Laila Torres steps away from the man she just shot, wipes the blood off her hands, and walks away in hopes of starting a new life --- one without violence, abuse, and men wanting only her body and never her heart. The love, family and faith that filled her childhood are long gone. She saw to that with the choices she made, each one worse than the last, ending with this bloody nightmare. But Laila doesn’t know that the nightmare is just beginning.
Small-town Texas life never sat well with Laila. She wanted excitement, adventure, city lights…and quickly discovered that her head-turning beauty was her ticket out. Perhaps it was even the way to get past the heartache of losing her mother as a child, or the double rape she endured at the age of 15. Laila was right. Her dark eyes, dark hair and Barbie doll figure soon appeared in one ad after another, then found its way to the covers of glossy fashion magazines. Her beauty and popularity drew men to her in droves. She dated them, traveled with them and slept with them.
But when the magazines stopped calling, and she had alienated her family, all that was left were the men. They still wanted her, and she needed money. Laila’s new profession didn’t hold the glamour of modeling, but it paid the bills. One night, when the ugliness became life-threatening, Laila fired a fatal shot. She leaves her aggressor bloody and dying, then heads far away to separate herself from the murder she committed and the sins that lead to it. But everywhere she goes, something is watching. Something evil, powerful and not of this world. What Laila doesn’t realize is that someone else is watching too --- someone who knows her and loves her, despite her sordid past.
Laila is horrified by the sounds that awaken her in the middle of the night and the horrific demon who appears without warning, his bloody, hallowed-eyed face resembling the man she killed. But she is not entirely surprised. She feels God abandoned her long ago, and it is just a matter of time before the demon ends her life. She understands his reason for haunting her, but is confused by another otherworldly presence in her life. This one has a soft, gentle hand that brushes her face and leaves behind reminders of a better life.
In addition to the ghostly beings in her life, Laila has some real flesh-and-blood people pursuing her. One is the brother of the man she shot, determined to make Laila pay for her crime with her wealthy family’s money. The other is her brother. Estranged from Laila for many years, he knows his sister is in danger and seeks to rescue her physically as well as spiritually. And yet another is her co-worker, who sees beyond the beautiful shell and loves the heart Laila protects with fortress-like walls.
BROKEN is full of the creepiness that Travis Thrasher does so well. Mixing a captivating suspense story with ghosts, demons and a Christian message is truly an art. Laila is complex, layered and likable, despite her messy history and obvious bad choices. Readers will sympathize with her and understand her brother’s desperate need to find her. The bad guys are bad to the bone, and the demon…well, that’s an interesting twist I don’t want to spoil. Read the book if you like some spookiness mixed with your Christian suspense.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on May 25, 2010