Tough Road to FINDING HOME–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently released YA story with a touch of M/M romance from Garrett Leigh. FINDING HOME is a touching tale of a troubled teen boy trying to protect himself and his younger, deaf, sister once they fall into the foster care system. I’ve really liked MISFITS, WHAT REMAINS, HOUSE OF CARDS, and JUNKYARD HEART, so I was eager to read this one.

<a href="https://vsreads.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/finding-home.jpg”>About the book:
How do you find a home when your heart is in ashes?
With their mum dead and their father on remand for her murder, Leo Hendry and his little sister, Lila, have nothing in the world but each other. Broken and burned, they’re thrust into the foster care system. Leo shields Lila from the fake families and forced affection, until the Poulton household is the only place left to go.

Charlie de Sousa is used to other kids passing through the Poulton home, but there’s never been anyone like his new foster brother. Leo’s physical injuries are plain to see, but it’s the pain in his eyes that draws Charlie in the most.

Day by day, they grow closer, but the darkness inside Leo consumes him. He rejects his foster parents, and when Charlie gets into trouble, Leo’s attempt to protect him turns violent. When Leo loses control, no one can reach him—except Charlie. He desperately needs a family—a home—and only Charlie can show him the way.

My Review:
This is a contemporary YA story with a hint of M/M romance set in England.

Leo and Lila Hendry were unwilling witnesses to their mother’s murder, and barely survived the fire their abusive father set to their home. At fifteen, Leo’s had a rough life, and his outbursts of temper are causing problems with their foster placements. Getting sent to the Poulton’s home is a last-ditch effort to re-home them together.

Charlie de Sousa has lived with the Poulton’s since he was a toddler. He’s fifteen and out-gay, always struggling to fit in in school. Though the youngest kid in this foster home, Charlie was formally adopted years ago. Still, his parents know how soothing a personality Charlie has, and they hope he can help Leo mellow out. Lila is shy and skittish, but Leo is openly hostile to Charlie’s dad. Something Charlie can’t understand. Both his parents are the most generous and loving people he’s ever known. His mom suffers some hearing loss and all the kids can sign, which helps Lila fit right in–and unsettles Leo.

The more time Charlie spends around Leo, the more he recognizes the signs of PTSD–night terrors and irrational hatred of certain men. He does become a buffer, of sorts, sometimes coming into Leo’s room to lay a comforting hand on him when the nightmares are too fierce. Also, there’s an attraction. Charlie definitely thinks Leo is cute, but he’d never force himself on another boy–he has no idea that Leo feels the same. An unplanned moment of intimacy leads Charlie to make a terrible decision that nearly gets Leo arrested. Just when it looked like Leo had gotten the better of his temper issues, too.

There’s a whole lot to this story that I haven’t mentioned. It’s dark and troubled; the kids all have tough backstories and we get a front-row seat to Leo’s tragic family. The love he feels in the Poulton’s home is enough to draw Leo into therapy for his anger issues, and seems to be the home he’d always dreamed of. I loved the ending of this story, and how fantastically this foster family operates. Charlie and Leo do have a wee bit of passion for Charlie and Leo, but it’s age appropriate and a small part of the narrative. The bigger part is coping with one’s self, and finding a way past tragedy. Charlie’s such a giving kid, and his eagerness to make Leo and Lila welcomed shined through. Expect some pretty graphic scenes–including drinking, fighting and some drug use. It all felt very realistic, and bittersweet. I loved it, honestly.

Interested? You can find FINDING HOME on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

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.

Otherwise you can find her on her website, twitter or Facebook.

Reclaiming a JUNKYARD HEART–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently released M/M romance from Garrett Leigh. JUNKYARD HEART is a new book in the Porthkennack series that features romances set in a quiet seaside town in Cornwall. It’s the second book in this series by Ms. Leigh, and shares characters with HOUSE OF CARDS, her previous title. JUNKYARD HEART features a recovering addict and a jilted man finding a passion neither expected. I’ve really liked MISFITS, WHAT REMAINS, and HOUSE OF CARDS, so I was eager to read this one.

About the book:
Tired of the London rat race and the heartbreak that comes with it, photographer Jas Manning returns to Porthkennack, the Cornish seaside town where he spent every childhood summer on his father’s farm. Resigned to year-round rain, wind, and homemade jam, he’s sorely unprepared for the impact that artsy carpenter Kim Penrose has on his heart.

