CONFESSION: I've bought and DNF'd three Megan Hart books prior to reading this one. Mostly because her books make me squirmy uncomfortable. Not the kind of uncomfortable that comes from something good, but from socially awkward situations that make me just want the floor to open up and swallow me. Much like watching the auditions from American Idol make me uncomfortable. ANYWAY...
I bought Broken because Mandi from Smexybooks bought it, read it, and found it devastating. Since I am a great lover of a heaping helping of angst with my romance, I went ahead and bought it.
Sadie is a therapist. She is also a wife who may or may not be cheating on her husband, depending on how you look at it. You see, Sadie's husband, Adam was paralyzed from the neck down in a skiing accident about four years before the book opens. Adam was Sadie's sun and moon, he was what her life revolved around completely. And when his accident happened, her life changed. Sure, Adam is still what her life revolves around, but now it's around the constant care that Adam requires. It's about remembering all the reasons she loves him, even if he takes his frustrations out on her. It's about being faithful, even if she hasn't had sex with anyone but herself since the accident.
And that's the kicker. Each month, on the first Friday, Sadie sits on a park bench in an atrium near her office. And she waits for Joe. Joe is gorgeous. He's an attorney, he's single, he's dynamic, he's everything Sadie is attracted to. And in the last two years of sitting on this park bench, Sadie has fallen in love with him. Joe is also a man whore. Every month he tells Sadie the story of some woman (mostly girl-childs) who he has hooked up with during the last month. And Sadie fantasizes that she IS that woman. He's a wonderful raconteur, and the stories are very vivid in nature. But Joe is unable to commit to any woman. Sadie believes it's because he's searching for the perfect woman for him. His perfect match. But the longer Sadie listens to Joe's stories, the more entangled she becomes in his spell, and the closer she slides to a line that a married woman should not cross.
Mandi was right. This story is devastating. It's uncomfortable. It's difficult, and it's splendidly written. The story is told only from Sadie's perspective. And the juxtaposition of those stolen moments with Joe, where she fantasizes about his women, and her real life, which is focused on bringing just a little joy to her husband, and whether he has bed sores, and whether she can really go out and grab a cup of coffee with her sister, is remarkable. In the moments with Joe, I believe that Sadie is her true self. With Adam, Sadie must constantly reassure him. She must be caregiver, wife, mother all at once. And Adam is not always appreciative of the roles she takes on. She loves him. But he makes it difficult. And as the story goes on, we know that Adam realizes that *something* is going on with Sadie. But really, there is no way that Sadie will leave Adam, even if she is entranced with Joe.
My reaction to this book was mixed. I think that Megan Hart is a brilliant author. Her story was smartly told by a character whose voice was authentic to me. But I wasn't sure how I felt about Sadie's wavering feelings. I completely understood her reaction to Joe. I understood her true frustration at loving her husband, but also understanding that her life was inextricably changed. But I also felt to my core that she was over that line. The line of appropriate behavior for someone who was married. I understood it. I empathized with her loneliness, but I also judged her for her behavior. I think because she had already crossed the line with Joe before the book opens, it made it even more difficult for me to excuse her behavior.
The book also ends on a hopeful note, but not an HEA. And honestly, it's so emotionally devastating, I'm not sure that was enough for me. It's one of the few books where I was absolutely tempted to read the end first because until the final few chapters, I had no idea how the story would end. I believe that Ms. Hart ended it in the only way that she could. But I'm just not sure it was enough for me. I needed a moment or two of shiny happy, and that was definitely not there. The technical writing, the prose, the character development were all fantastically done. But the I'm not sure that I can overcome the discomfort I felt reading the book. Overall, I found Broken to be a brilliantly written, emotionally draining novel. Will I ever try Megan Hart again? I can't say I ever would. I don't like squirming that much.
Final grade: B