Friday, March 25, 2016

Broken by Nicola Haken Blog Tour

When Theodore Davenport decides to switch his mundane job for a career, he walks into Holden House Publishing with enthusiasm and determination to succeed. As he settles into his new role, makes new friends, and dreams of making it to the top, everything is going to plan.

Until he meets James Holden, CEO of Holden House.

James Holden hasn’t been able to stop thinking about his encounter with the timid man he met in a club bathroom last week, and when he discovers the one haunting his dreams is an employee, he can’t seem to stop himself from pursuing him.

Just a little fun - that’s what James tells himself. He can’t afford to care for someone who can never reciprocate, not once they find out who he really is. James believes nobody deserves the burden of being attached to him. He’s a complicated man. Damaged. Difficult. Demanding.


Is Theodore strong enough to confront James’ demons? More importantly, is James?

Author’s Note: M/M romance. Not suitable for readers under 18 years of age due to language and sexual content.

Warning: This book contains scenes of self-harm, mental illness and suicidal ideation which may be uncomfortable for some readers.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

My second book by author Nicola Haken and I'm pretty impressed with her writing style. Both books are based in England and use British slang and terms, so if this is an issue you may want to stop there.

I now love the term "to nip in" which means to quickly drop in somewhere. The subject matter on Broken is pretty dark. James is bipolar with suicidal tendencies. We get quite a view into his head and his thoughts, and they are very dark and brooding. Theo is a sweetheart of a character. I fell for him instantly and worried for him throughout the book. He falls for James and then finds out what sort of broken James really is when James tries to end his own life. For all the dark themes in the book, we do have quite a nice light with Theo – he loves truly and fully and his dedication to James is unfailing. I found myself rooting for their HEA and having a newfound understanding of depression. The subject matter was written eloquently and thoughtfully and the story was riveting.

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

James is confident, arrogant, egotistical, and strong, well that's what he wants you to believe. When Theo first sees him in the men's restroom he is instantly taken with him. It's a nameless hook-up, something Theo doesn't do, but the pull to James is something he can't deny.

Being the new guy at a job is hard enough, but to find out you've had a random hook-up with the boss and he has a reputation for sleeping his way through the departments makes it even worse. James is just as shocked as Theo to find out he is the new employee, but that doesn't stop James from trying for a repeat.

“The pain is there. It never leaves. Sometimes it's bearable, but it's always there.”

James is in a battle no one seems to understand. He never lets them see the true “James.” It's a dark place where that James lives. He's never let anyone get close, but he wants Theo close and he doesn't understand why.

“His eyes search mine, like he's looking for me, the real me. Part of me want him to find me. The other wants me to run away.”

When James can't fight it any longer, Theo is left to pick up the pieces.

I lost myself in Broken. It's such a deep emotional story and it was so well written. There were definite tears reading James's battle.

This is my first read from this author and I look forward to reading more.

This book was hard for me to read. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good book, it just had me feeling down at times. I found myself putting it down and then picking it back up again. The book is long and the author does a great job with writing about mental illness. This book has so much emotion in it that it pulls the reader in and then I found myself feeling like the characters at times. I felt heartbroken and hopeful all at the same time. I can’t even put into words how I feel about this book, but it was truly a great read.

Characters: Well written
Sex: Yes
Religious: No
Would I recommend to others: Yes
More than one book in the series: No
Genre: M/M
Would I read more by this author: Yes

AMAZING book. Clearly written from the heart, and the head – this is a story which will stay with me for a very long time – and if I fear I am forgetting it, I will read it again. There are some things which many of us are fortunate enough not to experience, and probably will never understand and without a doubt mental illness is one of those things. Yet I feel that some measure of the pain, and the logic, and the ignorance of others has now been brought to my attention. And to do so in a book full of love, and hope and promise is not just enlightening, but also wonderfully human. As well as the depth of the story, there is a mixture of lightness, humour, and friendship. There are some wonderful cameos, which bring much to the story and to the couple. I loved it!

Thank you Ms. Haken for sharing such a poignant and necessary story with us.

Broken was an exceedingly difficult book to read because of how good of a job Haken does at crafting James’s character and how he deals and doesn’t deal with his mental illness. My mother remarried when I was about ten years old and while I adored my stepfather (he was my daddy, after all), I was young enough not to fully understand his disorder. Fortunately, by the time his outbursts escalated to the point that he would become verbally disruptive and sometimes destructive, I was old enough to comprehend what it meant when he was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder. What made James such a compelling character was the parts of my stepfather I saw in him, as well as the symptoms that were unique to James. And because I was the stepdaughter whose love was such that it was dented but not broken by my daddy’s outbursts, I could relate to Theo’s character – because once the love is there, you can’t just walk away.

If you’ve never loved someone with a mental illness, you will likely read Broken and wonder why Theo didn’t just wash his hands of James. Goodness knows life would be easier on the significant other if they could just flip a switch, turn off their love, and walk away. But love doesn’t work that way and with how they began, Theo never had a chance because based on my experience with bipolar persons in a manic phase (both personally and professionally), they can be exceedingly charming. After all, James tripped Theo’s trigger so completely that Theo let himself be buggered in a club’s bathroom – something he’d never done before. His mortification upon discovering that he’d inadvertently joined the club of junior staffers who’ve slept with boss was priceless, even if we only know about it because of his inner monologue. Theo’s refusal to engage in a repeat performance was just what James needed – to be told “no” and the person doing so, to not bend to his will easily. Witnessing James’s courting of Theo was lovely to see. But the author’s decision to present the story from both Theo’s and James’s points of view also made it heartbreaking to watch because I had a front row seat to James’s turmoil, insecurities, and misguided notions.

The chemistry between James and Theo is undeniable. The love that forms over the course of their relationship is unquestionable (there might have been some insta-lust, but there was no inst-love here). What was heartbreaking was that James convinced himself, at least for a while, that Theo’s love was enough to heal him. Unfortunately, love isn’t enough to keep someone with a mental illness from spiraling downward, and Theo was too new in James’s life to recognize the signs of James hitting rock bottom. James’s rock bottom is real, it’s ugly, and it’s not easy to read, so be sure to heed the book’s warnings. I tend to enjoy books that deal with psychological issues, especially when the author is able to show the benefits of treatment without getting preachy, and that’s exactly what Haken does in Broken. James’s road to recovery is not an easy one, and even though we don’t see every day of it, we know the first part of it takes a while. Haken doesn’t “heal” James, but rather she shows the initial steps of his recovery, important stages along the way, and stresses that with bipolar disorder, it is a matter of lifelong management. James’s biggest hurdle was in accepting that just because he wasn’t “normal” (his words), didn’t mean he didn’t deserve to be happy. As his therapist liked to say, “Broken crayons can still color.” I loved that the Epilogue showed us James and Theo a year later, to see how they have coped with the changes in their life together. I also took perverse pleasure in seeing that Theo no longer answered to Mike (hehehe). While not an easy read, Broken was a compelling read and one that will stick with me for a long time.

Nicola lives in Rochdale, England with her husband and four children (six if you include the dog and cat!). She is the author the author of the m/m romance Souls of the Knight series, and is currently working on a standalone with new boys, James and Theo, due for release early 2016. When she is not busy playing with her imaginary book friends (or talking about them with real life friends!) she can usually be found carrying out her ordinary mum/housewife/all round slave duties. Oh, and if the kids ever ask, she moonlights as the Pink Power Ranger while they're sleeping...

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Broken by Nicola Haken to read and review for this tour.

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