Title: Rented Heart
Author: Garrett Leigh
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 222 Pages
At a Glance: There was, as usual, a pretty perfect balance of tension, romance, and drama.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: 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.
Review: Let me just start off by saying this…I read this book in one day. That statement alone is often enough of an endorsement to get me to pick up a book. If someone whose opinion I trust says, “I couldn’t put this book down,” that’s a pretty good indicator that it’s going to be a good read. So, yeah—I read it in one day, couldn’t put it down, and didn’t want it to end. ‘Nuff said? Ha! I know it may be for some of you…but, I’m gonna tell you more anyway!
I love the way the characters sort of slowly reveal themselves to us in this one. We meet Zac when he is looking for a mark at a gay club in King’s Lynn, the small coastal town he has moved to, along with his best mate, Jamie, in order to escape his life in London. Zac finds his mark in Liam, a man he immediately feels a spark with but whose underlying sadness he can’t quite put a finger on. It turns out that the past Zac is running from is addiction, but it’s kept uncomfortably close because of Jamie’s continued using. And, we learn that Liam is guarded and keeps to himself because a year ago both his life and business were turned upside down by the loss of his partner, Cory, and he is still very much processing that grief.
Each man gets under the other’s skin, though, and they soon find that neither one of them feels the hooker/john construct has ever defined their interactions, nor do they want it to.
“I’m going to call you Zac,” Liam said. “I don’t care if it’s not even your real name, I’m never going to call you a bloody whore.”
I adored everything about Liam. I love the whole surfer/hippie/eco-warrior aesthetic that he and Cory modeled their business after, and I completely loved his gentle spirit and kindness. I also liked how his relationships with his twin sister and the rest of his family, as well as his employees, helped tell the tale of the kind of man he was. And, it wasn’t hard to see why he was so taken with Zac. Even though Zac has already lived an incredibly hard life in his twenty-one years, he is clearly a good soul. Obviously being a hooker isn’t anyone’s dream, but Zac holds his head high, does what he has to do to get by and take care of himself and Jamie. He isn’t apologetic about who he is, but it is also plain that he wants more for himself. He hangs on to the little hints that Liam might just see him as more, and I loved the moment in the book where they redefine their relationship and take the money out of the equation.
There was, as usual, a pretty perfect balance of tension, romance, and drama. I did see the first main conflict in the story coming from a mile away, but it didn’t take anything away from the reading experience at all. The drama was realistic and well-written, and didn’t drag on unnecessarily. In fact, the tension and then the resolution in the last few chapters were really good, and the epilogue was so, so lovely.
Rented Heart is the fourteenth story I’ve read by Garrett Leigh—perhaps the most I’ve read by any author—and she never fails to make me feel, make me think, make me laugh, and often even make me cry. It’s that consistency, just her rock solid storytelling and talent for writing characters, that never fail to draw me in, that keeps me coming back for more. Many people use the term ‘auto buy’, or refer to their favorite authors as ‘go-to’ authors, and Leigh is certainly that for me. This book is another that I wholeheartedly recommend. Go grab it, guys! But, make sure you have a chunk of time set aside—because you probably won’t want to put it down either!
You can buy Rented Heart here: