BOOK REVIEW: Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

BOOK REVIEW: Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie GarberOnce Upon A Broken Heart (Once Upon A Broken Heart #2)
by Stephanie Garber
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Synopsis:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Caraval, the first book in a new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after.

Evangeline Fox was raised in her beloved father’s curiosity shop, where she grew up on legends about immortals, like the tragic Prince of Hearts. She knows his powers are mythic, his kiss is worth dying for, and that bargains with him rarely end well.

But when Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, she becomes desperate enough to offer the Prince of Hearts whatever he wants in exchange for his help to stop the wedding. The prince only asks for three kisses. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’s pledged. And he has plans for Evangeline that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

“I don’t think you and I have the same definition of hurt.” 
“Be thankful for that, Little Fox.” Jacks gave her a smile that was all sharp edges. A drop of blood fell from the corner of his mouth, and something godforsaken washed over his expression. “Hurt is what made me.”

Damn this book. Damn this stupid book that I didn’t even care about. Was it the heroine? Was it the storyline? Was it the way the words flowed so beautifully upon opening up the story? Could it have been the absolutely gorgeous cover? Or was it simply that I felt at home, at peace, just happy when I read it? Or, the scariest question of all-Was it Jacks?

He looked like a bad decision some unfortunate person was about to make.


And that’s the whole point-I truly cannot say why I liked loved this book so much. I was so blase about OUABH’s impending release, so meh, so whatever that I didn’t even know it was released until all the editions began pouring onto my doorstep. And isn’t that the kicker? I knew. Deep down my soul knew that I’d love this story. So, book hoarder that I am, I possess them all, naturally, before even having read the story and even believing I wouldn’t care one way or another for it. But, again, why? I still can’t even tell you.

“Heroes don’t get happy endings. They give them to other people.”

This book, to me, felt so different than the Caraval stories. It’s the same world, really honestly the same characters-so why was it so different? I think the thing is, it really wasn’t. Perhaps Garber has grown as a writer, maybe she simply wrote from a deeper perspective. I don’t quite understand how a writer can have all the same mannerisms, yet churn out a book that felt so wholly me when the others kind of failed to do so.

“She hates me,” Jacks said pleasantly. “So even if she likes you more, that’s not saying very much.”
“Are you certain about that?”

I loved Tella. I loved Scarlett. I adored Julian and Legend…And the stories were absolutely spellbinding, always wrapped in a haze of fairytale type enchantment. It was no joke when people said this felt somewhat like a fairytale-and I keep telling myself that was why I loved it so much. But if this was, in fact, a fairytale, it was certainly a demented version of one. And…there it is. I truly think that’s it: This was no fairytale . There was no happily ever after. It was my favorite kind of story, ripe with a sea of possibilities: Happily Never After.

She knew her story had the potential for infinite endings—and that belief hadn’t changed. There was a happy ending waiting for her.

Yeah, Evangeline will find it, sure. But the journey she took, the desperate attempts at creating love at first sight, at believing her one true love was within grasp at all times, the way she was so willing to love and trust and forgive and risk it all for both her kindness of heart and the idea of hope. Hope that someone else would do the same for her, hope that her one true love would be her knight in shining armor, hope that good would win over evil, always…I love that she didn’t just get that. I love that her journey is so rocky, deceptive, and convoluted. But, most of all, I loved the unpredictability-because there was literally not one moment (save, bad guys) that I could have predicted.

She just wanted someone to want her the way Jacks had wanted this girl. And she didn’t want it to be because of a spell or a curse. Evangeline wanted a real love powerful enough to break a spell.

Well…maybe I could have, but I’m not sure how. And, to be honest, part of that unpredictability comes from the hero (?What even is Jacks?) himself. I have never been anything but transparent when it comes to Jacks in the Caraval series: I truly do not remember a thing about him, but I remember enough I just didn’t care or get why anyone would root against Legend for Tella’s heart.

