Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ARC Review: A Mended Man (The Men of Halfway House 4) by Jaime Reese

Detective Aidan Calloway is rock-solid strong. He's a man of justice—loyal to his friends, family, and job—even if it requires bending a law…or two. He shields himself behind an abrasive, fearless facade, until a phone call one night chips his armor and throws his perfectly planned, hollow life into a tailspin.

Jessie Vega is the epitome of optimism. His carefully crafted attitude of hope and positivity protects him from a past filled with too much pain. When a ghost from a dark time resurfaces and nearly breaks him, he must tap into his inner strength or risk losing everything he's worked so hard to build.

But Jessie can't do it alone. He must fight to break through Aidan's ironclad defenses to reveal the heart of the man hiding beneath the tough surface and mend his damaged spirit. Only then can they truly heal and become strong enough to battle the demons that haunt them and threaten their chance to finally be together.

Dani's rating:

This series is about wounded, imperfect men who find their HEA through struggle and sacrifice. The road to happily ever after is stained with blood, sweat, and tears.

But there's love. There’s always love.

What I appreciate about Jaime Reese’s books is that past trauma is never easily or magically fixed. It takes hard work and determination.

A Mended Man is not an easy read. It’s broody and sad. It begins and ends with a brutal attack, and deals with issues of abandonment, rape, and PTSD.

A monster from Jessie’s past returns to haunt him. Aidan is forced to stay off Jessie’s case, which drives him mad.

Both MCs hide deep scars, but Jessie is willing to talk about his. Aidan loves Jessie with all his heart, but his demons are cunning and brutal. All Jessie can do is make sure Aidan knows that his love isn’t conditional.

Even though several crime cases are woven into the story (the attack on Jessie; the “butterfly killer”; and Cam’s connection to a drug ring), this book is very much relationship focused. Despite Aidan putting up brick walls, he and Jessie never waver, never quit. They offer each other comfort and hope.

Aidan says so much without ever saying a word. Their relationship is based on a strong foundation of trust and friendship. Jessie just wants more; he wants an “us."

The steam level in the story is fairly low. At 80 percent, the men finally move beyond touching and kissing. The painfully long slow burn is understandable considering Aidan’s past, but once Aidan confronted his fear of intimacy, I wanted more of the men together. And, hell, was I frustrated waiting on Aidan and watching him push Jessie away time and again.

I love that Cole, who’s still living a blissful fairy tale with his My-Ty, has a fairly big role in this story. Truly, Cole is one of a kind, and he always makes me smile. We even see Cam and his boy toy, err ... Hunter again.

Aidan’s detective buddies, including his partner Sunny and the inscrutable, silent Wall, are great characters. I liked all the banter and teasing.

I enjoyed this book slightly less than the others in the series, because at time the dark really overshadowed the joy, and the lack of sexy times and frequent time jumps made me feel less connected to the characters. The last chapter certainly forced a resolution, but it felt overly dramatic and rushed.

Even so, this is a well-written, intense story with a gorgeous epilogue.

P.S. COVER LUST! The guy on the cover is a perfect Aidan, down to the sexy tat.

P.S.S. A Mended Man is not a standalone book. This series should be read in order.


To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark. 
~Victor Hugo

An ARC of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Download links are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with the book, author, publisher, or website listed.

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