Strays (Urban Souls #2) by Garrett Leigh

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.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I’ve only read 3 books by Garrett Leigh because every single one I’ve picked up has blown me away. Even though it’s been almost exactly 2 years since I read Misfits, the first book in Leigh’s Urban Souls series, it didn’t take me long to remember exactly why I liked it so much. It also didn’t stop me from wanting to pick it up for a reread. Those 3 books have also proven that this author has a talent for taking broken characters and putting them back together, only to rip them apart again. *sigh*

Nero liked spreading himself thin. He floated from job to job within the Urban Souls brand with little or no down time. He also considered himself straight, but curious maybe? His attraction to Lenny made him reevaluate a lot about himself. Lenny was the polar opposite of Nero as far as personalities go. He was friendly and normally outgoing, until his stalker kept him constantly looking over his shoulder. Pairing him with Nero was a crazy idea, but evidently Cass knew what he was doing.

Speaking of Cass, one of my favorite parts of Strays was the time readers got to spend with him as well as Jake and Tom. I loved those guys, which is one of the reasons why I’m seriously thinking about a re-read of Misfits. The other is the way that they take care of their own, whether the recipients want it or think they need it. I’m not sure if there are any other books in the future for Urban Souls, but I do know that there are quite a few other Garrett Leigh books that need to be added to my TBR pile. Stay tuned. 😉

Rented Heart by Garrett Leigh

rentedheart_600x900Ex-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.
 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1The first thought I had when I finished Rented Heart was this… “Garrett Leigh’s super power is creating characters that are broken, giving them a glimmer of hope and then ripping it away… there’s a reason why I keep coming back for more though… *sigh* ” – It also served as my ‘place holder’ review on GoodReads. I’ve only read a couple of books by this author and both of them (Misfits & most recently What Remains) were powerful in their own right. I have to admit that Rented Heart didn’t leave me as emotionally unravelled as What Remains, but it still made me want to help these characters pick up the broken pieces of their lives and help them help each other put themselves back together.

Zac and Liam took turns pulling at my heartstrings. Liam because of his grief and Zac because of pretty much everything. They were total opposites at first glance. They turned out to be exactly what they needed to be for each other at just the right time. The closer they got, the more evident that was until one slip changed everything.

I feel really bad about getting mad at Liam at the turning point in Rented Heart. His doubt was legitimate, but I felt like he should have been just a little more trusting. Garrett Leigh’s writing does that to me just about every time.

Zac’s friend Jamie is mentioned in the description and as much as I got aggravated with him for choices that he made in Rented Heart, he redeemed himself enough by the end that I can’t wait until readers get his story. I’m pretty sure that that’s the general consensus of everyone else who fell in love with this story.

DragonFlyRating4

What Remains by Garrett Leigh

WhatRemains_600x900Web 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.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1This is only the second book by Garrett Leigh that I’ve read. The first one was Misfits and once I finished What Remains, you know what I discovered? I need to make a conscious effort to track down more of her books.

What Remains went back and forth between the present and the past. If you’re not a fan of that type of story, don’t let it keep you from giving this story a chance. It turned out to be a great way to help readers grasp exactly what both Rupert and Jodi experienced.

There was so much to love about What Remains, I’m not sure where to start. The romance was amazing and then it crashed, through no fault of either Rupert or Jodi. I both loved and hated the circumstances that switched the roles between Rupert and Jodi. I adored both these men and the people who surrounded them with love and support.

Sometimes you can discover an author’s “super power” after only reading a couple of books. It’s taken me exactly two to discover that Garrett Leigh’s is to break you and slowly put the pieces back together.

DragonFlyGreen4-5

Misfits by Garrett Leigh

MisfitsRestaurant 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.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I can honestly say that I had no idea what to expect from this book. I also have to admit that there has to be something special about a menage to make me leap into reading one. It pretty much has to promise to be funny or emotionally intense… Misfits falls into the intense category, but it’s also very sweet. Even though I understood exactly where Jake’s reluctance to continue any sort of relationship with Tom came from, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with all three of these guys and gain a new understanding.

Even though Cass and Tom were totally devoted to each other, the fact that they had an open relationship proved that there was something missing. From the very beginning, open relationship or not, both Cass and Tom knew that Jake was different for both of them.

There was so much to love about this book. I loved Jake’s fierce independence. I loved Tom’s sense of protectiveness toward both Jake and Cass and I adored Cass’ devotion to Tom that allowed him to see exactly what Jake needed and call Tom out when he didn’t step up the way he thought he should. Sounds confusing, I know, but it worked.

This story also touched on a disability that I never really thought about, but will never think about in the same way. Jake had Tourette’s Syndrome. He dealt with it the best way he could and the more I got to know him, the more I admired him. The amazing part of Misfits was how Tom and Cass accepted it as just a part of him, yet in very different ways. True to his personality, Tom wanted to protect him. Cass took the ‘head on’ approach. Jake needed and appreciated both and unwittingly brought them even closer together.

Beyond the story itself, I loved the writing. Descriptions like these made me smile…

There was a scrabbling noise at the back door. Tom wandered over and granted entrance to the lean streak of feline attitude who fought him for Cass’s affection.

There weren’t a lot of supporting characters, but the ones that were introduced were important and said a lot about the kind of characters Tom, Cass and Jake were. It was also refreshing to find a family who not only supported each other, but loved them unconditionally…

Rich rolled his eyes. “You don’t have to be diplomatic , Jake, about any of it. I don’t get to see my little brother as much as I’d like, but I know him, and I know when he’s happy. Cass too. No one around here is ever going to argue with that.”

*sigh* So yeah, menage’s aren’t my ‘go-to’ when it comes to romance, but I’m definitely glad that I took a chance on Misfits. It’s one of those books that proves without a shadow of doubt that love is love and if you’re lucky enough to find it, don’t question it. Don’t deny it, or run from it. Just hold on to it as tightly as you can.

DragonFlyGreen4-5