Bruised But Not Broken (Spark of Hope, #1) by Nicole Dykes

"He's not broken. Maybe he's a little bruised up like the rest of us, but he's far from shattered." Bruised But Not Broken.

From the blurb:

Spark of Hope: A bi-weekly trauma support group.
This is my nightmare. When I think of a support group, I think of sad people sitting around talking about their feelings and nothing changing.

And yet, when my brother and his best friend, who happens to be a therapist, presented the idea of holding the meetings at my gym, I caved.
Because I, Benjamin Price, have always tried to rescue the people in my life. But I can’t. I’ve usually failed them.
Now, I’m hosting a trauma support group and desperately trying not to fall into my old habits—of attempting to save everyone.
And then, he walks in.
Bruised. But not broken. No matter how exhausted he may feel, a strength in him calls to me.
And there’s no way I can ignore the need deep inside me to at least try.

I’m tired. I’m afraid. And I don’t want to go back.
Not to the abusive relationship I told myself I was okay with for years.
But what am I supposed to do?
I have no real life skills. All my life, I’ve been told I’m pretty and that’s it.
Then I walk into a gym, looking for a job, but I find so much more.
I don’t want to trust Ben. I don’t believe his help doesn’t come with a price.
But what choice do I really have?
One thing’s for sure . . . Neither of us are getting out of this intact.
What we lose though, that’s anyone’s guess.

***Bruised But Not Broken is set around a trauma support group and will, therefore, touch on extremely sensitive subjects. I’ll always do my best to handle these topics with care and healing, and with no intention of hurting anyone. But please, heed this warning if you have any triggers.

Jacqueleen the Reading Queen's Review:

Bruised But Not Broken illuminates how trauma comes in many forms. It could stem from abuse or an accident. It could come from a close call. It could even be from something you witnessed happen to someone else entirely. There's no rulebook for what is deemed traumatic. What might be for some, isn't for others. Nicole Dykes handled this topic with the care it deserves, while also telling us a beautiful love story brought on by healing and friendship.

Ben is a savior. He's also one of the kindest MCs I've ever read. His empathy is strong, so strong that sometimes he takes too much onto himself. Not everyone wants to be saved. Others just want to be the one to save themselves. That's Colby. At the start he feels leery of Ben's kindness. After getting to know Ben more, Colby's leeriness turns into feeling unworthiness. How could someone like him deserve a man like Ben in his corner?

As Ben and Colby get closer, Colbys self esteem gets higher. Their friendship grows everyday and they share things with each other they've never told anyone else. Slowly but surely the healing begins. Then the romance does. It was definitely a slow burn steam wise, but that was important for this book. Colby needed to learn to love himself, to trust himself. Ben needed to let Colby thrive on his own. When they finally got together, both were surprised with how easy it was. They slotted perfectly with each other and I think that's truly because the friendship and trust came first. It didn't matter that Ben had never been with anyone but his ex wife. Colby made him happy, that's all that mattered. Somehow, he made Colby happy too and I just loved how it all played out.

We get a little teaser for the next book and I have to say I can't wait. Roman was such a funny side character. I loved how he liked to bust Ben's chops all the time. I'm hoping Andrew and Ethan get their own books too. So many likeable side characters. Never a bad problem to have!

Rating: 4 Stars

Bookish.jka's Review:

Friends to lovers, hurt/comfort, bi-awakening, angsty deliciousness, all rolled up into another fabulous read from the divine Ms Dykes.

"This thing with Ben? Yeah, it's so much more than a crush. It's going to be my utter destruction."" 

Bruised But Not Broken is the first in the Spark of Hope series by Nicole Dykes, which is set around a trauma support group. 

This is Ben and Colby's story.

Ben is the owner of a gym, which is about to start hosting a bi-weekly trauma support group called Spark of Hope, the brainchild of his cop older brother and his best friend. Ben has recently separated from his wife of 10 years. 

Colby is also newly separated - from an abusive, rich, older boyfriend. He finds his way to Ben's gym, which is looking for a new team member.

Bruised But Not Broken follows Ben's bi-awakening and their blossoming romance, alongside both of their gradual acceptance and understanding of their individual traumas, and what they need to move through their experiences. Together.

Angsty, steamy, cute. So, so lovely.

Rating: 4 romantic stars 

Heather's Review:

What happens when you put a man with a hero complex together with a man who needs a hero and add in a dose of healing therapy?  You get an emotional rollercoaster of a story with hurt/comfort, slow burn, missteps, miscommunication and of course steamy heat!  

Nicole Dykes always writes multi-faceted and dynamic characters and Ben and Colby are no exception.  Even with the difficult themes and emotional scenes, Bruised But Not Broken was a book that read quickly, but stayed with me... 

