Title: Real Men Don’t break Hearts
Author: Coleen Kwan
May Contain Spoilers
Real Men Don’t Break Hearts is a fun, quick read. It’s about second chances and changing your outlook on life. Both Ally and Nate learn to forgive and put the past where it belongs – in the past. They finally take the lessons learned from a few challenging moments in their lives and start to look to the future. Ally is especially chained to her past, having suffered a heartbreaking and humiliating breakup six years earlier. Having been burned painfully by her fiancé, she turns her focus on saving her grandmother’s souvenir shop and decides that she’s not ready to trust again. After being jilted at the alter, and worse, having hated Nate Hardy, her intended’s cousin, deliver the news, she’s not willing to put her heart at risk like that again.
Nate, a delinquent in his younger days, made it big in Sydney, but now he’s looking for something else. All of his money and fancy toys don’t mean anything to him, and he’s searching for a new direction, and a new purpose, for his life. He decides it’s time to face his past, as well as make up for some of the poor choices he made when he was younger. Moving back to Burronga, the small town where he grew up, he reopens his deceased brother’s landscaping business. Along the way, he is forced to realize that neither he, nor his older brother, were blameless for their poor reputations and the reluctance of some of those in town to welcome him back home. Especially Ally Griffin. He’s always thought of her as prissy, but as he gets to know her, he begins to think that he’s judged her unfairly.
I enjoyed how both Ally and Nate are made to reassess their opinions of each other as the story progressed. Ally is having a hard time making ends meet at the shop, and she’s past due with her rent. When she discovers that Nate is her new landlord, she’s terrified that he’ll kick her out, causing her to lose both her business and her home, the apartment above the shop. She also hasn’t forgiven him for destroying her relationship with her ex. She has blamed him for years for being abandoned at the altar, and having to come to terms with her anger and resentment is hard for her. She has blamed Nate for so much for so long that it’s hard to just let it go. As she gets to know him better, though, she begins to realize that she misjudged him and that he’s not the cause of her relationship dissolving.
Nate’s attempts to make amends for his past mistakes makes an engaging backstory. He’s matured and realizes what a turd he was when he was a teen. He defaced public property, harassed the next door neighbor, and committed petty crimes. He was on a ruinous path, and now he realizes how lucky he was to be able to put that behind him. I liked the interactions between Nate and the neighbor and her crabby dog the best, and felt moved by Nate’s attempts to fix the relationship that he and his brother broke.
Real Men Don’t Break Hearts pushed all the right buttons for me. Enemies to lovers, redemption, and discovering your path in life, one that makes you happy and enriches the person you are, are all themes I love to read about, and Coleen Kwan explores them with compassion and compelling prose. This is the first book I’ve read by her, but it won’t be the last.
Review copy provided by publisher