Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blog tour: Broken by Lauren Layne

Redemption # 1 
By: Lauren Layne
Releasing September 2nd, 2014

Lauren Layne’s New Adult novel tells the story of a girl with secrets, a guy with scars, and a love that could save them both... or destroy them.

When Olivia Middleton abandons the glamour of Park Avenue for a remote, coastal town in Maine, everyone assumes she’s being the kind do-gooder she’s always been. But Olivia has a secret: helping an injured war veteran reenter society isn’t about charity—it’s about penance. Only, Olivia’s client isn’t the grateful elderly man she’s expecting. Instead, he’s a brooding twenty-four-year-old who has no intention of being Olivia’s path to redemption . . . and whose smoldering gaze and forbidden touch might be her undoing.

Paul Langdon doesn’t need a mirror to show him he’s no longer the hotshot quarterback he was before the war. He knows he’s ugly—inside and out. He’ll do anything to stay in self-imposed exile, even accept his father’s ultimatum that Paul tolerate the newest caretaker for three months or lose his inheritance. But Paul doesn’t count on the beautiful twenty-two-year-old who makes him long for things that he can never have. And the more she slips past his defenses, the more keeping his distance is impossible.

Now Paul and Olivia have to decide: Will they help each other heal? Or are they forever broken?

Lauren Layne graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in political science that she has yet to put to good use. After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Layne moved to New York City, where she now writes full-time. She lives with her husband and their plus-size pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.


Hello Lauren! Welcome to Roberta’s Dreamworld and thank you for your time. First of all, tell us something about yourself, both as a writer and as a person.

Thanks so much for having me! Let’s see, something about me? Hmm … well, despite the fact that I’m a pretty conventional person all around, somehow my husband and I have become vagabonds. We’ve been married nearly eight years now, and haven’t lived in the same place longer than two years. Generally it’s only one year! For some reason that “nesting urge” passed us both right on by. 

As far as me as a writer? I guess I’d say that I write a lot like I talk in real life. At least that’s what my friends and family say; so many people have told me they read my book and could actually HEAR me saying some of the bits of dialog. I suspect that means many of the heroines have a dash of Lauren Layne in them :)

How/when did you realize you wanted to become a writer? 

Oh, pretty much always! I was an avid reader as a kid, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that writing books would be pretty much The Best Thing Ever. It took me awhile to get the guts to actually try it though. As in, like twenty years :)

Let’s speak about “BROKEN”. We’ve read the synopsis but can you tell us a little more about what the book is about?

Absolutely … this is a Beauty & the Beast story. Not like, “Oh this has elements of beauty and the beast,” but like … I set out to write a new adult spin of Beauty & the Beast and was very deliberate about it. That was a big part of the blurb I submitted to my publisher for the description. They opted to take it out, which was actually kind of a blessing in disguise, because now I have something to say when people ask for the unofficial description ;) 

The Beauty, in this case, is Olivia Middleton who’s gorgeous on the outside, but ugly on the inside (as far as she sees it) from a past mistake. Paul is a war hero who’s got some wicked facial scars. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to say he has a heart of gold (he can be a real jerk), he definitely has some pretty pure motives that show that inner beauty is really what counts. 

How did you come up with the idea and how did you create the characters?

Olivia is actually a secondary character from my  new adult debut (Isn’t She Lovely). I always wanted to tell her story, and knew BROKEN was the perfect way to do so. As far as Paul … he was a bit of a reach for me. My heroes are generally very suave and confident, but he’s pretty messed up from what he experienced in Afghanistan.

If you should describe your books in three words, what would you pick?

Smart, sarcastic, happily-ever-after

Do you have any favorite authors and did they influence your choice of the genre?

Although BROKEN is a new adult book, I’d say my main genre is adult contemporary romance. It’s what I first set out to write and what I first got published in.

My primary inspiration was definitely Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and later Kristan Higgins. Both of those ladies showed me it was possible to write romantic comedy when everyone else was going for angsty-drama.

What else do you enjoy doing, when you’re not writing? 

I get asked this question a lot, and I always cringe because I am SOOO boring. Honestly my work (writing) takes up most of my time, and I’m fine with that. I love having a hobby and career that overlap so completely. But when I need to step away from the computer, I like to go for a run, have a drink with my husband, or curl up with my Kindle (I read mostly non-fiction, despite the fact that I write fiction!)

As a writer do you get support from your family and friends?