Rating: 5 Stars

Sarah C's Review:
Nicole Dykes hits it out of the park with her first book in the Sparks of Hope series, Bruised But Not Broken. This book does great in introducing not only Ben and Colby and their romance, but the Sparks of Hope group that will be the foundation for the entire series. She also does an amazing job with showing that there is more than one way that people deal with trauma. That said, there are triggers in this book that absolutely NEED to be heeded.

But let's get into the meat and potatoes of the story.

Ben is a gym owner. When his brother's best friend comes to them with a proposal, he's hesitant. A group therapy meeting, twice a week, at his gym with Ben and Roman teaching self-defense after. He's not a believer in therapy and thinks the whole group therapy thing sounds kind of cultish. But he allows it, mainly because he has a saving people thing. It showed with his ex-wife and it shows again when he meets Colby outside of his gym and offers him a job and a place to stay within just a few minutes of knowing him.

There's reasons that Ben is like that, why he has a saving people thing, and it is explained throughout the course of the book. And it is heartbreaking, his past trauma. However, the book doesn't focus a lot on that, leaving me to believe that we'll see more of that history in his brother's book.

The relationship between Colby and Ben grows relatively quickly. There's an instant attraction and they begin to bond in after hour visits. Colby, despite his bad history with a very recent ex-boyfriend, develops feelings for Ben very quickly and Ben, despite a recent divorce and always thinking he's straight, develops feelings back just as quickly. I do like that Ben doesn't go through some crisis in his bisexual awakening. He just accepts that he has feelings for Colby and that maybe they were always there but he never noticed attraction to men because he'd gotten with his wife when he was still in high school.

The romance between them is very sweet and despite the speed of them falling in love, feels organic. The characters themselves seem very three dimensional and once again, Nicole proves that she is amazing at her characterizations with her side characters as well. Everyone from Ben's ex-wife to the people who work the front desk of the gym to the other group members feel real and developed and I found myself invested in all of them.

I cannot wait to read more of this series as it gets released. Needless to say, I have another new favorite series to add to my ever growing list of series that I yearn for the next release of.
Rating: 5 Stars

Amy_tbs' Review:

ᴡᴇ’ʀᴇ ᴀʟʟ ʀᴇsᴘᴏɴsɪʙʟᴇ ғᴏʀ ᴏᴜʀ ᴏᴡɴ ᴅᴇsᴛɪɴʏ. ᴡᴇ ᴊᴜsᴛ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴜsᴇ ᴏᴜʀ ʜᴇᴀᴅs ᴀɴᴅ ᴛᴀᴋᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ʀɪsᴋs.

𝑪𝒐𝒍𝒃𝒚- “𝑰 𝒎𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒍𝒍 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒓 𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒗𝒐𝒊𝒄𝒆 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆𝒔, 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘?”

“𝑻𝒆𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒎𝒆 𝑰’𝒎 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒕𝒉𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒏𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒍𝒐𝒗𝒆 𝒎𝒆.”

𝑩𝒆𝒏- “𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝑰’𝒍𝒍 𝒋𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒃𝒆 𝒎𝒖𝒄𝒉, 𝒎𝒖𝒄𝒉 𝒍𝒐𝒖𝒅𝒆𝒓.”

Once again Nicole brings an outstandingly beautiful read and cementing the knowledge that this author can do no wrong! When I say I inhaled Bruised But Not Broken, I mean it. I consumed every bit of this book at a dramatic speed (terribly slow reader here!) I absolutely adored Colby and Ben! I felt every moment of their love and I was instantly obsessed by their stories. Ben and his saviour complex and Colby broken but not a victim, giving Ben the freedom to let go of his guilt and live in the here and now. These two gave each other so much love, support and understanding. 

I could have cried at the sheer determination and courage of the all the characters. I'm low key sad that there won't be a romance between Roman and Andrew but I can't wait for what is to come of Roman's romance, this guy! seriously I need his book like now! That also means my greedy ass can hopefully look forwards to Andrews book too, fingers crossed! 

I 100% recommend Bruised But Not Broken and generally any book by Nicole Dyke.

Rating: 5 Stars

Janet's Review:

An amazing story!! Bruised But Not Broken is the first story in the Spark of Hope series centering around a trauma support group. Ben and Colby meet one night in the rain outside Ben’s gym. It’s obvious that Colby needs help. Ben’s instinct is to help. This was amazing!! Their banter and flirting was so fun to read. They both had obstacles to overcome. The character growth and development were sooo good that they felt realistic to me. Overall an amazing story with a great group of secondary characters, well written, highly recommend.