Kim’s free-loving reputation precedes him, and he’s as generous with his inked-up body as he is with his time. The sex is hot, the easy friendship even better, and Jas’s time with him building his family’s new farmhouse canteen is everything Jas was missing in his empty city life.

But Kim’s carefree existence isn’t as simple as it appears. He’s worked hard to vanquish his demons and build his dreams, but the devil on his shoulder is ruthless, and when it comes to call, their happy bubble bursts like it was never there at all. The canteen opening looms, but Kim is gone in more ways than one, and it’s down to Jas to shore up Kim’s soul and convince him that he deserves his place in Jas’s heart.

My Review:
This is a contemporary M/M romance set on the Cornish coast town of Porthkennack.

Jas Manning has returned to his father’s farm in Porthkennack, to sort himself out, now that he’s discovered the man he’d been “exclusively” dating for the past five years is married with children. Jas wasn’t an exclusive type, but there was something special about that guy, and having tried, and failed, monogamy Jas is done with men. Full stop.

And then he meets Kim. Kim’s lanky frame and smoldering eyes turn Jas inside out. And, it’s not long–truly–before they can’t keep their hands off one another. But it’s a one-off, right? Hard to avoid one another in such a small town, though. And why should Jas avoid Kim? Well, there’s Kim’s off-again long-time lover, Lena, and his alcoholism. Those are two reasons Jas finds to keep himself from getting romantically entangled with Kim, but they do develop a rapport, a tentative friendship, that keeps them close. Plus, Jas’ is commissioning Kim’s designs and furniture for their new organic eatery. They are bound to each other, even if Jas is loathe to acknowledge it.

I really liked how this story developed. It’s sweet and steamy, with fun elements, like reconnecting with Brix and Calum from HOUSE OF CARDS, and Kim’s straight-shooting discussion of his disease, and his sexuality. He’s pansexual for anyone keeping score, and this is part of what keeps Jas holding him at arm’s length: the idea that Kim can’t be exclusive to him. It’s wild though, how hot their sexytimes get, and Lena’s a happy witness to some of their passion. That said, these guys are hard on the revelations and long on the stubbornness. It was sweet how Jas’s stepmother (they have an odd relationship as Jas was the product of a swingers party and he feels less-than compared to his half-brothers) steps in to correct his idea of what love truly is. That sets Jas on a mission to define and expand their connection into a relationship that fulfills them both.

Interested? You can find JUNKYARD HEART on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link and comment on my gal Joyfully Jay’s blog for your chance to win a $20 Riptide gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

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.

Otherwise you can find her on her website, twitter or Facebook.

Their Lives Are a HOUSE OF CARDS–A Review

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.

My Review:
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.

Interested? You can find HOUSE OF CARDS on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

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.

Otherwise you can find her on her website, twitter or Facebook.

Together the MISFITS are Love–Retro Review & Giveaway!

misfits-bannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a “retro” review and giveaway for a menage M/M/M romance from Garrett Leigh. I’ve really loved WHAT REMAINS and RENTED HEART, but the first book I ever read by Ms. Leigh was MISFITS. I honestly hadn’t read many M/M/M menage love stories, to that point, and I found it sweet and charming. A recent re-read confirmed my initial impression.

Catch my review and enter a book giveaway below.

misfitsAbout the book:
LAMBDA FINALIST 2015

Restaurant owner Tom Fearnes has loved his partner Cass for as long as he can remember, but their work often keeps them apart. When he meets a striking young man named Jake on the vibrant streets of Camden Town, their heady first encounter takes an unexpected turn.

Jake Thompson can hardly believe his luck when he wakes up in Tom’s bed. Tom is gorgeous, kind, and . . . taken. Tom’s explanation of his open relationship leaves Jake cold, but Tom is too tempting, and when hard times force Jake to accept Tom’s helping hand, he finds himself between two men who’ve lost their way.

Cass Pearson is a troubled soul. He loves Tom with all he has, but some days it feels like he hasn’t much to give. Jake seems like the perfect solution. Cass risks everything to push Jake and Tom together, but Jake resists, wary, until the darkness of Cass’s past comes to call. Then Jake finds himself the last man standing, and it’s time to dig deep and shine a light for the men he’s grown to love.

