Unbreak Me

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 13 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

Unfortunately, I found this title problematic. I have been trying to read more diversely, but this really seems to be using a person of color as a main character in order to attract readers, rather than an authentic character. I believe that with a good sensitivity reader this title could've been better. Thanks for the opportunity to read it.
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Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra         

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*
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Andra has isolated herself on her families ranch after an assault during college has created fears of others. She is forced to hire a ranch hand to aid in training a horse. He is a kind man who doesn’t want her to isolate herself so he bakes his way into her kitchen and her heart. He is sadly called home by a family emergency. Will their love survive
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I was thinking a long time whether to even mention this or not - I know about the controversy around this book - I'm not going to comment on it but I'll say that I'm in no way racist but I don't agree with the majority of the points that have been brought up. I think we are all entitled to our opinion so I'll just leave it at that.

Anyhoo...

I loved the premise of this story and since I've wanted to read this author's work since A Cruel Kind of Beautiful I thought "no day like today." I don't regret this choice - UNBREAK ME is a tender love story about a gentle cowboy from NOLA and a Montana ranch heiress that explores racism, violence towards women and the healing that comes through love.

LJ was a beautiful character, friendly, patient but with enough grit to face the racism that he has to deal with on a daily basis. Through his eyes we get a glimpse of what it may mean for a POC to deal with racist offenses and you get a distinct feeling that it's only the tip of the iceberg. His gentle nature helps, his teasing and innate sweetness help Andra heal. His love for his mother and home was always present so it was understandable when he followed his intuition and went home when his mom's health deteriorated.

Since the assault Andra has become a hermit in a way. In a small town like hers everybody knows her story and it doesn't make for a good conversational topic. She feels alone, and after meeting LJ she starts to feel the loneliness even more acutely. His friendship means every day more to her and with that comes trust. But Andra also has to learn a thing about racism. While she tries to explain away some of the things that happen to LJ for a while it becomes clear to her at some point that racism should never be excused. I liked how she stood up to her father's bigotry.

Read this review for what it is - my experience with this book. I loved LJ and Andra's slow burn love story, that started out as a friendship and turned into a relationship that was first built on dreams but reality caught up with them fast and while the problems didn't go away, they learned how to deal with them. Together.

This book made me look at my own behavior and question a lot of the things I've ever said and done in my interaction with POC. I wish all of the issues touched in this story would have had more page time and depth - I think this is the only thing that didn't meet expectations completely, but it's a story that will definitely make you think. Add to that an achingly beautiful prose.

"I'm white, LJ. I never felt white until I was the only one who was, and it took me longer than it should have to admit I can't change all the things that means for us."
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Written with compassion, empathy and flair, Michelle Hazen’s Unbreak Me is a poignant, captivating, compelling and thought-provoking romantic read that will keep readers enthralled with a seductive blend of searing intensity, emotional veracity, heart-wrenching drama and steamy sensuality.

After suffering a sexual assault in college, Andra Lawler had vowed to never place herself in a vulnerable position ever again. Andra is perfectly happy to keep the world at bay by hiding in the shadows of her family’s horse ranch and not letting anyone or anything disrupt her safe and ordered life. Naturally wary of strangers and of opening herself up to other people, when she finds herself in desperate need of help for her foals, she finds herself having to hire a Haitian-Creole cowboy from New Orleans, little realizing that this cowboy with a laugh as big as the Montana sky is going to turn her sedate and comfortable life upside down…

LJ Delisle was immediately bowled over by Andra and he simply cannot stand the fact that she has barricaded herself in her farm and refuses to step out of the shadows and is content with cowering in the darkness. LJ wants to show Andra that there is more to life than eating frozen food in front of the television. As he begins to give her cooking lessons after wowing her with a lemon velvet cake, LJ and Andra begin to get closer and as their feelings for one another intensify, their attraction quickly gives way to something far deeper than either one of them ever imagined. But the trauma of Andra’s college assault is never far away…

As LJ and Andra find themselves caught up in a maelstrom of suspicion, discrimination and never-resolved feelings and emotions, they realize that the only way they can be happy together is if they take a leap of faith and find the courage to fight for the love of a lifetime. Is a happy ending for LJ and Andra possible? Or are there simply too many obstacles standing in their way?

