Length: 62,000 words
Cover Design: Black Jazz Design
Rented Heart Series
Rented Heart (Book #1) - Universal Buy Link
Recovering addict Jamie Yorke has returned to England from California. With no home or family to speak of, he sticks a pin in a map and finds a small town in the Derbyshire Peak District. Matlock Bath is a quiet place—he just needs to get there, keep his head down, and stay clean. Simple, right? Until a chance meeting on the flight home alters the course of his so-called life forever.
Ex-Army medic Marc Ramsey is recovering from life-changing combat injuries while pulling nights as a trauma specialist at the local hospital. Keeping busy is a habit he can’t quit, but when Jamie—so wild and beautiful—bursts into his life, working himself into the ground isn’t as compelling as it used to be.
Marc falls hard, but chaos lurks behind Jamie’s fragile facade. He’s winning his battle against addiction, but another old foe is slowly consuming him. Both men have weathered many storms, but the path to the peace they deserve might prove the roughest ride yet.
Soul to Keep is the second book in Garrett Leigh's Rented Heart series and can be read as a stand alone.
It's a story about addiction and recovery, about forgiveness, and about learning to live again. This story felt a touch less heavy than the author's normal fare, but at it's heart it still had weight.
We first met Jamie York in Rented Heart and he was in a really bad space. Jamie is a heroin addict and he did many things during the course of Rented Heart that were awful, for both him and his best friend Zac (one of the MC's for book 1). Jamie was on a downward spiral that he didn't think he'd survive. In fact, if it hadn't been for Zac, Jamie would not have. He was given an opportunity to get treatment in a nice facility in California, and in desperation, he accepted.
Soul to Keep starts one year later and Jamie has been clean, but he's never stood on his own. He knows that being able to stand on his own is an important part of his recovery, and so he decides to leave California and head back to the UK.
Marc Ramsey is an ex-soldier and a current doctor. His military career was cut short when an IED took part of one of his legs. Marc is also a nurturer - something that should come as second nature to all doctors, but doesn't - and a problem solver. He really wants to help people, especially those he cares about. Letting others help him doesn't come quite as easily, however.
Jamie and Marc first meet on a flight from the US to the UK, where Marc helps Jamie through his fears of flying. Never did either expect to see each other again.
Soul to Keep was a low-key story. The angst is there simmering, but it never reaches the levels that book 1 reached and I was kind of happy for that. Jamie went through so much before he got clean that I was loathe to see him fail. His addiction is only part of his problem, though. He's also OCD and suffers from anxiety, so Jamie has to keep a tight hold on every moment because he lives in fear of failure. In fact he expects he will fail.
There isn't a ton of conflict, here, however. In fact, there isn't much of any. That did fit the story, though, because Jamie has been in recovery for a year and isn't 3 seconds away from slipping up. Yes, he expects he will eventually fail, but he does have some of the tools he needs to stay clean and the rest is a work in progress. Also, Marc is a very level-headed sort and doesn't make rash decisions. His specialty in medicine is trauma so he is calm.
The romance is a slow burn, too, which I generally prefer and was definitely happy for here. Jamie needs to find his worth and Marc needs to learn to accept that he needs people, too, and so they dance for a good part of the book before admitting any actual feelings. Feelings that were clearly already there.
Also, I'd like to give a shout out to two of the secondary characters - Nat and Conner. They were the MC's from Between Ghosts and I loved them so much, it was good to see them again.
ARC of Soul to Keep was generously provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.
Can two broken souls create one happily ever after? They can when they’re strong enough to take another chance.
‘Soul to Keep’ is the second book in Garrett Leigh’s series ‘Rented Hearts’ the book that introduced first introduced us to Jamie Yorke…former rentboy and recovering drug addict. Zac’s friend who we last saw in California where Liam, the other MC from ‘Rented Heart’ who helped Jamie get to California for his rehab.
In ‘Soul to Keep’ we catch up with Jamie as he’s returning to England. He’s been clean for a year and while California is warm and sunny for this Brit it’s just not home and Jamie needs to go home.
It’s on his flight home that Jaime meets the older and equally damaged ex-army medic and present-day trauma specialist, Mark Ramsey returning home following surgery in Chicago.
When Jamie’s nervousness gets the better of him on the flight home, Marc’s need to nurture and fix things takes over and he helps Jamie to overcome his nervousness. Once the plane lands both men go their separate ways and while neither really man really forgets the other they both have their own lives to get back to and are equally surprise a couple of weeks later when their paths cross yet again when they discover that they are living just minutes from each other.
I really loved this story; for me it clicked. While the attraction happened fairly quickly and was easily felt between these two men that didn’t mean that the relationship was instantaneous. For as much as they felt their attraction to each other both men were also hesitant to enter into a relationship because of their own personal demons.
As well as his addiction issues, Jamie is caught up in the grip of OCD and his self esteem is low, to say the least, but he soon finds that being around Marc gives him a sense of peace and grounds him as few if any other things do, so while he kept running from Marc when things got to intense he also kept coming back. Jamie’s convince that the other shoes going to drop and Marc’s going to send him away but until that happens he’s not going to leave permanently.
Marc’s convinced that Jamie’s going to cut and run once he’s had enough of being with a man who’s only got one leg. He’s so conscious of his injury unlike Jamie who sees beyond Marc’s injury to the man and the goodness he contains. To Jamie…Marc is strong, handsome and sexy and so much more than he could ever possibly deserve.
But Marc sees Jamie in such a different light. He sees someone who’s fought in a different type of war and he wants to help Jamie feel good about himself to learn to control the things that are controlling him…he’s a doctor it’s his nature to want o fix things but Jamie’s gotten under his skin in a way that goes beyond simple doctor/patient relationships. He’s coming to care very deeply for the beautiful, damaged young man.
I admit I’m totally a sucker for second chance stories, stories about people who life has repeatedly sucker punched but who have just as repeatedly pulled themselves back up only to keep going, keep trying moving towards their goal of becoming the person they want to be…someone better and stronger than who they were…someone they can be proud of…someone who deserves love and happiness as much an anyone else in this world and that’s what Garrett Leigh writes and writes so incredibly well are stories like this. Stories that remind us that the human spirit is strong and indomitable that giving up should never be a part of anyone’s vocabulary and that everyone is worthy of a second chance at both life and love.
Garrett Leigh is quickly becoming a favorite for me. Without fail I have loved everything that I’ve read by this author so far and while I haven’t read everything that she’s written I’m working on it.
An ARC of ‘Soul to Keep’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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About the author:
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 blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with photographer Dan Burgess.
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