{Blog Tour} Review: Breaking The Reins by Juliana Haygert

Title: Breaking The Reins
Author: Juliana Haygert
Published: August 19th 2013
Age Group: New Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: eARC provided by author & Xpresso Book Tours for honest review
Rating: 5/5
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Horses, mansions, tea parties, and lies are twenty-year-old Hannah Taylor’s life. To others, her family and her relationship with Eric is perfect. But she knows the truth. She lives it.

After a fire takes her grandma’s life and kills her horse, Hannah’s immaculate life spirals out of control. Her father disapproves of her decision to run her grandma’s ranch instead of focusing solely on learning the family business; Animal Control brings her Argus, a mistreated horse that she can’t turn away even though she’s not ready for another horse; and her boyfriend, Eric Bennett, a world famous polo player, becomes possessive and authoritarian. Despite her best efforts to disguise it, Hannah grows wary of him.

Then, Leonardo Fernandes struts onto the polo scene. A cocky rookie with a messy life of his own, he’s drawn to Hannah and isn’t afraid of showing it, even when Eric makes it clear she is his and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Hannah suffers for Eric’s jealousy. The abuse only gets worse when Leo steals the title of best polo player in the world from Eric.

But the title isn’t enough for Leo. He wants Hannah too, and she can’t deny her attraction to him either. Somehow, she must find a way to break free from abusive Eric before he breaks every bone in her body.

The story:
At a glance, Hannah has the 'perfect' life, wealthy family, popular and handsome polo player boyfriend, and soon to take over her father's successful business. But after loosing her Grandmother and beloved horse in a mysterious fire, she's devastated. She inherits her grandmother's horse ranch and soon Hannah starts to see a different future for herself. Her Grandmother was somewhat of a 'horse whisperer' and saved mistreated horses, and many believe that Hannah can follow in her footsteps. However after Hannah agrees to take on the severally mistreated horse Argus, she starts to doubt her own abilities to live up to her Grandmother's reputation. That is until Leo, sexy Brazilian polo star enters the scene and helps both Hannah & Argus. The relationship between these three characters was one of the most beautiful things about this book - all of them were dealing with different issues in their lives and together they learned how to trust & love again.

The characters:
Hannah is a wonderful & relatable character. Although she is surrounded by superficial people living the country club lifestyle, she's down to earth and just wants to work and live on the ranch. You can see how she struggles to deal with the loss of her horse Hercules, and is afraid to get close to another horse in fear of loosing them too. But even as she tries not to get close with Argus, the connection between them grow and watching them both learn to trust each other was beautiful.

Leo, the yummy Brazilian polo star, is a vibrant and passionate character. Although Leo appears perfect, he is also realistically flawed. He has a tense relationship with his father, due to mistakes he made back in Brazil. However he tries hard to make up for these mistakes, and I loved him all the more for this.

Argus the rescue horse, is so important to this story that he is also main character in my opinion. He may not have any lines, but his impact on the lives of Hannah & Leo is huge. The three of them learn so much from each other, and gave the story such a unique dimension.

For me secondary characters are really important and can make or break a book. There where so many wonderful supporting characters; Leo's sister Bia was probably my favourite, but I also loved Hannah's sister Hilary and the rest of Leo's family, most importantly his brothers & father. Together all these characters make the story feel so real.

The romance:
Hannah & Leo's relationship was so beautiful from the first scene they had together. They first meet when he helps Hannah catch the runaway rescue horse, Argus. From the beginning the connection between these two is undeniable, and is slowly develops from friendship to something more. They share a common love for horses and in particular Argus. While working together to help Argus recover and trust them, Hannah & Leo in turn learn to trust each other and in the process we see them falling in love.

The Writing:
At 400 pages, this was quite a long book compared to many other NA contemporaries, and I think that had a very positive effect. It allowed more time for character and plot development, making the climax of the story all the more emotional. The pacing was perfect, with all the small threads of the story coming together in one of the most intense scenes I've read in some time. My heart was beating so fast at the end, and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough!

I also felt Juliana did a wonderful job of showing how an intelligent woman can get trapped in a controlling abusive relationship. We get to see the progression of Eric's behaviour throughout the book. At first he appears to be a bit of a jealous boyfriend, but soon his behaviour turns more aggressive and possessive. Through Hannah's internal monologue, we can hear her trying to rationalise his behaviour, and it gave a real insight into how women in this situation can become trapped:

"If I was in his situation, where I couldn’t control my temper, I would probably want help from loved ones, even if I never admitted it out loud. How could I turn my back on him now?"

"Perhaps if I pretended nothing had happened ten minutes ago, it wouldn’t be true. It wouldn’t happen again."

This is one of my favourite books of the year! It had everything, strong characters, powerful story and it made me feel every emotion possible - I laughed, cringed, swooned, and ugly cried more than a couple of times. This story is so much more than a simple romance, it's a beautiful story of survival, friendship and new beginnings. I can't wait to read any companion novels, especially for Leo's sister Bia! This is a must read for any contemporary romance fan!

Sexuality: medium / sex scene
Violence: medium-strong / domestic violence, some animal cruelty (but not overly graphic)
Language: medium / some f**k
Drugs & alcohol: mild

While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting—but equally gratifying—life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.

Author links:
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


  1. I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book! Fantastic review ;) I'm definitely a Juliana fan and can't wait to read more of her books.

    1. Me too!!! There are so many companion novels I want her to write now; Bia, Hillary and of course Leo's brothers! :)

  2. Thanks so much, Amy! Really! You really GOT IT and it makes me super happy! :)

    1. Thanks Juliana! There are just some books that 'speak' to you and this one just got to me so much on so many levels - which make me super happy!! :)


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