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A man who seems to have no business being a software billionaire (but is one) works to overcome his super bizarre past demons so that he can be a good boyfriend to the only woman he’s ever loved who hasn’t tried to kill him. Her past is even more horrific, and she needs his support as she deals with the revelation of her birth father’s identity and a possible pregnancy, and…ugh. Who even remembers the rest? If you think a weird and or terrible thing happened to someone in here, it probably did.   

Type: Contemporary, especially soapy adult romance with some suspense

The couple: Lucian “Luc” Quinn, a billionaire who’s, as usual, kind of a self-absorbed dick until he meets Lia Adams, a typical super determined college student with a terrible past. Readers would be forgiven for thinking Lia’s name is “baby,” since that is almost the only thing Luc calls her. Don’t get me wrong – terms of endearment are lovely. But Luc uses this one so often that one has to wonder if he occasionally forgets Lia’s name.

Tropes: Pretty much all of the tropes except adorable pets: billionaire alpha male; woman trying to escape her past; anguished, violent pasts; family secrets; possible pregnancy; drug addiction… you get the idea.

The story: This is the third book in the series and the completion of Luc and Lia’s story, so a lot has happened already. Not to worry, though. Author Sydney Landon catches readers up by splashing exposition all over the first two chapters, which include lines like “Neither woman could live in a building where Lia’s stepfather had attempted to rape her” and “Never in a million years could I have imagined a meeting with my college advisor would inadvertently trigger the revelation of my biological father’s identity.” So, even if you haven’t read the others, don’t fear getting lost in the subtlety.

By the beginning of this book, Luc and Lia are in love and have been dating awhile, through few good times and bad. Despite a fight that served as a cliffhanger between books, the relationship between the two is never really in question. The conflict here comes from the possible release of Luc’s former fiancé/attempted murderer from a mental hospital, Lia’s possible pregnancy, the emergence of Lia’s billionaire biological father, and the ongoing dramatic struggle/mysteries of their small but loyal friend group. They, obviously, will continue their dramatic struggles in the next two books.

How’s the sex? Not nearly as interesting as it should be, given that Luc is a self-proclaimed sex god. These people have a lot of sex, and they have it for a lot of reasons – apologies, celebrations, boredom – but by this point in the series, they’re an established couple and the sex has gotten pretty boring. For the reader, that is. Luc and Lia still enjoy it very much, and good for them.

Is this book for you? Well, as you can probably tell from the review so far, it’s not really for me. But let’s make one thing quite clear: as of this writing, Mended, released in May of this year, has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon, and a 4.3 rating on Goodreads. That Goodreads score is higher than any of the other five books I’ve reviewed, and it’s also higher than Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights. In case you think there’s a female author bias, it also kicks the ass of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Catcher and the Rye, and The Great Gatsby. The sample size is certainly smaller than any of those classics, but with an “n” in the thousands, we have to assume more people than Sydney Landon’s family and friends really like this book. Will you too express your enthusiasm for Mended in emoticons, exclamation points, and worries that the wait for the next book will be “tooooo longggggg”? Perhaps you will. And if so, good luck and God bless. Let me know how things go for Rose and Max, who are, I assume, starring in the next book.

As for me, I’m feeling pretty ok about walking away from this series. The present tense, alternating first person POV narration didn’t work for me, and I would have liked to see some nuance in the writing. I also had a hard time getting over the uncomfortably conventional gender norms (“I hope the fuck that falling in love doesn’t mean I have to give over my balls and start acting like some kind of pussy,” for example). And though I’m on record as being in favor of story lines outside of the couple’s relationship, that doesn’t mean there should be no conflict between the two main characters. Luc and Lia are pretty well settled into their “happily ever after” within the first 50 pages or so, and the rest of the book is dedicated to establishing a soap opera within their broader world. In fact, it’s the way Landon is using this book – especially the last third or so – to set up the rest of her series that probably bugs me the most. Perpetuating the drama for the rest of the characters means the book ends on a melancholy note even for Luc and Lia. Their “happy ever after” has a darker side unless you stop reading after chapter three.

Conclusion: Far be it from me to tell the fans of this book and series that they’re wrong to find enjoyment in these books. Life is short, read whatever makes you happy. But in the epic battle to get romance novels taken seriously as a cornerstone of literary entertainment, Mended may not be a warrior to send to the front lines. It’s more of a soldier you pat on the head and send away to play hopscotch.