“Heart-warming, sensual, beautifully written.” –New York Times bestselling author Ali Hazelwood
Jen Devon's Bend Toward the Sun is a gorgeous, emotional love story about taking unexpected paths, accepting loss, and finding strength in the transformative power of love.
Rowan McKinnon believes love isn’t real. With a botany PhD, two best friends who embrace her social quirkiness, and some occasional no-strings sex, she thinks she has everything she needs. But she hides deep wounds from the past—from an emotionally negligent mother, and a fiancé who treated her like a pawn in a game. The only love she’s ever known came from her grandmother Edie, who taught her to care for all things that grow.
After a chance encounter at a future winery, Rowan takes on the restoration of the property’s abandoned vineyard, immersing herself in nurturing the grapes back to their former glory—and trying not to think about Harrison Brady.
An obstetrician profoundly struggling after losing a patient, Harry Brady no longer believes he is capable of keeping people safe. Reeling from the loss and his crumbled romantic relationship, Harry leaves Los Angeles to emotionally recover at his parents’ new vineyard in Pennsylvania. He’ll work to get the place ready to open, and try to pick up the pieces of his heart.
As soon as he meets Rowan, sunlight begins to crack through the darkness smothering Harry’s soul. He’s compelled to explore the undeniable pull between them. After spending a lifetime protecting herself from feeling anything, for anyone, Rowan tries to keep things casual.
But even she can’t ignore their explosive connection.
A powerful, emotional novel about the ways love can change your life, Bend Toward the Sun is an unforgettable romance and a feast for the senses and the soul.
“This is a book to be savored.”—Rachel Lynn Solomon, bestselling author of The Ex Talk
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 146 members
I had to mull over what I would say about Bend Toward the Sun, by Jen Devon. I don’t appreciate reviews that start out telling me what a book is not, but what it’s not is what made me adore it. It is not a contemporary romance shoehorned into a romcom format. It is a straight-ahead full-blown romance and I cannot tell you how much I have been craving this. Give me a bit of angst. Give me the terrifying swoop of helplessness when the hero realizes he is toast. Give me the heartache and the bliss and the singular confusion of the moments before you give your heart away. Don’t hide it behind jokes we don’t need or references to pop culture that no one will remember in ten years’ time. And I am predicting we will still be reading this book in ten years’ time.
Anyone who knows me, knows I am a fool for skillful prose and Jen Devon has made me giddy. To my great delight, Bend Toward the Sun is a beautifully written book as well as a compelling romance. The two don’t always align these days, so when they do, it’s magic. Devon’s command of prose keeps it lush and evocative without tipping over into purple and saccharine. That she’s set this romance in a vineyard not in California made the wine geek in me so freaking happy. I also loved that this is an adult romance. These are grownups here, folks. Characters you can trust will continue to grow and learn and deepen in love long after you’ve finished the book and moved on.
I cannot recommend this book enough and would also give it to that friend who makes disparaging remarks about romance novels without ever having read them. This will shut them up because they will be too busy doing a second read to open their mouth.
What a gorgeous book! I was wholly unprepared for how well-written and lovely this story was. I found myself purposely slowing down to prolong it as as long as possible and then immediately had to re-read. I am always a little hesitant with debut authors, but I’m so glad I requested this one.
The plot in a nutshell:
A botanist takes a job at a vineyard while re-writing her dissertation and falls in love with a man and his family.
This book has to be one of the most authentic contemporary romance novels I’ve ever read. It was completely free of tropes or clichés, with incredible character development (even secondary characters). In fact, that secondary characters were so well developed that I found myself heavily invested in their stories as well - SERIOUSLY hoping Devon plans to pen more stories in this world.
Between the lush scenery depicted and the humor, I’d say this book was a perfect five stars.
Many thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for sharing a digital reviewer copy with me in exchange for my honest thoughts.
This is easily the best book I read in 2021.
So many things worked for me with this story. The lush, almost poetic descriptions of the vineyard that Devon truly brought the property to life. Rowan's use of plant behavior as metaphors for the ebbs and flows of life. The side characters and their contributions to the cozy big family dynamic. As someone who wants to be an OB, it was truly a pleasure to read Harry's love of helping women bring life into the world, the sorrows of patient loss, and his desire to change the framework of maternal health. Devon's ability to create two characters who are so three-dimensional and complex in a debut novel is beyond impressive. I will simultaneously savor and devour anything else she publishes. I don't foresee any other outcome than this novel winning the 2022 Goodreads Awards romance category by a landslide.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with a free ARC of this novel (released Aug 09, 2022) in exchange for an honest review!
This is it. This is a perfect book.
I am borderline obsessed with Rowan and Harrison. Jen Devon's writing is gorgeous, and her characters are so fleshed out and lively. What a beautiful romance that I already cannot wait to reread. I hope we see more of the Brady family. I cannot recommend enough.
Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC!
Wow, this book was STUNNING! There are so many things about this book to love. First (and most importantly), the romance. This was one of the most authentic romances I’ve read; there was nothing tropey about it. It was sort of a slow burn in the sense that the romance developed slowly over the course of the book but unlike some slow burns there were romantic developments and growth throughout the story (you didn’t have to wait til the end for the couple to get together). It wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows, and Rowan and Harry both had their flaws but loved each other despite it. Harry was all-in right away and Rowan was more reluctant, and both of them were haunted by issues from their pasts, and they had to work through that. It wasn’t all sensationalized romance, and I loved that; it felt real. There were some great steamy scenes that complemented the story but didn’t overwhelm it. I also loved how the author tackled Harry’s mental health issues. And that epilogue! <3
Second, the setting! The setting was like another character in and of itself. With the story taking place at a winery and Rowan being a botanist, the descriptions of the winery and the meadow and the greenhouse were just divine. I could imagine the setting so vividly and it added so beautifully to the romance.
Third, I loved the supporting cast of Rowan’s friends and the Brady family. They really added warmth to the story and I can’t wait to read more Brady family books (I suspect we’ll get one for Duncan and perhaps Malcolm).
I can’t recommend this book enough. If you’re looking for an emotional, genuine romance, this is for you. I just loved it!
This is my book of the year so far! I know, it's February, but I see this book keeping its top spot for a long time. I love everything about it, from the rich depths of persona and right struggles given to the characters to the transporting sense of place to the lovely dance of growing closeness. Devon has all of her instincts on peak performance and has written an immersive, UNIQUE story that's hard to come by these days. I loved it and am keeping this one to read again and again, just like I do with Eat Pray Love and everything by Sarah Addison Allen. Glad I 'found' this author.