Heart by Garrett Leigh

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Cornish pastry chef Seb Wright dreads the summer tourist season. The cash injection to his artisan fudge pantry is more than welcome, the extra work, less so. Then one summer, a shadowy Good Samaritan catches his eye. Irish Traveller Dex is bewitching, a beautiful sullen enigma who turns Seb’s world upside down until he disappears in the night, vanishing like a mystical summer rain.

Twelve months later Dex is in the midst of a dark storm. A slave to his master, ‘Uncle’ Braden, he spends his days cleaning caravans and his nights working in Braden’s other businesses. His short summer with Seb seems a lifetime ago. Lost in the savage violence of the murky underworld, he doesn’t dare dream he’ll ever find his way back, until one night, a brutal crime opens the door for a chance escape. A new life beckons, old faces emerge, and immersed in the heady vibe of London’s East End, new love begins to heal his fractured heart.


(Sort of spoilery…)

I kept putting this off, not because it’s not a wonderful book, but because it is so… hard.

Seb is a normal guy, he inherits a fudge shop from his grandfather. It’s a bit boring and lonely but he feels obligated to carry it on for his grandfather’s memory. One day he meets Dex.

God. Dex.

Dex is a Traveller (Gypsy) who is being sold as a prostitute by his uncle (and beaten, tortured, etc.). Dex and Seb have one night, a beautiful interlude where Dex learns what love feels like, then Dex disappears.

(There are several chapters here in the middle I skimmed because they were too hard to read. Stories of Dex being abused and used… too much for my sensitive heart.)

Dex manages to escape his uncle and goes into hiding in London, where a kind restaurant owner teaches him the trade and then, as luck would have it, hires Seb to be his pastry chef.

For months Dex and Seb dance around their attraction but when they give in it looks like Dex is really on the road to healing. He’s learning a trade, learning to read, earning money, opening up (a little tiny bit) about his life. When suddenly he is re-captured.


Fortunately, this part of the story is quick and we find Dex in a hospital recovering from wounds and now, finally, he’s free forever of his uncle’s influence.


There is no denying that Garrett Leigh is an amazing writer. Her characters are well developed, her writing flawless, her storylines deeply moving and always able to elicit a deep emotional response.

Though I can’t say I enjoyed this (it was so, so hard to read), I was glad I had. Dex and Seb deserve their very HEA and I was so happy to be part of it.

(Warning some animal abuse mentioned.)

Writing/Editing 5/5
Romance 4/5
Storyline 4/5
World Building Characterization 5/5

Overall 4.5 of 5 hearts



Black John (Johnnies #4) by Amy Lane

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black johnBlurb

John Carey is just out of rehab and dying inside when he gets word that Tory, the guy who loved him and broke him, has removed himself from the world in the most bitter way possible—and left John to clean up his mess.

Forced back to his hometown in Florida, John’s craving a hit with every memory when he meets Tory’s neighbor. Spacey and judgmental, Galen Henderson has been rotting in his crappy apartment since a motorcycle accident robbed him of his mobility, his looks, and his boyfriend all in one mistake. Galen’s been hiding at the bottom of an oxy bottle, but when John shows up, he feels obligated to help wade through the wreckage of Tory’s life.

The last thing John needs is another relationship with an addict, and the last thing Galen wants is a conscience. Both of them are shocked when they find that their battered souls can learn from and heal one another. It doesn’t hurt that they’re both getting a crash course on how growing up and getting past your worst mistakes sure beats the alternative—and that true love is something to fight to keep if your lover is fighting to love you back.


Where to start….
Well, first we all know Johnnies right? – the made up porn studio that introduced us to Chase and Tommy, Dex and Kane, Ethan and Jonah and in a related way, Alejandro and Donny. We LOVE Johnnies. John… we didn’t love so much. He was a coke-head-douche in Dex in Blue and though he had glimmers of the kinda guy Dex might befriend, by the time we actually meet him, he’s gone over the edge.

