Audio-Book Review: Amy Andrews’s BREAKING ALL THE RULES

Breaking_All_RulesRomcom is the new chicklit, or chicklit was the old romcom: chicken-egg, does it really matter when entertaining, light-hearted, heartfelt romance is being written? Because that’s certainly what you’ll get in Amy Andrews’s standalone, Breaking All the Rules. Andrews loves a life-restart-romance, especially on her heroines’ parts: Beatrice Archer has burned bridges big-time and docked her life-shambles in small-town Credence, Colorado with resolve to burn even more by “breaking all the rules” which held her rigid and controlled in the past. No more of that, baby, is her ‘tude! The publisher’s blurb will fill in some further details:

Sometimes you gotta toss your whole life into a burning dumpster to find what’s most important…

Beatrice Archer has always done everything she’s supposed to ―worked her ass off, ignored her non-existent personal life, and kept her mouth shut. Now she’s over it. The rat race, respectability…the underwire bras. She’s taking her life back. Starting with moving to Nowhere, Colorado to live life on her own terms.

Now Bea gives exactly zero forks. Beer for breakfast. Sugar for everything else. Baggy sweats and soft cotton undies FTW. Then a much younger and delightfully attractive cop is called to deal with her flagrant disregard for appropriate clothing outside the local diner (some folks just don’t appreciate bunny slippers) and Bea realizes there’s something missing from her little decathlon of decadence…and he might be the guy to help her out.

When it comes to breaking rules, Officer Austin Cooper is surprisingly eager to assist. He’s charming, a little bit cowboy, and a whole lot sexy. But Bea’s about to discover that breaking the rules has consequences. And all of the cherry pies in Colorado can’t save her from what’s coming…

It’s easy to overlook a romance’s flaws when the protagonists are as likeable and root-worthy as Austin and Bea, when the humour flows, and the conflict is more inner than outer Big Mis, when obstacles are overcome by taking emotional chances and being honest, making mistakes, taking wrong turns and righting them. All of which one can lay at Bea’s feet: refreshing. Austin, at 25, is gorgeous and has his head on so straight, he’s a teensy bit not to be believed. As Bea reassesses everything she’s missed: sleeping in, eating pie, living free, dancing, riding a horse, Austin is there to help her “live a little”, nothing so major that anyone with an undergrad life would find unusual. And Bea, with humour and humility, embraces it all. She and Austin burn up the sheets with healthy, open-hearted lust. And this carries the com in the rom for quite a long while. Bea also discovers or rather re-discovers that her advertising exec life took everything away from what she’s always loved but thought too unattainably impractical: being a visual artist.

Then Breaking All the Rules takes some serious turns, which made it all the better. To start, Bea’s good girl, straight career path, please dad and grandmother comes from a sad family background: her mother, an artist, suffered a mental illness even while she was a talented artist. When her mother died, her father and grandmother raised her with a constant cautionary litany of advice to not be like her mother, to aim high career-wise and ensure her financial stability. But Bea, no matter her successes, comes smack up against the “glass ceiling” and is overlooked for a promotion she well-deserved: this is what induces the post-bridge-burning arrival in Colorado, the bunny slippers, binge-watching, and pie eating wallowing. And the taking on of younger lover Austin.

But I liked how Andrews embroils Bea in more than indulgence: Austin is a wonderful person, funny and engaging, supportive and affectionate. Credence is fun and filled with warm-hearted people. Austin’s family offers Bea a glimpse of family life unfamiliar to her. When troubles come for Austin and Bea, they come not from an excess of drama, or misunderstandings, but the natural progression of Bea’s existential crisis: what does Bea want and what does Bea deserve? A subtle difference that Andrews navigates beautifully via Bea’s own conflicted feelings. Andrews doesn’t make Austin’s 25 years to Bea’s 35 too much of an issue, but Bea’s dismissiveness (I’ll stop here not to spoil) of Austin’s feelings is understandable, cynical but understandable. I liked that the younger man is the put-together one and the older woman is the one who has to learn to read her own heart, to know the difference between what she deserves and what she wants. It’s great that Bea eats pie, but it’s humble pie that makes the romance’s HEA. 

As for those flaws, they’re pretty minor. Breaking All the Rules doesn’t break any rom-com ground, but it sure does well what it sets out to do and I enjoyed every minute of listening to it. I could have done with fewer Austin’s sexual prowess scenes, but there’s enough tenderness there to make up for them. I could have also done with fewer pie-eating scenes: if anyone were to eat as much confectionary as Austin and Bea seem to, it would be a sure-fire way to some kind of sugar-induced illness. I wish Andrews had balanced their diet with the occasional burger, grilled cheese? fries? My teeth hurt by the end of this novel and I have quite the sweet tooth.

The narration by Mia Barron was terrific. She has a lovely timbre to her voice and just the right shifts in tone between light and weighty to make it a pleasure to listen. I also thought she pulled off the love scenes with a casual flare that are too often, by too many narrators, too intensely emoted. She managed to convey Austin and Bea’s keep-it-light-keep-it-fun-but-feel-deeply. Thanks to Miss Austen, we can say Breaking All the Rules offers “real comfort,” Emma.

Amy Andrews’s audiobook of Breaking All the Rules is recorded by RB Media and has been on offer since January 24th. I received an audio-book file from RB Media for the purpose of writing this review, which does not affect my opinion, via Netgalley.

10 thoughts on “Audio-Book Review: Amy Andrews’s BREAKING ALL THE RULES

    1. Yes, I don’t know if I’m “over-reading” the text, but it is certainly what Bea had to realize. It’s about her growth. I don’t want to spoil, but I’m also glad that Andrews treated Bea’s decisions about her vocation so well. It’s part and parcel of her growth, interesting that Austin has that figured out, but is willing to change to be with Bea. Neither one has to sacrifice anything to be with the other! Quite well done.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love Amy Andrew’s books but it has been several years since I last read one. I’ve put this on my TBR. Good to know she still writes a good romance.

    A moment to note some Australian slang: you write “when the protagonists are as likeable and root-worthy as Austin and Bea” and this made me giggle. To “root” in Australian slang (or ‘strine) means to have sex rather than the North American meaning of in support of a team. So to me, it sounded that Austin and Bea were likeable and “fuckable” (LOL).


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