Unbreak Me is not a book for the faint-hearted, but an intelligently written and smartly told romantic tale that is challenging and confronting, but uplifting and heartwarming. LJ and Andra are two terrific characters who are beautifully nuanced and wonderfully rendered. Their love story is tempestuous, funny, dramatic, emotional and spellbinding and one which is absolutely impossible to forget.

Michelle Hazen has written a book that will linger in readers’ hearts, minds and souls and have them eagerly awaiting the next captivating tale from this outstanding storyteller.
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***3.5 Stars***

I received an advanced copy of Unbreak Me from Berkley Romance via Netgalley. I also ended up winning a giveaway Michelle Hazen was hosting and received a signed paperback copy. Thank you to both Berkley and Michelle for allowing me to review this novel. I had initially intended to have my review up last month, but with life comes tragedies and let's just say, It's been a long month. All I can give you all is my honest unbiased opinion, so let's get started.

About Unbreak Me:

Unbreak Me is what I like to call a 'learning to live again' romance. Both main characters have had great tragedies that they have had to crawl their way through in order to come out on top in the end. It is also told from Andra Lawler and LJ Delisle's point of views. 

Andra has had a tough past. Five years ago she was kidnapped, handcuffed to a bed and held prisoner for nearly a day until she escaped her rapist. Now five years later, she's a shell of the person who she once was. She keeps to herself and barely laughs anymore, for fear something will trigger her anxiety and send her spiraling back into the black abyss of her panic attacks.

LJ Delisle is a new orleans city boy who has always dreamed of working and running a ranch. His passion in life is training horses and he's damned good at it too. So he decides to hop in his truck and travel up to Montana to achieve his dreams. But life isn't always as easy when you're surrounded by close minded people. 

When Andra first meets LJ, she instantly knows he's going to be perfect for the job. Not only is this man caring and soft spoken around her horses, but he's also gentle and his untraditional ways of training horses seems to be working in a short period of time. She finds him to be the perfect fit for her ranch. But not everyone is on board with hiring him, especially her close minded father. Because LJ Delisle is not only a city boy but he's also African American.

Unbreak Me is a story of two broken souls seeking out the person they are truly meant to be with, no matter the consequences and negative thoughts that surround them. The heart wants what the heart wants.

My Thoughts:

Michelle Hazen is a fairly new to me author. When I read the blurb for Unbreak Me I knew I needed to get my hands on LJ and Andra's story as soon as possible. I'm not that well versed when it comes to diversity in novels. It's something I plan on changing and something I want to read more of in the future. Multicultural relationships bring something new to the table where reading romance is concerned. Not only are there new traditions to be told, but there are new experiences to be made. The door is wide open and so many possibilities are in the air!

Andra and LJ's relationship started off extremely slow, but I found the slowness to be a breath of fresh air, especially given the fact that Andra was still internally suffering through everything that happened to her all those years ago. I'm really glad the author decided to take the slow approach to their relationship. From the start, LJ felt something in his soul that called to hers as their relationship grew and blossomed. All he wanted was to put a smile on her face and a lightness in her heart. He wanted her to open up to him and he wanted to be the man she could trust with all her secrets and all her pain. But with all great love stories comes even more tragedy. LJ and Andra are from two different worlds and were raised in two different cultures. But through all the trials and tests that were thrown at their relationship they always made it through.

She's country to his city.
He's the laughter that erases her pain.
She's the light at the end of his dark tunnel.

One thing I really loved was LJ! This man was a freaking sweetheart and he had the southern gentleman vibe on lockdown! I honestly couldn't get enough of this man. I could read several books based on his character alone if there were any. I just loved his overall attitude and the gentle way he was when Andra revealed all of her deep dark secrets..... I mean, the man handed her a screwdriver after she told him her traumatic story and it took all I had inside of me to not fall into a mushy puddle on my bedroom floor. He was the sweetest man and given all that the world threw at him and continues to throw at him on a daily basis, I admired this character trait. I loved his sweetness. 

