Rented Heart – Garrett Leigh
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.
I am the type of romance reader who would all but demand exclusivity between the intended couple the moment they started noticing each other. I have no patience for love triangles unless its heading towards poly which is the only acceptable conclusion for me.
However, if your MC’s a rentboy, it could get pretty… tricky.
Fortunately, Rented Heart made the process almost painless. I don’t know what sorcery Garrett Leigh did but I somehow didn’t mind Zac hustling and even sleeping with his friend, Jamie while already having feels for Liam. So yes, trigger warning here, Zac had sex with other people.
This is a short book clocking in at around 5 hours plus. Dan Calley is the narrator as usual. I’m becoming a fan of how he’s bringing the author’s books to life. Realistic dialogues are one of the things I enjoyed the most about her books and Calley always delivered them in such a way that felt like you’re listening in on actual conversations.
The story did a good depicting the grim realities of of Zac’s world without diminishing the blossoming romance between him and Liam. Their meetings were bright spots that stood in contrast with the struggle to keep roof over head and help a friend in dire need. Although, it did feel too insta given that they didn’t even spend that much time with each other in the first parts of the story.
Still, it was quite an emotional rollercoaster. There’s fear that it would be over soon and the very real possibility of losing a best friend to addiction. There’s grief and hurt aplenty and comfort wholeheartedly given. There’s roadtrips, doggy cuddles and more cuddles.
There is also, trouble you could see coming from a mile away the moment Jamie came in the apartment with his stash. Wished it went another way.
Happily, Jamie redeemed himself. Zac and Liam acknowledged the rom-comness of their situation, shipped Jamie to California and lived the Pretty Woman dream.
Vivian Ward would be proud.
Thank you to Signal Boost Promotions and Audible UK for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
For angsty stories with lots of heart, Garrett Leigh is your girl. Read reviews of her books here.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love