Erryn reviews ‘Rented Heart (Rented Hearts Book 1)’ by Garrett Leigh. The ebook was published March 22, 2018 and is 222 pages. The audiobook was narrated by Dan Calley. It was released April 6, 2020 and is 5 hrs and 42 mins long. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I loved Garrett Leigh books narrated by Dan Calley.
LAMBDA Finalist 2017
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.
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Being a rentboy and a former drug addict isn’t easy. Zac uses his body to survive, never turning down an opportunity to sell himself to make rent or buy food. He’s eking by, has a small pot of savings, and does his best to live with himself. He’s suffered and has pulled himself together. Now only if his flatmate Jamie could do the same thing. While Zac has overcome the drug addiction, Jamie is in the grips of it and that destructive spiral winds up pulling Zac into a world of hurt.
When Zac spots Liam, he sees a mark. An attractive guy who might be up for a good time. He didn’t foresee that Liam would be a great guy who wants to help Zac. Shades of Pretty Woman anyone? But it’s a classic tale for a reason – hooker with a heart of gold. My god, did I empathize with Zac. He’s doing what he has to in order to survive and here some guy shows up and offers to help him. Zac could use Liam’s money, sure, but that comes with a different price – he just might lose his heart.
I admit to sniffing a few times in this book. It hit me square in the heart. And as much as I felt I understood Zac, Liam was the character I think I was most drawn to. His loneliness. His big heart. His ailing father. Although I’ve never lost a partner in the way he did, I’ve endured that kind of loneliness. He has his dogs and his work and his family, but there’s still a gaping hole. A hole Zac can fill.
Having listened to a number of Garrett Leigh books, I’d known I would be challenged and I was. It was easy to have sympathy for Jamie who was in the throes of addiction or for Zac who faced some tough choices or Liam who wasn’t sure he could love again. I got my happy ending and have discovered there’s a second book centring on Jamie so I can’t wait to listen to that one.
Since this was an audio, I have to mention Dan Calley. He’s narrated a pile of Ms. Leigh’s books and he’s a great fit. He has a voice made for these characters and he enhanced the story, making it even better. So well done and I can’t wait to listen to the next one.
10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, 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.