Review: Broken Open by Lauren Dane

broken open by lauren daneFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Hurley Boys #2
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: December 1, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Beyond passion. And beyond their control…

Five years ago, Tuesday Eastwood’s life collapsed and left her devastated. After an empty, nomadic existence, she’s finally pieced her life back together in the small Oregon town of Hood River. Now Tuesday has everything sorted out. Just so long as men are kept for sex, and only sex…

Then she met him.

Musician and rancher Ezra Hurley isn’t the man of Tuesday’s dreams. He’s a verboten fantasy—a man tortured by past addictions whose dark charisma and long, lean body promise delicious carnality. But this craving goes far beyond chemistry. It’s primal. It’s insatiable. And it won’t be satisfied until they’re both consumed, body and soul…

My Review:

best kind of trouble by lauren daneI read Broken Open immediately after I finished The Best Kind of Trouble (reviewed here), and I have to say that I liked Open much better than Trouble. The crisis in both stories is precipitated by the guy acting like an idiot, but Ezra’s brand of idiocy in Open felt more organic to the character as he had been through the whole book. Paddy’s moment of complete WTF’ery in Trouble came out of left field (far left field) for this reader, but Ezra had been cruising for that particular brand of bruising throughout the book.

The relationship between Ezra Hurley and Tuesday Eastwood (nee Easton) begins in Trouble. When they meet, everyone can see the heat between them, including Ezra’s brother Paddy and Tuesday’s best-friend and sister-from-another-mother Natalie Clayton. It’s only a matter of time until these two get together.

Tuesday and Ezra are both equally wounded, and their very different wounds were inflicted at the same time. Five years ago, Tuesday lost her young husband to cancer. It’s taken all of those intervening five years to grieve, let go and start moving forward with her life.

Tuesday is not moving “on”. A part of her will always love the late and much-lamented Eric, but she’s still alive and starting to live again. Her late/ex in-laws are abusive pieces of work who want to hold her back for their own emotional gratification, and Tuesday is still in the process of kicking them to the curb. But her life continues, and the new, strong Tuesday is ready to make some changes.

Five years ago, Ezra was a rock and roll star on the road with his brothers, in their successful band Sweet Hollow Ranch. Then Ezra descended into heroin addiction and nearly pissed it all away. A year as an addict, a year in rehab and sober living, and the last few years producing the group’s music and otherwise sticking close to his family ranch. Running the ranch grounds him, and he needs that. Possibly he always will.

But Ezra and Tuesday are both ready to reach out for more than just a series of one-night stands. For both of them, their relationship is a second chance at life, not just love. The longer and hotter they burn for each other, the more they also get entwined in each other’s lives.

It’s not just sex, not that the sex isn’t fantastic. But Ezra and Tuesday fit each other’s broken places in a way that just works.

The problem is that while Tuesday has found happiness and healing in her growing relationship with Ezra, Ezra fears that he is substituting one addiction for another. He keeps walling himself away, fully convinced that Tuesday can do much, much better than a recovering addict and ex-rock star.

Tuesday finally has to tell him to either get over his shit and forgive himself, or just plain go so she can’t get over him. And just like his brother Paddy, Ezra very nearly blows his best chance at happiness by not getting out of his own way.

Escape Rating B+: A part of me wants to say that this is a “sex into love” story, but that isn’t quite right. Although Ezra and Tuesday’s relationship starts out with a lot of hot sex, that isn’t what really begins things. They have explosive chemistry from their very first meeting, and for a while they both resist it for very different reasons. At the same time, they keep running into each other because his brother is in a relationship with her BFF/house mate. They can’t avoid each other.

They are both realistically gun-shy of a relationship. Tuesday’s not sure she’s ready to open her heart again, and Ezra doesn’t think he deserves to be happy. So they ease into it slowly, using hot sex as a kind of emotional lubricant. Eventually they find themselves in so deep that there is no option but to admit that they love each other.

But while Tuesday has reached a place of healing where she is sure what she wants, Ezra backslides. He has a definite problem finding the line between doing things that feel good and doing things that feel too good. It’s part of how he got hooked. He’s afraid, realistically so, that he might have substituted an addiction to Tuesday for his addiction to heroin.

He also thinks he’ll be making up for his horrible mistakes to his family for the rest of his life. He doesn’t see, or can’t see, that he really has redeemed himself in their eyes. He feels as if his actions were unforgivable. But he is so unlike Natalie’s dad in Trouble. Her father is an addict who never sincerely owns his own actions, so he can’t get out of the trap of addiction.

Ezra maybe owns his actions a bit too much. He also, like Tuesday, needs to move forward from his past.

Ezra is very firmly in the mold of romance heroes who decide for their heroines that the woman can do much better than himself, and tries to asshole his way out of the picture. Of course it doesn’t work. Tuesday calls him on his shit. She knows she will survive if he leaves, but she’d rather he crowbar his head out of his ass and move forward with her. But she is willing to walk away if he won’t, and that felt right.

Part of the crisis in this story revolves around the parents of Tuesday’s late husband. They are slime. They alienated Eric while he was alive, and now want Tuesday to wallow in guilt because he’s dead. There is also a big dose of racism in their hatred of Tuesday. It was marvelous watching her stand up to them, and Tuesday’s mother reveals herself as a kick-ass heroine in her own right. Every daughter should have a mother like Diana Easton in her corner.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.
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