Anything but Broken by Joelle Knox
Hannah Casey is back home under the worst of circumstances. Her father is dead and her mother dying. She can hardly walk into their home without choking on the secrets, grief, anger, shame and regret. She flees to the diviest of bars in her home town of Hurricane Creek to drown in drink.
Sean Whitlow never left Hurricane Creek. He took over his father's garage, and finds his thrills on the track. He knows more than most about secrets and griefs Hannah is trying to forget. He knows he should stay away but he cares too much about her even though loving her older sister nearly wrecked him.
Half-way into the first chapter of Anything But Broken, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make it. The issues Alcoholism, Bipolar disorder and Suicide have all affected my family and I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to nope out. But I didn't. Hannah and Sean's story while angsty was not sensationalized, it was familiar. I found myself nodding along as Sean and Hannah talked or avoided talking about something. Their conflicted memories, their anger, their frustration were all just right.
Also just right, was the conflicted sexual tension between Sean and Hannah. Both of them know well all the reasons they should stay far away from each other, the history that makes things awkward but the sparks and gut-tightening joy they have from flirting and bantering is too much. I believed their attraction and the tension they carry about it.
The pacing of Anything but Broken wasn't perfect. I think it lagged a bit in the middle but I was still engaged enough in the story to have to jump to the end at one point just to make sure everything was going to be alright. I am eager to read more in Hurricane Creek series. The town of Hurricane Creek was well developed and I loved the supporting characters, Gibbs and Evie and I'm eager to read their story.
Anything but Broken is a real change of pace from Donna Herren and Bree Bridges's other work as Moira Rogers and Kit Rocha of which I am a big fan. The sex is not as explicit or as central to the story, but themes of family bonds, of finding belonging and liberation from secrets are.
Anything but Broken will be out Aug 25th, 2015 at all the usual places. I received an advance review copy from the authors, Donna Herren and Bree Bridges.