• book,  Uncategorized

    AUDIO REVIEW: Rented Heart by Garrett Leigh


    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

    Soundtrack: Ghosts That We Knew
    Artist: Mumford & Sons
    Album: Babel

  • book,  Uncategorized

    ARC REVIEW: Redemption by Garrett Leigh

    53904933. sy475

    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

    Soundtrack: Only Just Begun
    Artist: The Moth & The Flame
    Album: Ruthless

  • book,  Uncategorized

    AUDIO REVIEW: The Edge Of The World

    43556847. sy475

    The Edge Of The World – Garrett Leigh

    Shay Maloney is living his dream—on tour with his pirate/folk-rock band. But you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re from, and that’s where moody filmmaker and researcher Ollie Pietruska comes in.

    The band’s management persuades Shay to let a television company film a documentary about his roots beyond his adoptive Irish family, and Ollie comes into his life knowing more about Shay than Shay’s ever known about himself.

    But while Ollie holds the key to Shay’s past, he’s also hiding deep scars. Even as the hardships of the tour bring them closer, Ollie’s demons threaten the blossoming romance. They might both reach the breaking point before Ollie realises he’s been standing on the edge of the world for too long, and it’s Shay who holds the key to his future.

    A friends-to-lovers, rock star, road-tripping romance, with a guaranteed happily-ever-after

    Given my obsession with music, I thought I would be all over this. Sadly, The Edge of the World was not engaging my attention as I would like it to. I tried to hang on for as long as I could but there’s no hook to keep me going.

    A book about an indie pirate-folk band should be riveting stuff. And I am curious about life on the road for musicians. Turns out the everyday life on tour was tedium and boredom.

    I suppose MCs Shay and Ollie were your typical troubled but likable Garrett Leigh leads but I wasn’t drawn to them. I didn’t dislike them or anything, it’s just that they’re forgettable. In addition, none of the other personalities stood out.

    I also didn’t feel the connection between Shay and Ollie. They weren’t communicating properly. Both were mostly pining and speculating about the other. Ollie was too closed-mouth for his own good. There were also cryptic hints of his issues being dropped here and there, but I wasn’t intrigued enough to care.

    One reason I stuck for as long as I could was narrator Dan Calley. I really like the way he voiced the conversations. His reading style matched the author’s prose perfectly. I think that’s why he narrates most of her books.

    I feel bad about DNFing a book that’s right up my alley but when it’s becoming a chore, I think it’s time to throw in the towel. This could be very well be a Me problem. Many readers enjoyed this and I think it’s best to find out for yourself. Especially if you’re into angsty tales of genius musicians and ninja filmmakers.


    Thank you to Signal Boost Promotions and Audible UK for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

    Garrett Leigh books here.

    2 Stars – it’s a struggle to finish the damn book

    Soundtrack: Song From The Edge Of The World
    Artist: Siouxsie & The Banshees
    Album: Tinderbox

  • book,  Uncategorized

    AUDIO REVIEW: Falling for My Roommate by Garrett Leigh

    52299916. sy475

    Falling for My Roommmate – Garrett Leigh

    Falling for his roommate gives ex footballer Micah the second chance he deserves, and what could be better than loving your best friend?

    I’m a broke ex-football player with a bum leg and PTSD. Last summer, I had two choices: the streets, or find a cheap room to rent in the city. I chose the second option, which landed me with a brand-new problem, cos I hadn’t banked on my roommate becoming my best friend. Or that before long I’d find myself head over heels in love with him. Trouble is, even if Sam likes me back, I ain’t fit to be no one’s boyfriend. I don’t know how. All I do is wade through every precious moment and hope that he doesn’t regret the day he ever met me.

    I’m a gay book nerd with no business falling in love with hunky athletes. Micah is the dictionary definition of beautiful, inside and out, he just doesn’t know it. And he definitely doesn’t know I’m ridiculously in love with him. The embarrassing kind of love.

    He’s all I can think about.

    But it’s not as simple as loving someone who doesn’t love me back. Micah is damaged goods—at least, that’s how he’d put it. The world has chewed him up and spat him out, and he thinks he deserved it. That he’s still the battered mess he was a year ago.

    I want to shake him, and shout in his face that he’s not. To force the truth on him and make him believe in himself the way I do. But I can’t save Micah. One day, perhaps he’ll realise that he already saved himself.

    Trust Garrett Leigh to create a raw, emotionally gripping story out of the simple premise of falling in love with a roommate.

    Micah and Sam are roommates and best friends. After mutually pining for each other and some sassing from nosy friends, they finally had the courage to confess their feelings and kiss.

    You think it would end happily there.

    After the kiss came miscommunications and insecurities. If these are your pet peeves, they could get pretty annoying.

    Sam is Micah’s own personal ray of sunshine. I liked how they played off each other and how domestic they are. They’re practically like an old married couple with their household routines down pat. I enjoyed their banters. My favorite part were the trips to the library and cuddling in the corners.

