Soul to Keep (Rented Heart #2) by Garrett Leigh

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.

I’ve mentioned more than once that Garrett Leigh possesses a super power… “(Her) 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* ” – and that reason is, whatever she makes her beloved characters go through is totally worth it. It may seem like torture at the time, but it makes where they find themselves in the end worth so much more…

Soul to Keep was just a little different though. Jamie was introduced in Rented Heart, the first book in the series. He went through his personal version of Hell during Liam and Zac’s story. His semi-forced recovery happened some time between Rented Heart and Soul to Keep. Readers saw him crumble in the previous book, by the time he was introduced in Soul to Keep, he was already working on finding a way to stand on his own two feet. He appreciated everything that both Liam and Zac had done for him and even though he ended up close in proximity to them, he was ready to prove 0 to himself and everyone else – that he could take care of himself.

Marc was broken in a totally different way and he was also a self professed “fixer”. When he saw someone in need and he could help in any possible way, he couldn’t resist. Together these two shouldn’t have worked together, but they did. They both had some serious healing ahead of them and they found a perfect balance that helped them help each other.

Oh, and for the record, there wasn’t a lot to like about Jamie in Rented Heart, but I wasn’t surprised that Garrett Leigh managed to cause me look at him in a whole new way. He totally redeemed himself in Soul to Keep – I love it when an author does that 😉


Finding Home by Garrett Leigh

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.

Have you ever read a book and found yourself wanting to be friends with the characters? People that touched you in a way that you just wanted to get to know them better? Although I adored Leo and Charlie, I was in awe of Kate and Reg. They were so incredibly good at not only fostering, but truly loving, caring and accepting, plus they just seemed to sense each child’s limits and needs. They were the core of this amazing family and they expected nothing less from each member. To me, that’s a huge part of what made this story work for me. *sigh*

I’ve mentioned before that Garrett Leigh has a talent for totally breaking a character and then slowly put the pieces back together, while taking the reader right along with them. There’s always hope though and that’s what keeps the pages turning, for me anyway. Readers witnessed from the very first chapter the pain that both Leo and Lila went through. Even before the tragic day that left them without parents, their life wasn’t easy. Home had little or no meaning to them and trust wasn’t something that they could give easily. Finding the Poulton family was their hope, it just took Leo a while to figure that out. Except for his connection to Charlie. I love that connection.

Charlie was a good kid with a good heart. He loved and respected his family – even though they drove him nuts sometimes – and trusted them. Leo wasn’t a bad kid, he was just a kid who found himself in a bad situation. To him family was Lila and he would and had been doing everything in his power to keep her safe. He refused to depend on anyone else because he’d learned the hard way… over and over again… that it was him and Lila. He was physically and mentally hurt and broken and angry and then he met Charlie.

I love the way that their relationship grew. Charlie did his best to prove to Leo that the whole family was behind him. Leo did his best to keep his distance from everyone but Charlie, but the Poulton family was a force to be reckoned with. I loved each and every one of them. Kate and Reg proved over and over again that although they were the parents and they had strict expectations for each of their kids, they respected the kids just as much as the kids did them – their opinions mattered.

I hope I’ve made it obvious that this book touched me in a way that few others have in a while. If you’re a fan of Garrett Leigh, but not a fan of the YA genre, I still recommend that you read this one. It’s not always easy and it’s not exactly angst free, but this author held nothing back and ended up finding both Leo and Lila the home… and family… they deserved. ❤

House of Cards (Porthkennack #4) by Garrett Leigh

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.

I’ve mentioned before that Garrett Leigh has a talent for taken broken characters and putting them back together – but not before tearing them apart at least one more time. House of Cards, wasn’t quite that bad this time, but she did manage to break my heart regardless.

House of Cards began with Calum escaping a bad relationship with nothing but the clothes on his back. He had no idea where he was headed, but anywhere had to be better than London. Luckily he ended up in the perfect spot… for both him and Brix.

I loved these two together. Brix may have come to Calum’s rescue and offered him a chance to both rekindle an old friendship and a chance to start over, but Calum basically offered him the same. They gave each other exactly what they needed.

For a lot of reasons, this is hands down my favorite book in this series so far. From the main characters to the supporting characters, I fell in love with them all. This group of Porthkennack residents gave readers a whole different view of life there. Which brings up the fact that you don’t have to read all the books in the series to enjoy each one individually. I’m still not recommending skipping any of them… even though I’ve skipped the historical books in the series, for now at least. That’s just another do as I say, not as I do moment and since I haven’t used that excuse for a while, I feel totally justified. 😉

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.


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.


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.