Andra was a little harder to connect with, but given all she's been through, I can kind of understand why the author gave her such a closed off approach. When I eventually learned Andra's truths, I fully understood why I couldn't connect with her. It was in that moment that I felt her pain and her agony. It was absolutely devastating and LJ was the exact antidote she needed to get through all that pain she had built up. Little by little I watched both of their walls fall down. It was a special moment watching these two characters slowly fall in love through cooking lessons and training horses.

I love experiencing new cultures through reading books and internet research. It's something I have always been passionate about. So when I read that LJ was from New Orleans, I was ready for the culture and for my imagination to run rampant! I have always found the Cajun and Creole culture lifestyles to be fascinating. I do have to say, I had a small dose of the culture but it wasn't enough. I wanted and needed so much more. 

Given the fact that I really enjoyed Unbreak Me, I have unfortunately address a few plot issues. first of all, I wanted more New Orleans culture and I would have liked to have more of LJ's backstory before hurricane Katrina happened. I would have liked to view him as a little boy just to see where his love for horse training and ranching started. I needed those flashback moments, and I waited for them, but they sadly never came. I also would have liked more of a resolve between LJ and Andra's dad. I felt that relationship left off on a shifty note. Of course you can't change people's views and there's always going to be discrimination within closed minded people, but darn it, this is fiction and I wanted them to freaking hug it out!!!! How hard would that have been! I also would have liked to see Andra go through therapy, because obviously she suffered through ptsd in this novel and I would have liked that little tidbit to have been addressed.

But through it all I can say with an honest heart I really did enjoy LJ and Andra's slow burn romance.
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3.5 stars!

This is my first book by this author, an emotional and dramatic love story between two people from very different lives, but both struggling to move on from trauma in their pasts. With strong themes of trauma recovery and social inequality, this book is more than just a romance, and is a really well-written character-driven story that kept me engaged from start to finish. 

Andra Lawler lives and works on her family’s horse ranch in Montana. Still deeply traumatised by a terrifying assault that occurred five years previously while she was in college, she lives an isolated life where she mostly avoids the company of others – in particular, the presence of men outside of her family. 

LJ Delisle is a 28 year old Creole cowboy from New Orleans. He’s a man running from his past, and from the small-minded prejudices that he lives with as a 6’5” built, black man, but he’s looking to make a life for himself doing a job that he’s passionate about, and Montana and the Lawler ranch is the best place to do it. 

Andra and LJ don’t get off to the best of starts, but from the moment she sees him with her horses, she recognises him as a gentle soul, and she knows that he is the right man for the job. She advocates for him to stay, and he becomes a part of her everyday life, living and working alongside Andra and her family. It doesn’t take long for him to recognise that all is not well with his new employer, and he goes out of her way to befriend her, facing her issues head on and working to bring her out of her shell, and it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 

Despite their differences, and the issues that they are dealing with, there’s something very special about these two together. They both feel the connection, and LJ is such a sweetheart, with a cheeky wit and a sharp intelligence, it’s impossible for Andra not to fall for him, and I fell right along with her! He is gentle, kind and caring, and infinitely patient, and the progression of things between them is beautifully written. 

"His knuckles skimmed down the back of her arm so lightly that the rough yarn of her sweater woke up her entire body, her skin rippling with goose bumps. “Now that might be flirting.”
“Might be?” she asked breathlessly.
His breath stirred her hair, as if he’d bent a little closer. “Depends on if you want it to be.”

But all that they feel for each other isn’t enough to erase the pain of their pasts, and they have a lot to work through. It’s sad and it’s painful, and my heart ached for them, but wow, they handle it well! Patiently, openly and honestly talking about all that they are feeling and taking things slowly. But just when it seems like they are getting somewhere, a family emergency calls LJ home, switching the action to his New Orleans neighbourhood, still devastated by Hurricane Katrina, where he is forced to confront all that he has been trying to move on from. 

I really like the way that this book is very much focussed on the characters’ individual journeys, with the romance effortlessly blended into that. We have three stories which seamlessly intertwine as Andra and LJ share their pasts, leaning on each other as they deal with it and all the while falling harder and harder for each other despite it all. 

