Manny’s Heart is the third book in the Family of Misfits series, which must be read in order. As a result, this review may contain spoilers.
All Manny wants is to meet his spirit mate, like Ali and Lucius did. Mika is a close friend, someone who understands Manny. When Manny meets his mate Georgi at a party and his mate does not recognize the significance of the event, Manny is devastated, in addition to the agony that comes with first meeting one’s spirit mate. Tension runs high in the house as Manny waits a week to finally meet Georgi for a second time.
A second meeting leads to dates where Manny tries to make Georgi fit the mold of spirit mate. Georgi’s lack of manners in public is one thing, and his insistence that Manny pleasure him with hand and mouth using the “mate card” as leverage leaves Manny confused and desperate. All the while Mika is avoiding his friend, not wanting to interfere with the mate bond, and more importantly, not wanting to reveal his true feelings for the mountain lion shifter.
Desperate for Georgi to fall in love with him, and frustrated with his family’s interference, Manny moves in with Georgi with high hope for a successful mating. Sadly, Georgi is not the man Manny was hoping for and Manny becomes more and more isolated. Georgi keeps feeding Manny’s desperation and insecurity, and demanding sex that Manny feels he needs to give in to, yet feels wrong, until George’s frustration with sweet Manny boils over with disastrous consequences.
The story is broken up into two parts, which worked well since part one was a book unto itself, and part two could have been a shorter sequel, but the decision to leave them together in this format was appreciated. That being said, I did find that the pace of the story dragged at times and as much as I love Manny, wondered if the story could have been pared down a bit more.
The dynamic within the family of misfits has remained consistent through the series with the normal variations in wants and needs based on circumstance. All of the characters have pretty much found their places in the grand scheme of things except for our protagonists, Manny and Mika. Since the story took a detailed look at the before, during, and after, we got to see the full extent of Manny and Mika’s struggle with themselves, their family, and most importantly themselves.
Manny’ slow self-esteem and sweet nature makes his story that much more heartbreaking, from his family’s brutal and violent rejection, to his desperate desire for a mate of his own, and the measures that he takes to achieve his mate bond with Georgi. Here is where my personal bias comes out to play. I could not relate to Manny’s deep-seated desire to make his mating with Georgi work, when it was obvious that Georgi was not all Manny was expecting from a mate. I just don’t have it in me to put up with that shit and therefore could not relate on that level.
I also didn’t like how everyone was willing to vilify Mika and ignore the obvious issues with Manny’s mating. Kalo should trust his twin and yet all he does, all they all do, is make Mika feel unjustified in his concern and that he was somehow the bad guy. They all miss the signs of a mentally abusive and isolating relationship. Their guts tell them something is wrong and yet none of them trust their feelings – idiots!
One area that I would have liked to see expanded on would have been in regards to world building. I didn’t get the feeling that there was much difference in the setting between the Canadian installments and Manny’s Heart and figured that the change in locale would have provided an opportunity to go deeper in this respect.
Here is where the review goes into weird mode as it addresses events after the “disastrous consequences.” Sorry for being vague…
The survivors, and I don’t just mean Manny, have difficulty addressing the events that lead them to this point, and I still don’t get why Mika couldn’t tell Manny the truth, and vice-versa, especially with Mika’s ability to tell what Manny was thinking at times. As for the rest of the family, their thought processes and actions in regards to Manny’s recovery just about drove me batshit crazy. Why didn’t they consult a professional once Manny was released from the hospital?
In the end, I enjoyed Manny’s Heart. Manny carried this story and Klein was masterful in her creation of his character. There were so many times where a quirk, idiosyncrasy, or behavior was demonstrated and not only fit Manny’s character, enhanced it. A solid effort by Klein and well with the read.