Because MISFITS was published a few years back, it’s had time to receive a couple of notable awards, including being a Lambda Literary finalist.
awardsgrahpic

My Review:
This is a contemporary M/M/M romance set in/around London. Everybody knows I’m an Anglophile, and a book about three sexy Brits building a relationship was too intriguing to resist.

Tom and his long-time partner, Cass, own five restaurants together. Cass is the head chef and creative force, while Tom minds the business end and helps scout new locations/concepts for their uniquely developed eateries. They have been together 9 years and are in a stable, committed relationship…that is open. See, Tom and Cass work long, long hours and–with schedules like ships passing–don’t spent many nights together so they are cool with each finding a bit of companionship when necessary. They have also sometimes shared a lover, but this has been rare.

Tom meets Jake one night while scouting a potential new location. Jake is his especially candid waiter whose tics are curious. The meal is a disaster, but Tom and Jake make an impression on each other. Tom isn’t even put off by Jake’s many tics and outbursts, finding his Tourette’s syndrome oddly endearing. Tom takes Jake to his nearby flat for a good time, and Jake wakes the next morning to find Cass offering him a cup of tea. Eep!

Okay, so the thing is, Tom is a wealthy guy–has been his whole life. He’s what Cass calls a ‘fixer’–and Cass should know; Tom loved Cass back from a history of poverty, drugs, theft and incarceration. Cass figures Jake caught Tom’s eye not only because he’s attractive, but because he could sense Jake’s need for a bit of TLC. Cass encourages Tom to find Jake again, and help him if warranted.

It’s not a conscious search–Tom and Jake encounter each other randomly a few weeks later. Jake is angry, and embarrassed that Tom never mentioned Cass. He doesn’t understand Tom and Cass’s open relationship, and his attraction to Tom is frustrating. It brings out all the tics. Tom offers Jake a job, but Jake is too proud to accept it. He does offer to do some work for Tom–without pay. So, Tom takes Jake under his wing on his latest restaurant venture. They work well together, though the touchy-feely bits are not happening because Jake doesn’t want to get between Tom and Cass.

Over the course of a few months Tom, Jake and Cass interact regularly and become very close. There is a lot of relationship building here–not a short seduction moving into a whole lotta three-way sex. Nope. This book is really about relationships and I loved that. Jake is initially attracted to Tom, and feels so guilty about his feelings when he sees the deep love between Tom and Cass, but Cass makes heroic efforts to develop a friendship with Jake. Cass knows he’s distant with Tom–he has always felt inadequate to Tom’s love–and wants Tom to have a partner who really loves him and who can be around more than Cass. Not that Cass wants to leave-he doesn’t–he just wants to know that Tom has a stable lover that can see him more than one or two nights a week.

The POV shifts between Tom and Jake for the bulk of the book, though the end is all Cass. It was interesting to get Jake’s POV, because he is, quite literally, the man in the middle. Enfolding him in Tom and Cass’s relationship is platonic for a good bit of the story, and there are only a few key sex scenes that hit the page. Jake is a very compelling character due to his emotional issues, and how hard he works to have a normal life. He is unsettled by Cass–how can Cass accept him knowing how he feels for Tom?–but comes to depend upon Cass’s efforts at friendship. Cass isn’t delicate about Jake’s TS, he is blunt and Jake appreciates the freedom in talking about this condition that has been a stigma for so long. The love that Tom and Cass lavish on Jake sparks his growth into a more confidant person–and an equal partner in their developing relationship.

I really enjoyed how these men worked cooperatively for the benefit of all. A menage story is always susceptible to issues of inadequacy and dominance, but this book felt tender and compassionate. I would have read the whole book in one sitting, but I (foolishly) began it 11:30pm and had to get SOME sleep in that night.

Interested? You can find MISFITS on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon (US, or UKBarnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an ebook of MISFITS.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

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.

Otherwise you can find her on her website, twitter or Facebook.
signal boost

Recovering With a RENTED HEART–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M romance from Garrett Leigh. I really enjoyed WHAT REMAINS, so I was anxious to read RENTED HEART.

rented-heartAbout the book:
Ex-surfer-turned-businessman Liam Mallaney moved back to Holkham, Norfolk, to mourn the loss of his husband. Grief and loneliness keep him a solitary figure, and he likes it that way. There’s no room in his broken heart for anything else.