“I know it ain’t right, but I can’t stand the idea of letting you go so you can look for somebody better.”
“I don’t know what I need,” she said, her voice breaking. “But if it’s not you, I don’t want it.”

There is a strong focus on social themes such as racism, culture and class, and it’s really beautifully handled. I’m sure every country deals with its own versions of this, but I found it particularly horrifying reading about LJ’s experience, especially as he recounted the events that occurred during, and especially since, Hurricane Katrina. Hearing about it from his perspective and watching him still deal with the fallout and try to make the best life he can for himself against almost impossible odds is heartbreaking. 

“Look.” He held their hands up in front of her face, her fingers starkly pale against his. “Just look, for once. They’re never going to look the same. And when white people claim they’re color-blind, they don’t notice the difference, it’s a lie. My history is not your history; my culture is not your culture. I don’t want them to be. I’m proud of who I am and where I come from. All I want is to not be the last one rescued in a flood but the first one to wind up in handcuffs.”

It’s a really well written story with lots of heart and a beautifully sweet romance. I really enjoyed this one!

3.5 stars.
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One of the things that I love about this story is probably the fact that this is an interracial relationship that I don’t read a whole lot of, and I give kudos to Hazen for not just making a fluffy, light romance for two love interests who happen to be opposite races because these characters deal with … a lot. We get to see hints of the racism and prejudice that LJ experiences not just because of the color of his skin, but also because of his height, and we also get to see into what his life was like in New Orleans before he packed up and moved to Montana (which isn’t exactly inclusive of other races). I love how LJ and Andra are together, especially once LJ manages to make her feel comfortable in his presence after their disastrous first meeting.

The thing is, however, I didn’t think I would ever be someone who would jokingly hold a fifth star ransom until something happened, and then that joke became a real thing because I feel like, in regard to Andra and her kidnapping and rape, I really dislike it when the male love interest appears to be the cure-all for a woman’s anxiety regarding sex. Like I said, it started off jokingly in my head because Andra would say something and I’d just be like, “Girl, therapy,” and then kind of laugh at my poor joke, but then the more I continued to read, the more that, “Girl, therapy,” became, “Girl, if you don’t get therapy for this, I swear to God.” She mentions early on that she saw a therapist during the trial of her kidnapper and rapist, but there was never anything else indicating that she continued seeing someone, unless I missed something.

It wasn’t just Andra that I wanted to seek therapy, either. LJ has anger issues, and there was a scene in this book that had me a little fearful for Andra, even if I could kind of understand the point that he was trying to make. Still, though, as much as Andra needs therapy for all of her trauma, LJ is described as someone who’s always had a short fuse since he was a kid, always easy to anger, and by the end of the book I just wanted to reach through my Kindle, grab his shoulders and say, “Dude, if you don’t go into anger management, I swear to God.”

I love these two characters together, but my god, they were also kind of exhausting to read because I just wanted to hand out therapy sessions to the both of them. How the story ended was pretty happy and some compromises were made, but I feel like it was wrapped up a bit too nicely for my taste. Which is funny that I’d dislike it because I am someone who loves happily ever afters, but I just wanted a little something … more, I guess.
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WOW! Michelle Hazen, Author of “Unbreak Me” has written a powerful, captivating, intense, intriguing, and emotional story. The Genres for this story are Multicultural Interest, Romance, Contemporary Fiction, and Fiction. There also are some Historical Facts that are true in this story. The story is set in two places, Montana, and New Orleans, and set in the present and goes to the past when it pertains to the characters or events in the story. The author describes her dramatic cast of characters as complex, complicated, and flawed.

Angela Lawler, a young woman that owns a horse ranch in Montana, hires LJ Delisle, a “Haitian -Creole” “cowboy” who comes from New Orleans. Angela is subject to panic attacks after a traumatic incident happened in the past. LJ also has some traumatic and emotional history.  LJ proves to be sort of a ‘Horse Whisperer”, and is very good with the horses. He also is a great cook.

Just as LJ is great in breaking the horses, he seems to have a calming effect on Angela and becomes a trusted friend. LJ feels like an outsider as he is doesn’t feel welcome with the other people on the ranch.  The two start to become close, but a major family problem causes LJ to have to return to New Orleans. Is there a chance that Angela and LJ will ever be together?

