Favorites of 2016 • "Recap" • Day 12 • A Mended Man (The Men of Halfway House) by Jaime Reese + Giveaway
For the month of December, MM Book Escape, will be posting a recap of the books that TOOK ME AWAY. They are in no particular order and if you enter the giveaway and give me your favorite book of the year, or at least one that left an impact, and the book you've been dying to read, I will gift that book to you, plus the $10 Amazon gift card.
Happy Holidays and Happy Reading from MM Book Escape!!
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.
***This book contains scenes and subject matter some readers may find distressing.***
Gah!!! Before I turned the first page, my throat became closed off and my nerves were bundled so tight in anticipation. I felt his fear and I could vision his surroundings with an intensity that had me held prisoner in my chair. AND, that is just the prologue. OMG… so intense and powerful, and if that's any indication of what's to come, it's going to be one helluva read.
A Mended Man by Jaime Reese will punch you in the gut so hard you feel breathless. The story is broken down into three parts. Part one is Surviving and I knew immediately it was going to be tough. The first page, literally, has you on the edge of your seat. I don’t want to give anything away—which makes this extremely hard to review—but you need to experience every emotion, every pull, and every moment of fear that Jessie goes through, yourself. I know my nerves felt raw and exposed and yet. . . I couldn't read fast enough.
The first two parts of the book keep the reader in suspense. There is always an underlying feeling of fear that the reader picks up. Bits and pieces of information are revealed slowly as healing and recovering take precedence over everything else.
We’ve already met Aidan—and Jessie as well—from previous stories A Hunted Man so we kind of knew there was an attraction there. Aidan is pretty hardcore in the sense that he’s all business and a no nonsense type of person. What we didn’t know then but are learning now is Aidan has his own demons.
He battles nightmares and flashbacks that take him back to a time that he doesn’t want to visit. He barely escaped the first time and having to relive those moments through his nightmares keeps him on a razor edge. In order to survive day to day, he’s built a wall around his heart that cannot be penetrated.
He has very strong feelings for Jessie, but he keeps this all inside because he’s convinced himself that if he knew the real Aidan he would run fast and far. It’s devastating being inside Aidan’s head as we get a front row seat to his pain and anguish that he keeps inside. As the reader, we get to see parts of Aidan than no one else sees.
With that said, it still takes time for all of the demons to show themselves. Aidan is the most stubborn and pigheaded man I’ve ever seen and there were many times I wanted to thump him on the head.
He has to be in control, all the time, and with how closed off he is already he basically is unapproachable, and sometimes, unreasonable. He thrives on never showing weakness and let me tell ya, I was pretty aggravated with it all. As you read on, though you realize he has reasons for his behavior and you just want to grab him and hug him so tightly. It absolutely broke my heart that he felt he had no one he could talk to.
This is such a powerful and intense story and it takes time to unfold. The author does not rush through any of the events and even though you get frustrated at how long it’s taking for the information to come out, it makes so much sense in the end.
There were so many things I didn’t understand about Aidan’s behavior. So many times I became frustrated with his inability to open up or express his feelings to Jessie. And, it’s not just Jessie but also his family and his co-workers that he keeps at a distance. When he finally starts to smile, everyone takes notice.
Aidan has almost a ridiculous obsession of not showing weakness. He’s terrified that someone will look at him and be able to see the horrible transgressions he has suffered. He’s closed off from everyone, but you begin to see how all of these things from his past have affected his future.
Both, Aidan and Jessie, have skeletons from their past, but the hardest part for Jessie is getting Aidan to feel comfortable enough and trust enough, in him, to know that he can shoulder his burden with him. As Aidan starts to open up more with Jessie, you see what he has carried for so long.
The author has the ability to keep you completely invested and regardless to the heartache you feel, your need to get to the facts prevails. You get to a point that you can’t read fast enough because you need Aidan to find some peace. You need him to find that little boy that had so much fun and such a carefree and loving spirit.
It’s not easy and it doesn’t happen at a fast-pace, but Jessie is extremely patient and understanding and he shows Aidan so much love through his actions and his quiet presence. Your heart will break for both men because no one should ever have to endure what they have.
As each piece of the puzzle falls into place you realize just how strong Jessie is. How much courage he has—and even though he has suffered his own evils—he still finds a way to rise above the injustice and seek a future he is proud of. He has so much love to give and share with Aidan which causes him to never waver from his plan or second guess their time together.
There are many times during this story that your heart will break and tears will pour for these two amazing men. Their fear, at times, is so palpable that I caught myself on more than one occasion holding my breath. Some parts may be considered dark but the author tells the story in a way that gives the reader just enough information to process using your own imagination without revealing the actual brutality that no doubt took place.
I had so many questions as I was reading and I became frustrated with Aidan and his lack of urgency he seemed to have. Jessie had far more patience than I had with Aidan. But, trust me when I say he had his reasons for taking the time he did and it made me realize that you can’t rush emotions and you can’t just turn off fear that has been with you for so many years.
When rejection seems to be the only thing you know—or people leaving you behind that were supposed to love you—the toll it leaves on you is sometimes insurmountable. The author takes two characters with damaged souls and puts them together knowing that because of their own demons they have the power to understand and heal the other one. A powerful and intense story by Jaime Reese and I think my favorite in the series.
The story flowed effortlessly and I admire the author for not rushing the details but allowing them to fall as they needed too. The story is plot driven and it takes time for the relationship to work itself out, but the emotional journey starts from the first page. Aidan and Jessie's story is not all doom and gloom. Jessie is so funny and I loved the moments that Aidan couldn't hold back his smile. I could literally visualize his face as he was smiling from ear to ear.
Cole and Ty make a few appearances and you will be moved beyond belief as the two brothers work on their own relationship, something that is way past due. And, of course Cole is just as funny and mischievous as ever. However, I'm not sure that he and Aidan will ever be best buds, but that's okay because their banter is part of the fun.
There are so many good things about this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves this genre. The entire series is amazing.