I'm a mother, lifelong-student, avid reader, and reviewer. I'll give pretty much anything a shot, but my guilty pleasure is romance, especially if it's dark and full of suspense.
Broken at Love (Whitman University #1) had MANY similarities to the movie Cruel Intentions. So, it worked for me, since that’s one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures.
The book began with a show of sorts, revealing the depraved Sebastian Rowland’s evil game, starring his half-brother Quinn. They’re the sons of the outrageously wealthy media-mogul Theodore Rowland. His legitimate son, Quinn, was bitter and already a washed-up tennis pro at the ripe age of twenty. Sebastian was a psychopath who utilized their family’s wealth to control and rein over Whitman University. The two brothers lived in the family’s beach house, which in reality was a mansion that was located on Florida’s Gulf coast with acres of its own private beaches. It was the perfect location to throw their private, invitation only parties.
As a tribute to his ex, Quinn suggested throwing four parties—one for each of the four tennis majors—The U.S. Open, Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon. Each party would last just as long as the major would. The guest lists were exclusive and Sebastian would select one ’top seed’ per major. “Every kid at Whitman University salivated for their golden ticket, and Sebastian loved nothing more than playing Willy Wonka…” Unbeknownst to most, these parties were the stage for Sebastian’s game. On the first night of each major, Sebastian would present Quinn with the ‘top seed’ that he’d not only seduce, but also break.
“It had to be her heart, too, or I lose. Sex and feelings. Shame and regret.
That was the game.”
Sebastian was vile and enjoyed controlling and destroying others. Quinn had been rejected his entire life; therefore, he justified his behavior by deeming his conquests as users who would leave him, just like everyone else; he was simply beating them to the punch by calling the “Match” early.
Quinn’s mother abandoned him right after his birth; his father blamed him for the loss of his wife and subsequently hated his son. Then, his girlfriend cruelly broke up with him once he’d been forced into retirement. Quinn had never experienced love. Sadly, he didn’t know what it even felt like and didn’t think he ever would. He resigned to the fact that his only constant was his crazy-ass, blackmailing, half-brother.
The Australian Open… Sebastian had chosen Emilie Swanson to be the ’top seed.’ Emilie was a beautiful, talented artist, who just happened to be a sorority sister to Quinn’s U.S. Open conquest. Em was extremely smart and sweet. She was also really good at reading people. She had learned this skill at a very young age by watching her mother who’d made lying an art form. Upon arriving at the party, Em’s initial response to Sebastian was unease. However, she swore that she saw more in the notorious playboy, Quinn. She most definitely saw sadness. The more she tried to figure him out, the bigger of a mystery he became. Emilie had made a promise to her baby sister who’d passed away from leukemia three-years before, that she’d never let life’s mysteries go unsolved, that she’d take chances, and she’d live her life with no regrets.
Quinn’s reaction to Emilie continually fluctuated between surprise and confusion and it threw him off his game. She affected him in ways that he never could’ve expected. She wasn’t like any of the other girls and it wasn’t long before he was calling her “mi sorpresita,” meaning ”his little surprise.”
Emilie was insistent and wanted to piece together the mystery of Quinn. Their friendship built slowly and was incredibly sweet. Their attraction was magnetic and unbelievably HOT! Despite all of their progress, Quinn couldn’t surrender to his feelings and Em refused to give anymore of herself unless he could reciprocate. He knew that his fear would make him lose her. And it did. She finally walked away knowing that she’d taken chances and done all she could; and therefore, she wouldn’t live with any regrets. She fulfilled her promise to her little sister.
I really liked Emilie’s character. She was a strong, independent young woman, who was in love with a man, yet she refused to settle. She didn’t crawl into a ball (well, not for too long anyways) and let it consume her. Instead, she focused on pursuing her dreams and succeeded.
Poor Quinn, you really had to feel for him. Despite his shitty upbringing and lack of self-worth, he still prevailed and made a life for himself out of his father’s grasp, as a professional tennis player. His downfalls were the choices he made after his forced retirement. He essentially rolled over and had a never-ending pity party for himself. That was, until Emilie came along and made him want to be a better man…
“While I assumed an easy match, like all the others, she’d broken me at love.”
This was a beautiful story of redemption, as well as, the powers of friendship and true unyielding love. Definitely recommend to NA lovers.