Bend Toward the Sun
by Jen Devon
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Pub Date 09 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 23 Aug 2022
St. Martin's Press, St. Martin's Griffin
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.
“Heart-warming, sensual, beautifully written.”—Ali Hazelwood, New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis
Two imperfect people. One year under the sun. A love story you won't ever forget.
Rowan McKinnon doesn’t believe in love. With a botany PhD, two best friends who embrace her social quirkiness, and some occasional no-strings sex, 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. When an academic setback leads Rowan to take on the restoration of a winery's abandoned vineyard, she relishes the opportunity to restore the grapes to their former glory.
She does not expect to meet a man like Harrison Brady.
An obstetrician profoundly struggling after losing a patient, Harry no longer believes he is capable of keeping people safe. Reeling, Harry leaves Los Angeles to emotionally recover at his parents’ new vineyard in Pennsylvania.
He does not expect to meet a woman like Rowan McKinnon.
As their combative banter gives way to a simmering tension, sunlight begins to crack through the darkness smothering Harry’s soul. He’s compelled to explore the undeniable pull between them. And after a lifetime of protecting herself from feeling anything, for anyone, Rowan tries to keep things casual.
But even she can’t ignore their explosive connection.
"A lushly drawn portrait of two people with a magnetic, soul-deep connection."—New York Times bestselling author Rachel Lynn Solomon
"A gorgeous love story full of lyrical writing and raw emotion."—New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 501 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.
If you told me I would've fallen in love with a slow burn romance novel with a FMC that's a botanist I probably would have laughed in your face. I requested this ARC on NetGalley because I found the author's unboxing video of this debut book so endearing. Her kids film the unboxing and interview her about the book and it was just the sweetest thing. I don't know, I just felt connected with something about her personality. Also, she had some Star Wars merch on the bookshelves behind her. So yea, I requested an ARC at that moment.
Last week, needing to make a dent in my ARCs, I picked up the book. I didn't really have any expectations and honestly, the book completely blew me away. I LOVED Jen Devon's writing. It is smart and gorgeous. The meet cute is fun and unique. I LOVED the main and the side characters. Mainly I just didn't want to put this book down. Rowan and Harry's story will stick with me. I loved it I loved it I loved it. If you're a fan of Chloe Liese's Bergman Brothers series, this book is for you! The MMC Harry is part of a big, lovable and meddlesome family. His parents are #relationshipgoals. I really hope we get a book for each of his siblings and their love stories!
This book was a FIVE STAR read for me, which is rare for me to give a romance novel. It's a MUST READ, I highly recommend you add it to your TBRs now!
Bend Toward The Sun will be out on August 9.
Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the eARC.
Bend Toward the Sun was a beautiful, emotional book, and I adored it! What a tremendous debut from Jen Devon! I love the style of this book. The writing had great pacing and a lyrical quality to it that made reading such a pleasure.
This book is Harry and Rowan's love story and it brings the romance. I loved their journey as they struggled against each other and then together to find the love of a lifetime. This book has such great character depth. Rowan and Harry are both broken and hurting people who have been bruised by hard circumstances in life. In addition to Harry and Rowan, this book features the most amazing family, the Bradys. They will win you over and you will want to move to Pennsylvania to live on their vineyard/B&B. I promise. It looks like we will get more of the Brady family with a few of Rowan's bffs in future books! I can't wait!
If you are a fan of Kate Clayborn, try this book out. They have similar poetic styles in their writing and tell beautiful stories with great emotional depth. I was utterly charmed by this story and am eagerly awaiting Jen Devon's next books.
Thank you to Net Galley and St. Martin's Press for the advanced e-book in exchange for my honest review!
I am in awe that this is Jen Devon's debut novel. It's a beautiful book with a cover that perfectly embodies the story within its pages. Rowan and Harry are very complex, two-dimensional characters who grew tremendously from the first page to the last. Devon has a vivid way with words, and the descriptions of the sights, smells, and feelings both characters experienced made me feel like I was right there. It's a quiet, tender story with moments of humor (often in relation to Harry's huge loving family) I loved this steamy and delicious romance and look forward to more from Devon!
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