6/6/16

DOUBLE REVIEW + EXCERPT: UNBREAK MY HEART BY NICOLE JACQUELYN!!! <<---- FAVORITE READ!!

Title: Unbreak My Heart
Series: Standalone Novel
Author: Nicole Jacquelyn 
Release Date: June 7th, 2016!!
PURCHASE HERE: AMAZON

SYNOPSIS:
What do you do when your soul mate marries your best friend?
If you're Kate Evans, you keep your friend Rachel, bond with her kids, and bury your feelings for her husband. The fact that Shane's in the military and away for long periods helps-but when tragedy strikes, everything changes.
After Rachel, pregnant with her fourth child, dies in a car accident and the baby miraculously survives, Kate upends her entire life to share parenting duties. Then on the first anniversary of Rachel's death, Kate and Shane take comfort in each other in a night that they both soon regret.
Shane's been angry for a year, and now he feels guilty too - for sleeping with his wife's best friend and liking it . . . liking her. Kate's ability to read him like a book may have once sent Shane running, but their lives are forever entwined and they are growing closer.
Now with Shane deployed for seven months, Kate is on her own and struggling with being a single parent. Shane is loving and supportive from thousands of miles away, but his homecoming brings a betrayal Kate never saw coming. So Kate's only choice is to fight for the future she deserves - with or without Shane. . .
PURCHASE HERE:
I don't know where to start with this review. I have SOOOOO many thoughts. First, this book BLEW ME AWAY. It's a punch to the gut. A tornado of feels so palpable it's a physical experience. It's frustrating, infuriating, yet beautiful in its raw, gritty, and authentic intensity. It will steal your breath and break your heart. Every word is POWERFUL AND GRIPPING. 

Unbreak My Heart is a visceral experience. And as I sit here to write my review weeks later, I'm reminded of how much it rocked me as a reader. UNFORGETTABLE from start to finish, the ride was turbulent and utterly perfect. Without a doubt one of my most FAVORITE reads EVER! 

Kate Evans has always had a crush on Shane. They were best friends until that friendship crumbled without rhyme or reason. Shane had decided he could no longer deal with Kate. He ends up hooking up and marrying Rachel, Kate's college roommate and really good friend. **cries** Fast forward some time and Shane is now a father to four kids and Rachel has tragically passed away. The family is devastated by the loss and Kate, being the wonderful woman she is, steps in, taking care of those kids as if they were her own. 

I'm not sure how much more I should say. This book is full of so many twists and turns, I almost feel as if saying anything more is a spoiler. The blurb itself holds the perfect amount of information. 

This book should be experienced.
You should open it up and LIVE it. It's intoxicating. 

I'll say this about the characters though! Shane is an anti-hero at times. I can't express how much I wanted to cause him pain. There were times where I hated him. He destroyed me. Over and over and over again, I felt as if I had suffered physical blows from this man. I was in a state of frenzied anger for a good portion of this novel. But that anger was a deep hurt. I was wounded for Kate. I was broken for her. Everything she was going through, all the sacrifices she had made and continued to make for this man and his children, her selflessness, and what she got in return, burned me. 

I was incensed. 

Shane acted like a self-consumed, arrogant f-k. And Kate took what was given to her because she wanted to do the right thing. She was a good person. Now, don't get me wrong, she wasn't weak by any means. But she was definitely taken advantage of. 

This story is not easy. It's a tale of second chances, but it is gritty. It takes time to get to where it needs to be and the time it takes hurts so damn good. It's definitely hopeful and it's healing though! This novel speaks of forgiveness and redemption, of LIVING a FULL life after something tragic. 

I loved it deeply. 

I loved it even when I got to the point where I thought, "there is no way that this is going to work out! This is too much." 
I loved it even when I felt as if I couldn't go on. Even when I felt as if Shane was not someone I could root for. 
I LOVED it when I was frantically messaging a friend who had read it, saying, "There is no way he is going to be able to redeem himself. HE. IS. DEAD. TO. ME" ***laughs***

It was INTENSE. The connection I had to these characters was DEEP. I was soulfully invested in this story. I was overwhelmed in the VERY BEST way. I couldn't stop reading!!!!! I didn't want to stop!

I WAS CONSUMED. 

It's a beautiful book. I'm telling you, it transformed into something so wonderful by the end!!!!!!! I fell in love against my will. The anger dissipate and love was left in its place. These characters are truly enthralling!!!! They grow before your eyes. It's phenomenal. 

The writing. The pacing. The story. The dialogue. The sex. The everything. It's all so perfect. It's a perfect book that will hold you prisoner.