In New Orleans, LJ is reminded of the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, and how it destroyed so many families. In New Orleans, there are areas where law-enforcement will question what he is doing because of his color.

I appreciate that the author discusses important and “heavy” topics like equality and discrimination, assaults, kidnapping, trauma, and panic attacks. The author also talks about the importance of family, friends, emotional support, love and hope. This is a thought-provoking and emotional story that I would highly recommend.
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This is not a book I can recommend overall, despite some of its beautiful parts. The protagonists, in themselves, are lovely people. The author does a good job of showing how the heroine has survived her trauma by making her life very small and how the hero is a man of sensitivity and care, whether it comes to spooked horses or traumatized women. Some of their moments together are really sweet.

The two protagonists  have so much stacked against them and they're dealing with so much and yet managing a love story, which is admirable. And yet, the author doesn't convincingly show how they're dealing with all the trauma and arriving at their HEA.

Here are some of the other problems in the book:

-Lyndon B. Johnson was a racist. No Black parent would name their child for him. This is not plausible..
-There was some confusion on part of the author about Haitian and Creole culture and the Haitian Creole language and conflation of the two.
-Calling Lupus backwards AIDS is offensive. While, yes, the way the autoimmune diseases react are different from each other, but they are not related and that depiction is a bad choice.
-Rape survivors suffer from PTSD and it takes years of gradual recovery. Nothing happens in one fell swoop, not even exposure therapy, which is how some authors show it with sex scenes between the heroine and hero. One sex encounter isn't going to do it. 
-The overall tenor of how the white heroine deals with being in primarily black neighborhoods of NOLA leave a bad taste in the mouth and borders on racism.
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Two lone souls, both fighting PTSD for different reasons. Andra Lawler is a victim of date rape in college and has holed up on her family's Montana ranch, training horses and staying away from anyone, being babied by her family and the mostly female staff at the ranch.  LJ Delisle is a Haitian-Creole horse trainer from New Orleans, still suffering from flashbacks of the terror of Katrina.  Andra has panic attacks when something trips her memories of being kidnapped and tortured, LJ panics during heavy rainstorms. 

LJ decides that Andra is too young and pretty to spend her life in hiding and sets out to help, baking her cakes and teaching her how to cook. Unfortunately there are more serious issues: he's black and not rich, she's white and is wealthy, just for a start. Just as they're starting to realize their friendship is more than just that, he's called home to New Orleans to help his ill mother. .Andra has to decide if she's strong enough to leave the safety of her home to follow him, not knowing what their future will bring.

These are two likeable, strong characters who face their fears and the discrimination issues and come out on top. .
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Andra has essentially become a prisoner on her family’s ranch and even though she doesn’t live there alone, she is lonely.  She has never fully healed from an assault that occurred years earlier and because everyone in town knows what happened she feels that they look at her differently.   The only thing that brings her comfort are the horses.

L.J. has a painful past of his own and can relate to feeling like he is on the outside looking in.  He has recently started working on the ranch and connects with Andra over her love of horses.   With her he senses a  kindred soul and when they are together they bring each other a peace that they never expected but both desperately need.

I really enjoyed both these characters as they have both endured so much.    LJ is so patient and understanding with Andra and knows that her trusting him is the greatest gift he can receive and he helps her find the strong woman that she thought was gone forever.
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A bold, socially-conscious contemporary romance novel that explores everything from race, culture, and social status in the midst of an emotional love story between people with darkness in their pasts. The characters in this story just broke me down and built me back up while reading it. Beautiful!

Andra Lawler lives an isolated life on a horse ranch her family owns in Montana. Though her life seems lonely, Andra finds that the only time she feels free from the anxiety and panic attacks that plague her are when she is out on the ranch with the horses.

Nearly five years earlier in college Andra was kidnapped, drugged, and assaulted. With the details of her attack splashed across the headlines, Andra has never been able to escape it. Andra’s pain makes others uncomfortable. Even her own family doesn’t know quite how to treat her after those horrible events.

