Title: Broken Rules (Book #1 in The Broken Trilogy)
Author: Jade Buchanan
Cover Artist: Winterheart Designs
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: 229 pages, 65,000 words
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
A guest review by Lasha
Summary Review: Two childhood friends reconnect after a relative’s funeral and discover feelings long denied.
Ten years ago, Jonah Chevalier was kicked out of his home for being gay. In a bid to escape his pain, Jonah moved halfway across the country to start over. Now, his mother’s death brings him home where he will discover a shared passion with his childhood best friend.
Neil Brogan returns home hoping to reconnect with Jonah and ends up with more than he ever thought possible. They live on opposite sides of the country but the distance between them may be more than mere miles. Neil hopes to convince Jonah that some rules are made to be broken.
Book #1 in the Broken Trilogy
This is the first book of Jade Buchanan’s I’ve ever read and the blurb is what drew me to the novel. I love the cliche of two childhood friends reuniting and falling in love as adults. That scenario calls to the romantic in my soul and gives me hope one day I’ll run into my 5th grade sweetheart and with one look it will be love. Broken Rules does have those elements of repressed lust and desire brought to the forefront by tragedy – the death of one of the protagonist’s (Jonah) mother – but ultimately fails to deliver in the romance department.
The major conflict in this story is Jonah and the pain, anger and fear he stills feels ten years after being kicked out of his religious parent’s house for being gay. He doesn’t want to come home for his mother’s funeral as it brings back too many bad memories of his coming out and the consequences it had on his life. So the book focuses heavily on that subject which clouds the entire novel in a feeling of dread and self-loathing. In some instances I felt like I was going to a funeral instead of Jonah.
To contrast this darkness, Jade Buchanan gives us the love interest for Jonah, namely his childhood friend Neil Brogan. While Jonah is a glass half-empty kind of guy, Neil is the opposite, having come from a warm and loving family who accepts his bisexuality. When the two men come together again – Neil takes off from work to attend Jonah’s mother’s funeral – we see them instantly fall into the same camaraderie they had in school. Now Jonah always had a crush on Neil, but had no idea his best friend was bisexual. As this revelation unfolds in a drunken kiss after the funeral, Jonah thinks he’s wrecked one of his oldest friendships, not realizing the other man feels the same. Neil reveals his sexuality and the two men have passionate sex against the guardrail of a bridge on the side of the road. (Ouch!) Surely this starts their Happily Ever After?
Because Neil and Jonah live in two different cities in Canada. So they start a long distance relationship, which seems to be working except that Jonah is not willing to tell people that Neil is his boyfriend, which brings up all sorts of conflict between the pair, getting us back to Jonah’s self-loathing issues. But eventually this issue is resolved…
Why my rating is not higher: While I enjoyed the character of Neil, who seemed like a down-to-Earth guy you’d love to take home to Mom. Jonah, on the other hand, was dour and depressing. I felt like he needed a good session on a shrink’s couch to work through his issues prior to being in ANY serious relationship, not just with Neil. This overwhelming feeling of sadness permeated throughout the book and I just couldn’t get into the plot because of that.
Also, there is a lot of French Canadian slang in the novel (I now know how to curse in it). However, because of the confusing slang, I kept having to use my Kindle dictionary for some of the terms or phrases which my college French did not prepare me for. While it added a tone and setting to the book – as obviously Jonah and Neil weren’t Americans or Europeans – it did little to move the plot along. (Jonah’s background was French Canadian). But for those of us who don’t understand the region or language, it threw me out of the plot every time I had to translate a sentence or word from Franglais. I know the author wanted to give a flavor of this region, but it was a little too much at times.
However, there were some good points to the book. First, I loved Neil’s little brother David. He was cute, funny, and conflicted about his own sexuality (he liked being the submissive in a D/s relationship) and this subject matter was dealt with in a responsible manner that showed just how close Neil and David are. I certainly hope David gets his own book as I’d like to read more about his struggles. Second, the supporting characters were well-written and three dimensional. I especially enjoyed Jonah’s cousin, Rita-Anne, who loved and stood by Jonah – no matter what. That showed that not every person in Jonah’s family was an idiot. Third, Neil and Jonah’s relationship was sweet, flawed, but sweet. Their gradual progression from friends into lovers seemed natural, organic and very believable.
To summarize: Despite not being able to give Broken Rules a higher rating, I do think that many readers in this genre will enjoy the book. For those who love an angst-driven hero, Jonah is just right for you. Add in the fact, Jade Buchanan is a talented writer who tells a complex and intense tale is a bonus. I am very interested in the next installment in this series and overall think the book had some good points despite a few niggles.