According to the myths, the Prince of Hearts was not capable of love because his heart had stopped beating long ago. Only one person could make it work again: his one true love. They said his kiss was fatal to all but her—his only weakness—and as he’d sought her, he’d left a trail of corpses.

Yeah, okay, bad boy with bad intentions and even badder actions who deserves good and sweet and adventurous girl-I get it, but come on. She loved Legend, end of story. BUT, that being said, this world? It was made for Jacks. And, truthfully, I loved Evangeline FOR Jacks. Remember that quote the Mockingjay, the one about her [Katniss] being fire and Gale being fire, as well, and Peeta was the dandelion in the wind? That’s Tella and Jacks-they just didn’t go. This book, while not wholly about Jacks himself, helped him to shine a little (duh, obviously). And, again, yeah I know-He is a main character therefore he doesn’t have anything else going on to really contend with, but this is also what I loved about Garber’s storytelling here….this book really didn’t throw Jacks all up in our face. Like…at all.

He was terrible. There was no other word to describe him—except maybe heartless or depraved or rotten. The way Jacks seemed to enjoy pain was absolutely staggering. The apple in his hand probably possessed more sympathy than he did. This was not the same young man who’d practically bled heartbreak all over the knave of his church. Something inside of him was broken.

Romances that aren’t really romances are my favorite kind-the tension, the unknowing protectiveness, mean pet names turning to something sweeter and kinder (Side note: This book is home to probably my favorite intimate little pet name I’ve heard in a while. I don’t know why, but Little Fox just really is my favorite thing ever. Every time I saw it, my heart just went berserk. Crazy. And, let’s be honest, if we’d have been stuck with him calling her ‘Pet’ the whole book, I might have raged. That, in tandem, is probably my least favorite pet name (and Woman. Who the eff wants to be called ‘Woman?’). No thanks. Hard pass), the jealousy. It all adds up to a million non-kisses and unplanned heroic acts and I am all here for it-and so was Garber because her book is riddled with so many tantalizingly sinful moments without even closely bordering smutty-barely restrained bites, caresses, touches, and-ahem-okay, I won’t say the last but *insert red face sweating emoji*.

“Do you stare at everyone like that, or just me?” Jacks looked up.

Evangeline reached out to Jacks in a moment of desperation, so they started out as tentative allies, turned untrusting partners, turned actual allies, to somewhat friends. The addition of Jacks only being able to kiss his one true love without it resulting in death? Umm…yes please. Bring the tension. I THRIVE on sexual tension. Bring on ALLL the tension. Who needs kisses when you can have…other things.

“I’m curious about a lot of things. I’m curious about you, but I don’t want you to bite me!”
The corner of Jacks’s mouth twitched. “I’ve already done that, Little Fox.”

Evangeline’s naive view of life and quest for her one true love, her selflessness and willingness to help those around her that she cares about is perfect for Jacks’s hard-nosed Fury self who is cynical, heart-broken, and cold as stone-she is the yin to his yang, she will slowly break down his long-built up barriers and crumble his resolve as he saves her time and again, as he continues to play games and use her in his quest for something Fate-ish and top secret and realizes she really does mean something to him. We saw so many wonderful moments where we got tiny fractures in his exterior, moments where we saw flares of vulnerability…and only more will come. I lived for these far and few between moments, losing sleep long into the night daydreaming and aching for more, all the while knowing that I was getting exactly what I love most, romance wise, yet still pining for so much more and knowing it will be a year before we get any gratification.

“I didn’t think you cared.”
“I don’t. But you still owe me one more kiss, and until I collect it, you’re mine, and I do not like to share.”

