The Broken Road by Beth Burgmeyer
Expert horse trainer, Dana “Coop” Cooper, has a successful career and fiance–until she is thrown off a horse and sustains serious injuries, leaving her paralyzed, numb from the waist down, and alone. While in rehab, she meets Renn, a fellow patient who reaches out to Coop and eventually helps her get back on the horse. Coop also meets Renn’s best friend and business partner, Matt. During her recovery, Coop and Matt gradually begin to develop feelings for one another against their better judgment. However, Coop is about to move away with her mother and Matt must go to his grandfather’s ranch in Wyoming to be with his sick grandfather. Although he is repulsed by her condition, Matt asks her to go to the ranch with him and she agrees. While in Wyoming, Coop begins to recover physically and emotionally. One day Matt takes her riding out to the Broken Road, one of the old roads west. He tells her that the road was supposed to be cursed, but his great grandparents took it anyway even though everyone else thought they were crazy. He says that this is similar to how Coop has lived since her injury. Coop is happy at the ranch and feels that she has found where she belongs with Matt and his grandfather, but they have to go home. Back in Iowa, the couple has a misunderstanding and Coop isolates herself and refuses to take care of herself in an attempt to end her life. Eventually, she regains her sense of purpose and realizes that she can open herself up to vulnerability again. The two make up and move to Wyoming with Matt’s oldest son and get married.
The title of the book is probably intended to be a reference to the Rascal Flatts song of the same name. Although this a bit cheesy, it works in that lyrics of the song fit with the plot and the book and the song share a similar audience. However, it should also be noted that there is already a book with this same title (a travel book by Patrick Leigh Fermor). The best thing about the book is probably its handling of Coop’s injury. The author is unflinching in her descriptions of the realities of being paralyzed and doesn’t shy away from the topic of sex and disability. However, the novel does get a bit unnecessarily drawn out. This story probably could have ended after Matt and Coop go to Wyoming the first time and done without certain plot points (such as a drug addict sister and a runaway son) that don’t contribute much to the story, except for melodrama. However, the ups and downs do keep the reader engaged and turning pages. Ultimately, Beth Burgmeyer’s The Broken Road is a good, if predictable, tale of romance and redemption that touches on some current social issues pertaining to disability. It certainly won’t appeal to everyone, but to the right reader it’s sure to thrill.