This is perhaps the hardest review I have ever had to write, and before you think it’s because this story somehow fell short, let me stop you right now. I am having a difficult time reviewing A Mended Man, Jamie Reese’s fourth’s novel in The Men Of Halfway House series, because I cannot simply say it any better than this: this story is one of the most INCREDIBLE books I have ever read. It made me scream in frustration, gasp in horror, cry, cry some more, and finally left me so, so very happy by story’s end. Truly, you just have to purchase this book and if you have not read this series, by all means start with the first one but get to this one as soon as you can because in my humble opinion this is the best one in the bunch thus far.
Jaime Reese continues to create characters that burrow right into the core of her readers and impact them in all the right ways. The overwhelming love and tenderness juxtaposed with the harsh reality of kidnapping and sexual abuse was staggering to behold. In any given chapter, I wasn’t sure if the ground our two main character’s managed to gain had brought them into a safer place in their relationship or to the scariest and most precarious phase in their journey to date. Yet each time this gifted author took us to the edge where we surely felt Jessie would finally throw in the towel and walk away from Aiden once and for all, we discovered another layer of tenacity and compassion hidden deep in the quiet strength of Jessie Vega. No matter how messed up Aiden was—how shell-shocked and terribly afraid he was, Jessie was there to soothe, comfort and love—so beautifully love his man.
So…the story is a simple one. Aiden is a man who shows no real emotion other than to glower and grouse at coworker and criminal alike. His past in the military has left him nearly hollow—unable to love easily, if at all, frightened of intimacy, and extremely wary of ever believing that he could ever have a long lasting and satisfying relationship with anyone. While he pined—yes, pined for Jessie Vega, it would never occur to Aiden that he had the remotest chance of ever entertaining anything more than a friendship with the man. Instead, Aiden is driven in his work to bring the bad to justice and fight crime until he staggers home numb and exhausted where he falls asleep to the white noise of late night television.
Jessie bears the scars of a past so horrific it staggers the imagination and defies logic as to how he has made it as far and as successfully as he has. An intrepid and thorough consultant for the police force and private clients, Jessie can solve riddles and unearth clues that have resulted in cold cases closing and criminals being put behind bars. This quiet, almost invisible man is perhaps the strongest person ever to grace the page and yet the one puzzle he cannot crack is his friend and secret love, Detective Aiden Calloway. Oh yes, Jessie loves Aiden, and Aiden? Why, when he can allow just a sliver of hope to surface in his otherwise tortured existence, he loves Jessie right back.
But the past has a way of catching up with these two men and it is not pretty and it is not safe. The horror that has followed Jessie for years is back and determined to either have Jessie again or see him die in the process. Now Aiden must fight to discover who has tracked Jessie over the years before it is too late and he loses Jessie forever.
Oh dear. What can I say? Author Jaime Reese gives us a true love story—one filled with pain, redemption, and rebirth. Do yourself a favor, despite my poor attempt to review this amazing story, read this novel, A Mended Man. I can so no more than I highly recommend it to you.