Rentboy Zac Payne left London and most of his demons behind, but he still only knows one way to make a living. When he spots Liam in a club one night, it seems he’s found his mark. But Liam proves nicer—and their connection far deeper—than he’d bargained for.

Their arrangement quickly becomes too complicated for Zac, who has other things on his mind: namely his BFF and wayward flatmate, Jamie. Zac owes Jamie the world, and even as Jamie’s drug addiction destroys all they have, Zac won’t leave him behind.

Besides, Liam knows nothing of Zac’s home life, too caught up in his own head to think much beyond the crazy heat he and Zac share. But when trouble comes to Zac’s door, putting his life in danger, Liam must set his grief and anger aside to pick up the pieces of Zac’s shattered heart and his own.

My Review:
Zac Payne is a rentboy in Norwich, England. He’s twenty-three and six months clean of his heroin addiction, after his best pal, Jamie, saved him from an overdose. Jamie’s still using, and hooking, disappearing from their flat for benders that last days on end. One night Zac spots Liam hanging outside a bar and decides to entice him into a trick. Liam’s a bit older, clearly wealthy, and bloody gorgeous, but the reason Zac marks him is the dead look in his eyes; Zac’s familiar with that “checked out” look.

Liam Mallaney hasn’t been with another man since his beloved husband, Cory, died in a wreck. Over those nearly two years, Liam had to assume full control over their company, leaving his art director position behind. Despite living within a mile of his twin sister’s family and also his father’s home, Liam’s a virtual hermit. His constant comfort are two Labradoodles that nudge him out to the beach for their walks. Meeting beautiful and nubile Zac is a chance event, and he’s willing to pay for some no-strings, one-off sex to calm the void of grief in his chest for an hour, or so.

Their chemistry is electric, and Zac’s so shell-shocked he gives Liam a card with his personal number, hoping Liam might become a regular. Thing is, Liam’s not just interested in sex. He needs companionship, too. And he hires Zac to be a companion–as well as a lover. In their few trysts, Liam begins to thaw his frozen heart, wondering about Zac, and if he could convince him to try working as something other than a rentboy. Zac’s gone over Liam by their second meeting, and wishes he was more, someone suitable for kind and compassionate Liam to cherish. But, he isn’t. And, Jamie sees Zac’s pain over it immediately. Things between Zac and Jamie have been complicated since Zac got clean, but Jamie’s addiction is reaching critical mass; he’s clearly getting too far into the scene to get help, but–beyond that–Jamie’s bringing trouble home.

While Zac and Liam figure out what they want from the other, Jamie’s problems land Zac in a dangerous situation–that’s what happens when your vindictive drug dealer shows up looking for his money. Jamie does the right thing, but it’s not the end of the drama, for Liam or Zac. Still, it brings them together, and gets Jamie the help he needs, both legally and medically.

There’s a bit of angst here, with Zac unsettled by his attraction for a john. He’s not the sentimental sort, and struggles maintaining the proper boundaries–which is heart breaking. Liam’s a good man, but he doesn’t know how, or if, he can love again. And, should he really fall for a hooker? It’s kind of shocking to Liam when he decides that answer isn’t NO. There’s other issues at play–notably Liam’s father experiencing dementia, Zac’s struggle to stay clean, and Liam’s crushing depression–but those are a small part of the building romance. As we’ve got a rentboy-romance, expect lots of sexytimes. For all the steam, there’s tons of tenderness, too.

Interested? You can find RENTED HEART on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.

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. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.

Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors under the pseudonym G.D. Leigh. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzpress.com. Otherwise you can find her on her website, twitter or Facebook.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Learning to Love Again WHAT REMAINS-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a fantastic contemporary M/M romance from Garret Leigh. WHAT REMAINS is a bittersweet story of loss and recovery–and it kept me up all night. There’s also a link to the tour-wide giveaway below.

What RemainsAbout the book:
Web designer Jodi Peters is a solitary creature. Lunch twice a week with his ex-girlfriend-turned-BFF and the occasional messy venture to a dodgy gay bar is all the company he needs, right?

