Anything But Broken is the first book in the Hurricane Creek series written by the writing duo known as Joelle Knox. This writing team, Donna Herren and Bree Bridges, also writes under the pen names Moira Rogers and Kit Rocha. They are the ones (writing as Kit Rocha) behind the fantastically creative, raunchy and gritty dystopian world found in the Beyond series, one of my all-time favorite series ever. While this the first venture into the NA world for these authors, do not go in expecting to find their signature stories filled with risqué sexual adventures where anything goes. What you get is a heart-felt and emotional story that deals with some very real issues about the harsh realities of adolescence in a raw, honest and open manner. This is nothing like what has come from this pair of authors previously; however, it proves that Ms. Herren and Ms. Bridges can write the heck out of a NA story and they seem to have a flare that transcends genres.
Hannah Casey has returned to Hurricane Creek to deal with the death of her father and hospitalization and impending death of her mother after five years of being away. She’s been gone since the age of fifteen and returning to the small town and having to deal with ghosts from her past may be more than Hannah can handle. She’s led a life trying to fit into the mold her parents have created. What direction will her life take now that she is all alone, with no family, and with no one to please?
Sean Whitlow is a Hurricane Creek native who owns an auto repair shop and who is also the stock-car racing champ of the local racing world. Sean also knows all too well what getting involved with one of the Casey girls entails so when Hannah Casey comes back to Hurricane Creek he knows he should stay far away from her. However, seeing that Hannah has absolutely no one who is standing by her during one of the most difficult times in her life, Sean can’t help but reach out her despite the fact that she is the sister of his dead ex-girlfriend. He can’t stand to see her falling apart.
As Sean and Hannah grow closer, can they overcome their past connection? Is Sean just setting himself for another crazy ride with another Casey girl or is it different this time? And, what about Hannah? What happens when her secrets start coming out into the open?
This was very much a slow-building, character-driven romance. The connection between Sean and Hannah was tangible and real; however, there were so many obstacles in their way. Hannah was this deeply broken and flawed character whose life was crumbling. She kept sinking deeper and deeper into an abysmal darkness with no way out. Sean reaching out to Hannah was sort of like a life-line for her. I am sure neither expected such a profound bond to develop between them, but it was certainly something neither one could ignore. As much as this story revolved around Hannah and her character growth, Sean is the one that stood out for me. His caring nature and the fact that he did not give up made him so endearing and lovable.
Despite the fact that this pair of authors are known for their sexy romances, they are geniuses at writing character-led stories with copious amounts of emotional complexities and entanglements. This was certainly the case here. Not only do we get a sweet romance wrapped up in tragedy and other hard-biting issues, but we also get to experience a young woman’s journey about how she learns to stand on her own two feet. I was rooting for Sean and Hannah, and I was also rooting for Hannah to take her life back.
All in all, this was a wonderful venture for Joelle Knox into the NA world. I thoroughly enjoyed Anything But Broken and would recommend this book to fans of the genre. I am definitely looking forward to more.
****An advance reading copy of Anything but Broken by Joelle Knox was generously provided to me in exchange for an honest review.