Berkley / August 5, 2014 / $5.99, digital / $7.99, print
Amber Jameson has always thought of her best friend Cade as an older brother. A really hot older brother. But growing up in foster care, she learned to rely only on herself. As much as she likes stealing glances at Cade’s chiseled jaw and painted-on jeans, she resents the way he swoops in like a superhero to fix things for her.
When former rodeo rival Jim Davis starts harassing Amber to sell her grandfather’s failing ranch, Cade swoops in once again. To send Jim on his way, Cade pretends to be Amber’s boyfriend, moving in to help fix the place up. With her grandfather behind the idea, Amber and Cade have to keep the charade going—whether she likes it or not.
But as their make-believe romance starts to heat up, maybe Cade and Amber will learn to admit that they both could use a little saving…
Lately, it seems that the romance genre has seen a lot of broken and dark characters. Perhaps we all want a little more gritty reality with our romance. Even in the small town of Silver Creek, full of sexy cowboys and ranchers, we can’t escape our pasts.
Maisey Yates’s most recent novel, Unbroken, continues the story of the Mitchell clan in Silver Creek. Sexy former rodeo star Cade Mitchell has always turned to his friend Amber in times of trouble, but now, when Cade realizes he may never ride again, he is beginning to realize that he feels more than just brotherly affection for her. When he pretends to be her boyfriend to head off harassment from another man, and then Amber’s grandfather buys into the plan, he ends up staying at Amber’s – indefinitely.
It’s a recipe for disaster…or for some really hot scenes.
Cade’s dialogue draws you in right from the start. He’s broken, physically and mentally, but he still speaks with a very distinct cowboy swagger. There is an utter realness to the exchanges between Amber and Cade that have you believing these two could walk right off the page and into real life..
What drew me most into this novel, though, was Amber’s story. Feisty and smart, she is also struggling with the pain inside. She made some mistakes in her past, and we are introduced to them very early on. But she doesn’t flinch from the decisions she made at a young age.
Amber picked up a cue and started chalking the end. “Your balls are mine, Mitchell,” she said, the light in her eyes utterly wicked.
“Whose balls haven’t been yours?”
The taunt didn’t come from Cade’s mouth, and it has him on edge instantly.
Mike Steele. Standard Grade A douche who worked at the mill.
Cade opened his mouth to tell them to back down, but Amber had already whirled around, the end of the pool cue smacking sharply on the floor, the tip held up by her face.
“Can I help you, Mike?” she asked.
“He’s just sayin’,”douche number two said, “you’re like the town mare. We’ve all had a ride.”
Cade saw red. Death and destruction flashed before his eyes, but Amber barely blinked.
“Come on now,” Amber said, her tone completely cool, “official rules say there’s no score if the cowboy can’t stay on for a full eight seconds. And if I recall right…you didn’t.”
“You stupid slut–“
It’s not a standard opening to a romance novel, and is all the more appreciated because Amber makes no excuses for her past. Instead, she takes control of the situation herself, and tells Cade that the guy was not worth the inevitable fist-fight, that he needed to “just let it go,” as she pretends to have done.
But while Amber may pretend at indifference, inside she still feels as if the past has followed her. She tries to rationalize what happens between her and Cade:
And the truth was ugly and painful. And it made her feel like she was being scrubbed raw.
But her own version of the truth wasn’t any better.
“I was feeling really sad,” she said. “I…I mean, I haven’t done that in a long time, but that used to be my preferred method of coping.”
“Yeah. Because…because life is hard, and it’s less hard when you can pretend you feel close to someone.”
He frowned. “We are close.”
She must confront her past if she wants to have any hope of being the person she needs to be. It makes her character that much stronger when she does decide that she wants more from Cade.
…”I don’t want us to just use each other to scratch an itch either. I could have done that with..any guy. I have done that with any guys. It’s not satisfying. It doesn’t meet the real need. So I’m not going to pretend you’re someone else., or to pretend you aren’t my friend, Cade. You are. And that’s why the sex is so damn good. Because you know me. Because I know you.”
Amber is very complex, as any real person is. Though she knows she has to work on what is “broken,” inside her, she also doesn’t believe that she is only her past:
“I’m defined by it, as far as other people are concerned.”
But she is very clear that she doesn’t “define me by it.”
Unbroken gives us more than just a simple, fluffy, heroine and hero. The chemistry between Amber and Cade is all the better in that both of them have suffered and come out the other side. We root for them to find their happy ending together.
Learn more about or order a copy of Unbroken by Maisey Yates, available August 5, 2014:
Erin Moore writes sensuous and transportive paranormal romances, and is slowly dipping her toes into the world of historicals. She is so grateful to love her job. Living in Atlanta with her husband (who believes he should be the model for all of her covers), her two little boys, and one unruly dog, she finds her inner peace by meditation and writing. Chocolate and good tea are her only vices. Find her most often on Twitter! She's also on Facebook and Goodreads.