Beauty in the Breakdown by E. L. Esch

Title:  Beauty in the Breakdown

Author:  E.L. Esch

Genre:  Contemporary

Length:  Novel

Publisher:  Loose Id (October 2nd, 2012)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥4Hearts

Blurb:  Luke Martin Cleary isn’t out of the closet to his brother, and that’s always been okay since he isn’t involved. Then he meets Rowan, a fragile man with a dark past and one hot body. But Rowan’s heart and body are broken and guarded, and it’s going to take a lot of love to touch someone so completely untouchable. Literally.

Rowan Wilheim Nails is a man in pain. Ever since an abusive falling out with his ex-boyfriend, he’s developed a phobia of being touched by another person–a phobia of being hurt again. So when Luke and Rowan meet at a bar and end up at Luke’s apartment later on, Rowan is skeptical of spending the night in Luke’s bed. There’s only one thing he can do to make touching Luke’s skin bearable–get drunk.

Luke hates Rowan’s coping method, but how can he help change it when he doesn’t understand Rowan’s situation? By getting involved, he decides, even if that means divulging his secret to his brother. And so Luke begins breaking Rowan and his walls down, slowly and tenderly and maybe a little more roughly in the bedroom, but definitely without hurting him again. No matter how long it takes or how untouchable Rowan claims to be, Luke is determined to heal Rowan so that one day there’ll be nothing between their hearts but each other’s skin.

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Reviewer:  Madison

Review:  Luke and Rowan hook up one night and both feel an instant connection. They want more than a one-night stand. The problem is they both have some serious baggage to overcome. Luke is still haunted by the death of his parents and the promise he had made to his dad not to reveal his sexuality to his younger brother, despite now being his sole caretaker. Rowan has just come out of a physically abusive relationship and can’t bear skin-on-skin contact without the aid of alcohol to numb the pain. Despite these obstacles, Luke and Rowan fall in love and work to heal old wounds.

The story took awhile to draw me in, but once the connection between Luke and Rowan was established, I felt for them. They were both fighters, both stubborn. Yet, they showed their vulnerability with one another. The way their relationship developed was sweet. I didn’t fully understand Rowan’s skin phobia, nor did I understand how he got over it, but I’m glad he did in the end. The story was well written with believable dialogue and likable characters.

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