Melissa reviews Rented Heart by Garrett Leigh published by Riptide Publishing September 12th 2016 228 pages
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.
A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I love Garrett Leigh and after reading What Remains, I jumped at the chance to read this book.
When I saw this book come out by Garrett Leigh, I jumped at the chance to read it. I recently read What Remains and LOVED IT! So I was very excited to read this one. Leigh is an excellent writer, able to create characters that feel real, and make me as the reader feel true emotions – be that fear, compassion, dread, anger or anything in between. And who doesn’t love a modern day MM Pretty Woman?
Possible triggers or turnoffs: This book is about Zac being a hooker – this is how he earns the money to pay for rent, heat, electricity, food, etc. – and while Zac and Liam may feel something for each other, Zac still needs to earn a living and continues to see his other clients even while he sees Liam (we don’t get the blow by blow, but we learn what happens with these other clients; some aren’t perfect.). Liam is fully aware of this fact and while it bothers him (simply because he cares for Zac), neither make any steps to stop it. These facts did NOT stop me from enjoying this story. If anything it made me feel even more compassion for Zac because it’s clear he no longer wanted to be with anyone but Liam. I appreciated the fact that Garrett Leigh decided to show this harsher side to reality; it’s not always Penthouses and shopping sprees on Edward Lewis’ credit card. I mentally pushed Zac to fight that much hard for his HEA.
The blurb is a tad misleading. “Their arrangement quickly becomes too complicated for Zac, who has other things on his mind…” “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.” Liam and Zac’s arrangement isn’t “too” complicated, it’s just “complicated” but both men are willing to sort it out. And Liam does know a little about Zac’s home life, just not the fact that Zac’s flatmate, Jaime, is a drug addict. And Liam is NOT too caught up in his own head to think about anything but shagging Zac. All Liam can think about his trying to save Zac, from hooking, from thinking he’s worthless.
I wasn’t as in love with this story as I was What Remains, but I did like it a lot. Part of my problem is the ending seems to wrap up conveniently and neatly. There were parts that led up to the ending I was easily able to predict, but that’s not what bothered me. It’s what followed that made me squint my eyes a little.
I enjoyed the story, I will read it again, I do recommend you read this book, and I’m sure my feelings won’t be matched by others. The ending didn’t match the beginning of the book. And I am not speaking about the Epilogue – that was AMAZING! This book has a dark theme because it is about drug addiction, hookers and grief; the ending was too pink bow (does that make sense?).
Having said that, I was totally immersed in this story and could not wait to find out how Liam and Zac find each other as more than client/hooker. You are taken on an odd and loving journey that will make your heart ache (if you aren’t made of stone!), want to run out and save EVERYBODY, and give you hope that there are good people out there. I fell in love with these characters and wouldn’t be surprised if a sequel came out about Jaime (he’s a troubled man but has a great heart).
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 renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.