By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
I really enjoy Sarina Bowen's books, and I loved the first in this series, Bittersweet (True North #1). The books are set in rural Vermont, where I live, and they feel authentic and genuine (unlike most small town contemporaries, which depict a more Hollywood-esque perfection of imagined small town life). I was really looking forward to Steadfast because of the premise: the hero is a recovering heroin addict who has just gotten out of jail for killing his girlfriend's brother while driving while high. I mean, that's some pretty heavy conflict, right? And I love a good redemption story.
Sadly, while the writing was good and the main characters were compelling, and Bowen did a really good job in depicting Jude's addiction and his daily struggle in recovery, Steadfast was a disappointment. The supporting characters were not well developed -- the main characters' parents, siblings, and friends were very two-dimensional, which made plot lines involving these characters less compelling and often less believable. Also, in an effort (I think) to make the hero more heroic, the plot took shortcuts that really disappointed me. (SPOILER HERE:(show spoiler)
I was also distracted by some of the things Bowen got wrong about Vermont's criminal justice system, which likely wouldn't bother anyone who doesn't work in the field. The silver lining, though, is that the morning after I finished the book, I emailed Sarina Bowen (which is not something I ever do; generally I prefer not to directly interact with authors) and offered myself as a contact should she ever have research questions (I've been a prosecutor for 14 years) or need a beta reader, and she wrote back immediately and was thrilled by my offer. So, that was kind of exciting.