Soul to Keep (Rented Heart, #2) by Garrett Leigh: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR
Recovering addict Jamie Yorke has returned to England from California. With no home or family to speak of, he sticks a pin in a map and finds a small town in the Derbyshire Peak District. Matlock Bath is a quiet place—he just needs to get there, keep his head down, and stay clean. Simple, right? Until a chance meeting on the flight home alters the course of his so-called life forever.
Ex-Army medic Marc Ramsey is recovering from life-changing combat injuries while pulling nights as a trauma specialist at the local hospital. Keeping busy is a habit he can’t quit, but when Jamie—so wild and beautiful—bursts into his life, working himself into the ground isn’t as compelling as it used to be.
Marc falls hard, but chaos lurks behind Jamie’s fragile facade. He’s winning his battle against addiction, but another old foe is slowly consuming him. Both men have weathered many storms, but the path to the peace they deserve might prove the roughest ride yet.
Tag Team with Adam
Gah!!!! This book was difficult for me to rate. Not much happened beyond the day to day struggles with Jamie and Marc navigating addictions, physical limitations, their relationship, and how to cope with their new realities. Ok, that sounds like a lot. It was, kinda sorta…emotionally speaking and not really in a way that made me bite my nails with anticipation for what would happen next. This was like driving down a slow country road where your biggest distraction is an animal crossing the road. If this was a standalone, I’d probably rate it lower but my heart broke for Jamie in book 1 and the journey to self acceptance in this one gave me lots of feels.
Jamie- an addict that hit rock bottom, went to rehab in California, and wants to relocate back to England. He chooses a place on the map and moves there to start over. He’s terrified of flying and while on the plane sits next to a man that saves him from his crippling fear.
Marc- airplane hero, wounded Veteran with a prosthetic leg, and doctor. He’s miserable, lonely, and just existing.
As mentioned, the men meet on a plane, end up living in the same town, practically neighbors, and develop a friendship as they begin spending more time together. I like the patience they have with each other, the unconditional acceptance, and the sanctuary each provides without anything physically intimate. They offer comfort and a soothing balm to all the physical and emotional wounds that they carry around like armor. Jamie is his own worst critic and Marc provides another voice without judgement. Their relationship follows a natural progression when taking into account where they are starting and how they got there. I enjoyed each step they make towards healing their hearts, managing addiction, and eventually HEA love.
The book starts off slow for me. It seems Marc’s character has appeared in another book. Based on what I found, I *think* he was a secondary character in Between Ghosts. I haven’t read that story so Marc’s POV in the beginning chapters left me confused and feeling as if I should know all the people he mentioned without providing context.
Another bit of disappointment was the lack of backstory for Jamie. He hit rock bottom in Rented Heart and then he’s California living with a foot out the door back to England. What happened in between? He was a much more gritty character before and we are only left with the aftermath of him after a year of being clean.
Soul to Keep kept me interested and invested in Marc and Jamie’s transformation. I appreciate the details regarding their struggles and how life doesn’t miraculously become all cotton candy and rainbows when you meet “the one.” It can suck and take effort to find the good parts. They learn you have to work for the little bits of happy and that it’s ok to just focus on taking one itty bitty baby step forward when taking a full one isn’t possible. Recommended.
Trigger warnings: past drug use, recovering addict, mention of attempted child abuse, character with OCD and anxiety.
Copy provided for honest review.