Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: A Restored Man
SERIES: The Men of Halfway House #3
AUTHOR: Jaime Reese
LENGTH: 118,000 Words
Cole Renzo thinks his greatest challenge is to behave for the remainder of his term at Halfway House. Until he meets his new boss, Ty Calloway, a man who ticks off every box on Cole’s list of interests.
A sought-after restorer and customizer of exotic and collectible cars, Ty had enough confidence to command what he wanted in life, until one fateful night changed everything. Almost two years later, he’s slowly rebuilding his life with great control. He’s defied the odds and works tirelessly to be the man he once was—but he still feels broken.
Cole’s candor and unfiltered personality awaken Ty’s barely-remembered desire to greet each new day with a smile, while Ty’s unwavering acceptance of Cole’s quirks and brash humor makes Cole feel as if he fits in for the first time in far too long. When a nemesis threatens Ty’s personal restoration and the things he holds dear, Cole is determined to protect their relationship, even if that means sacrificing everything he’s worked so hard to achieve.
But Ty will have to let his guard down, surrender control, and admit he needs Cole first, even if that puts himself at risk of breaking beyond repair.
He looked down casually as if he were seeing his underwear for the first time that day. “Fantastic Four,” he finally said, looking up at Ty.
Ty stilled and dry swallowed, his gaze fixated on Cole’s underwear. He recovered relatively quickly and grinned. “Four?”
Cole zipped up his pants and grinned. “I can guarantee you…that is absolutely no reflection of what they’re guarding.”
“What would be appropriate?”
“Iron Man,” Cole deadpanned.
When I read book two of this series, A Hunted Man, I finished with the conviction that love at first sight was indeed not just a fairytale. However, I’m not referring to the relationship between those two main characters. I’m talking about my instant connection to secondary character, Cole. From the moment that man walked onto the page I knew he was going to steal his way into my heart but I didn’t realize just how much I was going to love this guy.
A Restored Man kicks off approximately two weeks after the last book ends, about two months after Cole arrived at Halfway House. Cole has a rather criminal obsession with cars so, to hopefully distract him from the need to steal them, he’s going to begin working at a garage that specializes in cars that are powerful and exotic. Cole wants to be good but the constant buzzing of his overactive brain sometimes leads him to say and do things that he ends up regretting.
Enter garage owner, Ty. A few years ago Ty survived a car accident that killed both of his parents and left him in a coma for months. The doctors didn’t expect him to wake up. The doctors were obviously wrong, but Ty isn’t the same person he once was. He lives his life drowning in guilt because he blames himself for their deaths and he’s reminded of what happened every day because everyone treats him like he’s made of glass. Everyone except Cole. Cole doesn’t know about the accident so he doesn’t act as though Ty is broken.
He had a joy that was intoxicating. And Ty just wanted to let Cole’s brightness wash over that dark cloud that had hovered over him for the past two years. He craved it with every fiber of his being.
And from Cole’s perspective…
But most of all, around Ty, the billion thoughts that always ran circles in his mind of what he needed to change or improve on seemed to slow to a tolerable pace and quiet to a dull hum. Ty gave him a sense of peace no one had ever given him before.
The minute these two men meet there’s something between them. It’s as though two broken pieces snap into place and an instant connection is formed. No, it’s not instant love, for a while it’s not even really romantic. While both men are attracted right from the start the fact they both feel better about themselves in each other’s company seems to take precedence. In that way, the tone of this book is completely different from the last one. I think to some extent all of the books in this series will have an element of hurt-comfort, the characters have just come out of prison, but the last book literally oozed sexual attraction from the beginning and was more focused on the character’s fear of hope. This story concentrated on both characters’ need to heal. I loved that once they opened themselves up to the idea of loving each other, they rediscovered love from family and friends too. Oh, and don’t worry, once these two get going there’s plenty of sexy time in this book too!
“You’re seeing a physical therapist?”
Ty cocked his head. “Why’s that?”
Cole waggled his eyebrows. “Makes you bendy.”
I swear I could go on quoting these guys all day, but I should change the subject to cars briefly. There was a lot more “car stuff” than I expected mixed through the rest of the story but surprisingly I enjoyed it. I’ve said before that I enjoy when books teach me about a subject that I previously had no idea about but if you’d suggested cars to me I would have definitely passed. Not even racing cars but fixing cars! I actually relished the time spent in the garage and I think that’s because the author perfectly balanced my interest and the information given. So while I happily read about what they were fixing or Cole bragging about his mad skills to his work mates, there was no overload of information. While Cole may be rhapsodizing because he gets to replace the battery in a bright yellow Ferrari (btw – I’m just making a point, that doesn’t actually happen) we don’t get insignificant details of what tools he used and which cable attaches to where, just so the author can prove that she knows her stuff. Somehow, Jaime Reese made me see cars as interesting, although that may get put in the negative column since I’ve gone and found myself a car themed book to read next. I may yet regret this new interest.
Can the book be read as a standalone? Well it’s kind of hard to judge when I’ve read all three books but I’m pretty sure it could be. Seriously though, why would you want to read just the one? I finished this book and thought – wow, that one was the best so far. But then I thought about A Hunted Man and then A Better Man and then I thought about the characters in those other books and I just gave up. I can’t pick a favourite. If someone asked me what’s so great about Jaime Reese’s books I’d have to answer that she creates some of my most memorable characters.
So, incase you missed the recommended tag or the five shiny gold stars – I am endorsing the bejeezus out of this book. And of course, the only way that I can possibly end this review is to share some Cole, one more time.
Cole’s mismatched eyes were actually quite striking. One iris was brown and the other a bright hazel leaning more towards the green tones. “I like your heterochromia.”
“I’m not hetero anything,” Cole responded.