Unbreak My Heart
Unbreak My Heart combines romance, women’s fiction and romantic suspense in a novel that is a bit slow to start, but quick to pick up speed. For some, it may try to be too many things for too many people, sacrificing character for storyline.
Shortly after nine year old Allie Bennett’s sister Megan was killed in a traffic accident, she and her mother left her father and the small town of Dublin, Kentucky. Allie’s mother never spoke of Megan, her death, or Allie’s father again, and Allie has wondered for years what happened. But she and her mother do not speak about personal things. After her father and mother’s deaths, Allie comes back to Dublin where she spent her first nine years to see the house her father has left her and to try and find some answers to the questions that have plagued her ever since.
One of the first persons Allie meets is Stephen Whittaker, the boy from next door. Stephen and Allie’s relationship as it develops is complex. He is friendly, but seems guarded, and he seems to be keeping secrets from Allie – or is he? All she knows is that she is attracted to Stephen, regardless of his disapproving father and other family problems.
The plot is further complicated when Allie befriends Casey, a teenage boy who seems to be a runaway, although he insists he is not. As the plot develops, Casey seems to know things about Megan and so does Stephen. Is it possible that she may still be around somewhere? Secrets, lies, family problems and half-buried truths abound in the small town of Dublin and there are many twists and turns in the plot before the truth is uncovered.
I enjoyed the story in Unbreak My Heart, but I can’t say I bonded with the characters. Allie had one excellent quality – her kind and loving nature. The scenes where she and Casey interacted were some of the best in the book. A short scene where she adopted a stray kitten was also touching. If only I could remember her for this sterling quality.
But alas, the image of Allie that remains for me is one of a weepy scaredy-cat. She stays in her childhood home scared to go upstairs, scared to venture out, and seemingly scared of her shadow. She is prone to tears and making “poor me, everyone lies to me” speeches until I grew more than a bit exasperated.
As for Stephen, he is difficult to understand. Allie had a family full of secrets and mysteries, but he had a family full of bullies and thugs. Stephen’s father was a creep and an emotional blackmailer and his brother was a flat out criminal. Stephen had no financial dependence on them, he didn’t respect them, yet for a good amount of time in the beginning of the story he followed their wishes like a good little boy. Family loyalty is one thing, but Stephen did not like his family and I could not figure out why he followed them as he did, except that it furthered the plot.
Still, Unbreak My Heart is involving and exciting. Despite the fact that the characters were not all I might have wished them to be, the story engaged my interest until the end. While I can’t truly recommend it, I can say that readers of women’s fiction and romantic suspense might enjoy this one.