It is my pleasure to bring you my review of The Beauty of Broken Things as part of Victoria Connelly’s fabulous blog tour.
United by tragedy, can two broken souls make each other whole?
After the tragic loss of his wife, Helen, Luke Hansard is desperate to keep her memory alive. In an effort to stay close to her, he reaches out to an online friend Helen often mentioned: a reclusive photographer with a curious interest in beautiful but broken objects. But first he must find her—and she doesn’t want to be found.
Orla Kendrick lives alone in the ruins of a remote Suffolk castle, hiding from the haunting past that has left her physically and emotionally scarred. In her fortress, she can keep a safe distance from prying eyes, surrounded by her broken treasures and insulated from the world outside.
When Luke tracks Orla down, he is determined to help her in the way Helen wanted to: by encouraging her out of her isolation and back into the world. But Orla has never seen her refuge as a prison and, when painful secrets and dangerous threats begin to resurface, Luke’s good deed is turned on its head.
As they work through their grief for Helen in very different ways, will these two broken souls be able to heal?
I must confess to having only read one of Victoria Connelly’s novels before: A Weekend with Mr Darcy, which I loved. The Beauty of Broken Things is really quite different though. I was drawn in by the synopsis, which tells us we have two characters who have had very different experiences of life but have caused them each to break in their own way.
Luke Hansard’s whole world came tumbling down the day his wife didn’t make it home from work. In his 30s and already a widower, he doesn’t know how to move on with his life without his beloved wife Helen. His days are spent going over the ‘what ifs’ as he struggles to come to terms with his loss. In a bid to stay close to his lost wife, Luke seeks out an online friend of hers, someone he knows Helen was keen to help. By helping this person that Helen so clearly wanted to support, he hopes to stay close to his wife while providing assistance to someone who may need it.
Orla Kendrick is a recluse, living alone in her Suffolk castle, hidden from the world. Her physical and emotional scars cause her to live in constant fear, and so instead she lives her life online, through her beautiful photographs of broken and damaged china. She is desperate to remain closed off from the world, so when Luke finds her, a stranger who claims his wife knows her, she panics and attempts to withdraw once more.
Both Luke and Orla are damaged and hurt in their own ways, but they have a common link: Helen. Whilst Orla may not have physically met her, they had connected online in a way that Orla had not expected to do. So when Luke arrives to personally deliver the news of Helen’s death, Orla is blindsided. Even within the protective walls of her castle, she is not immune to what happens in the outside world. Luke on the other hand is struggling with his grief, and is therefore looking for something to channel his time and energy into. What he finds in Orla is unexpected. He finds a woman who is fearful of everything, and whilst he understands her reasons why, he seeks to help her realise that life cannot be feared if you really want to live.
This is such a beautiful novel. It was unexpected and yet wonderful to read a novel that focussed on a friendship, however unlikely, between a man and a woman who both just needed someone to guide them through their own darkness. Luke and Orla should never have met, and yet their own tragic circumstances drew them together at a time when they both really needed someone.
I am very happy to recommend The Beauty of Broken Things. It highlights experiences that sadly do happen, (Orla’s is an experience that no person should ever have to go through, but sadly it is something we are now hearing about more and more in the press) but it shows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, particularly if you are willing to let someone in to help guide you there. Orla and Luke were both wonderful characters, with excellent character arcs. They were both believable and relatable. Victoria Connelly has done an excellent job of highlighting that the journey to peace is just as important as the destination.
Thank you to both Victoria Connelly and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
Victoria Connelly studied English Literature at Worcester University, got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and now lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a young springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens. She is the million-selling author of two bestselling series, Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in 2008 by Ziegler Films in Germany. The Runaway Actress was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Comedy Novel award.
Victoria loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden either with a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.
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