Nicole Jacquelyn SLAYED it. She wrote something that will go down as a book to remember. A story that you'll think about and recommend to everyone. I HIGHLY recommend it. To the angst reader. And the non angst reader. It's a standalone novel THAT NEEDS TO BE READ. 
It's just so good.

Angie's Rating:

"The friendship we’d formed as kids had deteriorated without my knowledge, and all I’d been left with was a stranger who ended up married to my best friend."

Nicole Jacquelyn just handed me one of my TOP FAVORITE reads of the year. If I made a checklist of everything I crave in a decadent storyline, this book would check every single box. Unbreak My Heart is a heartbreaking, heartwarming story of love and loss, healing and rebuilding that gripped me from beginning to end. I practically read this entire book with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Tears of heartbreak and loss, tears over the cruelty and madness that bleed from these pages, tears for the profound amount of love that exists between so many of these characters, inexplicable tears that only a mother can understand, tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears from laughing and hoping and feeling so much. This story is a relentless barrage of feels and I never wanted it to end. Jacquelyn crafts such an authentic storyline with such enigmatic characters and there's nothing contrived or overly dramatic about any of it in this book. I crave realism and this author delivered. This story is passionate and sexy but it's ugly and emotional all at once.

"I'd needed to get my head on straight. They were married. Married. And I was just the wife’s best friend. He might have been my friend first, but by that time he definitely wasn’t my friend any longer."

Kate Evans can't reconcile the friend she thought she had so long ago with the angry guy Shane has become and Shane can't reconcile his attraction to Kate with his guilt and profound love for his deceased wife. Now the two, who both infuriate and desire the other, are thrust into a messy family dynamic of caring for four children in the absence of their mother as Shane's imminent deployment looms. Shane's unrelenting resent and anger and Kate's determination to care for these kids despite how their father treats her collide to make for an addictive story fraught with angst and emotional turmoil.

"I didn’t want her, and she wasn’t mine."

One of my most favorite gems to find in a romance novel is a grade-A, defcon-5 level alpha asshole and Shane Anderson takes the cake. I'd love to say that he's excused from his behavior, from his cutting words and his insensitivity, what with being widowed with 4 small children and all, but he's pretty much been a jerk his entire life. And maybe we can't fault him for that either considering how he grew up. He's treated Kate like crap for years, since their brief friendship crashed and burned, and he married her best friend (which KILLS me, btw.) But mostly he's just a guy that was always a bit messed up who grew up to be a man further messed up by the loss of his wife. He's struggling with how to care for his kids, with the feelings he has for his wife's best friend, and he's hot tempered and sharp tongued and so caught up in his own problems, he doesn't see how his actions and words wound. He's cruel and self absorbed, and I both loved to hate him and hated to love him.

"I’d loved him from afar for most of my adult life, and while I didn’t see that changing anytime soon, I also didn’t expect that he’d ever return those feelings."

I don't think I could possibly love Kate Evans more than I did while reading this book. She's the perfect mix of vulnerability and strength. She's sensitive and real enough that I felt every one of her fears, her frustrations, the raw pain that gutted us both when Shane said something cruel or disregarded her role in the life of his family. And I felt every nuance of the hope and the lust and the agonizing love she felt for this man, even if it wasn't returned. But she is not a pushover. Kate is a real woman with backbone and balls and she doesn't let this man walk on her. She's such a refreshing personality and I just adored her.

I'm a HUGE fan of this author's previous work, I devour each new story eagerly. But this book is a gigantic change of pace for her, and with it I found a whole new respect and admiration for her writing and her ability to weave a dynamic, multifaceted, captivating story. Her biker series is one of my favorite series EVER, but Unbreak My Heart demonstrates her most polished writing to date, her most stellar storytelling yet. As I devoured this book, (because yes, I DEVOURED this book,) all I kept thinking was I DON'T WANT THIS TO END, I DON'T WANT THIS TO END, I DON'T WANT THIS TO END. I had to force myself to slow down, to savour every word, because this story is THAT addictive. From the beginning, and I mean the first page, I was hooked. The angst in this book was so deliciously crafted, the push and pull so exquisitely paced. That along with the raw emotions bleeding from these characters culminate to make for an unputdownable story that I could not get enough of.

