Title & Link: Brokenhearted (Hope Cove #1)
Author: Cate Ashwood
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Brokenhearted (Hope Cove)
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Length: Novel (210 pages)
Rating: 5+ stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: Two men wounded by a mutual loss, find comfort in each other’s arms.
Hope Cover Series
Blurb: Oliver Parrish has been alone in the world since he was born. So when Sheriff Owen “Mack” Macklin shows up on his doorstep to deliver the news that Oliver’s sister has died, he’s beyond surprised. Still, Oliver returns with Mack to Hope Cove, Maine, hoping to get to know the sister he never knew he had. As he tries to snap these new elements into his solitary life, he’s not sure how they might fit.
His life is shaken up further as he falls in love with the irresistible town of Hope Cove, and with Mack, its equally irresistible sheriff. But when he receives devastating news about his sister’s cause of death, Oliver doesn’t know whether to stay and fight for love and a good life, or cut his losses and run.
Review: I find it immensely satisfying to sit down on an afternoon and curl up with a really good romance. Call me a silly girl but I must say that when you come across an author who can deliver a solid love story they are worth their weight in gold. Cate Ashwood is a new author for me, but she certainly is no stranger to writing beautiful stories about wounded men in love if she is to be judged by her latest novel, Brokenhearted.
This is one of those cases where the blurb literally gives you the recap I would have written, so take a moment to skim that before I launch into exactly why I think author Cate Ashwood knows how to write a really tender and interesting love story.
It is not so much that Oliver is a broken person but rather that he is a man who has never really lived. Over the years he has grown used to shutting off any emotional response to situations he dislikes–and in his case there are many. He is frustrated in his career, really wanting to be more than a sous chef, rather wanting to be the head chef of a restaurant. He has moved from job to job hoping for just that opportunity but it has remained an elusive dream, His personal life echoes that same nomadic existence. He avoids relationships and their drama. He strays away from conflict and runs when he feels himself getting emotionally involved. When he hears about Maggie his first reaction is that he is an intruder in her life…and that is not a comfortable place for him. As grief begins to rear its head and burrow into him, he realizes he has grown to miss someone whom he has never known and the sadness is more than he can bear up under.
The entire time Oliver is coming to terms with the life that has now been thrust upon him, Mack is there, wrapped in his own deep sadness over losing his best friend, Maggie. In many ways the shared grief unites these two men and Mack welcomes it–that growing closeness, that indefinable feeling that Mack has never experienced with a woman and is now stunned to find himself feeling for Oliver. These two lost and lonely men are drawn to one another and with both fierce heat and sweet tenderness they fall hard for each other. Mack is glorious in the way he gives himself over to the idea that a man can fulfill his needs. He relates to Oliver how there have been a few men here and there that have caught his interest but he has never acted upon those desires until now.
For his part, Oliver clings to the new-found sensations of having someone look at him with love and desire. He feels so safe with Mack and is understanding that as an elected official with a vote coming up his sheriff must be cautious and quiet about his sexuality. No, it’s not the hiding that begins to tear at Oliver, it is the intimacy and the idea that perhaps one day he will wake up to find Mack gone and himself, heartbroken over the loss. So, when Oliver discovers the real reason his sister died and how it affects him, he runs back to his lonely life and his lackluster job. Now, time will tell if either of these men have a happy ever after.
I have two words to share with you: Impeccable Characterization. There was never a time in this novel when I felt I did not understand exactly what these two men wanted and felt. With just over 200 pages author Cate Ashwood breathed real life into each person she placed in her story. Just from journal entries and Mack’s memories alone, I felt I knew Maggie and shared in Oliver’s pain over never having met her in person. Every moment that Mack and Oliver spent together revealed just a bit more about their emotional state, their past, and their reasons for either holding themselves back or jumping into a relationship with both feet. I honestly have never met two characters I loved more. The underlying vulnerability in each of them was something that really struck a chord within me. Rather than being weak, I felt their inherent strength, particularly when they were together.
Now let me share one more word: Balance. The sex coupled with the action, coupled with the introspection was perfectly balanced in this novel. The author used a find hand drawing moments for each of her men to be in their head, analyzing their actions and acting on their impulses. The sex did not drive the plot which happens so often in a romance novel. Rather the sex was part of the healing, the need to feel alive and cared for, trusted and cherished. This was a story that carefully balanced its plot, its sex scenes, and its emotional message. It was well done, beautifully written and seamless in its delivery.
Brokenhearted by Cate Ashwood is a really lovely love story. It is the perfect escape on a lazy afternoon when you simply want the world to drift away and indulge in the idea of two men in love. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and hope you do as well!