Published by: Riptide Publishing
Format: epub, paperback
Genre: contemporary romance
Reviewed by: Sara Beth
What to Expect: It’s Garrett Leigh. Expect awesomeness.
Plot: 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.
Review: This author has not disappointed me yet. I keep waiting for it. Like, for the stories or characters to get repetitive. For the angst to finally become too much. Happily, today is not that day. I loved this story. Leigh remains my go-to author for gritty tales dealing with darker themes successfully balanced out by genuinely flawed, lovable characters.
With this story, Leigh once again showcases her talent for capturing how love can evolve between even the two most unlikely of people. Zac and Liam’s story is one that’s been told before – rent boy meets man of dreams, surprisingly touching sexy times ensue, committed bliss to follow. It’s never that easy, though, is it?
What Leigh does that’s unique is make the story more than an enjoyable lark. She renders her characters, and their circumstances, believable and relatable. This leaves the reader invested in the idea that if these two can make it work, there is hope for all of us. This book is an honest exploration of how addiction, grief, loss, and sense of self-worth affect our relationship with ourselves, and our relationships with those we come to love.
When Zac looks in the mirror, he sees little more than a guy who will only ever be good enough to rent, but never to own. Everything about his life screams temporary, from the dive he lives in to the guys who pay him for sex. He’s not even sure if his recovery will last. It takes Liam moving past his own issues and outside of his own headspace to convince Zac that he’s not only worth the love Liam has to offer, but the love he should be showing to himself. Romance is an escape, I believe that.But I like mine served up with characters I can get behind from interesting backgrounds who kind of have to work for that happily ever after. If that’s what you’re into, this is the story for you.
What you might not like/doesn’t work for you: This was not a problem for me, but I can see how some readers will be turned off by the fact that Zac continues to work as a rent boy during the majority of his relationship with Liam. For many readers, this is a romance no-no. Also, reconciliation between these two near the end of the book seemed rushed to me. Call me terrible, but I don’t feel like the requisite amount of groveling was achieved on one MCs part to convince me he deserved a second chance. I mean, I was happy with the overall outcome, but GROVELING. It needs to happen sometimes.
What you will love: The dynamic between these two. Wow. The chemistry. Hot. It’s pretty hot. One thing I appreciated as a reader, too, was the sense that Liam never let Zac get away with degrading himself, or his occupation, and Zac didn’t let Liam fool himself into believing that he couldn’t move past the loss of his husband. The story doesn’t turn on the typical plot point this trope is associated with – there is no ultimatum thrown down between them related to Zac choosing Liam or his job. This is more about two people really seeing each other for who they are, not what they do, or how much or how little they own. It’s touching, and refreshing.
Sara Beth is a full time contributor to Binge on Books. She loves to read, write about what she reads, and really, really loves to talk about what she’s reading. She has a monthly column featuring Binge Worthy Books and you can read more of her reviews here.
Connect with Sara on Twitter: @sarathebeth