ARC Review: Breathe Again by Bonnie R. Paulson

Format: E-bookbreatheagain
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Series: Standalone
Hero: Brodan Steele
Heroine: Maggie Lachlan
Sensuality: 2.9
Date of Publication: August 22, 2011
Started On: August 16, 2011
Finished On: August 16, 2011

Breathe Again by Bonnie R. Paulson is a contemporary romance set to release on the 22nd of this month from Carina Press. This is a story that deals with a lot of grief, a widow who hasn’t allowed herself time to properly grieve for a loss that has her questioning each and every relationship in her life, making her reject overtures made by her friends and loved ones because pity is intolerable in the face of what she has experienced. Told in the first person from Maggie’s point of view, Breathe Again describes how Maggie finds friendship and ultimately the strength to move on from her past and embrace a love that blossoms in the the most unlikely circumstances.

Maggie has been struggling with the death of her husband Dean for the past ten months. A radiologist who immerses herself in her work to keep the dark memories at bay, Maggie suddenly finds herself taking a forced vacation of two weeks from work making her wonder whether she would be able to handle all that time alone by herself. Rescue comes from an unlikely friendship that is forged between Maggie and the charming, fun and easygoing Ryan Stewart and his taciturn older brother Brodan Steele who seems to rub her emotions in a wrong way.

This unlikely threesome somehow cross all the hurdles and form a close knitted group even with Brodan trying to keep Maggie at arm’s length, trying his damndest to ignore the spark that continues to dance between them.It is this relationship that acts as a starting point for healing that begins the torturous process of letting go of Maggie’s painful past amidst facing the truth about Ryan and the toll his waning health takes on his older brother who refuses to step away from his side. 

For me, there are a couple of things worthy of being mentioned about the story. I found the grieving aspect of the story to be a unique one which held my undivided attention as Maggie undergoes a lot of pain and feelings of insecurity as to why her husband had opted to leave her the way he had. It certainly would not be easy for anyone to get over a death like Dean’s, especially given the fact that Maggie never allows herself to grieve properly for a loss that continues to haunt and taunt her even ten months on.

Ryan’s attitude towards life, even when his life was filled with so much uncertainty was an aspect of the story that  made me think about all the things in life that one ought to be thankful for. Its a fact that we humans rarely take the time to do that, much less appreciate each given day as it comes. 

Now for the things that didn’t work for me in the story. The sexual tension that was built up right from the very start between Brodan and Maggie never fully materialized even towards the end of the story. I felt as if I had been cheated out of a vital aspect of their relationship and that a door had been slammed shut in my face even before I fully knew what it was that I wanted when it came to their reluctant relationship. I could definitely understand Brodan’s reasoning when it came to avoiding any sort of realtionship with Maggie apart from being friends because of Ryan. But to be able to say no to what Brodan and Maggie both obviously wanted from each other just didn’t sit that well with me.

Because the story was told only from Maggie’s point of view, I felt cheated out of ever getting to experience how it is Brodan feels throughout the story. The sexual tension aspect of a novel works brilliantly if and when the hero’s tortured thoughts are also included as part of the developing relationship between the hero and heroine which this one lacked. Though overall I did like Maggie’s thoughts and at times her self depreciating humor, I would have loved it if Brodan’s thoughts and feelings and his point of view had been included in the story.

Towards the end, I just felt that there was too much grief and very little happiness in this story. For someone who likes happy endings, the somber mood of the story throughout with very little lightness somehow detracted a bit from my enjoyment factor. Though there is a happily ever after in the making for Brodan and Maggie, I just never felt that glow that comes from being satisfied when the hero and heroine finally seal their life together towards the end.

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