FicCentral received a free copy of this book from YA Bound Book Tours.
Series: Breaking #1
January 10, 2014
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (NA)
Horses, mansions, tea parties, and lies are twenty-year-old Hannah Taylor’s life. To others, her family and her relationship with Eric is perfect. But she knows the truth. She lives it.
After a fire takes her grandma's life and kills her horse, Hannah's immaculate life spirals out of control. Her father disapproves of her decision to run her grandma’s ranch instead of focusing solely on learning the family business; Animal Control brings her Argus, a mistreated horse that she can't turn away even though she's not ready for another horse; and her boyfriend, Eric Bennett, a world famous polo player, becomes possessive and authoritarian. Despite her best efforts to disguise it, Hannah grows wary of him.
Then, Leonardo Fernandes struts onto the polo scene. A cocky rookie with a messy life of his own, he’s drawn to Hannah and isn’t afraid of showing it, even when Eric makes it clear she is his and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Hannah suffers for Eric’s jealousy. The abuse only gets worse when Leo steals the title of best polo player in the world from Eric.
But the title isn’t enough for Leo. He wants Hannah too, and she can’t deny her attraction to him either. Somehow, she must find a way to break free from abusive Eric before he breaks every bone in her body.
After she loses her grandmother and her horse in a fire, Hannah’s whole life changes. Her once simple life as a college student is complicated when she’s left to take care of the ranch, and when new guy in town Leo appears, her relationship with her successful boyfriend hits the rocks in the worst way. Eric’s jealous streak is anything but harmless, and the closer Hannah gets to Leo, the worse things get. But getting away from an abusive boyfriend is no easy feat.
I’m not sure I’m convinced about Eric. While I can certainly see jealousy bringing out someone’s dark side, his transition was a bit too drastic, and I wasn’t sold on Hannah staying with him. Abusers often seek out people who are already vulnerable, or they spend time grooming them to accept the awful behavior as normal, and I didn’t really feel like this was the case with these two. Hannah may have been young and therefore a bit naive, but nothing about her or their relationship prepared me for her to stay with Eric when he turned into a nightmare of a boyfriend. Granted, there is no standard for abusive relationships or the victims of them, but this is fiction, so I expected to be convinced more than I was.
There also seemed to be a lot of inaccuracy when it came to the horse aspect, and while it doesn’t ruin the story, it will probably drive the horse people crazy. There were some odd terms used when discussing tack, things that everyone from a stable hand to a regular rider would know better than to use, not to mention some big contradictions in the horse training methods. I know not everyone grows up on ranches these days, and even the best research will yield a few inaccuracies, but if a subject is to be such a large part of a story, better research is warranted.
My distance from Hannah’s reasoning aside, it’s a great book. The characters are multi-dimensional, Hannah’s college/ranch/relationship situation is interestingly complex and written in a fresh voice, and Leo is absolutely swoon-worthy.
Hannah may have been privileged, but I wouldn’t call her spoiled. She’s smart and capable and has a big heart. Her love of horses added to her character without turning her into a caricature, and she has a big heart. Leo… damn. He was conflicted and considerate and patient, and I’m pretty sure I fell in love with him right alongside Hannah.
I’m not usually one to read books about characters who are being abused — it shadows the romance aspect too much, and I prefer a bigger helping of fluff & escape, but Breaking the Reins was a pleasant surprise. It’s a story about love and friendship and healing and growing up, and while it has it’s darker moments, the ending is well worth the read.