“Everyone breaks a little sometimes. That doesn’t make you weak. It makes you wounded. And I will always be there to help you heal.” – J. Kenner
Title: Only Love
Author: Garrett Leigh
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 275 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: The diagnosis of a chronic stomach condition leaves thirty-two-year-old Sergeant Jed Cooper with little choice but to call time on his Army career
Then on the dusty streets of Kirkuk, an ambush gone tragically wrong decimates his team, and he returns to the US with a shattered leg and the memory of his best friend dying in his arms.
Life in his sleepy hometown proves intolerable until he finds solace in a lakeside cabin with vivacious young carpenter, Max O’Dair. In the shadow of the epilepsy that periodically plagues Max, he and Jed form an unspoken bond. After a late night episode, Jed realizes how much Max means to him, and life has taught him not to waste time.
But the lines between contentment and complacency are blurred. Things left hidden resurface to tear through their world, and before they can repair the damage, death comes to call again. Faces, past and present, rally around them to weather the storm, but before long, they are left with only love.
Review: I want to go on record saying that author Garrett Leigh just keeps turning out work that gets better and better with each new story she unleashes. Only Love pairs up two of her loveliest character to date and leads them on a journey of healing and love that made my heart just melt.
Jed Cooper is a broken, wounded ex-soldier who lives in physical pain his every waking moment. Whether from his shattered leg or his intensely painful stomach disease, Jed is continually tortured by a body that no longer works. When he returns to his birthplace and to a brother who is following in their alcoholic father’s footsteps, he realizes he cannot remain a border in his brother’s home for long despite his desire to get to know his two nieces. His only solution is to move in with his sister-in-law’s brother, Max. Unfortunately, Max also suffers from debilitating epilepsy and short term memory loss. Can these two struggling men reach beyond the physical boundaries their illnesses impose on them and possibly live whole lives? And what about the secrets that each of them hold close that threatens to tear them apart? There is decided attraction between Jed and Max, but only time will tell if love can truly conquer all.
This novel was a life lesson on how to break down the barriers that keep us from allowing people into our lives. Both Jed and Max desire to love someone but neither man is really capable of doing that in his current state. Garrett Leigh allows us to watch as she literally tricks her main characters into loving another person more than they love their secrets and, in fact, their pain. Jed and Max cling to their physical ailments with an almost feverish desire to use them as a shield that will prevent others from getting too close. While Max is the more trusting of the two, he harbors a secret that very well may mean exposing himself to those potentially wanting to end his life. Jed, on the other hand, is grappling with emotions for a fellow soldier whom he watched get gunned down in the line of duty, and whom he loved dearly—perhaps more than a friend should love.
As each man grapples with his demons, Garrett Leigh exposes one raw nerve after another, only to have her men embrace each demon that is revealed with each other’s help. Such a magnificent journey these two men go on. Page after page in this novel, bits and pieces of both Max and Jed are meted out and we slowly put together a back-story that is both horrific and heart rending. The pacing with which the story unfolds, as well as the interspersed flashbacks, are near perfection as the story races to the finish and we slowly fall in love with these two flawed men. Only Love was a poignant story of healing and redemption, and I highly recommend it to you!
Awake & Alive (mini review): Awake and Alive is literally a missing segment from the novel Only Love. Interestingly, I would have never missed this scene due to the fact that Only Love was so well written and felt so complete. Yet, upon reading these few short chapters, I realized how much they added to the moment they expounded in the full length novel. I loved how, in just a few pages, Garrett Leigh was able to give us so much more insight into how both men thought about the near tragic incident that befell Jed in the story. To say much more about this short would be to give away a major plot point from Only Love, so, suffice it to say, this short should be read in tandem with it. I must say it certainly was a well written addendum to the overall novel.
You can buy Only Love here: