Review: ‘Whisper’ by Garrett Leigh

38482523Published May 1st 2018
258 pages

Lonely physiotherapist Harry Foster has the world at his feet. A full client list, a six figure Instagram following, and a publishing deal for a book he doesn’t have time to write until his agent offers him a break—a retreat to the wild south west coast.

Cornish horseman Joe Carter is lonely too. Rescuing horses and managing Whisper Farm takes up most of his days, and by night he plays chicken with the farm’s perilous bank accounts.

At his sister’s unwelcome suggestion, he rents his only bedroom to a bloke from the city, and when Harry arrives, he’s everything Joe isn’t—calm, patient, and gorgeous enough to be exactly the kind of distraction Joe doesn’t need.

Harry doesn’t have time for distractions either—even shirtless farmers riding bareback past his bedroom window—but his moody host proves impossible to ignore.

On paper, they have nothing in common, but Joe is beautiful…glorious, and when an accident puts his life in Harry’s healing hands, the whisper of true love is inevitable. If the trouble that put the farm on its knees in the first place doesn’t get in the way.

Goddammit, Garrett Leigh. Is there anything this woman can’t do? She kills me every single time. Whisper was packed with everything I’ve come to adore from Garrett, tortured souls finding healing when they discover that person who they were meant to be with. Plenty of angst and darkness, but always remedied with peace and strength and love.

I am a sucker for a story where rescuing animals involved, so this being set on a horse sanctuary is a huge bonus for me. Characters working with animals gets me weak in the knees, and it gave me a real connection to Joe. The strength of that man is unbelievable. He’s battling so many forces working against him and he doesn’t even realise how selflessly he deals with it all. Everything he does is for the farm and for his family. He’s no golden boy, he hasn’t always made the best decisions, but he’s a truly good man. Even if not everybody can see it.

It was Harry that I completely fell for. The kind of man who looks like he could take down an army but he actually wouldn’t hurt a fly. He appears polished and put together, but underneath all of that he carries so many anxieties and insecurities. But he’s this pillar of safety, I just wanted to seek shelter in his arms. No, on the surface he may not seem to have a lot in common with Joe, but they are both inherently good. They love hard, care endlessly, and always put others before themselves. They needed each other, and the universe found a way to bring them together.

This is the kind of book that helps you heal along with the characters. My heart felt so full by the end. It didn’t hurt seeing Dex from Heart, knowing he and Seb are still going strong all these years later. Knowing his horses are still going. There was so much joy to be found in this story, I can’t wait to read it again and again.

5/5 stars

Review: ‘Soul to Keep’ by Garrett Leigh

39590738

Published April 2nd 2018
239 pages

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.

It’s a Garrett Leigh release! *throws confetti around* I actually got my hands on this a few months ago and I’m so excited that it’s finally out in the world and I get to talk about it. I’ve even read it twice, it’s a truly special book. It does work just fine as a standalone, but I know I really felt the benefit of re-reading Rented Heart (where we first meet Jamie) and Between Ghosts (where we first meet Marc) first. And both of those books are utterly gorgeous too so I’d highly recommend those in any case.

Jamie was a troublesome one in Rented Heart. He made it very difficult to fall in love with him. He was in the dark depths of addiction and he didn’t want to climb out of them, so it was always quite painful to read about him. When we meet him again in Soul To Keep, he’s heading back to the UK from California where he’s been clean and sober for a year. But even though he’s not using, he’s still carrying the heavy burden of his addiction on his shoulders so his head isn’t a happy place to be.

Marc has quite literally been through the wars since we’ve seen him last (aside from his very brief cameo in Dream), so he’s still trying to navigate civilian life whilst adjusting to his new physical limitations. He’s got his own burdens to bear. But when he meets Jamie, it’s like fate. The universe thrusting them together, the stars aligning and all that stuff. There’s no denying the pull between these two.

At first, a lot of their budding relationship is based in Marc’s inherent need to mother people. He wants to look after Jamie, make him feel safe and cared for and appreciated like everyone else in his life. But Jamie is so resistant to being helped, not wanting to inflict himself on anybody. He’s forever running from the good things in his life before he can ruin them, convinced that he’s poison. It’s painful to watch him recognise the strength in everybody else, what they’ve been through and overcome, but not see it about himself. It was always going to be a battle for these two to make it together, but I never doubted that they would.

Jamie is fighting himself constantly, warring with the way his brain works. It’s so heartbreaking. Everything about him is so raw, so tortured. Garrett really does write these broken souls so powerfully. But she also always manages to give them the person they really need the most, and Marc is just that for Jamie. He’s this fortress of strength and safety that Jamie can take shelter in, so kind and gentle it soothed my soul. He was a balm for my own anxieties, never mind Jamie’s.

I really loved how brutally honest Marc and Jamie were when they talked to each other. Their communication wasn’t perfect, they didn’t open up every time, but when they did they didn’t hold back. They were always so open to the way each other thought. It was so satisfying to read, I never found myself frustrated with them or willing them to have a certain conversation. They always managed to work through things themselves and I absolutely adored that about them.

As always with a Garrett Leigh book, there was a good ol’ dramatic twist that has your heart in your throat, and this one damn near killed me. But what I liked about it was seeing how Jamie handled things, showing just how far he’d come. I was so bloody proud of him I could have cried. But seriously Garrett, don’t ever scare me like that again.

It seriously warmed my heart to get to visit Nat and Connor from Between Ghosts and see them still going strong. Nat is as surly as ever and Connor just as sharp. I really like the potential of Connor and Jamie’s friendship, they’re both such intelligent minds and have such intense feelings for their military men, they’re more alike than they first appear. It comforts me that Jamie will get to have that kind of friend in his life.

This book is right up there with my favourites from Garrett. It’s powerful and emotional and watching the characters grow together and heal has helped heal a part of me too. Marc and Jamie have had to weather so many storms, but they find what they truly deserve in each other. Yet another stunning book from an absolutely wonderful author.

5/5 stars

Best of 2017!

bestof

I managed to hit the 300 book mark this year, which is a little bit crazy. A lengthy commute to and from work every day has helped me out in that regard. And reading that many romance novels has made it a struggle to narrow it down into a handy little list, so this isn’t all that short, but that can only be a good thing! This post will be about 2017 releases, I’ll try and get a post up about the pre-2017 releases that I read this year soon, because there’s some seriously incredible books that need a mention. So let’s get into it!

Continue reading

Review: ‘Junkyard Heart’ by Garrett Leigh

35611933Published December 4th 2017
192 pages

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.

I love Garrett Leigh. She’s my fave. I’ve never not loved something she’s written, and it’s not surprising that I loved this too. It’s her usual blend of gorgeous men who are beautifully tortured, but whose darknesses are lifted by the intense way they fall for one another. It’s a heart-wrenching but uplifting story, these two men becoming each other’s safe place.

Jas has had his heart broken and stamped on and is getting as far away as he can from his past and his ex, seeking shelter in Porthkennack, where he finds Kim. Kim we met in Garrett’s last Porthkennack novel ‘House of Cards’, and here we find that he’s carrying a heavy weight on his shoulders, dealing with his alcoholism and depression. He has such an easy smile and kind heart that he can fool anyone into believing he doesn’t have a care in the world, but those closest to him know there’s more lurking beneath the surface. I loved how candid Kim was about his troubles, how he never shied from them, and his wonderful support network of friends from Blood Rush were a pleasure to see again.

Jas and Kim had that perfect, instant chemistry. They fall in love hard and fast without meaning to, trying and not always succeeding in letting each other shoulder some of the weight they carry, needing to volunteer to help rather than wait to be asked. Kim’s ex-flame Lena still being present added a really interesting dynamic to his and Jas’s relationship. Kim and Lena were an item in ‘House of Cards’, naturally coming to an end, but the way they care for each other runs deep. She’s Kim’s haven, his rock when he’s been at his lowest, and it’s understandable that Jas would be intimidated by that. She’s mostly stayed around because she feels a responsibility to keep Kim safe, but she can see the powerful bond forming between the two men and feels now is the time to move on and leave Kim in someone else’s loving hands.

Kim and Jas just fit together, and the sex was hot as hell. But it also had moments of agonising tenderness, especially in the scene where Lena was involved. Garrett handled that with such care, it could have easily been really weird, but the connection between Kim and Lena made it all make sense, even to Jas. I really loved how her presence as an observer allowed Jas to connect to Kim in a way he hadn’t before. It was gorgeous.

Throughout the book you can feel the darkness growing in Kim, subtly but surely. You know some big breaking moment is coming, because that’s Garrett’s way, she can’t let them just be happy. So even though I fell in love with this story right away and wanted to hide away in the book and never put it down, I also wanted to hide from it, in fear of my own heart as well as Jas’ and Kim’s. When that moment came my insides were in pieces with panic and worry because I cared so damn much about these guys.

But those dark points brought with them some wonderful aftercare and healing moments that were some of my favourites in the whole book. One of my favourite things in the world is when two lovers shower together in a non-sexual but very intimate way, and that scene was everything I’ve ever wanted and never gotten before. There’s so much to be said for the simple act of washing someone else’s hair, soothing them, caring for them. So tender and soft and affectionate and ugh, just beautiful.

The ‘6 months later’ at the end of this book was just stunning. Everything’s not magically perfect, it’s clearly a steady climb with the potential for stumbles, but they’ve grown together so remarkably. I felt so proud of Kim and his outlook on life and his addiction. Finding help for himself and helping others. Jas is still feeling like he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he’s doing more than he could ever know. I still felt that love between them so strongly, that aching need for each other and the shelter they provide, and I have real faith in their happily ever after.

It was superb. Garrett, you nailed it yet again.

5/5 stars