Rory Donovan loves his wife, but he can’t give her what she needs. On the opposite side, he’s finding out with help from his psychiatrist that his wife can’t give him what he needs either. It’s a painful discovery for both Rory and Maia, but as Rory delves into his past trauma and what made him the way he is, he discovers new things about himself and slowly give a name to the attraction he feels for the father of one of his students.
Bennett Foster is a harbor patrolman in Seattle whose purpose in life is to raise his daughter happy and healthy. He does that by co-parenting with his best friend of many years. When he meets Rory, the attraction is instant, but the married and not-so-obviously straight teacher has issues. The thing is Bennett can’t help but want to be Rory’s rock while he’s going through whatever he’s going through. When Rory talks Bennett into an overnight school trip, their relationship changes.
Rory’s marriage is over and his life is finally beginning to take shape. Best of all, Rory is starting to understand himself and his own feelings, but someone is after Rory and only guilt and shame keep him quiet. When Rory ends up beat up and in the hospital, Bennett knows something is not right, but when he sees Maia, Rory’s ex-wife, weeks later sporting a couple of bruises, things between them take a turn for their future and for the safety of all of those involved.
Unbreak Broken is the third book in Hogan’s Coming About series. I have been dying for Rory’s story since the first book. It was worth the wait. While heavier than the other two books in this series, this installment takes an unexpected but not altogether unwelcomed turn. It’s possibly the fact that I didn’t see it coming that had me glued to the pages. Or that it was so damn hot—because that first scene needed to come with a warning label and a fan.
I think I’ve always known Rory had issues because no one is that perfect. Add to that his need for contact, especially with his male friends, and the countdown for this story began before his wedding to Maia—for me, anyway. That he’s in therapy was not surprising to me. What surprised me was his reasoning and the childhood trauma that he repressed. I would like to send out kudos to this author for her ingenuity with Rory and his psyche. Instead of going directly to the easy explanation, she creates a situation in which Rory not only blames himself, but cares the guilt and shame for decades afterwards. I know I’m being vague but if I gave you all the answers you would be mad at me. The best part of Rory’s breakthrough is not his memory of what happened to him, but the events that follow with Bennett.
I adore Bennett because throughout this book he puts himself in a no-win situation. His attraction to Rory is such that he intervenes at every turn and begins falling for him before either of them realize it. He’s a gay man who’s not out at work and is falling in love with a straight (and, at first, married) man. But Bennett makes it work. He figures if he’s gonna fall he might as well crash and get his heart broken in the process. Better to live than to never live at all, or something like that. He’s always this rock, no matter what comes at him. He never backs away. He doesn’t fold under pressure and he doesn’t push Rory to be something he’s not. He’s everything Rory needed even when Rory didn’t know it. I think I forgot to mention Bennett’s family, as unconventional as they are. His family is what makes Bennett the rock he is—his daughter and his best friend who is also the mother of his daughter. The co-parenting situation is a balanced raising of their child. They are another example of a strong, beautiful family—conventional or otherwise.
I think the most surprising part of this story was Rich’s reaction to Rory’s revelation. Rich is Rory’s former roommate and one of the MCs in the second book of this series. From the beginning of the series, it’s clear that Rich was in love with Rory and made even clearer in his own story, so I was looking forward to the confrontation in this book. I’m not going to give away what happens, but I’m happy to report it shows both growth in this series and the characters as well as made me happy.
This story touches on some deep issues—sexual abuse being a biggie. It’s a delicate issue and well handled by Hogan. Rory’s journey into understanding and healing is well-documented and well-timed. The author doesn’t rush his progression for the sake of smexy time—and trust me the smexy does happen and it’s so hot. The thing is, while this story is very much a beautiful romance, it’s also a story of overcoming past trauma and overcoming the impossible. It’s a story of Rory finding the man he was always supposed to be and never knew existed. Everything about this story is emotional and heartfelt. It’s beautiful and sweet. But mostly it’s happy in ways I never expected.
I love this book and love this series so much. I’ve already made my wishes for John-Michael’s story known so I’ll continue to cross my fingers for such a day. In the meantime, I still have Rory to re-read, which I intend on doing because this book was so worth it. I highly, highly recommend Unbreak Broken by JK Hogan.