Published by Berkley, Penguin Audio on August 13th 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Cowboys
Tropes: Cowboy Romance
Format: eARC, Audiobook
Source: Audible, Berkley
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Audible
Narrator: Adenrele Ojo
Length: 11 hrs
Andra Lawler lives isolated at her family’s horse ranch, imprisoned by the memories of an assault in college. When she needs help training her foals, she hires a Haitian-Creole cowboy from New Orleans with a laugh as big as the Montana sky.
LJ Delisle can’t stand the idea that Andra might be lonely—or eating frozen TV dinners. He bakes his way into her kitchen with a lemon velvet cake, and offers her cooking lessons that set them on the road to romance. But even their love can’t escape the shadow of what they've been through. Despite their growing friendship and his gentle rapport with the horses, LJ is still an outsider facing small-town suspicions.
Before they can work through their issues, LJ is called home by a family emergency. In the centuries-old, raggedly rebuilt streets of New Orleans, he must confront memories of Hurricane Katrina and familiar discrimination. And Andra must decide if she’s brave enough to leave the shelter of the ranch for an uncertain future with LJ.
by Michelle Hazen
I was thinking a long time whether to even mention this or not – I know about the controversy around this book – I’m not going to comment on it but I’ll say that I’m in no way racist and I don’t agree with the majority of the points that have been brought up. I think we are all entitled to our opinion so I’ll just leave it at that.
I loved the premise of this story and since I’ve wanted to read this author’s work since A Cruel Kind of Beautiful I thought “no day like today.” I don’t regret this choice – UNBREAK ME is a tender love story about a gentle cowboy from NOLA and a Montana ranch heiress that explores racism, violence towards women and the healing that comes through love.
LJ was a beautiful character, friendly, patient but with enough grit to face the racism that he has to deal with on a daily basis. Through his eyes we get a glimpse of what it may mean for a POC to deal with racist offenses and you get a distinct feeling that it’s only the tip of the iceberg. His gentle nature helps, his teasing and innate sweetness help Andra heal. His love for his mother and home was always present so it was understandable when he followed his intuition and went home when his mom’s health deteriorated.
Since the assault Andra has become a hermit in a way. In a small town like hers everybody knows her story and it doesn’t make for a good conversational topic. She feels alone, and after meeting LJ she starts to feel the loneliness even more acutely. His friendship means every day more to her and with that comes trust. But Andra also has to learn a thing about racism. While she tries to explain away some of the things that happen to LJ for a while it becomes clear to her at some point that racism should never be excused. I liked how she stood up to her father’s bigotry.
Read this review for what it is – my experience with this book. I loved LJ and Andra’s slow burn love story, that started out as a friendship and turned into a relationship that was first built on dreams but reality caught up with them fast and while the problems didn’t go away, they learned how to deal with them. Together.
This book made me look at my own behavior and question a lot of the things I’ve ever said and done in my interaction with POC. I wish all of the issues touched in this story would have had more page time and depth – I think this is the only thing that didn’t meet expectations completely, but it’s a story that will definitely make you think. Add to that an achingly beautiful prose.
I also listened to the audiobook of this story – Adenrele Ojo did a fantastic job with her performance. I loved the teasing tone she put into LJ, his whole personalty came through!
“I’m white, LJ. I never felt white until I was the only one who was, and it took me longer than it should have to admit I can’t change all the things that means for us.”