Breaking the Rules: A Novel (Troubleshooters)

Image of Breaking the Rules: A Novel (Troubleshooters, 16)
Release Date: 
March 21, 2011
Ballantine Books
Reviewed by: 

Suzanne Brockmann’s books in recent years have become increasingly gritty— disturbingly so.

For example, in this story the intrigue involves a gang of bad guys involved in enslaving girls and women and forcing them to prostitute themselves. This is described in detail as it regards the young girl the protagonists are trying to help.

Definitely disturbing and at the tiptop of the gritty scale.

Like Ms. Brockmann’s recent books, Breaking the Rules is not an easy read. It does give you a quasi-love story of two different couples, both whom got their starts in earlier novels.

Eden and Izzy, an estranged married couple who separated after Eden’s miscarriage in Into the Fire, find their happily-ever-after in this book, as do Dan and Jennilyn. Dan and Jennilyn met in Hot Pursuit, where Dan rescued the kidnapped damsel in distress. Dan blew it, though, when Jennilyn overheard him saying some not-so-nice things to Izzy.

Still, Jennilyn gave him a chance to reconcile. In Breaking the Rules, he does.

The other interesting dynamic, which helps blend the two relationships, is that Dan is Eden’s brother. The fact that Dan despises Izzy adds a bit of interest as well.

As is the case with most of the stories in her recent series, Ms. Brockmann does promote her social causes: gay rights, in particular. In this case, that particular focus is on the teenage brother of one of the two heroines, Eden.

In Breaking the Rules, Eden returns to town to take care of her younger brother, whose life as a gay teenager has put him in a precarious situation with his stepfather. The younger brother befriends a young girl who escaped that horribly gritty situation and is hiding from the men who want her back there.

Dan was injured in Afghanistan, but with his letters and devotion had convinced Jenn of his real love for her. She helps him recuperate, and is with him with Eden calls her brother for help. That puts the two couples, plus the younger brother, in danger with the mean, gritty men. Dan and Izzy get some help from their friends (that readers will recognize from earlier books in the series) and all is well—at least until the next book in this Troubleshooters series.

If you like edgy books that push a social agenda, with a mega dose of grit and a lighter portion of romance relying heavily on steamy scenes, read Breaking the Rules. If you want something lighter, not preachy, less disturbing, and more focused on romance, look for some of Ms. Brockmann’s earlier works.