woman. But she and Alec get along so well; they laugh together and commiserate over their over-bearing families together. But neither of them think it’s going anywhere. Alec begins to get fed up over being May’s dirty little secret.
There’s also the minor problem about how Alec’s livelihood is that he owns a bar. And May is an alcoholic. There’s a lot to overcome there, but mostly, how May feels like her baggage makes her unloveable, and Alec assumes his reputation is scaring May away, not to mention their long-standing unspoken family rivalry.
The Shipleys don’t pair up with the Rossis, I once told my heartbroken sister. That’s not how it works.
Overall, I loved this book. A lot of the characters from previous books come back, although I am DYING to know if we’ll ever find out who nearly ran over Zara in book 4. I definitely had my guesses on who it could be, but since it was never addressed in this book, I assume that it wasn’t who I had guessed. (May’s ex-girlfriend was who I had my money on.) There’s a lot of humor and fun and seriousness all mixed into one package.
One note, however. This book is in first person present tense, which I know is a deal breaker for a lot of people. I didn’t find it poorly done here, but I also didn’t understand why. There didn’t seem to be a clear reason why this wasn’t third person past tense like so many of the other books in the series.