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 ‘…there was an ache inside me that I longed to soothe. And I moved through each day a little lost, trying to fill an empty spot in my soul. But it never went away…It was never, ever going to stop. There was no cure. You just lived with it. The end.’

Oh we’d prepared ourselves for an emotional gut-wrenching story with our Jude and we were not wrong.  After meeting him in Bittersweet -book one in the True North series- as the ex-drug addict convict, we knew this was one hard-done by lad who’d had a really tough time and is now paying the price of consequences. The glimpses we got of him showed a restless, struggling young man trying to adapt to life outside the prison walls trying to stay clean before returning to his home town. Fortunately, if you read Bittersweet you know he landed a job with a good family and we were so happy to see them return in Steadfast.

‘My name is Jude Nickel, and I am an addict. Also, I’m a big fucking idiot.’

Jude’s story hit us hard emotionally and we teared up several times throughout. It really was heart-breaking and the reality of Jude’s circumstances and addiction is very much real. This is why we think it affected us the way it did. So intensely sad yet incredibly hopeful at the same time. We learn of what exactly transpired that fateful night when Jude was in a car crash and was ultimately convicted for manslaughter.

‘She’d always put me on a pedestal I knew I didn’t deserve.’

“Goodnight, sweet girl,” I whispered. “Be well.”

This event caused the break-up with his high school sweetheart whom his heart has never let go off and when a second chance rears its head it soon transpires that Sophie’s heart feels the same. Opposites attract, and Jude and Sophie are just that. Their fates and lives are entwined and what starts off as a sweet romance between the Sheriff’s daughter and the resident bad boy turns into something much more as a deeply felt connection is forged that neither can let go off no matter the obstacles and people interference.

‘I didn’t want to live like this- full of confusion and guilt all the time, and heartbroken in a hundred ways at once.’

Neither Sophie nor Jude are the same people as they were three years ago, both changed by circumstances. Both trying to survive and change their lives. However, both trapped in the memories of a night that was to change everything.

 ‘It was hard to be here with this oddly sanitized version of Jude. The wearer of flannel. Diet coke in his glass. This was a Jude from an alternate universe. But I knew if I slid into his arms he’d feel so achingly familiar- broad and warm and strong and so very mine.’

This second chance romance is fraught with darkness, sadness and despair. Yet it’s also filled with love, respect, loyalty and friendship. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re up against as you fight the nameless and faceless enemy. Sometimes you succeed – sometimes you don’t. Sometimes justice prevails and sometimes it doesn’t. How you deal and treat others is the making of you and Jude completely stole our hearts as did the beautiful lovable Sophie. Sometimes an honest- wear your heart on your sleeve- story comes around and Steadfast is one of them.

‘Listening to the rhythm of Jude’s increasingly ragged breaths, I gave myself over to this moment. Our song rose to a fevered pitch, and I listened very hard to every note while it lasted.’

Synopsis

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there’s no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s police chief father. But it’s a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

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