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Chelsea Fine

REVIEW:  Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine

REVIEW: Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine

Best Kind of Broken (Finding Fate #1) by Chelsea Fine

Dear Ms. Fine:

I’m not a huge fan of novellas but when I find one that I like, it sticks with me. The tender and emotional young adult romance between two older teens trying to hold their families together stuck with me. When I read that you were publishing a New Adult, I thought that it was a perfect fit. And it is.

While I’m getting allergic to the word broken–which has become overused in the New Adult genre–I didn’t feel like this book came off as tragedy porn. Instead, through circumstances revealed late in the book, two good friends were wrenched apart at the beginning of a burgeoning romance.

Pixie and Levi were good friends. She was the best friend, in fact, of Levi’s sister and because Pixie’s home life wasn’t the best, she spent a lot of time at the Andrews’ household finding a refuge with her friends and looking at their parents as part of her own makeshift family.

At age nineteen, Pixie is going to her aunt’s bed and breakfast to spend the summer while the Arizona State University dorms close down and she contemplates what she wants to do with her future.  She’s thinking of transferring to an art school in New York City and getting away from the sad memories her hometown holds.

What her aunt doesn’t tell her is that she’ll be sharing a bathroom with Levi Andrews, the summer handyman, whom she hasn’t spoken to in nearly a year.  The romance isn’t going to surprise anyone. Because they can’t love each other, the outlet for their sexual tension is through fighting. Levi uses all the hot water up. Pixie shorts out the electricity so that Levi is left with only one side of his face shaved.  But Pixie’s aunt keeps pushing them together and ultimately their feelings come out.

Both characters are relatable and likeable although Levi does engage in some slut shaming that he immediately regrets. Pixie’s best friend plays the ever familiar role of the outgoing, better dressed, enjoys to party, and sexually active girl. Levi’s friend is much the same way and provided some humorous comic relief. The friend is always talking to new people and ends up with a goat he babysits. But I enjoyed the friendship and how the two people in Pixie and Levi’s life pushed them out of their comfort zone.

Moreover, I really believed that this romance would last because of their shared past.

The two off notes included Levi’s parents and then the treatment of the thing that broke them apart. Levi’s parents completely abandoned him and it came off odd. I know families can break apart in a tragedy but how they came back together made their actions all the more implausible. In an effort to give everyone an HEA, the parental plotline came off as tortured rather than touching.

The treatment of the thing (so as not to spoil the story) also lacked depth. In part because the “thing” isn’t revealed until late in the book neither Levi or Pixie gave much mental contemplation over to the center of the tragedy. The tragedy is easy to guess but not how it happened.  And it lessened the impact of their loss. It was almost as if they grieved more for the loss of their own relationship than the other thing.

Overall though I really liked the narrators and I would definitely pick up another Fine book. I could do without the sex scene that has the hero referencing her own doglike noises. He pushes into me and I howl like a werewolf. Seriously. It’s that kind of doglike sound that comes out of my mouth. B-

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW: Sophie and Carter by Chelsea Fine

REVIEW: Sophie and Carter by Chelsea Fine

Dear Ms. Fine:

During my Christmas holiday, I sped through a number of young adult stories either self published or published by smaller houses.  This is one of the better ones I picked up.  It’s novella length. According to my handy dandy Calibre word count plugin, the Kindle file clocks in at a little under 20,000 words.

Sophie and Carter by Chelsea FineThe story is told in alternating first person and my  biggest complaint is that there is no real differentiation in voice between Sophie and Carter.  While the subject matter made it easy to distinguish who was the narrator, the actual tone did not differ.   They were the same person to some extent which diminished the storytelling. I also felt that the story was almost too short and that there was room for much more narrative and interaction of the characters.

Sophie and Carter live next door to each other.  Both have a difficult home life. Sophie’s mother is a prostitute who frequently forgets the obligations she has at home to her four children.  Sophie is trying to balance parenting her three younger siblings and going to school and running down her mother from time to time to get cash to pay bills and feed the family.  She has no time for dating or school activities. She cannot see farther than the next moment.

Carter’s father beat him and his mother.  The beatings for Carter’s mother were so severe that she became mentally disabled.  She is often hallucinating or cowering in the corner.  Carter has become the parent with his mother, the child.

Sophie and Carter look at each other through their home’s windows, Sophie sometimes seeing Carter help feed his mother and Carter seeing Sophie get the kids dinner and their homework.  They help each other out, with Carter coming over every morning to help get the crew off to school.  And each night they take a moment for themselves and sit on the porch to gain just enough courage to make it through the next day.

Even though the storyline seems morose, there is actually quite a bit of hope in the story. Seeing the two kids constantly helping each other out, supporting each other, hurting for the other’s situation was touching and uplifting.  There is a tender sweetness that emanates as the two come to realize that the feelings that they have for each other are stronger than friendship and that slow awakening is joyful for the two and the reader.  I know that some adults have a hard time believing that teens can have a forever after but in this case it is completely believable.  Sophie and Carter are bound together by their shared experiences.  They’re weathering storms more difficult than many adults will face and their troubles are manageable because they can lean on each other.  Short but priced at $2.99, I felt like this was worth my money and would recommend it to others. B

Best regards,

Jane

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