    But this is not just about romance. It’s so much more.

    Most of the Garrett Leigh’s books I’ve read featured characters with mental illness and how this affects their lives and relationships.

    My heart went out to Micah. He made poor choices in the past and now had to live with the consequences. He has PTSD, depression and a bum leg. He might have sunk back to his gloomy moods but I appreciated that he knew when to ask for help. All he wanted was to live a normal life with Sam.

    Sam, himself, was not perfect. He was quick to make negative assumptions that hurt Micah. Their relationship basically revolves around Micah and his issues and I loved how he really tried to be there for Micah 101% of the time.

    I also appreciated how the story underscored the importance of proper and consistent mental health care. It painted an accurate picture of what happens when we stop taking meds, even if not on purpose. And as expected with this author, she handled the issue with much respect and sensitivity.

    The story also talked about the aftermath of a public outing by a footballer. Sad to say that the media treated gay footballers horribly. Tabloid columns splashed lurid headlines. Paparazzi preyed on their every move. No wonder Micah is going mad just thinking about how it could affect him and Sam. Especially on the heels of another public outing that had gone down disastrously.

    Narrator Dan Calley did a great job bringing this book to life. The spot-on voice acting coupled with a variety of authentic accents made the conversations sound very natural.

    Falling for My Roommate ran through a variety emotions that strongly resonated with me. The characters are flawed yet they made me root hard for them. There’s a lot of angst, some humor, some sweeter moments. The ending was full of hope and promise. All in all, it is a beautiful book that’s a pleasure to read/listen to.


    Thank you to Signal Boost Promotions and Audible UK for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

    Review of Garrett Leigh books here.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: A Million Years
    Artist: Human Drama
    Album: The World Inside

  • book,  Uncategorized

    AUDIO REVIEW: Fated Hearts by Garrett Leigh

    53110702. sx318 sy475

    Shadow Bound: Fated Hearts – Garrett Leigh

    “He’s not a wolf.”

    Devastated by the death of his best friend, Zio is a soldier with one thing on his mind: revenge. Consumed by a conflict that’s raged as long as he’s been alive, he’s had little time or inclination to learn the legends of the shifter world he was raised in. And he certainly doesn’t have time to deal with a shifter of a different kind, even if it’s for the good of the war effort. For the good of his pack. The fact that he’s already crossed paths with the new face in his unit is almost irrelevant.


    Do no harm. Give life not death: it’s the oath Devan was reborn to live by, so when he’s sent abroad to embed with a wolf pack as their resident healer, he doesn’t hesitate. In the supernatural world, some bonds are instant—soldiers become brothers, pack become family. But others run deeper and before long, Devan’s at the mercy of instincts he can’t control.

    Zio’s inner wolf is desperate to be with Devan, while Devan struggles to keep the pack safe. But as the war escalates, and new love is tainted by anguish and pain, the battles within might prove the toughest of them all.

    “I won’t let him die.”

    We are dropped right smack in the middle of a war in this captivating shifter romance by Garrett Leigh. It quickly grabbed my attention and didn’t let go.

    Fated Hearts is the first book of the Shadow Bound series. There is a short story prequel that I haven’t read yet. I’m guessing it will more or less give us an idea of how or why the Northern pack and the Southern packs are at war with each. This prequel is also the story of how the Shadow Clan’s alpha met his fated mate who is a vampire. From the hints given in the story, it’s just as good as this novel.

    So anyway, the world is basically already established and we get right into the action. There are a lot of characters who are assumed to be known to the reader already. I felt it would have been ideal if I had known their backstories beforehand. However, overall, piecing together everything wasn’t a hardship and did not greatly undermine my enjoyment of the story.

    Apparently, the shifters here stopped aging once they are turned. I liked this version of shifters. There are wolves and feline shifters as well as vampires with humans very much aware of their presence. Magic is present but low key. There is also mention of human weapons used in the pack war and their impact. I’m curious to see what other supernatural creatures are present and where the author takes the series. The Shadow Bound world is definitely worth exploring.

    Zio is a soldier of the Northern pack who just lost his bestfriend, Emma, the pack healer. He took the loss hard and had a hard time accepting her replacement. Zio is a bit of a hot-head but a good leader of his squad. Orphaned as a baby, the pack is all the family he has ever known, the other soldiers his brothers.

    Zio first met Devan at a club when he smelled something very enticing and followed his nose right up to a mysterious man in the dark. They had what they assumed was an anonymous hook up and thought they wouldn’t see each other again. Much to his surprise, the rando turned out to be their new healer.

    Devan is a shifter from the Shadow clan. He has a calm, grounding presence. He’s also mature considering that he looks 21 but also makes sense since he’s been a shifter for 20 years.

