Thursday, November 10, 2022

Elizabeth Kelly - Broken

Ford Taylor has endured the whispers and the horrified stares his entire life. Rejected by both his family and strangers for the way he looks, he’s grown accustomed to his lonely life. His life is changed forever when Stella, the redheaded beauty he harbors a secret crush on, befriends him.
Photographer, Stella Johnson, is fascinated by the quiet man with the unconventional looks. Her sweet nature and her ability to see Ford for who he really is slowly breaks down the walls he’s built around his heart. Their friendship soon blossoms into love.
But when Ford’s insecurities and a dark secret from his past threaten their relationship, Stella must convince him that their love for each other is the only thing that matters.

Comment: I've decided to add this story to my TBR after seeing some positive comments somewhere. It seemed the story would be a sort of take on the "Beauty and the Beast" trope and I was, of course, interested enough to want to try. It was finally time to do so.

In this story we meet Stella, a bubbly woman who loves to do photograph and she especially loves to take pictures of people. She is particularly interested in Ford, a security agent at the complex of offices where they both work and, during lunch hour, she is used to see him alone. His looks might be seen as ugly by many but to her, his features are simply unique and she would love to take his picture if she could convince him of it.
Ford has lived with the effect of his looks on others and not many people have wanted to be close to him, not even his own family. He has had a diverse but lonely life and now he is content enough with his job, especially if he can keep an eye on Stella, whom he couldn't help noticing among everyone else. Her smile, her hair, her style are all elements that make her attractive... and so much more when she asks to sit in the same table one day. From then on, they become friends but he shouldn't let her get too close, after all she would never feel the same... or would she?

In general, I think this was a well achieved novel. There are some details I think could be better but the overall effect is one of a cute story with likable protagonists. I'd say, however, the other elements aren't as consistent, even though that didn't ruin my appreciation of what was being presented.

The beauty and the beast trope is easily recognizable but not as much a cliché as one might think. Actually, both protagonists are described as pretty regular, even though it is mentioned very often the hero does not have a face many would see as good looking, but there isn't any deformity nor scars which might be a quicker way to convey the idea. I actually liked he was described as just not having pleasant features. Of course, the author counterbalanced that with a military past, meaning his body shape is said to be very alluring, and he is a kind and shy person, so more positives than negatives. 

The heroine is also not as perfect as usually heroines are in many romances with not so good looking heroes. She is said to have beautiful features and personality but by her words "on the chubby side". I think the author has let this been known in a simple but not offensive manner and as the relationship develops, we can see that their emotional connection surpasses any doubts they might have in relation to one another. Most of the issues are actually because of external sources, such as his family, although there are a few scenes where we see their lack of self esteem.

I think the romance was slow and cute enough to convince me they were it for each other. We also have Stella defending him in a social situation, proving that she isn't afraid to let others see they are together and he, of course, helps her understand beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. The intimate scenes also felt romantic, sort of, but I must confess, considering the tone of the story, the more racier talking during sex wasn't something I thought was necessary.

Closer to the end of the story, there are also some more intense situations, especially regarding Henry, a friend from Ford's childhood, someone who worked for his family and was a father figure to him. There is a rather complicated situation which then provokes other things and this did put the main couple's relationship to the test, should Ford trust Stella when he was placed in an impossible position or would she see him as someone unworthy? I think the situation was a little too sudden but it did offer for some interesting emotional development.

I think this was a very entertaining and readable story, the first I tried by the author. I actually thought it would be more focused on the physical aspect more and how others would affect the characters but it was also a nice surprise to see them be quite mature about it.
I would, however, remove the epilogue. So often readers complain an epilogue would be the cherry on top but in this case, it offered a scenario of things years after the events of the story but instead of making me swoon over the cuteness, the way it was written sounded rushed and without depth.
Grade: 7/10

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