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Mended Hearts
Katie Williams is used to pretending. Raising her younger brother on her own and struggling with depression, she’s made it this far with fierce determination alone. Matt Stephens has suddenly lost his mother. He’s at her apartment, going through her personal belongings and trying not to fall apart, when he meets the pretty brunette who lives upstairs. Can these two broken hearts heal each other? Or will distance and a threat from Katie’s past cause them to shatter for good?
Disano’s debut highlights romance between a woman raising her younger brother and a CEO coping with his mother’s untimely death. Top-notch student Katie Williams left college before completing her degree, to raise her ten-year-old half-brother Tyler, after their mother died in a car accident. Katie secretly struggles with depression and regret over her decision to return home and take a job in banking. After her neighbor, Mrs. Stephens, dies from a brain aneurysm, Katie meets Matt, the son who comes to clean out his late mother’s apartment. While their relationship blossoms, both are wary of getting too serious—and their future is threatened when Tyler’s father decides to sue for custody if Matt, the CEO of a successful company, doesn’t pay him.

Disano crafts believable characters with a focus on their innermost thoughts and fears. Despite the “jolt of electricity” when they first kiss, the challenges Matt and Katie face in finding their way to each other come from the secrets that each wants to keep. Katie’s ambitions were thwarted by her mother’s death, leading her to raise her brother; despite her willingness to take on this responsibility, she faces worsening depression, which Disano describes with sensitive precision: “She still went to work, shopped for groceries, and took care of Tyler, but she didn’t want to do anything at all.”

Katie shoulders that burden, wary of the possible stigma of revealing it, in much the same way Matt, grieving his mother, initially hides his wealth and business success–his hesitancy stems from a former girlfriend who was more interested in his money than him. Disano slowly peels back the layers of these characters, revealing their wounds and desires, as they must find a way to total honesty if they want a chance at future happiness together. Readers of emotionally acute love stories will find an enjoyable balance of intimacy and action here.

Takeaway: A woman who dropped out of college to raise her younger brother considers risking her heart in this emotional romance.

Great for fans of: Colleen Hoover’s Ugly Love, Brittainy Cherry’s The Mixtape.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B