Sunday, May 9, 2021

BROKEN by Lauren Layne




“Because I’m not meant to be with anyone. Not like this.”

Another romance but so much more!

When I first searched for a novel to read for November, I wanted to choose one with a veteran hero. So many novels have been recommended to me, and for that I’m super thankful, and this one landed in my iBooks just in time to remind me that so many factors contribute to a person’s development and that I will never fully comprehend the severity of what our freedom in America means to so many who have served our country with their time and their talent.

Paul Langdon is a wounded veteran. His journey from hotshot quarterback to scarred recluse is heartbreaking, especially considering his age–twenty-four– and the injuries sustained in Afghanistan, physical and emotional. While his father is financially supporting his recovery by providing a lavish home and caregivers, unless Paul can work through all his issues, he will continue on the path of brooding and self-imposed exile.



Olivia Middleton, twenty-two, has her own motivations for dropping out of school to care for an injured soldier, and those personal reasons remain even though Paul tries repeatedly to get her to leave him alone. She is stubborn enough to challenge him in a way the other caregivers he drove away were unable to do.

But this book–told in alternating first person point of views–is more than a love story between Olivia and Paul. At a deeper level, this is a story about how two people can work through their individual issues and end up better with the support of each other. In my opinion, what makes this book stand out as one of the best contemporary romance novels with veteran heros is the depth of each character and the realistic way the author tackles the all-too-real struggle of recovery from emotional strife.

“Why is it everyone seems to think that I was once fit to defend the country, but now I’m unable to make a sandwich?”

The humor was there in the banter between the characters, and the internal conflict facing both Paul and Olivia came across clearly in the tender moments that helped to heal each of them differently. The way the author tackles the early twenties, relationships, and communication issues is brilliant, and she takes the bitter, scarred veteran through all the emotional and physical stages of recovering from a trauma. One of the pieces of this novel that caught my heart was how, even though the author gave Paul many advantages–money, house, personal gym–it wasn’t until Paul had the right support system in place that he could start to manage his own overwhelming emotions. The author incorporates a beautiful attraction between the two main characters, and the intensity of the tragedy makes the likelihood of his recovery seem all the more challenging. But the way the story unfolds is a true testament to the talent of the author and her ability to write the stories that need to be told.

So many times I read a novel with a brilliant hook or unique blurb on the back cover, but it isn’t until I sink into the pages, that I find the voice of the author as key to how captivated I am by a story. This author has an amazing writing quality, and she’s on my auto-buy list.

Who is on your auto-buy list? Most of my auto-buy and auto-read authors are romance novelists, but I love finding new authors and new genres to capture my attention. For 2018, I’m looking to find a great series of three or more novels, where I can start the first book and not have to wait for the second, third, and fourth ones to hit the shelves.

In finishing this year, here are some of the upcoming titles I’m considering: “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng, “The Neighbor” by Lisa Gardner, “The Passage” by Justin Cronin, as well as some not yet released novels that will hit bookstores in January.

As always, thanks for your time!

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marisa Cleveland loves to laugh, hates to cry, and does both often. She has a master’s degree from George Mason University and joined The Seymour Agency after she ended an eight-year career teaching students language arts, grades 6-12. Previous to teaching, she worked as an assistant director for a graduate school in Washington, D.C., before settling in Southwest Florida over a decade ago. As a former gymnast, cheerleader, and dancer, she understands the importance of balance, and she encourages everyone to stay flexible. Cleveland is a Leadership Marco 2015 alum, and she loves connecting with other readers through social media. Though she’s a painfully private introvert, she can be reached through her website: or follow her journey on Twitter: @marisacleveland.

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