Soul to Keep (Rented Heart, #2)

Soul to Keep (Rented Heart, #2) by Garrett Leigh: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Synopsis:

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.

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Tag Team with Adam

4 Stars

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.

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Urban Soul Series

Misfits (Urban Soul #1) & Strays (Urban Soul #2) by Garrett Leigh:
Incoherent gushing by Lost in a Book

Synopsis:

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.

Synopsis:

Work, sleep, work, repeat. Nero’s lonely life suits him just fine until his best friend, Cass, asks him to take on a new apprentice—a beautiful young man who’s never set foot in a professional kitchen. Despite his irritation and his lifelong ability to shut the world out, Nero is mesmerised by the vibrant stray, especially when he learns what drove him to seek sanctuary on Nero’s battered old couch.

Lenny Mitchell is living under a cloud of fear. Pursued by a stalker, he has nowhere left to run until Nero offers him a port in a storm—a job at the hottest restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush. Kitchen life proves heady and addictive, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling hard and fast for the man who has taken him in.

Fast-forward a month and a neither man can imagine life without the other, but one thing stands in their way: a lifetime of horrors Nero can’t bring himself to share with Lenny. Or can he? For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking, and Nero must learn to embrace it before fate steps in and rips it away.

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Review Rambling thoughts: I don’t typically post a book that doesn’t have a semi-decent review and/or description. However, I binged on the Urban Soul series this weekend and still haven’t been able to get the characters out of my mind. So, here is just some quick thoughts on both books available in the series.

Misfits (Urban Soul #1)

5 Stars

Holy Hell, I have a serious love obsession for Jake, Tom, and Cass now. I didn’t want this to end but I couldn’t slow down to savor because… Well, Jake, Tom, and Cass are worth the insane lack of sleep and lack of productivity over the last 24 hours. I’m sad AF they don’t have a million more stories about them because I would read the shit out of them.

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Garrett Leigh just got herself a Stage-10 Clinger after this read. *shrug* I will be moving on have already moved to the next book in this series just to help with my book hangover.

*kicks self in the ass for waiting so long to read this divine book*

Strays (Urban Soul #2)

4 Stars

Well, those two books went down fast and smooth as fine wine. I really enjoyed this book but it didn’t take up as much of my heart Misfits did. Nero and Lenny had to climb mountains and I was hooked each step of the way. We are also treated to multiple appearances by Cass, Tom, and Jake. *Happy face* Definitely recommended and can’t wait for more in this series.

This is my 3rd Garrett Leigh book in a couple weeks… which means it all hurts so good and now I need to dive into a big huge ball of fluff.

Review Tour & Giveaway

Length: 62,000 words
Cover Design:Black Jazz Design
Rented Heart Series
Rented Heart (Book #1) – Universal Buy Link
 
Blurb
 

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.


 

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 photographer Dan Burgess.

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Rented Heart

Rented Heart (Rented Heart #1) by Garrett Leigh: Review by Lost in a Book

Synopsis:

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.

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4.5 Stars

Can someone tell me WHY I waited so long to read this? I feel like it’s been on my TBR forever. Can someone also explain to me how it’s even possible that I’ve never read Garrett Leigh before? How the hell did that happen? I’ve got many other reads from her just chillin’ on my TBR that I need to tackle STAT. Anywhoo, my GL cherry is popped and this rent boy read was definitely the way to go.

“Oh, and by the way, it’s a hundred for the fuck . . . three if you want to stay all night.”

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The blurb does a great job of setting the stage for this story and the events that follow. I was swooning big time with its Pretty Woman feel. Zac and Liam worked for me in a huge way. Their connection is instant yet they are slow to identify it as more. Liam is an oasis for Zac away from the exhausting reality of his difficult circumstances. He never acts like a john to Zac and slowly begins breaking down his walls. The sneaky thing about crumbling walls is daring to hope for a better life.

“You’re not a john.” Liam pushed the money back. “Then you’ll never be my whore.”

*swoon*

Liam is lost after the death of his husband and Zac becomes the perfect distraction while providing physical release and then friendship. He understands what Zac is doing when they aren’t together and doesn’t let it interfere with what they’re building. Misunderstandings and Zac’s loyalty to his best friend cause some heartbreak and gut punching angst. Their HEA is hard-fought and shines a bright light through the melancholy that hangs over much of the story. I knew it was going to hurt and it hurt so good. Liam’s support system outside of Zac was positive, accepting, and encouraging. They want Liam happy and don’t care how that came to be.

Trigger warning for drugs. This was a successful cherry popping. They say you always remember your first. *wink* I wish there was more backstory on Zac’s life prior to being a rent boy. Other than that, I definitely enjoyed this and can’t wait for Jamie’s story.

“There’s someone worth knowing in every smile you see.”

Copy provided for honest review.