By Jamie Reese
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
A story of healing and confronting demons…
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.
A Mended Man is a genuine love story. It’s the story of two haunted and broken people who together anchor and complete one another. A Mended Man is not a happy-go-lucky or an easy read; it’s a long read, but it never feels overdone or repetitive. The love scenes add depth to the men’s relationship, growth and healing instead of being the sole focus of the story – and it felt right.
This was the first of the author’s works that I’ve read. The writing is exceptional: it’s compelling, thorough and so real, it’s so easy to feel as if the characters and story are happening in real-time. Reese masterfully develops the characters of Aidan and Jessie. The demons and battles Aidan and Jessie faced individually could have crushed many people. As the story starts with a traumatic and nearly fatal attack on Jessie, Aidan is the one who stands by his side through a long recovery process, providing support, tenderness and strength. Aidan is a hard-edged detective who has survived a brutal experience during his days in the service and wears the tattoo “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. As the story evolves, Jessie is the one, however, who pulls from a bottomless reservoir of strength to be Aidan’s rock and pillar of strength. I was stunned by how Reese was able to use words to express emotions so breathtakingly – there were certainly a lot of deep, dark abysses to transcend in each of the main characters, but there were still elements of humor, genuine passion and love, suspense, and fear that mixed together into the perfect reader cocktail.
This book gives the reader a lot to digest: tragedy, happy moments, humor, realistic situations and a lot of uncomfortable memories and deep, troubling experiences with which to grapple and come to terms. It makes the reader feel. But at no point do you stop believing that there is always love. Every second of every day, with every breath and every heartbeat.
Aidan gifts Jessie with the skeleton key on his birthday, along with the episode that led to the gift of the key – when Aidan opens up to his past and admits to Jessie about everything. Additionally, the unquestioning love these two share was simply – I actually don’t have words for it. This book was not about sex and steam and lust. It was about love and friendship and life. It doesn’t matter if this book was about two men, two women, one man and one woman, or a litter of kittens, the story transcended all that. It enveloped the true meaning of love.
Don’t miss it. It’s a must read.
Original review posted on Amazon and Goodreads on May 10, 2016.