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.
'Rented Hearts' started out good for me. I was enjoying it. I can't say I was over the moon but it was sweet. Liam's lonely. He's still mourning the loss of the man he thought he'd spend the rest of his life with, but he's also still alive, still young and like any red blooded man he's got needs and that's where Zac comes into the story.
Zac's a hooker, rent boy, use whatever descriptive works for you here. He first approaches Liam outside of a club and Liam likes what Zac's offering. He's lonely and Zac's offering him some no strings attached fun...well, no strings but it turns out there's still a price to be paid after all a man's got to feed himself doesn't he? It's with little more than a moments hesitation that Liam agrees to Zac's price and conditions, after all it's just a one time deal...right? And then Liam's going back to his life and Zac gets to carry on with his. Problem is neither man can seem to stop thinking about the other.
I liked that Liam and Zac's relationship didn't change magically over night. Liam realized that he enjoyed Zac's company and so he continued the their transactions but for him...Zac was never a hooker and for Zac...Liam was never 'just another john' but it still took time for both of these men to come to terms with their feelings and to acknowledge that what they wanted from each other was a relationship that wasn't based on an exchange of money.
It took a misunderstanding and nearly losing Zac to make Liam see a live without Zac wasn't a life he wanted to live. It was somewhere during the shift in Zac and Liam's relationship that I realized their story had gone beyond just a sweet romance for me. I wanted Liam and Zac together. I needed to see Zac get his happily ever after. His life had sucked, kicked out onto the streets when he was just fifteen, forced to work as a hooker to try and support himself, his only friend Jamie a drug addict but still the only person who'd ever had his back and whom he felt he owed the world. I needed Zac to get a bit of happiness and who better to do that than Liam. Sweet, kind, lonely Liam. A man who'd known love but had it taken from him unexpectedly. A man who still had so much love to give.
I wanted a story with a fairy tale ending and while there were no fairy godmothers waving their wands here and there was a bit of predictability to some of the events leading up to the ending. I loved ever minute of it. I loved that in the end Liam had Zac to love and Zac was more than willing to love him back. Sometimes a little happily ever after really is good for the soul.
********************An ARC of 'Rented Hearts' was graciously provided by the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
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