Melissa reviews Soul to Keep (Rented Heart #2) by Garrett Leigh published April 2nd 2018 by Fox Love Press, 239 pages.
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.
A complimentary copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I have been looking forward to this book since I met Jamie in Rented Heart. I loved Rented Heart (see my review here), and my heart ached for Jamie – he was such a lost soul. But I knew if Garrett Leigh couldn’t bring Jamie back from the brink, nobody could.
What a story! If you are not familiar with Garrett’s writing, you should know this is not a hearts and flowers, sunshine and rainbows journey. It’s going to be hard and sometimes dark, the characters are going to work hard for their happiness. Soul to Keep isn’t as dark and depressing as Rented Heart, in my opinion, but it’s no walk in the park either.
Since I don’t want to spoil Rented Heart for those who haven’t read it yet, I will simply say Jamie had it rough and he is lucky to be alive today. If it had not been for his friend Zac, and then Zac’s BF Liam, Jamie would be lost to us. But now Jamie is one year sober/clean and he is ready to move forward, even if he doesn’t know what direction forward is.
I do need to put a bit of warning here before I go into the rest of the story because Jamie and Marc’s relationship starts quickly. They meet on a plane, then run into each at the hospital, and they feel a connection with each other. They both feel better when they are with the other, and while at first Jamie is afraid to believe he deserves anything good (and he’s afraid he will hurt Marc in the end), he somehow knows Marc is good for him. I am not a fan of the “insta-love” trope, and I did bring out my squinty eye here, but I also enjoyed seeing Jamie happy. I did feel their relationship was rushed particularly because Jamie is still recovering and getting his feet sturdy under him, and Marc isn’t exactly stable himself. They both have issues and I felt they were looking for the other to “heal” them. This did bother me, but at the same time I brushed it away because I loved these characters so much.
There is a lot on page showing Jamie’s struggles with staying clean, his OCD, self doubt and a deluge of other things. It was hard to see this but I also saw he was determined. He went to his meetings and didn’t hide (much). There are rough moments for Jamie, especially between him and Marc. Marc is struggling to allow himself to be weak, or to at least show weakness. Since he lost his leg, he has kept pushing himself. He knows his limits, but doesn’t like to admit them. I thought it was extremely touching to see his trust in Jamie grow so much that he could let Jamie help him. They took care of each other, and that is always a good things.
Something else fans of Garrett Leigh’s will enjoy is she brings back characters from Between Ghosts, Connor & Nat. I’ve not read Between Ghosts yet (it’s on my TBR pile) but I didn’t need to to enjoy seeing them. I loved seeing these men and how they interacted with Marc and Jamie. Reading Soul to Keep certainly bumped this one up the list to read asap. 🙂
Overall I really, really enjoyed this story and do recommend. 4.5 stars/9 pots!
P.S. The epilogue was sweet and set one year in the future. We get to see Zac again!! I don’t think this will be the last we see of these characters, and based on the ending, I have a feeling I know who the next story will be about. Time will tell. 😉
Where to buy: Amazon
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, 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 blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.