This month my name is Mary. My name is different every month—Brandy, Honey, Amy…sometimes Joe doesn't even bother to ask—but he never fails to arouse me with his body, his mouth, his touch, no matter what I'm called or where he picks me up. The sex is always amazing, always leaves me itching for more in those long weeks until I see him again.Joe -- A man looking for intimate connection and personal recognition in all the wrong places and with all the wrong people. Once per month Joe and Sadie meet for lunch and Joe plays Scheherazade, regaling Sadie with details of his erotic x-rated one-night stands. For most of the book, the "luscious sex scenes" come from Joe's narrative, as interpreted by Sadie. Initially, through Sadie's perspective the reader perceives Joe as a sexualized character, a manwhore who picks up women for sex on a regular basis. But ever so slowly small details about Joe are revealed through his erotic tales and conversations with Sadie. Eventually, Joe emerges as a man riddled with guilt and hungry for the intimacy that comes through a real connection with another.
Adam -- A man who has allowed tragedy to make him too proud to give and too resentful to enjoy life. Sadie's husband Adam was a brilliant poet with a powerful personality and love of adrenaline that swallowed everyone around him. They met at college and married after Sadie finished her doctorate in psychology. One year later, Adam became a quadriplegic after a tragic ski accident that changed their lives. Years later, he refuses to leave the house or to have physical contact or allow real intimacy with his wife even though it is possible. His love for Sadie is tinged with a large dose of resentment.
My real name is Sadie, and once a month over lunch Joe tells me about his latest conquest. But what Joe doesn't know is that, in my mind, I'm the star of every X-rated one-night stand he has revealed to me, or that I'm practically obsessed with our imaginary sex life. I know it's wrong. I know my husband wouldn't understand. But I can't stop. Not yet.Sadie -- A giving woman sucked dry to the bone by loving, giving and not receiving, loses herself in the process. Sadie loves her husband Adam. She is a psychologist with a thriving practice, but when she comes home taking care of Adam is her priority. She has no social life and no one to give her emotional support except for paid assistants at home. Once a month, she does what she needs to do to stay sane. She meets Joe for lunch and listens as he regales her with his sexual adventures. Sadie becomes obsessed and in her fantasies, she becomes a place holder for all the women in Joe's x-rated one-night stands. To alleviate the loneliness and increasing sense of isolation, Sadie memorizes details of those stories for later and guiltily uses them as a substitute for pleasure when she is alone.
Physical and intimate emotional connection to another and individuality. Most humans crave that physical and intimate connection with another, but once that connection is broken, the individual is often left floundering. That is what happens to Sadie. The title Broken applies to all three characters, as well as to relationships.
Adam is broken physically and emotionally after his accident. Sadie is broken after she stops being an extension of the brilliant man Adam used to be, and their connection as husband and wife is severed when he stops giving and becomes resentful of her love and care. After Sadie loses that connection with Adam, she also loses herself. Joe is a broken man due to guilt, family disappointment, and lack of intimacy, yet he seeks women who only appreciate him on the surface for his beauty, sexual prowess, or financial security. Should Joe and Sadie's meetings be considered emotional cheating or mutual therapy sessions? Initially, I believe that is exactly what they were because both Sadie and Joe took the missing pieces of their lives from each other.
I loved Dirty, but Broken just goes beyond that for me. Broken is erotic women's fiction at its best because although the sensuality is on the high scale, and sex plays a central role in this evolving drama, the main focus of the story goes much deeper than that. This story ties three people with complex issues, but Broken is all about Sadie's journey -- how due to tragic circumstances, she loses herself through the years eventually finding a way to survive, discovering value in herself as a person and a woman who can finally look in the mirror and recognize her true self again.
"There you are Peter!"-- Hook