Joint Review: Broken by Lauren Layne

brokenReviewed by Shelly & Carrie

Shelly: I dig scars. The more the merrier and if the story can somehow be tied to traditional fairy tale then sign me up. Broken is an upper socioeconomic Beauty and the Beast. I don’t make that assumption from the story line, but because Layne tells me this a few times. I wish I were told a few other things, but oh well. This is my first story by this author and it’s completely my fault that this story didn’t register as a YA; truth be told – I’ve read a few stories in the category and I’ve enjoyed them enough to not be so brazenly against them. So in I went with all guns a blazin’ – just ready to have my socks knocked off by this story.

Carrie: I’m with you, Shelly. I love a wounded warrior story. Something about a tough military guy having to deal with vulnerabilities just gets me going. I’ve read a few of Layne’s other contemporaries and I enjoy her writing.

This is her first New Adult novel. I did say in my little mini-review on GoodReads that I thought this book would be very polarizing because of the characters. Readers will have to get past the superficiality of the characters to enjoy the story.

Shelly: Twenty-two year old Olivia Middleton has dropped out of NYU in her senior year for reasons of her own. She’s from the upper crust of NY and has always been supported, both financially and emotionally, by her parents. She’s got a secret that she’s hiding and the only way that she can tolerate her own existence is to get away. Her parents’ idea of helping her to get away is to get her a job as a caretaker to a friend of a friend’s son, Paul Langdon. Twenty-four year old Paul is former military. His time in Afghanistan has earned him a few scars – on the inside and outside. In order to get Paul integrated back into society, his aging father has tried one caretaker after the next and he’s hoping that when Paul sees the beautiful Olivia he’ll be motivated enough to leave the house once in a while.

Carrie: Our hero has deep scars – a bum leg, half a mangled face and significant PTSD. Paul has essentially barricaded himself in his home after recovery from his injuries. Lest you feel too bad for him, his home is a mansion with a housekeeper, groundskeeper and caretaker. He has rare books and expensive liquor to waste away his days. All he’s required to do to get the full share of his sizable inheritance is tolerate his new caretaker for six weeks. Seems like a pretty cherry deal, no? Paul barely tolerates Olivia until she starts making him feeeeel things again.

Shelly: I’m not sure I liked Olivia. Sadly, I shouldn’t feel that way about the heroine. She came off as one dimensional – a rich girl playing at being a caretaker and not evolving. I expected some kind of redeeming quality that would make me either appreciate her efforts or at least understand where she’s coming from. I found myself feeling neither with her. Maybe it’s that I don’t understand the mindset that she had when it came to Paul because I’ll tell ya folks – she forgave everything nasty that Paul said and did to her. For someone who grew up with loving parents who seem to have shown her what’s right and wrong, I couldn’t understand how she could so easily accept Paul atrocious behavior – he was downright mean and unapologetic. Olivia’s short conversations with Paul’s house staff were just kind of randomly there. I’m not sure the purpose of them because every time Olivia has a conversation with Paul’s cook, Lindy, it was only to find out information about Paul – certainly not a ‘how are you? I’d like to get to know you as a person’ kind of thing. What a waste of character building opportunity.

Carrie: Olivia is where I think most readers will have trouble. She’s rich, aimless and self-important. I knew I couldn’t relate so I took the character at face value and was able to enjoy her better. She is pretty remorseful of her bad deeds and I think that’s why she let Paul rail on her in the beginning. I enjoyed reading Olivia’s evolution. I liked how she ended up. She might not be a cuddly character but I didn’t roll my eyes at her like I did in the beginning. I felt like she had a better head on her shoulders than Paul.

Shelly: You can probably guess that I didn’t like Paul. He was a jerk and a complete bastard to Olivia and really everyone around him including the same father who’s trying to help him. Initially, I thought he was just being mean to his father because of some not forgiven childhood drama that he suffered at the hands of his father but no, he was just mean to everyone and there’s nothing sexy about that. There’s a silly little side storyline that about his friend Alex and the care he’s providing to his daughter but even that didn’t make me like him. Probably if there was some kind of interaction between Paul and the child I might have started leaning towards liking him but nope, never happened.

Carrie: Yeah, Paul was a big fat jerk at the beginning. However, I always got the sense that he was more of a lion with a thorn in his paw than some feral animal. Life sucks when you are the entitled golden boy who has fallen off the pedestal. It takes him a while to reframe his new normal and never really gets over it completely. The main thing I didn’t care for was, once Paul allowed Olivia in, he became completely dependent on her. I would’ve liked to have seen more growth on his side.

Shelly: The chemistry between Olivia and Paul didn’t work either because I didn’t see how she could tolerate him enough to feel attraction much less the bedroom antics. What’s more is that the pacing of the story didn’t help endear the story either – I found it slow. There’s a lot of internal conversation and the POV was told from both Paul and Olivia that took a while to get used to. Overall, this was meh. Will I read any additional in the series? I probably won’t because although this isn’t a bad story it’s just not something that tickled my fancy.

Carrie: I thought the sexual tension between the two was pretty good. It had a tolerable level of angst given the hero’s issues but it wasn’t over the top. The sexual tension was good and the overall story was well paced. An epilogue would have been nice to show them a little farther down the road.

Happy Reading folks!

Shelly’s Rating: C
Carrie’s Rating: C+/B-

*ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon

by Lauren Layne
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Flirt

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