Also by this author: Unbreak Me
Published by Berkley on August 18, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: Netgalley, Berkley
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Audible
Narrator: Brittany Pressley
Length: 10 hrs and 8 mins
Two strangers start out saving animals and end up rescuing each other in this heartwarming romance from the author of Unbreak Me.
Mari Tucker is a wildlife biologist who scoops bunnies and endangered tortoises out of harm’s way on construction sites. Still haunted by her past, she takes the most remote jobs in the Mojave Desert to avoid people and hide from her ex. It’s a simple, quiet life filled with sweet animals and solar-powered baking until she ends up assigned to Jack Wyatt’s crew.
Construction foreman Jack Wyatt’s loud, foul-mouthed temper keeps even the most rugged of men on his crew in line. No mistake is overlooked, because out in the desert it could mean life or death. In his opinion, the job site is no place for sensitive biologists, especially one as shy as Mari. But instead of wilting from the heat and hard work, Mari wins over Jack and his crew one homemade brownie at a time.
Jack and Mari find a comfortable rhythm, building a friendship that’s rare for both of them. After Jack’s rocky childhood, they have more in common than they’d imagined. But even the Mojave sun can’t chase away the shadows when the past is determined to track them down…
Breathe The Sky sure is a kick in the feels. It’s hard when one of the characters has an abusive past but when both of them were mistreated and abused it packs an extra punch.
Mari got out of her marriage two years ago and has been hiding from her ex-husband since. She is part of a group of biologists who make sure that no endangered animals are harmed at a construction site. This is where she meets Jack Wyatt, and if you think you’ve met grumpy men in books prepare for Jack. If you look up grump in the dictionary it’s his pic you’ll see. Goodness, this guy was growly, frowny, scowly. But he’s also shy in a way and that shyness and his insecurities tugged on my heartstrings. His tendency to expect the worst was so sad. I wanted him to be happy but his prickly disposition made it a little harder for Mari to get close to him. But her patience with him, her kindness and how she was able to read him, let him trust her enough to open up to her.
He kept leaning against his doorframe after she was gone, and it wasn’t until his cheeks started to ache in an unfamiliar way that he realized he was smiling.
When Mari pushed Jack away a little I wasn’t happy but the point was that there was a growing self-awareness, that Mari tried hard to overcome a pattern that was ingrained in her by her violent ex-husband and trust another man. That she eventually succeeded. Jack, too, got past his abusive childhood and teenage years and both of them felt empowered by the other one. I loved Marie’s intuition, her ability to read Jack and Jack’s adoration for her, all his bristling couldn’t distract from his buttery soft core. I felt so much empathy and compassion for these two but also pride for every little step they made progress.
She understood this man. They were born-again virgins at dating, to be sure, but she wasn’t wrong about him. She was going to stop giving in to all those slippery little impulses to believe the worst.
This isn’t an action-filled story, the quietness and slower pace of it is what’s so compelling. Michelle Hazen draws a picture of two broken people, so broken that it really hurts to read about them, who break out of their conditioned responses and find happiness and healing with the unlikeliest person. This could have gone in a completely toxic direction but Mari and Jack were perfect and made each other whole again.
It was the stakes they’d faced, slashed across both their skins in marks that would never fade or smooth. And yet they’d both stared down that cost and stolen back their lives for themselves. She was fucking proud. Of him. Of herself.