Beautiful Broken Hearts by Kami Garcia
Publisher: Imprint Reads
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Before, Peyton was a star soccer player with the perfect boyfriend, Reed. Now, she has a torn knee ligament, a scholarship on the line, and a shattered sense of self. No one believes Reed pushed her, causing her injury, and Peyton just wants to leave the trauma behind. Living with her uncle and twin cousins in their small, football-obsessed town seems like a great escape plan.
There, Peyton meets Owen—high school classmate and local MMA fighter. Though Owen is charming and gentle, Peyton is determined to repress her growing attraction. But when her old and new life collide, Peyton must reclaim the truth of her past in order to save her future.
What I Liked:
I really enjoyed Kami Garcia's previous YA contemporary novel, The Lovely Reckless, and I had been really excited about Beautiful Broken Hearts. It's a standalone (completely unrelated to The Lovely Reckless). Once I started reading this book, I couldn't stop. Peyton and Owen's story was heartbreaking and sweet and I couldn't get enough.
The story starts with Peyton getting accepted to UNC to play soccer for the team. She is so excited to tell her best friend and her boyfriend. Things have been off between her and Reed; later that evening, at a party, everything changes. They get into an argument, he pushes her, she falls down a set of stairs, and just like that, her senior spring season is over before it begins. Her knee is badly injured and needs months of rehab. But no one - not even her best friend - believes her when she tells them that Reed pushed her. Peyton's mother decides to send Peyton to live with Peyton's uncle and his twin sons, in a small town far from home, to escape the threats that Peyton started to receive. There, Peyton can do rehab with no distractions... except for the very distracting boy who is helping her with the physical therapy. Owen Law is the best local MMA fighter and a classmate of Peyton's, and Peyton can't stop thinking about him. But she can't get tangled up with another MMA fighter - right?
YA contemporary isn't really my thing, but Garcia won me over with her previous YA contemporary novel. It had a Katie McGarry feeling to it, and Broken Beautiful Hearts did too. I love McGarry's books so the comparison works for me. I love YA contemporary stories that dig deep into two characters and forges a strong, intense bond between them.
From the get-go, I was a huge fan of Peyton. She and I are a lot alike: she is very blunt and stubborn, and she doesn't have time for BS. She isn't mean but she doesn't mince words. She can take care of herself and she isn't afraid to stand up for herself, or others. Peyton has such a strong mentality, morals, character, attitude. What happened to her didn't break her down, and everything that came after didn't send her hiding.
This story is told entirely from Peyton's POV but Owen is a very central primary character. I loved his sweet yet tough self from his first interaction with Peyton. He is so selfless and fights everyone's battles, and sticks up for bullied classmates. He is a hard worker - he trains for his MMA fights all the time - and he's a good student, and he's a good guy in general. He has a "bad boy reputation" for being an MMA fighter but he's actually a sweet and decent guy. He's super swoony with his great manners and hot bod. Just saying!
Peyton and Owen are like fire and ice when they first meet. There is a lot of tension and chemistry between them, which makes sense because they're both very headstrong and stubborn. I loved watching all of that heat crackle between them. They get into some pretty heated arguments, and all that passion had to simmer and go somewhere. I love these types of romances, especially when they are very well-written with lots of good chemistry-filled scenes.
The feelings started to grow maybe a little too quickly but I enjoyed watching Owen and Peyton fall for each other. They have a lot of chemistry but they both also have a lot of empathy, and start to care about each other pretty quickly. They see each other at bad times early on, and they want to help each other. I like that they reached a point where they would lean on each other. The romance was heated, but also sweet. I fell for these two falling for each other.
Also worth noting are the secondary characters; I adored Peyton's twin cousins! Christian and Cameron are hilarious and so, so great to Peyton. They treat her like a little sister (mind you, she is a few months older), and they're very protective of her. They stand up to her and they always believed her, and they look out for her. Sometimes they are impulsive and they don't think, but they mean well. I also really liked Grace, who becomes Peyton's close girl friend. Grace is a sweet girl and a really good friend.
I think Garcia did a great job in balancing a sweet and steamy romance with some really tough issues. It could not have been easy, writing about am abusive relationship gone really wrong, and having to start all over. My heart broke for Peyton, who did nothing wrong but was hurt both physically and emotionally. I also felt for Owen, who had things going on (which I won't mention specifically) that made his life so much harder. The balance of tough issues and shippy romance was really well-written by Garcia.
The story isn't just a romance - it's also about Owen's fights, Peyton's struggle in dealing with her knee but also Reed continuously calling her, and mysterious threats and pranks that keep happening. The climax is pretty explosive and it gets fast-paced in a hurry. I liked the ending, even if it was a little neatly wrapped up (like, perfectly). It was a good ending.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It's a very engrossing standalone novel that will leave you satisfied but wanting more of Garcia's stories!
What I Did Not Like:
I kind of wanted more physical/romantic interactions between Owen and Peyton. We only get like, three kissing scenes, two of which are very short? I wanted more!
Would I Recommend It:
I'm not even a YA contemporary fan but I'd recommend this book, YA contemporary fan or not. I think YA contemporary fans would really enjoy this book though. If you liked any of Katie McGarry's books, this is definitely one for you!
4 stars. This is such a sweet and powerful book that broke my heart at times, but stitched it back together by the ending. The ending was lovely. I'm looking forward to reading more YA contemporary books by Garcia, related to this one or not!
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