Heat Factor: 6 out of 10 While there were romantic scenes, they are not overly explicit and most are quite short, yet they do not fade to black but give you snapshots of what goes on beneath the sheets. [1-3 No sex to fade to black] [4-6 Peeks into the bedroom describing modestly what’s going on beneath the sheets. Usually fairly brief scenes.] [7-10 Full view and intimate detail of sexual encounters, usually longer scenes than those in the middle of the scale.]
Told from Lauren Brooks’, the main character’s perspective, If I Break, is a tale of an intense relationship between a man and a woman. Cal is a gorgeous, uber-successful, slightly arrogant man who sweeps her off her feet. Their love is passionate yet runs hot and cold. They meet, the chemistry builds, and we ride along through this courtship. We get to know Lauren who is captivated by Cal. And although she wants to throw caution to the wind and give herself to him, she holds back a bit unsure of how committed Cal is to her. He has that bad boy attitude. Eventually, he tempts her and she melts for him. They marry and are blissful newlyweds for a few short months until Cal’s business trips seem to become more frequent and take him away from her for longer periods of time. Lauren becomes suspicious and feels she deserves explanations for why she can’t get in contact with him when he’s gone, why he doesn’t call her to let her know he’s arrived safely, and when he’s coming home. As her paranoia mounts leading her to believe that their fairytale romance has come to a tragic end, she presses him for answers, but Cal insists he can’t explain anymore than he already has. Filled with secrets, evasiveness, and tender moments that turn in a flash to heated battles, If I Break, pulls you through the book asking, “Why can’t he just tell her?”
When I began reading, I thought Lauren was a bit of a paranoid person who seemed a tad jealous. “Back off, Lauren, he tells you how much he loves you and lavishes you with all kinds of gifts,” I found myself saying. “He shows you in so many ways that he is committed to you and you married him knowing that he had a job that took him away from time to time,” I chided. As the story progressed, my opinion changed. I started wondering along with Lauren: What does he do at a job for a week? Why can’t he call her? Is he a mobster? What type of work makes it so you can’t even tell your wife what you do and check in with her so she won’t worry? Yet, I never fully hated Cal because he professes his love for her and you can feel his frustration even as you sympathize with Lauren’s lonely predicament. She wants nothing more than to spend her nights and days with the man she desperately loves.
I gave this four out of five because I think the way the story was developed was wonderful. I enjoyed how the author neatly wove the past events of their courtship with their current, tumultuous married life while keeping me in the dark without turning me off. That said, I don’t like cliff hangers that force you to buy the next book, and this one does. So, that is one drawback and at the end of book one there is no HEA (happily ever after). But the story was so engaging and the characters so believable that I did buy the second book, which appears to be the conclusion of the first. The ending of book one is unusual. The reason for Cal’s secrecy kept me guessing and only the end of book one revealed his secret – which is also why I gave it four out of five as the author rewards you with an answer to that question. The rationale for his extended business trips is plausible.
I do warn you that while book one can stand alone, I wouldn’t recommend it. If you don’t plan on buying the second, you might want to steer clear of this first one. I had to know how Cal and Lauren were going to resolve this tangled web. I’m almost halfway through book two, and so far, I have no idea. I guess I like that I can still read a story and not know where it’s going…
If you like plots that are woven with mystery, if you like unique relationships, if you’re one who wants to be surprised, and you don’t mind cliffhangers then give this one a try. It is not your typical romance. This book was FREE! And the second one is only $1.99 on Kindle. If you read it or have read it, let me know what you thought.