Some books have crazy endings, amazing epic awesome cliffhangers….and some have subtle ends, subtle chaos, but cliffhangers all the same. And, I’ll be honest, the books with subtle cliffhangers, such as this one? They are far more likely, in my opinion, to have an epic final book. An author can write a crazy end, and I get SO excited as they are my favorite thing ever, but I’m always willing to wait because I’m so nervous that the next book won’t be worth the wait, that it won’t hold up to those monumental final moments. But with endings like these, I can’t help but feel helpless, as if I’m drowning, because it’s as if I can’t breathe knowing I have to wait until literally next year to see what type of story Jacks and Evangeline are going to get. How (notice I did not say if) he will eventually crumble and break and (omg I HOPE) profess his love for her (Fates tend to get kind of obsessed, don’t they??), how he will protect her at any cost…I just, I can’t wait. I seriously cannot wait. It makes me ill to think how far away it is-but that’s my fault, isn’t it? Giving into the urge so quickly? So easily? Well, shame on me.

Hope is a difficult thing to kill, just a spark of it can start a fire.

Basically this review is a horrible non-review with very little in way of what I would normally write, but I had no direction because I have no clue what worked and why it hit me differently than the Caraval series did. I absolutely ADORED Caraval-I did-but there was just something so wholly satisfying about a non romance littered with a girl who dreamed of a fairy tale romance that I couldn’t help but to be dazzled. Easy romances are boring, period, and this was and will be anything but. The promise of something so much greater, grander, magnificent than just a normal romance might be what excites me most-the idea that Garber could literally take this story anywhere. But, perhaps the most promising of all, is the notion that Jacks will slowly lose his mind, will become jealous of any other person who seeks Evangeline. The idea that he will do anything to protect her, even though he says he wouldn’t and doesn’t care, that she is and will be a more guarded, less doe-eyed girl who only wants her happily ever after-its going to be a cacophony of chaos and heartbreak and destruction (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET THERE BE CHAOS AND HEARTBREAK)…it sounds like a pretty dark book to me. Now, if only I didn’t have to wait.

****

Guys…this one just got me good. I don’t even know why…it just resonated deep within me, and I’ll be honest when I say I never really cared for Jacks. Now, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him. I picked this up expecting to simply tolerate it, and instead walked away enthralled, obsessed, and more than upset I didn’t get more from Jacks and Evangeline. No clue what to read next, but I’ve always been a sucker for fairytale type stories and this somewhat quenched that thirst-Nothing will really touch my mood now.

So, if it’s not obvious, I literally cannot wait to write this review.

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4 Comments

  1. Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature)

    I still haven’t read Caraval, but this review makes me want to just skip and read this one! It sounds so good! Thanks for this awesome review!
    Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature) recently posted…Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali HazelwoodMy Profile

    • Chelsea (Peril Please)

      Ah thank you!! You made my heart so happy-I’m glad you liked my review. I went back after I read this and re-read Caraval and I just didn’t feel an ounce of the same feelings. But do not, under any circumstance, make the decision to read this FIRST unless you are totally boycotting Caraval. I think it would ruin a ton. They tie in together-but they can be skipped if you just want Jacks. Enjoy either way, and feel free to come back and message about it! I haven’t been able to fangirl NEARLY enough about this book!

  2. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I bought this book, but I haven’t read it yet. But it looks like I really need to get to it because it sounds amazing. I was always a fan of Jacks, so…
    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted…Do You “See” a Book as You Read? Let’s Discuss!My Profile

    • Chelsea (Peril Please)

      See, I wasn’t! I hated Jacks! Lol Well, not HATED, but you know.

      And then I read this book I DIDN’T EVEN PLAN TO READ AND IT IS SO MUCH BETTER, IMO. But I thought her writing went up such a notch!

      Also, after finishing this, I became so obsessed that I went back and re read Caraval to see more about Jacks, to get ANY more Jacks, and my perspective was SO different and changed completely. After every thing he did I hated before, this time I was all ‘aWwWwW. He loves her sOoOoOoO much, he would do anything for her!’ lol

      Even though he’s an evil little sh**. So. Yeah. I am now so dang biased it’s disgusting.

      I don’t care what others think-this will always be my favorite Garber book and I think about it weekly. Hell, I’m paying for FL because I’m terrified not to get the second matching set to the first book lol. I hate the FL boxes but I’m holding out so I get a chance. Anyway.

      Wow. Hope you like it even a fraction after all my rambling. Yikes.

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