Jessica's Rating:

I don’t remember the drive to the hospital or even where I parked that afternoon. I can’t recall what the nurse looked like as she searched for Rachel’s name in their computer system or the walk toward the room where I waited for someone to speak to me.
The first thing I remember clearly is the white-haired doctor’s kind face as he sat down across from me, and the young chaplain’s small smile as he chose the chair to my left. Their words became a litany that I would hear in my dreams for years.
My Rachel was gone, but her son was alive and in the NICU.
“Is there anyone you’d like for us to call? Any family or friends that you’d like to be here?”
The question jolted me out of the fog that seemed to be getting thicker and thicker around me. Dear God.
“I’ll make the calls,” I answered, looking blankly at the wall. “Can I have some privacy please?”
“Of course. I’ll be right outside if you need me,” the chaplain answered, reaching out to pat my hand. “I’ll take you up to the NICU when you’re ready.”
The room was silent after they left, and I fought the urge to scream at the top of my lungs just to hear it echo around me. I understood then why people hired mourners to wail at funerals. Sometimes the lack of sound is more painful than the anguished noise of a heart breaking.
My hands shook as I pulled my phone out of my front pocket and rested it on the table in front of me.
It only took a moment before the sound of ringing filled the room, and I rested my head in my hands as I stared at the name across the screen.
“Hello? Kate? What’s wrong?”
“Shane—” I said quietly, my voice hitching.
“What? Why are you calling me?” His voice was confused, but I could hear a small thread of panic in the urgency of his words.
“I need you to come to Tri-City Hospital,” I answered, tears rolling down my face and landing on the glass screen of my phone, distorting the letters and numbers.
“Who?” His voice was frantic, and I could hear him moving around, his breathing heavy.
“Rachel was in an accident.” I sobbed, covering my face to try and muffle the noise.
“No,” he argued desperately, as I heard two car doors shut almost simultaneously. “Is she okay?”
I shook my head, trying to catch my breath.
“Kate! Is she okay?” He screamed at me, his anguished voice filling the room as I’d wanted mine to just minutes before.
“No,” I answered through gritted teeth, feeling snot running down my upper lip as I heard him make a noise deep in his throat. “She’s gone.”
He didn’t say a word, and less than a second later, the connection was broken.
I rubbed at my forehead, trying to convince myself that it was all just a nightmare. Where was I supposed to be? What was I supposed to do now? My best friend in the entire world was there in that hospital, but not really. I couldn’t bear to see her. I couldn’t help her. Where the fuck was I supposed to go?”
I made my way to the NICU as quickly as I could, and within minutes, I was holding my new nephew in my arms. The nurses told me that he’d passed all of his tests with flying colors, and I was in awe as I sat down in a rocking chair, cradling him to my chest.
“You sure got a shitty beginning, little man,” I murmured against his fuzzy scalp, rocking back and forth gently. “I’m so sorry, buddy. You’re probably missing your mama and that warm bubble you’ve been in for so long. I can’t help you there.”
I sniffled, closing my eyes as tears rolled down my cheeks. My whole body ached, and even though I had that little boy in my arms, the whole day seemed like some sort of surreal dream, foggy in some parts and crystal clear in others. I wanted to hop up and take his sleeping, little form to Rachel, to tease her about the weird Mohawk thing he was sporting and make joking comments about how men always seem to sleep through the hard parts of life. I wanted to see her smile proudly at the sturdy boy she’d produced and grumble that I was hogging him.
I wanted everything to be different.
I hummed softly with my eyes closed for a long time, holding the baby close to me. It was quiet where we sat, nothing breaking up the stillness of the room until I heard someone open the door.
“There he is,” the nurse murmured from the doorway.
My eyes popped open to see Shane’s ravaged face just feet from me. He looked like he was barely holding on. I swallowed hard as his red rimmed eyes took in his son carefully before rising to meet mine.
“Is he okay?” he asked thickly, searching my face. I’d never seen him so frightened.
“He’s perfect,” I answered, my voice throbbing with emotion. “The nurses said he’s a rock star.”
He nodded twice, reaching up to cover his mouth with his hand, but before he could say another word, he was stumbling and falling to his knees with an almost inaudible sob.



Nicole Jacquelyn is the mom of two little girls and a full time college student. She hasn’t watched television in well over a year, she still does things that drive her mother crazy, and she loves to read. At eight years old, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she told people she wanted to be a mom. When she was twelve her answer changed- to author. By the time she was eighteen, when people asked her what she wanted to do with her life, she told them she really wanted to be a writer- but the odds of that happening were so slim that she’d get her business degree “just to be safe”. Her dreams stayed constant. First she became a mom, then she went to college, and during her senior year- with one daughter in first grade and the other in preschool, she sat down and wrote a story.

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