I do. It’s been really lovely to have those people behind you cheering you on, and the ones who dash to buy your book at midnight the day it’s released. Granted, some of them aren’t big fans of the romance genre, but they’re proud of me regardless.

What are your dreams and plans for your future as a writer?

I’d love to break into YA one of these days. My plan has always been to do both contemporary romance and YA, but then NA snuck into the picture and I’m having a hard time doing it all! But hopefully once I complete a few contracted projects I’ll have a little break in which I can try my hand at writing a book set in high school. 

Would you like to say something to the readers to encourage them to read your books?

The reason I read romance is for those “belly flip” moments. You know, the ones where it feels like your heart squeezes, and your stomach gets fluttery? I also set out to write those moments. So if you’re a big fan of romantic comedy with a smattering of SWOON moments, I’m your girl ;) 

I’ve read a few New Adult books recently and, unless they are written really well, I have trouble relating with the characters because, let’s face it, I’m definitely not a new adult anymore. :-)
So when I signed up to review the book for the tour I didn’t have high expectations, especially since I didn’t know the author (may I add “shame on me”). Boy, am I glad I read this book! 

Even though the characters are 22 and 24, I connected with them straight away. I’ve been watching Gossip Girl so the world in which Olivia grew up sounded slightly familiar, and she was so funny I couldn’t help loving her straight away. Despite living in New York high-end society, Olivia isn’t your usual spoilt, daddy’s girl – well, maybe a little, since she wears designers clothes and uses daddy’s credit cards, but it’s clear from the very first chapter that she’s not exactly like all her rich friends.

Paul. Now, he would deserve a whole post. He’s cocky and arrogant, and during most of the early interactions with Olivia I wanted to slap him. Thankfully, the book is in dual first person POV so we get to be inside Paul’s head too and this definitely improved my opinion of him. He’s an injured war veteran with a troubled relationship with his rich father and scars that run much deeper than his skin and flesh. He’s a broken soul, who’s seen his friends die in front of his eyes and doesn’t feel like he deserves to live and be happy – much less be loved. He exiled himself to his father’s mansion in a small town in Maine and has pushed away any caregivers who tried to help him.
When his father gives him an ultimatum (keep the next caregiver for at least 3 months or you’re out of the house and on your own), Paul has no option but to accept (and for a very good reason which I won’t tell you now).

The book starts with Olivia’s farewell party, after she dropped out of NYU and decided to go away for a while to get over her guilt for cheating on her boyfriend. Her intention was to go to some third-world country, but her parents set her up through someone they knew, so that she doesn’t have to be too far from home. When she is sent up to Maine to take care of an injured veteran, the last thing she expects is to come face to face with a young man who’s just as gorgeous as he is aggressive.

Their meet-cute is… well, wow. You’ll have to read it to understand but from the very moment they meet, the pull is magnetic and you just know that the fun is just about to begin.
Olivia is just what Paul needs. She isn’t condescending and she’s not scared of his aggressive behavior. She faces him head-on, she doesn’t pity him, and she tries to make him see that the problem is all in his mind.
At times I wanted to throttle Paul. Even though I knew the reasons for his behavior, I just hated when he hurt Olivia just because. In a way, the story reminded me a little of Beauty and the Beast –because sometimes Paul was a real beast. But I loved loved loved their camaraderie, how they got closer and started to heal each other. Granted, it will take a long long time for Paul to completely trust Olivia and open his heart to her, but the journey to their HEA is fantastic.

This book is a page turner and I wish I’d started it during the weekend, so I wouldn’t have had to put it down. I was at work counting the hours when it was time to go home so I could go on reading. Yes, that’s just how hooked I was.

There are a couple of hot scenes, but they fit in the story and with Paul's persona, so it’s okay. You know I’m not a fan of long and graphic sex scenes, but with this book I didn’t mind at all. The author did a good job with adding a bit of heat to the story without it being just too much (or a way to make the book longer). Kudos to Lauren.

My one complaint is that the book ended too soon. I wanted more of Olivia and Paul as a couple!

I’d recommend this book to all the fans of the new adult genre and if you love Beauty and the Beast, you’ll want to read this book too. After discovering this author, I’ve found out that there’s a previous book, Isn’t She Lovely (Ethan’s story – Olivia’s ex) which I read after finishing this one (read my review here). However, Broken works perfectly as a standalone so if you haven’t read the previous book, you can still enjoy this one (but then you’ll definitely have to go and buy Isn’t She Lovely because it’s a fantastic book and you’ll love Ethan and Stephanie!).


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