Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently released M/M romance from Garrett Leigh. HOUSE OF CARDS is a reconnection romance between two men who’d connected years ago, but life changed quickly and they got separated. Now, they have the opportunity to find their way together. I’ve really liked MISFITS and WHAT REMAINS, so I was eager to read this one.
About the book:
Calum Hardy’s life has unravelled. Reeling from the betrayal of a man he once loved, he boards a train heading south, with no real idea where he’s going except a world away from London.
Brix Lusmoore can hardly believe his eyes when he spots one of his oldest friends outside Truro station. He hasn’t seen Calum since he fled the capital himself four years ago, harbouring a life-changing secret. But despite the years of silence, their old bond remains, warm and true—and layered with simmering heat they’ve never forgotten.
Calum takes refuge with Brix and a job at his Porthkennack tattoo shop. Bit by bit, he rebuilds his life, but both men carry the ghosts of the past, and it will take more than a rekindled friendship and the magic of the Cornish coast to chase them away.
This is a contemporary M/M romance set on the Cornish coast town of Porthkennick.
Calum is a young and talented tattoo artist who’d been making some decent money in his studio, but his abusive partner had been stealing assets, and messing around on him, and he’s at his wit’s end. He tosses out his phone, grabs a bag of essentials and gets on a train to Truro, out near where he’d grown up, and ends up running into Brix Lusmoore. Calum had met Brix years ago and thought they had a connection when they worked together in a tattoo parlor back in London. But, Brix disappeared without explanation four years before, and none of their common friends had any info on where he’d gone.
Meeting now, in a time where Calum is vulnerable, is right time, right place. Their friendship is not difficult to rekindle, as Brix provides a haven for Calum to live and recover from his abuse. He’s trying to build a clientele in Brix’s shop, to help pay for his lodging, and though he does this anonymously, his unique skill at dot-work have pulled some of his clients from the city into Porthkennick. That brings Calum’s ex to the area, looking to browbeat, or beat, Calum back into being his obedient meal ticket. The resilience he develops by living with and connecting to Brix gives Calum the strength to stay out of the negative situation.
Brix has mixed feelings about having Calum pop in from his past. He’d liked Calum a lot, but he’s afraid to fall in love again, knowing that he’s not well enough to have the kind of relationship he’d want with Calum. That said, the companionship they begin to experience with each other seems to be enough for the moment, and, as Calum investigates Brix’s odd mannerisms–and pirate family members–he’s drawn even more closely to Brix.
I really liked how this story developed. It’s sweet and slow-burning, with fun elements, like Brix’s penchant for rescuing retired laying hens from the chicken pie/soup. Calum is such a tender-hearted guy, it was hard to witness his abuse, and the after-effects of it. Brix was frustrated that his departure impacted Calum, and feels guilty that Calum met up with his abuser, knowing that had he’d stayed they would have been together…and Calum would have been safe. Calum realizes that he was so timid, and his insecurity allowed him to become prey to his ex. His new life with Brix is more satisfying than any part of the years before combined. Their building trust and honesty lead to a satisfying relationship for both of them.
About the Author:
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.
Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.
When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.
Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.