Wow, this book just blew me away. I knew from the start that it was going to be something special for me. I mostly read romance books, that’s not breaking news. And, Nicole Jacquelyn’s Unbreak My Heart isn’t unique to the genre in any sense of the word. Yet, from the moment the prologue started, I knew that I was going to be wowed. With every page turned, I waited to be disappointed by something, because that seems to happen a lot lately. It never happened. And, I found myself doing something I haven’t in a while: checking how much of the book was left because I didn’t want it to end, and not because I wanted to be finished.
At its core, this book is about family. It sets aside the traditional definition of the term and delves into what it means to be a family when blood isn’t shared. Kate Evans grew up in a home that her parents filled with foster children. Some left her life within weeks, others, like her adoptive brothers, Alex and Abraham, stayed forever. Her aunt and uncle couldn’t have biological children and did the same, creating an unbreakable bond between Kate, her brothers, and foster cousins.
Shane Anderson joined this group when he was 17, taken in by Kate’s aunt and uncle. He and Kate quickly became friends, and for Kate those feelings grew into something more. Unlike everyone else around him, Kate saw past the protective walls Shane had built around himself, seeing the man behind the armor. Her invasion too much for him, he pushed her away, using her best friend, Rachel, as a defense. He eventually falls in love with Rachel, they marry and have a family, leaving Kate as the odd man out. Despite this, Kate follows the family to San Diego, where Shane is stationed, and becomes his stand-in at home during deployments, helping Rachel when she calls and loving Shane’s children as if they were her own. When tragedy strikes, Kate and Shane are left to pick up the pieces.
It’s hard to know where to start. Anyone that reads this blog knows that I’m a bumbling fool when it comes to writing a review of a book I adore. I suppose it’s easier to be critical. Maybe it’s that there is so much about the book to say that I don’t know where to start.
Let’s give it a try.
I loved the characters. Kate quickly became one of my favorite heroines with the way she loves. She’s funny, sweet and sassy, and loyal. Loyalty becomes important because Shane is a lot harder to love. The more Kate pushed Shane to open up his heart, the more of an ass he became. A weaker woman would have walked away. Shane’s children light up every page they’re on, especially Keller, who serves as a parallel to Shane, the sensitivity that father and son share much more evident in the younger Anderson. Kate and Shane’s extended family stole entire scenes when they popped up, strengthening the feeling of family that infuses every page of Unbreak My Heart.
The story was amazing. You have two people who were family as teenagers, drifted apart as adults, and then find themselves forced to become a family again. That alone would have been a compelling story, but then throw in a deep-rooted love that had been ignored for so long… Well, now you’ve got a story bursting with gut-wrenching emotions that take your heart in hand, stomp all over it, and then piece it back together.
Then there’s Jacquelyn’s depiction of a military family. She nailed what it means for both the soldier and his/her spouse when a deployment occurs. There’s an unwritten rule that those that stay behind protect the person who goes to war from the stresses at home. Those left behind just handle it, which ends up giving the soldier a false sense of what actually happens when he/she is gone. Unbreak My Heart captures the essence of that so perfectly. Jacquelyn weaves this into her characters in a defining way, which is vital to the story.
I could go on and on. But, I think you should stop reading this, read Unbreak My Heart, and then come back and talk to me about it because I need to talk about these characters. I want to talk about how amazing Kate is, how Shane is such as ass, but he has so many layers to him that once they’re peeled away you understand why Kate put up with so much. I want to talk about how Kate demonstrates what it means to be a mother with such love and nurturing. And, I want to talk about how I can’t wait to read Change My Heart, book 2 in this series, that won’t come out to September. *Unbreak My Heart is a standalone. Change My Heart takes place in the same universe, just different characters*
5 Stars for Unbreak My Heart because I loved it and will read it over and over. Heat Level: 4
I received a copy of Unbreak My Heart through the Corvisiero Agency in exchange for honest feedback. (But it was so wonderful, I bought a copy in print!)
Unbreak My Heart was published in June 2016 by Forever Romance.
Nicole Jacquelyn started writing before she started elementary school, however she didn’t start publishing her stories until her senior year in college. Today, she’s the author of the best selling Aces Series and is currently working on her next series. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with two daughters and a pair of rambunctious Boxer puppies.