ARC Reviews,  Reviews

J.H. Croix’s Heartwood ARC Review

Thank you to J.H. Croix, Sarina Bowen, Jenn Gaffney and the rest of the World of True North team for the advance reader copy of Heartwood, the second story in the Speakeasy Taproom series.

Read all my World of True North reviews here.

Check out the Goodreads synopsis…

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…

Check out my more detailed thoughts below…

  • Characters: Isabelle, known to her friends at Belle is a newly hired chef at the Speakeasy. She was on the path of becoming a lawyer but then she had a manic episode. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after her manic episode had her stealing her professor’s car and ending up in the psych ward. The depiction of the disorder and how Belle handles everything made this such an interesting read. As she dropped out of law school and does not have any romantic prospects she has really cemented it in her head that she is a mess and no one wants to take that on. Enter Tyler or Ty who is a bartender at the Speakeasy. He played hockey in college, but his chances of a pro career were dashed by an injury. Instead, Ty chose a simple life in Colebury, working at the bar and renovating a barn. Ty has daddy issues that stem from his dad’s past affair and his new young stepmom.
  • Setting: The story is set in Colebury, Vermont. It is a small nosy little town. Which means everyone has seen them flirting and sneaking around. The setting’s side characters really get a lot of screentime in this instalment. I loved all the interactions with Zara, Dave, Audrey, Griffin, May and Alec.
  • Pacing: The pacing was good. I had some issues with how the line between truth and lies was straddled.
  • Romance: We have Belle who is incapable of seeing herself as someone worthy of love, rather she sees herself as a mess that no one would want to take on. Ty was someone Belle hooked up with back in college when she was a workaholic party animal. They were steamy then and just as steamy now. The relationship was very cute and I loved how they just always seemed to be on each other’s mind. If you had read the synopsis then the surprise baby plot will not be a spoiler. The story would have benefited from either not having this plot at all or introducing it much earlier. It just felt off from when it was announced.

Heartwood receives four out of five stars.

You can pick up the story below…


Thank you again to J.H. Croix, Sarina, Jenn and the rest of the team for the review opportunity. Thank you for reading and supporting my blog!

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