How to Mend a Broken Heart
by Amy Andrews
Published by Harlequin Medical Romances
262 KB; 134 pages
Available on Amazon.com Kindle
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
3.5 / 5 cupcakes
First, let's talk about that cover.
This book is about a couple who divorced shortly after the death of their young son; ten years later, they reconnect, bent and bowed under the weight of grief that still shrouds them. Does that cover look like two people in their late thirties? In his case, Fletch, the man in the photo, is forty. The hell? Do the people who come up with these covers even read the books? And Tess, the woman, has short spiky hair. The cover couple looks like two college kids hiding in the library stacks, desperate for a naughty study interlude.
Now that I've gotten that out of my system, on with the show.
How to Mend a Broken Heart is saddled with, in addition to that awful cover, an awful title. Yes, Tess and Fletch's hearts are broken. It's been ten years since their son Ryan's death, but in those ten years, Tess left their home in Australia to move to a small town in the English countryside. Fletch stayed behind, and now must deal with his mother's dementia. When he sees Tess during her annual graveside visit on the anniversary of Ryan's death, he asks her to move in with him and his mother and help take care of the latter.
This is a "medical romance," or so the cover tells us. And it is, to some degree. Fletch is a doctor, Tess a nurse, and some scenes do take place in a hospital. But it's really a character study of two people still mired in grief, both of them clinging to it out of fear that if they get past their loss, they will lose their memories of their son. Mirroring this is Fletch's mother, who actually is losing her memory. If Fletch and Tess ease up on their grief, will they experience their own form of dementia?
There is a romance to be found here, as Tess and Fletch independently remember their life together. He is determined to keep her, just as she is determined to leave him again, absconding to England to get away from memories of Ryan.
And this being a romance, we are treated to some loving, touching and squeezing. Just ... not enough. And what we get can be a bit of a tease. Then again, given the heaviness of the story lines, would it make sense for these two to rock the headboard? Probably not.
There is nothing lighthearted about this book. It is serious, from start to finish, with almost no let up. Tess is not always likable; she's frustrating and self-focused. Not that you can blame her, really. Fletch, on the other hand, wears his wounds like his three day stubble. We want to comfort him and help heal him.
You have to be in the right mood for this book, even if it is a fast read. If you want an excuse to shed a tear or two, this is one to pick up.