Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review-Breaking the Reins by Juliana Haygert

Genre: NA contemporary romance
Word Count: ~100,000
Release date: August/16/2013
Cover by: Sarah Hansen (Okay Creations)

From Goodreads:

Horses, mansions, tea parties, and lies are twenty-year-old Hannah Taylor’s life. To others, her family and her relationship with Eric is perfect. But she knows the truth. She lives it.

After a fire takes her grandma’s life and kills her horse, Hannah’s immaculate life spirals out of control. Her father disapproves of her decision to run her grandma’s ranch instead of focusing solely on learning the family business; Animal Control brings her Argus, a mistreated horse that she can’t turn away even though she’s not ready for another horse; and her boyfriend, Eric Bennett, a world famous polo player, becomes possessive and authoritarian. Despite her best efforts to disguise it, Hannah grows wary of him.

Then, Leonardo Fernandes struts onto the polo scene. A cocky rookie with a messy life of his own, he’s drawn to Hannah and isn’t afraid of showing it, even when Eric makes it clear she is his and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Hannah suffers for Eric’s jealousy. The abuse only gets worse when Leo steals the title of best polo player in the world from Eric.

But the title isn’t enough for Leo. He wants Hannah too, and she can’t deny her attraction to him either. Somehow, she must find a way to break free from abusive Eric before he breaks every bone in her body.

My Review:

Horses, Hot Brazilians, and Horrifying Secrets

The story seems simple, a young girl wanting to break free from her wealthy family to find her own place in the world. But it’s so much more than that. Hannah has many stories to share. On the surface she seems so put together and determined, but the truth is she’s broken. I honestly don’t know who I rooted for more in this book, Hannah or the battered horse, Argus. My heart broke for Hannah. She’s strong and independents, yet  trapped in an existence she desperately needs to break free from.  Just like Argus-beaten and malnourished, he is timid and afraid. Argus is broken too.

When we first meet Hannah we get a glimpse into her wonderful life. She’s from a wealthy family, her boyfriend is a gorgeous Polo player, and she has a close relationship with her grandmother she adores.  But a fire that claims the lives of her grandmother and her horse uncover what really lies beneath the surface.

Hannah can’t seem to please her rigid father and her boyfriend is extremely possessive. She inherits her grandmother’s ranch, but both of the men in her life want her to sell it. They don’t understand her emotional attachment to it. The more she tries to convince them that the ranch is her future, the more they fight her about it. The more she fights with her boyfriend, Eric, the more she notices changes in him.

Enter Leonardo Fernandes. A polo star from Brazil who moves with his family to a nearby ranch. When he finds Hannah on the side of the road, trying to catch a runaway Argus, he’s mesmerized by her. Their share loved of horses and how to care for them brings them closer together. Leo doesn’t hide his feelings for Hannah which enrages Eric, releasing a dark and sinister side he’s hidden. When Leo tries to claim his girlfriend and his number rank in the polo world, Eric snaps.

As Eric’s violent tendencies escalate, Hannah finds herself trapped in his grasp. She wants to break free from him, but she doesn’t have the courage, strength, or help she needs to do so. Or does she? In Leo and Argus she discovers that what can be broken can also be fixed. Healing Argus means healing her own wounds and the bond that forms between these two battered beings is so breath-taking. They give each other the strength and support they both so desperately need.

Breaking the Reins reminded me how much I love stories that involve relationships other than just romance. I loved Leo and Hannah’s story; how they interacted together and worked together to help Argus. But I also really loved Hannah’s relationship with Argus. She was reluctant to take him in, unsure of her ability to help heal his wounds. The love they find reminded me of my childhood favorites Black Beauty and The Black Stallion. Watching them both learn to trust each other is heart warming.

Juliana Haygert’s writing is filled with a grace and elegance that sweeps you off your feet. Her characters are complex and watching those complexities unravel is fascinating and surprising. I was stunned by the rage and evil that consumes Eric, and the lengths he will go to to get everything he wants. When the truth comes out you will be horrified and shocked. But the courage and love from Hannah, Leo, and Argus is inspiring. I laughed, I cried, I swooned, and then I did it all over again. I couldn’t put this book down.The ending was real, providing both the emotional high and the hidden scars the characters will have to learn to live with. I can't wait to read more from this author.

About the author: 

While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting—but equally gratifying—life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for writing such a beautiful story ;)

  2. Great review and story sounds interesting, but I can't read something where a horse dies in a fire!! :(

    1. You don't see that part ;) It's only referenced so you know what she's been through and why she's apprehensive about riding again. It's really good and it does have an awesome HEA. What if I say MONSTER TRUCKS are involved LOL!

  3. This was one of the most emotional books I've read in a long long time! I couldn't believe how fast my heart was beating towards the end, your right that Juliana has a beautiful writing style. I also agree with you about the non romantic relationships, although I hardly ever read a book without romance, it's those extra little relationships that sometimes make a book spectacular!

    1. I know, I am usually all about the romance. But the relationship between Hannah and Argus was so beautiful. I probably should update my review that the tears were happy tears ;)