Then one night he stumbles across newly divorced firefighter Rupert O’Neil. Rupert is lost and lonely, but just about the sweetest bloke Jodi has ever known. Add in the heady current between them, and Jodi can’t help falling hard in love. He offers Rupert a home within the walls of his cosy Tottenham flat—a sanctuary to nurture their own brand of family—and for four blissful years, life is never sweeter.

Until a cruel twist of fate snatches it all away. A moment of distraction leaves Jodi fighting for a life he can’t remember and shatters Rupert’s heart. Jodi doesn’t know him—or want to. With little left of the man he adores, Rupert must cling to what remains of his shaky faith and pray that Jodi can learn to love him again.

My Review:
Jodi is a solitary bisexual man, living in Tottingham, London. He’s a web designer and doesn’t go out much but one Boxing Day he meets Rupert, a fireman who’s also a bouncer at a club near his home. Rupert’s concerned about Jodi’s state–he’s a bit high–and walks him home. They share coffee and conversation. Rupert awkwardly confesses that he’s gay–newly out and never been with a man–and they share a kiss. It’s electric. But, it’s also too soon for more. Rupert wants to call Jodi, waits a few weeks, and they meet again. It’s all so new and frightening, but Jodi makes it seem so cool, that Rupert falls hard. So does Jodi. They move in within months and Jodi’s just as smitten with Rupert’s young daughter as he is with his sexy fireman.

Nearly five years pass in this idyllic domestic bliss. Then one day, Jodi’s hit by a vehicle while crossing the street, and he’s in a coma. When he wakes, months later, he doesn’t recognize Rupert. Worse yet, Jodi doesn’t remember any of their time together, and wants his ex-girlfriend, Sophie, back. He thinks.

This one was a true emotional roller coaster. I’ve read a few injury/amnesia books and they are always so compelling. The medical advice is often to “wait and see” what memories the patient will recover on his or her own–without too much prompting. It’s a frightening experience to be unable to recall what one did yesterday, a week ago, but to lose years of memories, relationships, experiences is often debilitating. When Jodi wakes up and doesn’t know Rupert, he freaks out–dead scared of the stranger in his hospital room. The physicians agree that Rupert should be patient, be a steady support, but not tell him all about their history. Rupert’s shattered, yet he agrees to assume a position as Jodi’s “flatmate” because he can’t bear to walk away from the man he loves. Also, he’s afraid telling Jodi will cause Jodi to reject him outright, and he’d rather be his friend than have no contact.

So, this is a hurt/comfort story in the extreme. I liked the flashbacks which allowed me to watch Rupert and Jodi fall in love the first time. There is so much tenderness! Most of the book takes place after the accident, and Jodi’s recovery is a mess, not just mentally. He’s got physical problems, and terrible headaches, and is mostly unable to care for himself for months. Rupert’s job as a fireman takes him away for long hours, and Jodi’s ex, Sophie spends lots of time as his carer. Jodi can’t understand why they didn’t work out, and he’s confused by his unwanted attraction to Rupert. Rupert’s daughter, who’s looked at Jodi as a step-father for years now, is being kept away–because Rupert can’t explain why Jodi doesn’t know her. That said, meeting her in an unexpected way brings Jodi back to his earlier self. He starts to recognize that Rupert isn’t his friend–that they had shared a life together, and he mourns his missing memories all the more.

I felt that the medical issues Jodi faced were realistic. Many of the symptoms and effects could hold for brain injury sufferers or those with dementia, to some degree. That helplessness and fury were so potent, while Jodi himself felt impotent. Little by little life realigns, however, and Jodi isn’t willing to accept a half-life any longer. Memories may be gone forever, but new ones can be made, and he wants these to be bigger and better than those he’d lost–and also, with Rupert by his side. So, expect a lot of hurt, a lot of comfort, some sweet lovin’ and some sassy quips on the way to an HEA. I seriously read this book in one sleep-deprived night, unable to set it down.

Interested? You can find WHAT REMAINS on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

Comment (with your contact info) on any of the tour posts (alas, not mine, just thought I’d share!!) for WHAT REMAINS to enter to win $25 in credit at Riptide Publishing. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 9, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.

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. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.

Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors under the pseudonym G.D. Leigh. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzpress.com. Otherwise you can find her on her website, twitter or Facebook.