By Michelle Hazen
Author’s Website: michellehazenbooks.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
What could two troubled souls from different walks of life have in common? Maybe everything.
Andra Lawler lives isolated at her family’s horse ranch, imprisoned by the memories of an assault in college. When she needs help training her foals, she hires a Haitian-Creole cowboy from New Orleans with a laugh as big as the Montana sky.
LJ Delisle can’t stand the idea that Andra might be lonely—or eating frozen TV dinners. He bakes his way into her kitchen with a lemon velvet cake, and offers her cooking lessons that set them on the road to romance. But even their love can’t escape the shadow of what they’ve been through. Despite their growing friendship and his gentle rapport with the horses, LJ is still an outsider facing small-town suspicions.
Before they can work through their issues, LJ is called home by a family emergency. In the centuries-old, raggedly rebuilt streets of New Orleans, he must confront memories of Hurricane Katrina and familiar discrimination. And Andra must decide if she’s brave enough to leave the shelter of the ranch for an uncertain future with LJ. (Goodreads)
First off I must say – loved the name of the main female protagonist …. Andra. It was unusual for me to read a book where the main female character “my” name … especially as it is an usual name at that. Now the book character’s full name is Cassandra and mine is not, but for the majority of the time she was only referred to as Andra (except seven instances where her full name was used).
Unbreak Me is a love story, a story of overcoming immense pain from harm done to oneself by outside forces (a rape or a hurricane), a story of hope and triumph against adversity.
There are many hurdles to maneuver (east vs. west, black and white, north and south, different social statuses along with the darkness in each one’s past) in Andra and LJ’s path to happiness but through it, all humor and patience were very evident. Will there be a HEA (?) … only by reading this book will all be unveiled! It is worth the effort, that is for sure.
Prominent in the story is LJ’s mother, Rose. I just loved her! She was determined to prove to her son that even in sickness she could look out for herself. Her sense of humor added levity and made the many stories she told Andra about LJ’s past entertaining to read.
Of course, Andra’s father, add a layer of seriousness – being the overprotective father that he is. My appreciation and his likeability grew as I got to know the character more. He might be a “gruff” man, but he certainly loves his only daughter. Though I must say – I did feel for Andra as she felt stifled by her father’s controlling ways. But…the scene where Andra showed her backbone and finally realized she had to go after what she wanted was very powerful:
She pulled back and swallowed. “I didn’t come here to fight.” Her spine drew up tall when she asked it to, her body strong despite her lack of sleep. “I just wanted to say goodbye. I’ll call, but I’m not sure when I’ll be back.” She pressed a quick kiss to his cheek. “I need to start running toward something, Daddy,” she whispered. “Not away.”
One of the most poignant scene’s I found with respect to LJ is when he is describing how he got separated from his mother during the time of the flood for two months! With phones not working or charged, people getting relocated and then LJ coming back to where his mama was supposed to be (at the Superdome) and then finding she was gone a situation developed. As LJ was underage – he was taken into foster care. Now his mama was not familiar with the Internet, but certainly learned in a hurry in an attempt to find her boy. The author, Michelle Hazen, has done a splendid job of telling such a heart-wrenching story. I would imagine it is a fine line when telling a story of abuse in such a way that the reader feels the raw emotion but is not so affected by that emotion that they cannot finish the story. This was the first story that I have read by Michelle Hazen, and I truly hope not my last as she is an accomplished and engaging writer.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*