Review: Beautifully Broken Pieces by Catherine Cowles

beautifully broken piecesTitle: Beautifully Broken Pieces

Author: Catherine Cowles

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The heroine: Waitress Taylor Lawson

The hero: Deputy Chief Walker Cole

The blurb: A woman who’s lost everything.

Taylor is looking for peace and quiet away from the memories of all she’s lost. A small mountain town where no one knows her seems like the perfect escape.

A man battling the ghosts of his past.

Walker loves his life just the way it is. His town, his family, his brothers in blue. Everything simple and easy—until a chance encounter changes it all.

When Taylor’s solitude is interrupted by the rugged cop, they find that the very thing they were avoiding might be just what they both need. As their iron wills clash and passion flares…a killer lurks.

And you never know who might be caught in the crosshairs.

Standalone or series: This is book one in the Sutter Lake series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: Further to Fall was a stunning debut from this author, and I didn’t think I’d love another book by her any more than I do FtF… but I was wrong. Beautifully Broken Pieces is about Taylor, Carter’s best friend, whom we met in FtF. Taylor is a woman in mourning for the loss of her mother. When she agrees to go to the quiet town of Sutter Lake with Carter, Austin and Liam for a desperately needed getaway, she finds herself soothed by the peace she finds there so much that she decides to spend a year living there. Her plan is to keep to herself as much as possible and let her broken heart heal.

That all goes out the window when she meets the son of the people she’s renting her cabin from. Deputy Chief Walker Cole is a good man with a loving family, and he understands grief, too – his high school sweetheart, Julie, was murdered a decade previously and her killer never caught. He’s been dating Caitlin for a few months, but she doesn’t spark a fire deep inside him like Taylor does. Try as he might to deny it, no woman ever has. He ends the relationship with Caitlin once he realises it’s not going anywhere and she’s a lot more serious about it than he is. Caitlin doesn’t take the news well, which makes for some awkward encounters.

Taylor just wants to be left alone. She doesn’t need or want anyone to be close to her, because everyone she loves leaves her eventually, whether it’s by choice or not. She’s struggling to cope with the loss of her mom, who was her best friend, and just getting through each day is hard. I found Taylor’s grief incredibly painful to read, because I have recently lost my own mother and I could relate to it in every single way.

But the Cole family won’t let Taylor become a hermit, and she eventually relents to joining them for meals and outings. Apart from Walker, his parents and his meddling but highly amusing grandmother, there is also his sister and nephew. They all adore Taylor and she eventually lets them into her heart, despite her repeated attempts to push them away.

Taylor doesn’t want to be attracted to Walker, but she is, and he starts to break down the wall she has so carefully put up around her heart. It’s a gorgeously slow burning relationship, with each of them cautious about giving their heart to the other, given their pasts. But they eventually can no longer deny how they feel, and soon enough they’re spending every night together.

While Walker is deliriously happy with his personal life, professionally it’s a different matter: girls have started going missing and are turning up dead, and they all look like Julie. It looks as though her killer is back again, and Walker is determined to catch him. Julie’s death is the reason he became a cop, so no other family would have to go through what he did if he can help it.

Both Walker and Taylor find themselves targeted by this killer, and what happens to them will leave you holding your breath. Will they get the happy ending they both so richly deserve? You’re just going to have to read this book to find out.

Catherine’s writing is beautifully lyrical. She has a way with words that is just magical; her books are so easy to read and suck you in from the beginning, so that you’re wanting to drop everything else and just finish it. And when you do, you’re sad because you just want more. Beautifully Broken Pieces deals with some dark topics – death, grief, murder – which could have made for a very heavy book, but Catherine is a gifted enough writer to ensure that every single word is just perfect. Although emotionally painful to read in some places, there’s enough light – with well-rounded, well written characters and a romance that is both deep and a little raunchy (which I loved!) – to ensure it never drags or lets you become too mired in the darkness.