Rating: 5 Stars

Lori C's Review:

A story about trauma, but not just trauma HOPE. The hope that keeps you putting one foot in front of the other, the hope that helps you make the choice to go not stay, hope can be everything we need in that one moment. It was for Colby, who beaten and bruised.

He didn’t even realize he had hope, he just needed a way out and he found it in Ben. That’s the thing, sometimes kismet is on our side right at the perfect moment. 

Ben just lost his wife of ten years to divorce after a stalker beats her up and she’s hospitalized. To say he’s lost is accurate. When Colby walks in to his gym looking for a job, beat up to hell and back, Ben gives him the job and a place to stay. As Ben opens his gym up to a trauma therapy group led by his friend Andrew, Colby and Ben develop a friendship of their own. 

Bruised But Not Broken is a great start to Nicole Dykes new Spark of Hope series based on different types of trauma. Her goal is to reach as many people as possible to let them know it is okay to reach out for help when they need it. I am in love with this book for multiple reasons. I think if I have to pick the top reason it would be normalizing the need for mental healthcare and Andrew’s representation of a therapist. My second reason would probably be the ease of the relationship between Ben and Colby. Remember, they are both coming out of relationships, both a little battered, and yet both open. I feel like there is such a beautiful kindness in Ms. Dykes’ writing. I’m looking forward to book two of the Spark of Hope series.

Rating: 4 Stars

Angel's Review:

Who knew hosting a trauma support group could lead you to meeting your person. "Bruised But Not Broken tells the story of Colby and Ben. Ben owns his own gym and  even though he didn't want to have a trauma group being held there he agreed anyway. Days before the first trauma group is set to take place a bruised and battered Colby walks through his gym's doors looking for a job.  This is where there story begins. 

My thoughts and opinions: I really loved how the author represented the different types of therapy and self healing. Ben's way of therapy us by confusing in Colby. Colby's way of healing is by confiding in Ben first, then in the trauma support group. I think this book could help a lot of people and give them hope. And maybe convince them to seek out help if they need any. I know that this is technically a work of fiction but I do believe that this could help a lot of people. I really hope the author is proud of this story cause they deserve to be! This book has really great characters who are all fleshed out and well written. The side characters all add something to the story and are also set up for their own side stories if the author chooses to write them. 

I really enjoyed the setting, having a support group taking place in a gym is really unique. And I've never read anything like this before. Which is a good thing!!

I would say this is a slow burn romance story with a bit of heat. If talk of therapy and abuse is a trigger for you I would be cautious reading this, since that is a main focus of this story. 

I rate this 5 out of 5 and I highly recommend this. I can't wait until more books in this series comes out!!

Nicole's Review:

So, after finally gaining the courage to read this book, mainly because I was hesitant due to my career being the same as the basis of this book, I am utterly shocked at how beautifully Nicole has tackled such a sensitive topic. Though group therapy deals with majority of talking, providing support through others listening, there was not a tremendous amount included, which was where my hesitation lied. But, as always, Nicole delivered an impeccable performance with this one!

“ℕ𝕠𝕥 𝕘𝕦𝕪𝕤. 𝕐𝕠𝕦. 𝕀 𝕝𝕚𝕜𝕖 𝕜𝕚𝕤𝕤𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕪𝕠𝕦”

Colby and Ben were to die for! I absolutely loved how Ben was instantly drawn to Colby, wanting to help him even before his desires came along. Colby’s hesitancy was definitely warranted, but Ben had his underlying issues as well. They helped one another, trusting each other, there for the other, that eventually led to the most passionate and intimate moments. Their chemistry was absolutely perfect, igniting from their first kiss, increasing from that moment, their intense connection eventually skyrocketing! 

“𝙄 𝙙𝙤𝙣’𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙠 𝙖𝙣𝙮𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙝𝙚𝙡𝙥 𝙢𝙚.” 𝙍𝙤𝙢𝙖𝙣 𝙡𝙖𝙪𝙜𝙝𝙨. “𝙊𝙝, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙣’𝙩 𝙢𝙚𝙩 𝙢𝙚 𝙮𝙚𝙩.” 𝙊𝙝 𝙜𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙩. 𝙒𝙝𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧. 𝙇𝙚𝙩 𝙍𝙤𝙢𝙖𝙣 𝙨𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙙𝙖𝙮 𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙤𝙣𝙚.

Roman and Brooks story is going to set off like fireworks and I cannot wait for the show!! 

Rating: 5 Stars

Bruised But Not Broken is currently available in e-book and paperback and can be read as part of your Kindle Unlimited Subscription!  You can also order signed paperbacks directly from the author by visiting: