ARC Reviews,  Reviews

Karen Stivali’s Touchstone ARC Review

Thank you to Karen Stivali, Sarina Bowen, Jenn Gaffney and the rest of the World of True North team for the advance reader copy of Touchstone, the first story in the Speakeasy Taproom series.

Now it is time to wine and dine at the Speakeasy Taproom. This is the first book in the last series in Sarina Bowen’s World of True North. Read all my World of True North reviews here.

Check out the Goodreads synopsis…

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.

“A romance with sweet, spicy, and sumptuous on the menu in the kitchen and the bedroom.” Kirkus Reviews

Check out my more detailed thoughts below…

  • Characters: Pheobe was a New York City-based chef until her relationship falls apart in such a mess that she becomes a meme the next day. Pheobe’s friend Audrey (who you should all remember from True North and Busy Bean) offers her a job setting up the gastropub at the Speakeasy. Getting Pheobe out of New York was the best thing that could have happened to her. Her ex Drew was bad for her, as Pheobe describes he was “good on paper, but bad in bed.” Pheobe meets Sam when she moves to Vermont. He is a man bun rocking, crystal shop owning kinda hippie dude. Sam is another one with a bad past relationship. His college girlfriend moved away for an internship and dumped him for someone else within a week.
  • Setting: The story is set in Burlington, Vermont. The Speakeasy is close to the Busy Bean. You should be aware of it if you read any of Sarina’s True North novels. We do not spend too much time in the Speakeasy but we do get some time there. The time we get there gives us a lovely peek at Audrey, Garrett, Zara and Dave.
  • Pacing: This is overall a lovely story. I found it a fast read. I just had a smile on my face from start to finish. I read it in like two sittings cause I was having a good time.
  • Romance: The romance kinda starts with Sam and his tarot cards. Which was an aspect of the book I found interesting that he kept putting soulmate cards. Sam is quicker and seemingly less scared of falling headfirst into loving Pheobe. Pheobe though has never let herself love someone. As relationships for her have always been more transactional. This story is much more of an exploration of the spark and the chemistry a true love should have. And that these are things we all deserve.

Touchstone receives four out of five stars.

You can pick up the story below…


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

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