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I loved this book! A beautifully heartfelt, slow burning romance with fantastic characters, a well-written dramatic element, and the fantastic dynamics of life on the Shipley farm that I love about this series.
Zachariah came to be a part of Shipley farm after he escaped from the cult he was raised in. With practically no knowledge of the outside world, Zach very gratefully took on a job with the Shipleys and lives in their boarding house. He works hard and gives everything he has to the farm, desperate to be useful and dependable. He is shy and quiet, and is the butt of a lot of good-hearted joking (particularly about his virgin status), and he has found peace with the family that treat him as one of their own. But he still lives with the uncertainty of where his place is and what his future holds.
Lark is the best friend of May Shipley. After a traumatic experience while working overseas, she is struggling to move on, and accepted an invitation to spend the summer at the farm, hoping that working outside and being surrounded by beloved friends will help her heal from the demons that continue to haunt her.
“I would work on this farm and share meals with these people. I would smile and act normal for as long as it took. Until acting normal seemed normal again, and the dragons in my heart forgot to blow their fire.”
There is an immediate attraction between Zach and Lark, but neither of them are in a place to act on it. Not only does Zach have very limited experience with girls, but all of the boys were warned to keep their hands off Lark when she arrived. And Lark knows that she’s a mess, and she knows that Zach is withdrawn and has been through his own turmoil, and she doesn’t want to burden him with everything that she is going through.
Zach wasn’t just a guy I happened to be attracted to. He was special. Zach was a better person than… well, just about anybody. He ought to be handled with care.
But as they work side by side, things begin to change. A beautiful friendship develops, and as they open up and get to know each other, that friendship becomes something special. And when Lark struggles with her demons, it’s Zach who is there to help her.
“Hang in there,” I whispered. “The night won’t last forever.” She relaxed, and I was the reason.
OMG, these two are just beautiful together! They both have an inner strength but there is something so delicate and vulnerable about them and watching them come together was just gorgeous! It’s a delicious slow burn and I could feel the emotion growing between them, and with both of them holding back for so long, the intensity is high when they finally act on their feelings.
“Zach was beautiful on his worst day. But a horny Zach was a thing of fantasies.”
And hallelujah, it turns out that sweet and innocent Zach isn’t as clueless as everybody believed! It’s hot. It’s super-hot, and the sex deepens their already strong emotions for each other. The romance is absolutely beautiful, and I was easily swept away in the happiness that they found together.
With one smooth thumb she brushed water off my cheekbone. The sweep of her skin against mine was at once familiar and electrifying. Whenever she touched me, I felt as if I’d loved her my whole life.
But not only is their time together limited because Lark is only there for the summer, but her demons aren’t going away, and when they finally overtake her, it will put them both to the test like never before.
I loved this book. Zach and Lark are so gorgeous together, and I loved the way the story was told and that we got to see so exactly what they’ve been through and how it impacted them. The drama of it all is an important part of the story and it’s written really well, and my eyes were welling with tears as it all played out. It’s heartbreaking but realistic, and it paves the way for a beautiful story to unfold as we see just how amazing these characters are.
“I can handle it, Lark. Just lean on me. I’ll be your Apostate Farm.” Tears spilled out of her eyes. So many tears. But I just hang on. It’s what a do.
With pretty much all of the action taking part on the farm, the Shipleys are a big part of the story, and I loved being swept up in their world again. Though this book could be read as a standalone, you would be missing out on so much context and backstory so I would suggest reading these books in order. It makes it all the more awesome to see them all together, and a highlight of this book for me was seeing Griff and the boys rally around both Zach and Lark. They are openly caring and infinitely supportive, and there are some really tender scenes in this book. But they are also a bunch of boys who love to joke around and I loved their teasing and banter.
I didn’t know any sexual innuendo. Those still got me into trouble because it seemed there were a million terms for sex, and they didn’t all make sense. I’ll never forget the sight of Griffin doubled over after explaining what a blowjob was. “But nobody’s blowing on anything,” I’d protested while he tried to remember how to breathe.
This is a gorgeous read – heartfelt and emotional with a gorgeous, sexy romance and a whole lot of sweet and fun moments. I loved Zach and Lark, and their story, and after that hint of what’s to come in Zara’s book, I can’t wait to continue on with the series.