I can’t believe I haven’t heard about this series or Juliana Haygert before! Because seriously, this is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I’m just dying to read Breaking the Reins. It’s different, it’s sweet, it’s a bit angsty (but not too much)… a just right blend of what a good NA story should be. This is the first book of hers that I’ve read and I must say that I am thoroughly satisfied yet left wanting for more (in an I-need-another-Juliana-Haygert-book-right-now kind of way).
Rating: 5 out of horsey 5 stars for Breaking Fences!
All Beatriz “Bia” Fernandes wants is to prove herself—to her family and friends—though it’s hard to prove anything with an overbearing father and three famous polo-playing older brothers. After her acceptance into college results in a heated family argument, the Brazilian girl leaves everything behind to find her own American dream.
College life away from home is perfect until the people she believes to be her friends turn on her. With lies and rumors threatening to suffocate her, Bia turns to her only freedom. Riding.
But one thing gets in the way of her escape. Garrett Blackwell and his bad cowboy attitude. Working at the ranch is his obligation, bugging Bia is his newfound hobby. His thick skin and easy grin don’t hide what Bia already knows—this misunderstood and lonely cowboy fights his own demons. Brushing horses’ coats and mucking out stalls shouldn’t be this sexy, and it isn’t long before he becomes a part of her distraction.
However, escaping won’t solve her problems, and it’s up to Bia to break down the fences around her and prove her strength—not to her family and friends, but to herself … and for Garrett. Because standing on her own doesn’t have to mean standing alone.
** Companion novel of Breaking the Reins. Can be read out of order.**
Since I read Breaking Fences first, some pieces of the story were missing. I think that is to be expected since this is a companion novel to Breaking the Reins. There were several instances that I thought hinted at the events of Breaking the Reins but they didn’t confuse me enough to make me put down the book. Breaking Fences is Bia’s book through and through.
Breaking Fences is told from Beatriz “Bia” Fernandes’ POV. Right from the start, it wasn’t hard to see her fiery nature. Her sparkplug personality was really fun to get to know and I should add that it made the storytelling even more compelling. Bia was a very magnetic character. She’s so full of life and so it makes a lot of sense to see her distancing herself from the pressures of being in the shadows of her polo-celebrity family. In Breaking Fences, we witness as Bia moved to Colorado to continue her Pre-Vet degree away from her family. From what I could understand from the story without reading Breaking the Reins, Bia was finally taking her life into her own hands.
Bia was as exotic as they come. She’s gorgeous and with that accent of hers, it wasn’t hard to guess that she’s a foreigner. Not even an hour in the University of Fort Howell and she’s already got guys lining up her front door… well, figuratively, I mean. She’s already caught the eye of Jonah Hudson, the president of the Beta Alpha Tau fraternity. But what caught HER eye is the tall, built, cowboy boot wearing hottie with Jonah, Garrett Blackwell.
Fun was almost second nature to Bia but messing with the Greeks in Fort Howell didn’t exactly make her popular. It turned out that Jonah was all but spoken for. Audrey, the president of the Alpha Tau Nu sorority felt threatened by Jonah’s attention on Bia. Bia couldn’t care less but this small spark of jealousy then blazes into a huge inferno that may single-handedly ruin Bia’s reputation in Fort Howell. Audrey becomes hell-bent on making Bia’s life on Fort Howell a living hell.
It was then that we start to see Bia close in on herself. She becomes self-conscious of everything she does, always thinking of the repercussions once Audrey hears of it. There’s no way around it. Audrey will know and she’ll stop at nothing to destroy Bia. She no longer parties like she used to. And as much as she would like to go out on dates and meet guys, it would only feed the nasty rumor mill that Audrey began.
Bia then retreats to her one and only sanctuary. She goes out in search of a ranch and ride away her frustrations on her first love: horses. Imagine her surprise when she finds out that Garrett, the hottie with Jonah, works on the first ranch she went to. Seeing as that was the nearest ranch to her, she figured it wouldn’t be that bad to have him around. Just as long as she got to spend time with the horses.
Neither Garrett nor Bia expected the inexplicable attraction they had for each other. Coupled with their mutual love for horses and they’re a match made in heaven. But Bia is no longer the girl she used to be. Her experiences made her cower into herself. She keeps second-guessing the things that happen between her and Garrett. What if he’ only interested in her because he thinks she’s the Brazilian slut Audrey is making her out to be?
And so begins the push and pull between Bia and Garrett. I think what’s kind of adorable is that neither of them knew what to make of their feelings for each other. On the one hand, they enjoy each other’s company on the ranch. But on the other, they keep taking turns in backing off from each other. It was kind of frustrating, I guess, to see how badly they wanted to deny what is happening between them because from a reader’s standpoint, they are so perfect for each other! Juliana Haygert was able to play out their relationship so well! The sexual tension each time they were in close proximity to each other was so thick, you cancut through it with a knife. It was exciting to read about how Bia and Garrett finally came to terms about what’s happening between them. But then, a huge revelation shocked me to my core.
I suspected that something like that was bound to happen but I didn’t fully commit to the idea. I think I was too caught up in Bia and Garrett to actually think it through so that shocker near the end of the book totally blew me away. That plot device definitely added more depth to the story. I think it was the clincher that put things in perspective for Bia. As much as it pained me to see BOTH of their hearts breaking, it pushed Bia to stop playing around and realize what she truly wanted most for HER.
I love the depth Juliana Haygert gave to these characters. There’s just more to them than what readers would expect. She was able to give her characters the vulnerability to connect to the readers on an emotional level without crossing over to woe-is-me territory.
Another thing that I loved most about Breaking Fences is that it didn’t just focus on the romance and the lovey-dovey stuff, or the angsty college drama. I loved how Juliana Haygert also shed the spotlight on the importance of family. She was able to spin a very interesting dynamic in the Fernandes family, including Bia’s falling out with her father. It’s not very hard to see more additions to this series focusing on the rest of the Fernandes siblings and Gui.
I’ve mentioned how well written it is and I just wanted to reiterate that fact because Breaking Fences truly was a joy to read. The writing flowed and ebbed. There are parts where emotions run high and the tension is nearly palpable then it would bleed down to these intense, introspective moments… I liked how smooth the transitions are. One thing I can say for sure is that Juliana Haygert knows her stuff. She’s got an impeccable talent for storytelling and I can see myself reading more of her books in the near future!