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.
Ahhh, true love. It always starts out the same.
“Oh, and by the way, it’s a hundred for the fuck . . . three if you want to stay all night.”Okaaaaaay, so maybe not always.
In the case of Garrett Leigh's latest book, "Rented Heart," it actually begins with one financially strapped ex-junkie, trying to pay his rent, and one graphic designer, turned reluctant-CEO, so lonely that he just wants to feel something again, other than the pain of losing his husband two years prior.
Even from the start, though, this story never felt like Zac was only Liam's hooker and Liam was only Zac's most eligible john, which was definitely refreshing.
For me, a large part of this story had to do with respect and self-worth.
Liam treats all of his employees at Sea Rave as though they are family, refusing to take shortcuts for higher profits. And he shows Zac that same respect, even after finding out that his time has a price tag associated with it.
And Zac has never known anything other than selling himself to stay alive, so he's constantly stating what he feels is the obvious. That he's a whore. Nothing more.
I loved that Liam wouldn't let him get away with that derogatory talk and never felt that his success made him a better human being simply because most others would see Zac's life as a failure.
“Where’s your ring?”All of this is bewildering, and definitely new, to Zac, who's never been asked what he wants from someone paying for his time, so Liam's caring nature quickly has Zac wanting more.
“Your wedding ring. You’re not wearing it.”
"I took it off to come here.”
“Why? Didn’t want to wear it to spend the night with a whore?”
“Whore? When have I ever called you a whore?” Liam didn’t know why it mattered, whore was just a word like any other, but Zac’s flat tone rankled him. “You’re not a whore unless you want to be. You’re Zac, regardless of how you see me.”
Yes, both the sex is good, amazing even, and the money is good, but no one has made their way past Zac's protective walls in years, since his best friend, Jamie, so he's still fearful of getting too close to Liam, who's practically perfect.
I especially enjoyed this story, having expected it to be significantly more angst-ridden than the story that I read, like my previous reads from Leigh. She's definitely no stranger to penning drama. : )
The characters were both charming and selfless, with the only real drama in the entire story stemming from Zac's association with Jamie, who is still a hardcore heroin addict.
I seriously wanted to ship Jamie off to a two year rehab program, to make sure that he got clean. And that it actually stuck. And *maybe* to get his toxic presence away from my boys. He isn't a bad guy, but sweet baby Jesus, if anyone ever needed a freaking intervention, it was that bitch.
I saw Jamie's unintentional actions breaking these two up coming from miles and miles away, but fortunately, the separation was fairly short-lived and our heroes straightened out "the big misunderstanding" (not of their own making) to get their HEA.
The sexy scenes were insanely hot and the touching scenes were intense as well, but the secondary characters, made up of Liam's immediately family, also played a large part in my overall enjoyment of the book.
The editing in the story was flawless, but I must admit that I did enjoy the first two-thirds of the story a wee bit more than the last part, which I'd already mentally sussed out.
One thing that I would note for apprehensive potential readers is that Zac does continue to 'work,' even after he and Liam begin having sex for money, (but before any type of exclusivity was discussed,) which would normally put me off my lunch, but that strangely didn't happen in this story.
I'd definitely recommend this one, coming in at around 4.5 stars, to anyone who enjoys a nice working boy meets his rich Mr. Right tale.
My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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