REVIEW: How to Mend a Broken Heart by Amy Andrews
Dear Ms. Andrews:
Sunita is usually our go to reviewer for medical romances but I saw this on NetGalley and wanted to give the book a whirl. This is a quick but emotional read. The two main protagonists are a previously divorced couple whose marriage disintegrated after the death of their son. They reconnect ten years later when Fletcher, the husband, comes to his ex wife, Tessa, with a request. His mother is suffering late stage Alzheimer’s and needs in home care. Tessa is a nurse and Fletcher would rather the care come from someone who loves his mother than a stranger.
It’s apparent early on that Fletcher has never fallen out of love with Tessa and Tessa feels the same tug of attraction that brought the two of them together initially. Tessa is the harder nut of the two. She is determined to subsume all those feelings that she had – both happiness and grief – when she was married to Fletcher. Both of them are heavily burdened by guilt. Tessa decided to comparmentalize everything. No mentions of her son, ever. She only allows herself a small portion of grief and only on her son’s anniversary of his death. She shut herself off from her husband and her friends. She left her job as a nurse at the PICU and took a new position as a geriatric provider.
The loss scenes were palpable and sometimes difficult to read as a mother myself. The medical aspect wasn’t overpowering. It was just enough to make you believe that the two characters were familiar with medicine and the practice. It played a role in their grief. Tessa went to work at a nursing home. Fletch was driven to become an expert on child hypothermia.
Fletch’s point of view is focused on his love for Tessa and his regret that he hadn’t fought harder for her. After a year, he sought the solace of another woman and fled to Canada alone. He views the past ten years as a waste and is determined to fight hard for Tessa and win back her love and perhaps create another family with her. Tessa’s point of view is focused on first managing her grief and then grappling with Fletch’s nephew, so similar to her lost son and dealing with Fletcher’s mom. In some ways the mother’s Alzheimers was a convenient plot device. Fletcher’s mom’s memory lapse forces Tessa to remember how good she had it with Fletcher, both the passion and the love. I’m not familiar with Alzheimers (only dementia) and thus I don’t know if this was accurately portrayed.
The story seems to rip by rather quickly and neither are emotionally healthy at the end, but they both acknowledge this. Thus the end of the story is merely the beginning of a new HEA for them. It was a strong emotional story with quite a bit of passion but perhaps too easily resolved. They were both in serious need of therapy. B-
Good review- makes me want to take a look at it.
As far as “I’m not familiar with Alzheimers (only dementia) and thus I don’t know if this was accurately portrayed.”-since Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, I don’t think you would be able to differentiate. Throughout my mom’s long battle with dementia/Alzheimer’s, it was called many things and as far as I can tell it was impossible to parse the variations or symptoms.
Thanks for the review, Jane. I seldom read medical romances, but I’m going to give this one a try.
Thanks for the review, Amy Andrews rarely disappoints.
Have any of you read the Amy Andrews’ Taming the Tycoon? It’s not working for me and I can’t figure out if it is *me* or the book!
Jane, great review! I’m so happy to see other DA folks reading and reviewing Medicals.
Amy Andrews is hit or miss for me. I love her early books so much, but her later ones have mostly been disappointing. They have a lot of sex, which I’m not crazy about in that line (I read Medicals for the other stuff and sometimes it doesn’t mesh well with the serious parts). And they have a lot of angst, which as you know is not my first choice.
I haven’t read Taming the Tycoon. I can imagine her current style works better in Presents-type book, though.
Thanks Jane for this review. I’m actually keen to know what you thought about the infidelity angle in the book? This was a huge leap for me, one I fought including for a good couple of weeks and emailed my editor in a lather over. I was worried that this was where most of the criticisim of the book would come in and have been heartened that it doesn’t seem to have been an issue?
@Amy Andrews: The infidelity did not bother me. Perhaps because Fletcher was so wracked with guilt or perhaps because Tessa had been so closed off for so long. I think, too, that it happened in the past and off screen helped lessen its offensiveness.
This one didn’t work for me. As you said, the mother’s Alzheimer’s was used as a convenient plot device and it bothered me how Fletcher used it to manipulate Tessa into staying with him. He didn’t take into account her mother’s feelings or how changing her routine would affect her. This subject hits close to home and I’m obviously reacting from a personal place, but I found it borderline offensive. However, I enjoyed the angst and the emotion, and I liked the resolution. It just wasn’t the right book for me.