I was excited to learn that the writing team of Kit Rocha and Moira Rogers decided to make a foray into contemporary romance under the name Joelle Knox. The authors use different pennames so readers know what to expect in terms of content. So, even if Kit Rocha erotica isn’t your thing, a Joelle Knox contemporary new adult might be.
Hannah Casey never intended on returning to the small town of Hurricane Creek but a car accident that claimed her father and left her mother on life support, demanded her presence. The sad fact is that her parents would only care that she was there for appearance sake; not because there was any love lost. The entire focus of the Casey family has always been on outward appearances. While Hannah dutifully followed her parents’ directives, her sister, Cait, bucked all of them. Hannah was always envious of Cait’s ability to shrug off their contrived family and live her life, until Cait’s reasons came to light and left her dead. Family secrets that Hannah was compelled to keep and ignore kept Hannah from making any true connections with other people. Now, without friends or a sister or parents to manage her life, Hannah is rudderless and alone.
Sean Whitlow knows all about the Casey’s family secrets. While dating in high school, Sean always felt bad for Cait’s home life but was left exhausted with her volatile behavior. Cait was shipped off to a relative to avoid scandal due to her behavior shortly after they broke up and Sean still held a little lingering guilt about the way things ended. Sean is settled into his life well. He has a loving family and friends, a successful auto shop and a promising career in stock car racing. When Sean sees Hannah in the local bar, he knows he should stay away from the Casey crazy but the sadness that permeates Hannah just calls to him. Even with his best friend, Gibb, blocking him every which way, Sean is determined to show Hannah what love should look like.
The story is not so much dark as terribly tragic. Sean is, through and through, a nice guy who becomes Hannah’s north star. Hannah might be a little tough for readers to connect with because she’s really detached from the world at large for a large portion of the book. It’s almost heartbreaking to watch Sean’s family try to nurture Hannah. She’s like a starving person with their nose pressed to the window of a bakery – she just wants it so much. The thaw really begins when things heat up between the sheets. If you ever read Kit Rocha, you know that the authors can write some steamy sex. It’s emotional and hot and very satisfying.
The story is somewhat of a slow burn for the majority of the book. Then, around the 75% mark, serious bombs are dropped and issues mostly resolved in the last quarter of the book. I felt like it was a bit of a disservice to Hannah (and Sean) to gloss over their very heavy issues. I definitely felt the story needed a bunch more pages; even their HEA felt more like a Happy For Now. I hope to see the couple in future books progressing to a happier place.
Overall, I thought this was a very promising start to a new series. I enjoyed all of Sean’s family (sexy brothers FTW!!), his best friend Gibb and Hannah’s friend, Evie. I look forward to Evie and Gibb’s book next (the boy has ISSUES). If you are in the mood for a moody, angsty and sexy new adult with a heroine that is all kinds of dysfunctional and a worthy hero who provides a great balance.
*ARC provided by author
Click to purchase: Amazon
Anything But Broken
by Joelle Knox (Moira Rogers)
Release Date: August 25, 2015