When Andra needs help to train her foals, she hires a Haitian-Creole cowboy from New Orleans named LJ Delisle. LJ has always loved horses, but opportunities to train them are scarce in New Orleans. When he makes the decision to pursue this opportunity and leave behind his ailing mother, he never expected to meet someone like Andra.

As LJ slowly breaks down Andra’s walls through his care of the horses, his excellent home-baked goods, and his affable disposition. But LJ has his own dark past he is working to hide. And the people in their small town don’t fully accept him.

Their friendship develops slowly—they are two damaged souls who may be just what the other needs to heal. But as things between them become more solid, an emergency in New Orleans causes LJ to return home. Andra is learning to trust men again, but has she healed enough to leave the safety of her family homestead and follow LJ?

This book wrecked me in a beautiful way. This is not your average light-hearted romance. If I’m honest, I don’t even know if I’d put this in the romance category, though it certainly fits there. I felt this book was so much more!

There is a darkness to both Andra’s and LJ’s stories. These are two individuals who have taken a beating by life. The themes of this book are authentic and handled with dignity and raw authenticity. Everything from the challenges they face being an interracial couple to Andra’s assault, to living through the trauma of something like Hurricane Katrina were told in a way that showed the struggle and the reality, without being unnecessarily salacious or provocative. These are examples of the sort of struggles that may underlie many people. Some we don’t even know.

One interesting thing about LJ was the way he seemed good-natured, fun, and light. And he is those things. But because that is what he presents to the world, many may not look deeper and see the full experience of him as a person. The pain, shame, strength, and vulnerabilities he carries.

Andra was another wonderful character. I though the author did a truly fantastic job showing how trapped she is psychologically by what she has gone through. How those around her experience both the desire to help her heal, but also the fear that they don’t understand how to approach her. This leads her to feel even more alone. 

But let’s end as the book does with the theme being healing, love, and accepting others fully. A beautiful message for a beautiful book.

Thank you Berkley for my copy. Opinions are my own.
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I ADORED this book! I couldn't read it fast enough. Both Andra and LJ had something terrible happen to them. They'd both tried to move on, but the trauma was always there. Both had very different ways of recovering. LJ is the kindest, gentlest man and yet his size was intimidating to most. I enjoyed the way he took care of Andra, but didn't baby her. Both had very different backgrounds but their friendship took hold and I enjoyed watching things transpire. I liked the way Michelle brought to light real events and the way in which she told this story. It was heartbreaking but endearing and sweet at times, too. It was a beautifully written story and I can't recommend it enough! Please do yourselves a favor and don't miss this book!
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A Haitian-Creole cowboy from New Orleans comes to work on Andra Lawler’s family ranch in Montana.   How different can their lives be?    Can they overcome all the obstacles in their way and find happiness?     There is much for them to overcome but doing so could bring them so much happiness. 

I love the setting of the beautiful ranch.  I could hear the quietness of the ranch while picturing the ranch hands hard at work mending fences, breaking horses, and doing all their other chores.   It is a place of comfort, peace, and family.   

LJ comes to the ranch to work and the first thing he sees in Andra.   The attraction between them is felt instantly and Andra is frozen with panic.    Their relationship has many obstacles the least of which is their different skin color and different upbringings.    Andra’s dad sets the tone for the things to come for these two and I instantly knew it wouldn’t be easy for them.   I loved how LJ took his time with her but didn’t treat her as being fragile or breakable.  He flirted, he spent time with her, but he understood that he needed to tread lightly or he’d scare her away.   

Unbreak Me pulled me in with the sweet story of LJ and Andra while bringing to light how difficult being together can be for some people.    There are real-world problems mixed in with the fear of opening your heart within this book.
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3.5 Stars

Reading's been tough for me lately. Not much catches or keeps my attention. Hell, I tried to start 2 other books after this one and DNF'd with in 15 minutes. 

I really liked Unbreak Me. It was a moving story, filled with many heavy topics. Having a son who dates interracial, I was able to connect to LJ and Andra on a more personal level and understand some of the struggles, feelings, and prejudice they both faced. 

