What works well in this book is how McDaniel’s sets up the air of mystery around Austin. She doesn’t give him just one secret, but instead leaves room for multiple surprises. By cluing the readers in on this fact from the beginning, she seamlessly injects thriller aspects into an otherwise straightforward romance story. I couldn’t guess Austin’s final twist, but I really like where McDaniel takes his character. In fact, I would have loved to know about him earlier on, because it would have made more sense as to why he needed to keep his distance from Kenzie and it would have heightened the tension between them.
For a lot of the book, the relationship between Kenzie and Austin feels difficult just for the sake of being difficult. Kenzie’s dislike of him from the beginning is a little forced and sometimes their dialogue is stilted. There is also a weird shifting perspective that happens between the two of them at random intervals. A consistent POV would have helped with the pacing and even the suspense.
With that being said, THE GIRL WITH THE BROKEN HEART is completely on brand for McDaniel and will appeal to any of her fans, especially those who have read LOSING GABRIEL or SOMEBODY’S BABY. McDaniel sets her most recent novel back in Windemere, Tennessee, and it’s really fun to see her former characters, Lani, Dawson, and Cole make brief cameos.