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Cover Design: Black Jazz Design
Length: 227 pages
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.
"Kiss Me Again" is one of the best books I've read by Garrett Leigh to date. It's a heartwarming story about two lonely men finding acceptance and the the joy of life in each other.
Aidan has spend his whole life alone and he likes it that way. The only company he needs are the trees he works to save. When he's on top of one he's serene and the happiest he thinks he'll ever be. He spends his days working and his nights drinking and he doesn't want to change a thing. A nasty fall from a tree though will drive him to the hospital and in the bed opposite the most intriguing man he's ever set eyes on.
Ludo has learned to stay away from people because he knows no one will stick around once they truly see him. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder many years ago and is trying to manage it with the sole help of professionals and no support system of his own. His family abandoned him long ago and he doesn't have any friends so he has to depend on his doctors to make him better when he falls and on himself to realise when he is about to fall.
Ludo and Aidan's relationship is a slow burn. While they were both in the hospital they started to seek each other out and spend time together. They came to care about the other and try to help any way they could.
A few months after they got out of the hospital and didn't know how to contact each other, they meet again by chance. Their attraction is still there and they continue with the friendship that started many months ago. Their connection is based on understanding and acceptance. They're both most comfortable away from society so that works well for them spending time together. Aidan gets Ludo in ways no one has before, he lets him speak, he listens to him, he isn't afraid of what he might do and he doesn't shy away from the reality of Ludo's condition.
However, Aidan only knows what little Ludo told him and what the results of a few internet searches gave him about bipolar disorder so he isn't fast enough to catch Ludo the first time he starts to fall after they got together. Those chapters were the strongest ones in the book. The dual point of view worked amazingly well there, as we got to see the events both from Aidan's clear mind and through Ludo's manic - at the time - one.
It was also kind of terrifying to be inside his head during those times. The speed with which he made decisions only to abandon them shortly after for something else was frightening. A phrase in the book about those times will stay with me for a long time:
"It's a lonely place to be. [...] Frightening too, when you realise no one is keeping pace with your racing thoughts."
I know even less than Aidan did, when all this started, about Ludo's condition but I think the author did a really good job spelling out for us what it's like being in Ludo's mind. I liked getting to know him and I liked even more that from now on he's going to have Aidan to spend his life with, accept him and help him when he needs it the most.
A special mention is needed for Bella, Ludo's golden retriever, who had the most adorable way of sleeping. I think she was part of his treatment even if he didn't realise it when he got her. She gave him courage and made him be more careful with himself since he had Bella depending on his well-being. She was a great supporting character.
As I said at the beginning, this story is a slow burn and a very nicely done one. Aidan and Ludo take their time and go at Ludo's pace who is afraid of getting hurt if he lets himself get attached to Aidan and then having to go their separate ways once Aidan inevitably sees him either at his highest or at his lowest and gets scared. Kissing is an important part of their story and I liked how accepting and patient Aidan was and of how much those kisses meant to both of them.
Both characters were amazing. They were real because they had flaws and perfect because they accepted the other as he was and loved him no matter what.
If you like hurt-comfort stories, tight plots and strong characters, don't skip this book!
** A free copy of this book was provided by the tour organizer in exchange for an honest review. **
About the author:
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.
Garrett's debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.
When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.
Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at Black Jazz Design, and co-owns the specialist stock site Moon Stock Photography with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.
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