This book is and will remain one of my favourite romances of all time. If you consider yourself a romance fan, you need to read Beautifully Broken Pieces.

Review: Further to Fall by Catherine Cowles

further to fallTitle: Further to Fall

Author: Catherine Cowles

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The heroine: Schoolteacher Carter McCarthy

The hero: MMA fighter/gym owner Austin Lyons

The blurb: An up-and-coming MMA fighter trying to take on the world. An innocent teacher trying to make the world a better place.

He never expected her to become his best friend. But she fought her way into his life, one tongue-lashing at a time. Until one night, one mistake tore them apart.

Losing her… that gutted him. But now, as one of the top fighters in the world, he’s back and determined to battle for his girl. But, from the sidelines, someone watches. Someone who’ll do just about anything to keep them apart.

Their second chance might be over before it even begins…

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: Carter McCarthy is an adorable heroine. She’s funny and smart and bubbly, and there’s a lot to like about her. One of her childhood best friends is Liam, now a famous singer. They both live in LA and Carter is just about to start a job there with her best female friend, Taylor. With another new friend in Ford, whom she meets through Liam, Carter is ready for this new phase in her life.

What she’s not ready for is Austin Lyons, a friend of Liam’s who used to be his bodyguard. He dismisses her as a groupie the first time they meet and Carter is less than impressed. Austin, for his part, has no time for women. Cheated on, betrayed and cleaned out financially by the woman he loved, he’s never going to trust another woman again. So he’s not really interested in playing nice with Carter, but when Liam calls him on his atrocious behaviour, he decides to wipe the slate clean and declare a truce.

After that, Carter and Austin become friends. He finds her adorable, nicknaming her Firecracker. They hang out together, and he grows fond of all her quirks, such as dipping fries into her vanilla shake from In-N-Out. For her part, Carter loves spending time with Austin. He lets his guard down and she sees his softer side. As the month pass, they spend every spare moment together.

When Carter reports her suspicions that one of her young students is being mistreated by his father, it sets off a chain of events that leads to her being attacked by the father in question. Austin races to her side, and it’s while she’s in hospital that he realises she’s wormed her way into his heart in a way he never intended for her to. Still, he resists his attraction, convinced a sweet, sunny Carter could do so much better than a broken man like him.

In the meantime, Carter realises she has fallen in love with Austin, but is convinced he doesn’t feel the same way. She realises it’s time to lay all her cards on the table and take a step back for her own sanity. When an incident involving a drunk Austin leaves her in tears, she meets him for breakfast and tells him how she feels about him. Stupidly, he denies feeling the same way and gets all huffy because Carter says she needs for them to take a break from each other. He doesn’t bother fighting for her, just gets up and walks away, and I wanted to smack him so badly for being so stupid.

A whole year passes. Austin goes on to become a champion MMA fighter in his category as he’s always wanted to be, and is now famous; he’s bought the old gym he used to train in. Carter has started dating a fellow teacher, Kyle, but there is no spark like she had with Austin and she eventually ends it.

Austin thinks he has it all now, but he realises that something is missing in his life. Someone is missing, and he’s determined to get her back, even though it’s been an entire year. Liam agrees to put him back in touch with Carter, and Austin asks Carter to help him with a youth program he wants to start at the gym. She agrees, because she’s missed her best friend, the man who makes her world brighter. This time, it’s Austin who’s up front: he doesn’t want to be her friend. He wants much more than friendship from her.

Carter is wary. Austin broke her heart a year ago, and she’s not going to just jump into a relationship with him. So they take it slowly, but when it’s clear that Carter has a stalker, Austin refuses to leave her side, and they eventually give in to the heat between them.

This was a beautifully written, slow burn, friends to lovers romance – a wonderful debut from this author that will suck you in and keep you reading until the wee hours. I loved both of these characters so much and they were so great together, I didn’t want this book to end. A fabulous debut from an author worth watching.