Everyone’s telling the newly divorced Jake that he shouldn’t be looking for a serious relationship already, but he’s always been helplessly drawn to Sarah’s vivaciousness. Can he show her that he’s all grown up now and worthy of her trust and a second chance?
Or will they make a clean break once and for all?
I am absolutely, unreservedly in love with Clean Breaks by Ruby Lang. It is a fantastic book with a wonderful romance which is complicated by family issues between two people that have known each other for a long time. Jake Li and Sarah Soon grew up together in a community with very few Asian families. Jake was good friends with Sarah’s brother, but that didn’t mean that Sarah and Jake were friendly. Years later the two meet again, after Jake has just gotten divorced and after Sarah has successfully survived cancer treatments.
Sarah isn’t exactly thrilled to run into Jake. She has a very complicated relationship with her family and with her past. She was caught in a compromising position as a teenager and paid the price for it by being labelled as loose. Her community turned against her, and Jake, who went to school with Sarah, said nothing in her defense. She still has lingering resentment towards Jake - and has issues stemming from her fight with cancer. Sarah isn’t looking for love or permanence, but Jake keeps turning up - and she can’t quite forget about him.
Meanwhile, Jake is newly divorced. His marriage ended after his wife fell in love with another man. Jake isn’t emotionally upset about the divorce, but he is in an odd place in his life. When he runs into Sarah, he can’t stay away from her. He always had feelings for her. It takes a while for Sarah to loosen up enough to let Jake in and get in touch with her own feelings. But their romance is fun and emotionally satisfying.
I adored Sarah’s journey. She had to come to grips with the reality of having had cancer and find a way to deal with her feelings about it. Sarah is a prickly personality who holds herself apart from Jake for quite some time. Jake has to work for Sarah’s love, but his is more than willing to do so.
One of the things that I loved best about Clean Breaks is the way that Ruby Lang handles the family drama that both Sarah and Jake have. Sarah is very distant with her family, mostly because of the incident in her past. In fact, she never even told them that she had cancer. Jake, on the other hand, does speak to his father who is a reverend. But Jake abandoned religion and has little in common with his father. Both Sarah and Jake have real and very painful issues with their families. However, Lang does not take the easy route and make the families the enemy as so often happens. We meet both Jake’s father and Sarah’s family (mother, father and brother). These meetings are painful and even a bit violent (FOOD FIGHT!), but they are real with no clear cut bad side.
Family can one’s greatest joy or one’s greatest aggravation - and one’s family can be both. Jake and Sarah each have complicated relationships with their families, but the families do try to mend fences. Things are not perfect at the end of the romance, but the familial relationships remain intact. So often in romance novels, external conflict is created by families who become the bad guys, the scapegoats. Lang gives us a much more realistic version of family. Families are the source of conflict, but aren’t one dimensional - much like in real life. I very much appreciated this aspect of Clean Breaks.
I was delighted by Clean Breaks from start to finish. It took a bit for me to warm up to Sarah. She is a complicated heroine, but is strong, capable and confident - even in a time of indecision. Jake is a wonderful hero, and a perfect foil for Sarah. I highly recommend this romance. There are some funny moments (the lunch with Jake’s dad and the food fight), some tense moment (same lunch and food fight) and some sexy ones. What more could one want from a romance?
Ruby Lang: http://www.rubylangwrites.com/
Book Disclosure: An ebook was provided by the publisher via edelweiss.