Monday, January 10, 2011

Review: Mended Heart by Mary Manners

Mended Heart by Mary Manners
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Summary:Jade McAllister returns home to Pineyville, Tennessee to help nurse her estranged mother back to health. She's grateful her friend found her a job as an administrative assistant at Pineyville Church. That is, until she runs into Shane Calkin, the bad-boy-wannabe who broke her heart.
Shane's job as Youth Director at the church is a far cry from his high school days as the town's privileged rich kid. The death of his sister has left him with a young niece to raise and a rambunctious puppy to tame. He's not the self-centered person who once hurt Jade, and all he wants now is a second chance to love her. But how can he prove it to her?

Review: I won this book over at The Romance Reviews and the author, Ms Manners, was kind enough to send me not only a signed book, but also shiny swag!! [Thanks so much!!]

I had already read the synopsis when I entered the contest, so I already knew I would enjoy the book. I am mostly into UF and PR these days, so Contemporary Romance was something I needed to read to take a little break from everything paranormal.

The book is all about love and missed opportunities due to misunderstandings. In a way it's like "Pride and Prejudice" in this respect! :P

Jade McAllister never had an easy life. Her father killed himself causing her mother to turn to alcohol and "easy" relationships with lots of men who made both Jade's and her life miserable. Shane Calkin's, the wealthy, it-boy's attitude towards her (all teasing and annoying boyish charm) wasn't helping, either.
Hence, Jade needs a way out and once she reaches eighteen she leaves the town of Pineyville, Tennessee, where she grew up, behind.

She only comes back ten years later after her mother has a heart attack and needs her help, sending her a heartfelt letter.
Even though it's been 10 years, her best friend, Claire, secures her a place as administrative assistant at the Piney Grove Church. She expects things to gradually get better between her mother and herself and she only wishes she has enough time to work on that.

One thing she doesn't expect however, is to find Shane Calkin again.
The boy who grew up having everything, born to the wealthiest family in town, showing off his money and bravado at every opportunity- or so she thought, annoying Jade even though she found him attractive.

They shared a kiss shortly before her eighteenth birthday, but she was too overwhelmed by her need to flee to slow down and pay attention to the feelings she had for him and the spark between them.

When she sees him again outside the Church, though, and she finds out he is the Youth Director - meaning she would see him every day - the feelings come rushing back, yet she struggles to keep them away.
She has been through too much to let her guard down now and believe that that superficial, spoiled boy has changed so much as to dedicate his life to helping others now.

She barely gives him the chance to prove her wrong, but Shane has, indeed, changed into a caring, noble, dignified man who is responsible and mature enough to take care of his late sister's daughter.
He is the only father she has ever known and even calls him "Daddy".

Through an excursion and activities organized for the youths - where both Jade and Shane follow as guardians, they get re-introduced to each other and though reserved and composed they can't help but fall for each other all over again.

I liked how the book was written. It was easy to read and quite short actually. I read it in a day or something. :)

I loved the way the book started giving as a peek into Jade's life and what it felt like growing up. It makes us understand how urgent it felt for her to leave her house and her mother and escape into something better.
In the beginning there is only one scene of her emotional turmoil, but we can feel the depth of it and the author weaves a wonderful scene of the outlet Jade chooses. She likes to ride on the roller coaster. She likes the speed and the thrill and the abrupt fear it springs in her, because for that moment at least it erases every other thought from her mind.
I think that might be my favorite imagery from the whole book. I could almost feel the speed and my stomach doing that little jump. XD

Jade was a likable character. We got to know her in depth because the author allowed us to deduct a lot from her facial expressions and her thoughts. She was strong-willed and generally a pretty resilient person considering how she was able to put her tormented past behind her.

In the book, we come to understand Shane, as well. I dare say that I loved Shane a little better than Jade. He might have been rich, but his life was far from perfect. It might sound as a cliche but his parents were really cold and aloof - although his mother redeemed herself in the end somewhat.
In a sense he had everything, but he was warmth and love-deprived, so he did the only thing he knew would surely attract attention.
He kinda acted out and went with the popular crowd, being frivolous and superficial.

In reality, he was never that superficial. He cared deeply for his family and especially for his sister who was like his best friend. Her illegitimate child was an embarrassment to his parents who were cold as usual, but her death touched him, deeply and altered him, rendering him deep in despair at first - causing a car accident that left his best friend with a limp.
But soon he found hope and chose to see everything in a positive light and start having faith in God and fate.

He didn't think he could be a person someone could depend and rely on, but he is a good father and a wonderful guide and counselor to the youths.
His scenes with Susi, his daughter (actually his niece) were heart-warming and sweet.

It is this quality in him that Jade appreciates and makes her start to believe in his transformation- if you ask me he didn't sound that bad even in the start.

I liked how everything was gradual and you could actually feel their way towards re-discovering each other. Even if sorrow and loss permeates the whole book, the sense of warmth and hope really conquer everything. It might take a while, but people do find their way back to what matters the most, each other.

The romance between Jade and Shane is deeply satisfying and believable and I particularly liked how the author (though writing in the 3rd person) really alternates between Jade's and Shane's point of view, really showing us how they felt and what they thought, causing an instant attachment to them (at least for me).

Notable Description/Scene:
"Jade? the sound of her name on his lips eased over her like warm pudding. the fact that he remembered her was just short of astonishing.
- Loved that line.

..."Wow he was momentarily speechless and his belly did a slow flip-flop.
The dress kissed Jade's long toned legs just below the knees and it took great restraint to draw his gaze upward to lovely glossed lips.
"You look" her eyes locked with his, questioning.
"Beautiful" he managed.

Verdict: A very nice book. Short and sweet that will make you smile and go all "aww", if you are into this genre. Anyone who has suffered loss and/or has difficulty trusting others would find this an inspiration to have some light shed in their hearts and souls.
I really wish it was a bit longer as I would enjoy reading a little more after the book ends and I also think that we could have a little more background information on both Shane and Jade.
Although we got a great opening scene for Jade I would have liked to see a day in her "old" life to sympathise more with her, and maybe a little more about Shane, because he might have seemed charming and a bit frivolous as a teenager but he didn't seem so bad that he had to feel so guilty during the course of the book.

Rating: 4 Stars.
I'm looking forward to her new book " Tender Mercies". XD

Find Mary Manners: Site Goodreads Blog
Buy Mended Heart: Smashwords Amazon

~ Kelly ~


Mary Manners said...

Oh, thank you so much for this beautiful review. I am honored that you took the time to read Mended Heart and write such an in-depth review. I so appreciate you!


Thank you!!!

Kelly aka yllektra(I Work For Books) said...

I'm really glad you liked it.
I assure you that was my honest opinion! XD

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Wow. This sounds like a great book. I do a lot of UF and PNR so I know... sometimes a book like this is refreshing. Thanks for the review!

Kelly aka yllektra(I Work For Books) said...

@Melissa: You are welcome Melissa.
And thank you for the comment!

Amused said...

This sounds like a really sweet good book!

Kelly aka yllektra(I Work For Books) said...

It was really sweet!!!! :)

Mary Manners said...

Thank you, Melissa, for the encouraging comments. Your words mean the world to me, and I appreciate them very much!

Thank you!!!

Mary Manners said...


I'm glad you like the review. I really feel like Kelly summed up the contents and tone of the book in a lovely and accurate manner. She did a wonderful job, and I so appreciate all the time she took to write up such an in-depth review.

Have a great weekend, and thank you again!

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