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Redemption – Garrett Leigh
Reformed gangster Luis falls hard for his boss. When friendship turns to love, it’s up to Paolo to convince him second chances are worth the pain.
Luis Pope is back on the street after a six year stretch in prison, but life on the outside seems just out of reach, especially when the whole neighbourhood knows his face for all the wrong reasons.
Paolo’s temper makes it hard to keep staff, and he knows Luis’s rep all too well. But his nonno believes in redemption, and Luis isn’t the tough guy Paolo remembers. Prison has left its mark, inside and out, and all the kindness in the world can’t fix the three inch scar on Luis’s skull.
And it can’t keep ghosts locked up. Luis’s the best worker Paolo’s ever had, and Luis’s happier than he’s ever been. But his old life doesn’t want to stay in the past. Trouble comes to call, and when it makes him an offer he can’t refuse, keeping Paolo safe hurts the most.
Redemption is an angsty, standalone MM romance novel, with second chances, found family, friends-to-lovers, and buckets of hurt/comfort themed loveliness.
Right from the time I read the blurb, I immediately had a good feeling about this.
There were FEELS indeed!
I was rooting for Luis from the start. He knew he made mistakes. He paid his dues and just wanted a fresh start. He just needed somebody to take a chance on an ex-con who doesn’t even have a coat for the winter.
Paolo wouldn’t have given him that chance. Even if he badly needed help at the cafe he’s running single-handedly. Even if he had a crush on the Luis Pope since they were schoolmates. He heard all about the notorious Pope brothers. But his nonno convinced him to give Luis a job. If Paolo doesn’t give him a chance, who would?
At first, Luis was relegated to busing tables and washing dishes. As the story progressed, he revealed other useful skills that made him invaluable. I loved how he smoothly stepped up and stepped in the role of cook when Paolo needed to care for his nonna.
The two men slowly learned to trust each other. I loved how their friendship developed. Paolo is a hot-blooded Italian you can’t argue with. He is annoyed about everything. He curses and grumbles a lot. Conveniently, Luis has a damaged ear so he doesn’t hear most of it. What he hears, he can sass back in his cool, quiet Luis manner.
The story did a good job portraying their relationship. It wasn’t perfect. Luis frequently withheld information to protect Paolo from his gangster brother. Paolo has a quick temper. But you can see how these two flawed men brought out the good in each other.
However, Luis thinks he’s not good enough. He can’t even get away from his manipulative brother who wants him back as a mule. He would do everything to keep Paolo safe, including going back to the life he already left behind. But he’s not giving up without a fight, not if he can help it.
Luis is wracked by anxiety. He also has an ear injury that was a result of being whacked with a pipe while in prison. This wasn’t the main focus but this held real consequences for him and was put to good use in the story. The injury was crucial in that seemingly made-in-passing, split-second decision that could have put him back in the box. This particular scene stuck with me for some reason. It was so minor I didn’t realize its significance until I was done reading.
This is an angsty read and hurt-comfort at its best. The character portraits were raw and real. I’m a lazy reader and sometimes when you get dramatic stories, the sentences feel heavy which makes reading a chore. Here the writing had that certain quality of delivering emotional punches yet still easy to read. There’s a sense of foreboding that keeps you turning the pages. Which is why I nearly finished this in one sitting.
Redemption is another top-notched Garrett Leigh creation. A moving story about second chances and do overs. Where choices had to be made even if you had no choice. And a simple bacon sandwich could mean the world.
Thank you to Signal Boost Promotions for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Garrett Leigh is an auto-buy author for most MM readers. Read reviews of her books here and find out why.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect