Publication Date: 8/14/13
Source: Received from author for review
Rating: 2.5 stars
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.
**New Adult Contemporary Romance Novel**
**Contains scenes of domestic violence**
I was drawn to Breaking the Reins because it seemed a little different from a lot of current New Adult books. Well, maybe not so much different at the base, but I couldn't remember reading a book set in the world of polo and horse-rearing and rehabilitation. I mean, the only thing I know about polo is that Prince Harry looks mighty good while playing. And the only thing I can say about horses in general is that your best friend putting you on a horse in the middle of a rocky field, then telling you the horse isn't really suited for riding as it takes off in a dead run will scar you for life.
So as far as Breaking the Reins goes....I'm at a bit of a loss here. I don't know if I just completely lacking a heart right now (my husband would say that, yes, this is the case), but I just didn't connect with the characters or the story. That's not to say that I didn't have moments in which I enjoyed the story, or sympathized with Hannah, because I did, very sporadically. But as far as being swept away by passion and emotions? Nope.
Breaking the Reins does deal with some heavy issues. There's the animal cruelty and rehabilitation aspect, which I appreciated. There is also the fact that Hannah is in an abusive relationship, and struggles with breaking free. To see a character who knows she's in a bad place, wants to get away, but continually second guesses herself and puts it off was both frustrating and what I imagine to be realistic portrayal of many abusive relationships. Hannah's boyfriend, though, is more than an abuser. He is a completely deranged psychopath who was scary and intense, but I feel so much crazy was thrown into this character that he became a caricature.
And though Hannah is initially torn between boyfriend Eric and new guy Leo, I would not label this as a love triangle, because as I've established, Eric is a psycho and psychos are not viable love interests. Hannah was a conflicted character, continually torn between what's expected and what she wants. Leo, the new guy, was incredibly charming and good to Hannah. I liked these two and liked them together, but I couldn't truly feel their emotions.
While I lacked a true connection to Breaking the Reins, it is a story that I liked at certain points and could appreciate the themes.
To check out an alternate point-of-view, take a look at this review on GoodReads.
I took a deep breath, but it wasn't enough. There wasn't enough air to calm me down. This realization was too big, too nerve-racking. It was like I forgot to sweep one single strand of hay from the ground two years ago, and now I was buried under a huge haystack, suffocating, being squashed, with no strength or idea on how to get out. ~eARC, 51%
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