    The attraction between the two was undeniable. Zio, who is quite naive of some basic shifter biology, cannot seem to understand why he is so strongly drawn to Devan. The healer was hesitant to explain why for some reason but couldn’t help getting close This is where most of the delicious will they or won’t they tension comes from. I could feel their frustrations and longing leaping off the page.

    This created a lot of angst, especially coming from Zio. His grief, anger, desire for revenge, desire for Devan all made him run away from others. We could see how young Zio is. He was turned when he was a baby 20 something years ago so his shifter age and biological age are the same.

    Even when they finally acknowledged that they were mates, Zio and Devan were forbidden to complete the bond due to shifter politics. Things are so much bigger than just the two of them. War takes its toll and death inevitable.

    I felt bad for those who lost their mates especially mated pairs who had major appearances in the story. The deaths weren’t Game of Throne levels but the results could still be felt strongly especially right after showing the close bonds and camaraderie among pack and their alpha.

    Dan Calley, who is the narrator of most Garrett Leigh books, did a great job bringing the characters to life. The voices he used for each character really suited their personality. My only niggle is that I wished there was a pause whenever the POV shifts from one MC to another. I wouldn’t immediately realize that the POV already changed because the sentences were read without any change of pacing.

    Among the shifter stories I’ve read, Fated Hearts is one of the well-written ones. Even without the build-up, it’s easy to get swept away by the story and root for the characters. The development of a shifter relationship amidst war and politics was portrayed beautifully, the HEA hard-fought and satisfying.

    The war is not yet over. We haven’t seen the last of the Northern pack and the Shadow Clan yet. I’m looking forward to the next book!


    Thank you to Signal Boost Promotions and Audible UK for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

    Garrett Leigh books here.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Latch
    Artist: Kodaline
    Album: In a Perfect World

  • book,  Uncategorized

    AUDIO REVIEW: Kiss Me Again by Garrett Leigh

    46129556. sy475

    Kiss Me Again – Garrett Leigh

    Tree surgeon Aidan Drummond is content with his own company. He works alone, and lives alone, and it doesn’t occur to him to want anything else until a life-changing accident lands him in hospital. Then a glimpse of the beautiful boy in the opposite bed changes everything.

    Ludo Giordano is trapped on the ward with a bunch of old men. His mind plays tricks on him, keeping him awake. Then late one night, a new face brings a welcome distraction. Their unlikely friendship is addictive. And, like most things in Ludo’s life, temporary.

    Back in the real world, Aidan’s monochrome existence is no longer enough. He craves the colour Ludo brought him, and when a chance meeting brings them back together, before long, they’re inseparable again.

    But bliss comes with complications. Aidan is on the road to recovery, but Ludo has been unwell his entire life, and that’s not going to change. Aidan can kiss him as much as he likes, but if he can’t help Ludo when he needs him most, they don’t stand a chance.

    Garrett Leigh is not a new to me author. I’ve seen her around and I’ve featured her books here on the New Release Blitz. Kiss Me Again is my first official book from her. I’m so happy I finally took the plunge!

    This is a story of two people who made each other’s life just a little bit more extraordinary. Ludo and Aidan were both complex characters fighting their own battles. I loved how they lend each other their strengths. They were drawn towards each other the first time they met in the hospital. They were never the same since.

    The author was able to bring the two men to life in a way that completely captivated me. I loved how their connection was established and how it blossomed into something selfless and unconditional. I was rooting for Ludo and Aidan all the way and not just their romance.

    The story takes the reader through a gamut of emotions. There were the beautifully written hospital scenes where I was so sure things were going to go well only for it all to disappear. There was the painful separation and the fateful reunion that seemed almost unreal. That’s only the first parts.

    This is a highly emotional book without any unnecessary drama. We spent a lot of time in Ludo’s and Aiden’s head. There were a lot of angst, doubts and pain but there was never a moment when it became melodramatic. Every emotion was played just right. I greatly appreciated that there were no petty misunderstandings used as a plot device.

    I was also super impress with how Ludo’s mental condition, bipolar disorder, was portrayed in the story. It’s a struggle that hits close to home. I know that one’s experience with the condition is different from another’s but all in all, Leigh was able to write about it with accuracy and respect. I especially liked how the story emphasized that Ludo is so much more than his bipolar disorder.

    Narrator Dan Calley is a new to me narrator. At first I was confused with his voices for Ludo and Aiden because they sounded very similar so I didn’t know who was talking. Later on, I grew used to his style, plus the story was really outstanding, that I didn’t mind the similarity too much. More importantly, he hit the right notes when it comes to the emotions of the characters. I also enjoyed the accents.

    Kiss Me Again definitely sets the bar high to my Garrett Leigh experience. If this is how good her books are, I really, really need to get my hands on more.

    Recommended if you like intense, angsty stories about grumpy tree surgeons with big hearts and battled-scarred survivors with beautiful souls.


    Thank you to Signal Boost Promotions and Audible UK for giving a me copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: All The Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands
    Artist: Sufjan Stevens
    Album: Seven Swans