Madison Kennedy has always seen herself as damaged goods. Her ex-boyfriend, Richard, told her on a daily basis that she was worthless. After a tumultuous three year relationship, Maddie finally decided to leave behind the bruises and hurtful words only to find herself scared and alone. Five years have passed, and it still seems like yesterday.
Cole Walker grew up in a household where it was okay to hit. His father used him, his mother, and sister as punching bags when he didn’t get his way. Cole learned early on that life wasn’t always fair. Aside from his best friend, Wes, no one knew his deepest secrets. He thought he’d never escape the nightmare until one day he decided to fight back.
After several chance encounters, Cole and Maddie realize they have more in common than either one could have guessed, but both are afraid that if they open up they’ll scare the other away. Can two broken individuals find peace with each other? Can love heal a cracked soul? Will Cole’s secret past ultimately drive Maddie away?
This book is recommended for readers 18 years or older. It contains adult content, profanity, and graphic sexual encounters.
Madison is a woman still trying to heal after leaving an abusive boyfriend five years ago. Cole is a man who has successfully turned his life around despite being abused as a child. To be honest, I do not usually go for a story with these types of characters. Domestic violence and child abuse are certainly triggers for many readers, and it was difficult getting to know what this couple went through before meeting each other. That said, I liked that we are introduced to Maddie and Cole as adults, and it is through flashbacks and private conversations that we learn their histories.
When we meet Maddie, she is an introverted veterinarian. Cole is a cocky personal trainer at a local gym. They first cross paths at a dog park, and their friendship begins as they run in to each other around town. They are certainly opposites. Their friends Erin and Wes help facilitate their relationship because they sense Maddie and Cole make a good match.
Maddie takes self defense classes from Cole, and it is through these lessons that she begins to let him in – which is very difficult for both of them. She has serious trust issues and doesn’t like being touched and he is smitten from the get-go and is incredibly patient as she very slowly lets her guard down. His persistence and ability to not take her actions personally are just what she needs to gain traction in their relationship. Once they get there, however, it is a sweet romance and you sincerely root for them. Just as things look good, their pasts come back to haunt them to threaten what took so long to build. Irreparably Broken ends in a cliffhanger, and I will be reviewing Book 2, Saving Us, later this week.
Overall I enjoyed this story of broken people helping each other heal and find love. There are things, however, that didn’t sit well: mistakes in spelling, grammar and missing/wrong words always make me pause, and the disruption to the narrative is disappointing. Also: I had a hard time connecting with Madison. She is a good depiction of abuse victims unable to trust others; her defensive attitude, speech, stance and actions are a constant throughout the book. The crippling fear she has of dating drives her personality. While her back story certainly explains it all, I found myself frustrated with her the majority of the time for failing to give Cole the benefit of doubt. This made their love story start and stop repeatedly – while this is authentic, it is also wearisome in a contemporary romance. Lastly, there are chapters that tell the same scenes from different points of view. I usually enjoy that, but the dialogue between Madison and Cole is identical each time. It feels too much like déjà vu instead of a new perspective on a conversation.
These opinions are my own, and other reviewers disagree on these points. I encourage you to read the book for yourself. Taken as a whole, I found this book to be a good story about the power of love to heal broken spirits. It is a good illustration of how people overcome fear, doubt, guilt, and pain to find hope, joy, life and peace.
Heather D’Agostino is the author of the Second Chances series and the Shattered Trilogy. She writes contemporary and new adult romance set in Boston and New York. Heather has always enjoyed creative writing, but never pursued it as a career option. Born and raised in Harrisburg, NC she received a BA in Elementary Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. After teaching for six years, she decided to leave the profession to be a stay-at-home mom. After finding the world of Fan Fiction, Heather decided to “get her feet wet” in the literary world. With much encouragement and inspiration from the Fan Fiction world, she made the decision to publish her work. Heather prides herself in the fact that the books in the Second Chances series have real life situations with believable characters. These characters could be your best friend or your next door neighbor. Her first book, Unbreak Me, has been welcomed with open arms into the self-published community giving her the encouragement needed to continue to pursue this dream. Heather currently lives in Syracuse, NY with her husband, two children, two dogs, and three cats. She enjoys spending time with her family, watching sports, and playing chauffeur for all her children’s activities. You can follow Heather on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/H.DAgostino.Author or at hdagostinobooks.weebly.com