For me, LJ made this book. I adored the hell out of Andra, but I absolutely FLOVED LJ. His nature with both Andra and the horses really endears a reader to him. His gentle soul will quickly win you over, leaving you devouring the pages. 

Do know that this book tackles racism, prejudice, kidnapping and sexual assault, and the survival/destruction of Katrina, focusing on the Ninth Ward.
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Sometimes you discover a book and it surprises you in the best way possible. For me, this was one of those books. After reading Andra and L.J.'s story my heart is lighter but my mind is full. I thought that this was such a beautiful and powerful romance. The storyline is a cleverly crafted blend of touching romance, harsh realism and timeliness. The characters and their story are very complex. Each has a painful past, has endured trauma and now they carry with them the baggage that resulted from having survived to tell the tale. These issues and raw emotions weigh heavily into the story and you can easily see that they have played a huge part in shaping who they are and how they see and deal with the world. There is so much here that will make your heart ache at the unfairness and injustices but also bright, shining moments of the good things in the world that give us all hope to keep going and maintain the belief that things will get better. This is not always an easy read simply because it often strikes too close to home to be so. In my opinion though it is so worth every moment of unease to experience such a memorable and moving romance.
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A quiet gem…

I heard cowboy and, of course, I pounced immediately. What I received was a man who was that and so much more in a layered story that will be with me for a while…

LJ was an intriguing character. On the outside, he was full of laughter, always ready for a dirty joke or a teasing comment. Underneath his go lucky exterior, however, was an insightful, caring man who loved fiercely and protectively, and was completely aware of the often harsh world he lived in. He also knew his way around the kitchen, was straight up cowboy sexy and had a southern drawl… 

Andra could have been the spoiled rancher’s daughter but instead she was a down to earth and hard-working former rodeo queen. Her fairytale life was altered forever by an assault that she still dealt with, the trauma rearing its ugly head whenever it wanted. Hiding, buried in work, she kept herself aloof from a world that refused to let her move on. LJ was a breath of fresh air as he treated her not as a victim but as a survivor. A flesh and blood, normal woman…

LJ ruffled her feathers and everything else, as his presence stirred up emotions and feelings in herself, and others, that opened up Andra’s eyes as well as my own. Their relationship, their love, opened up a powder keg of conflicting priorities and racism that bubbled just under the surface. The author schooled me, and Andra, on these harsh realities through the devastating simplicity of it all…

With Wyoming and New Orleans as beautiful backdrops, their journey was in parts an education but also a testament to the resilience and power of humanity and love. A new author to me, she has left me with a story I won’t soon forget…
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I'm writing this review on the eve of it's pub date, even though I read it in March (free thanks to NetGalley in exchange for an honest review), but I am still thinking about this book.

Unbreak Me is a cathartic love story about two people coming together to help each other heal from traumas so embedded in their respective identities that the wounds have never quite closed. Andra is a female rancher, a part of a small community that has never forgotten the abduction and assault she survived in her college years and suffers resulting PTSD. LJ is a black horse trainer from New Orleans who moves to Montana for a fresh start but can't ignore the pull from his home and family who are still struggling years later after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Both characters are beautifully strong and flawed in their own ways and the author is so good at writing interesting characters. I admired Andra and adored LJ. He really does steal the show for me. He is such a softie, and is a great example of male romantic lead who is made sexier by the fact that he's a respectful, sweet guy who does the right thing, loves his mama, and wants to help people for nothing in return. Not to mention the whole jazz playing, lemon cake baking, horse whispering gorgeous man he is.

My other two favorite things about this book besides LJ in all his glory are the settings and quiet intimacy of the story. A horse ranch in Montana and a neighborhood in New Orleans almost feel like characters themselves because of the way Andra and LJ are so connected to their homes. Andra and LJ have very different backgrounds and perspectives. The book is set in both places and both characters take a turn feeling like an outsider in the life and home the other has established. But they learn from each other, and I just loved their story so much.

Definitely do not pass this one up
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3.5 stars
This was a very ambitious story mixing pain, loneliness, racism, interracial relations and love. We have two people who are drawn together against all odds and they are the one safe haven for them. 
They have to overcome parents, small-town minds and the internal pain they still have from their own demons. 
An interesting idea.
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