This is his story.

We start out with John getting out of rehab, he’s still pretty shaky, but determined to stay clean, only to find out that this newly sober John has to fly to Florida (across the world practically) to help clean out the apartment and distribute the remains of his first love, Tory, who has committed suicide.

Uh…Thanks Amy for taking it easy on us. NOT!

Tory and John grew up together, realized they were gay together, started doing porn together but I can’t really say they loved each other because Tory never treated John like someone he loved.

As time passes Tory descends down a spiral of sex and drugs and after several years and three trips to rehab John decides Tory needs to try things on his own, because whatever John is doing, isn’t helping.

Thus the birth of Johnnies.

Flash back to today, John is at Tory’s apartment where he meets the neighbor, Galen. Galen is a lawyer who had a terrible accident three years ago, and has since been caught up in a cycle of depression and pain med addiction.

So… of course John is super attracted to Galen, but really – Can he? Should he? Is it remotely smart for him to take on another addict?


If I were to rank my favorite Johnnies books the order would be Dex, Super Sock Man, Chase, John, Ethan…. Black John is a good book, Amy doesn’t write anything bad. The angst is so painful. Tory hurt John so much. Dex (inadvertently) hurt John so much. But… the one piece I missed with Black John that Chase and Dex and even Super Sock Man had was a bit more of a connection between the lovers.

I loved that John could finally help Galen and that Galen wanted to be strong enough to show John he deserved someone whole. But I didn’t see them as a couple long enough to feel as attached to them as I have in other Amy Lane books.

On the other hand I absolutely loved that we got to see more of Dex and Kane again and I hope to see more in this series — Bobby and Reg perhaps???

Writing/Editing 5

Romance 3.5

Sex/Heat 3.5

Storyline 5

World Building/Characterizations 5

Overall, 4.5 hearts!



The Wrong Man (Right and Wrong #2) by Lane Hayes

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wrong manBlurb

Successful owner of an upscale boutique in fabulous West Hollywood, Brandon Good swears by his personal edict to “live in the present.” After a bad breakup, he agrees to dog-sit to keep his mind off his ex. Never did he expect the dog to belong to a man from his past, the only man to ever truly break his heart.

When Jake Westley relocates to join the WeHo fire department, the last thing he anticipates is reuniting with his secret high school love. Thrilled with the prospect of reconnecting with Bran, Jake feels no guilt in using his charming old dog as an unwitting matchmaker. As he and Bran rekindle their friendship, it becomes clear the intense attraction they once felt is stronger than ever. But as hard as they try to leave the past behind, painful memories resurface. Bran will have to confront his fears and consider the possibility that the man he swore was absolutely the wrong one might be perfect after all.


Jake and Brandon have a past. Jake was Brandon’s closeted high school boyfriend who was too scared to come out back then, so he lost Brandon.

Twelve years later he runs into Brandon again and lots has changed. Brandon is now out and proud, a fireman with a great old dog, and an ex.

Their relationship starts off as friends. Brandon helping Jake with his dog, Mack. Jake helping Bran with his ex, Trevor.

It gets steamy and more involved from there fairly quickly.

But… it’s not that easy. Bran is pretty walled off. He’s been hurt in the past and is unwilling to let anyone in. Jake, however, is more than ready for the challenge.


Oh man. Call me a sucker, but the dog totally did it for me. He was wonderful. He acted as a catalyst for these guys in more ways than one. First, he was the entrée for Jake back into Brandon’s life. Then, he was the four legged chaperone that gave them common ground and an excuse to be together without pressure. Finally, he represented that age old dilemma that to have love, you have to be prepared for potential loss and complications and that nothing great comes without risk.

We get to see the boys from book one, but this is definitely a stand-alone novel. The writing is excellent and the sex is really hot.

Be assured though you may cry anyway, the dog makes it!

I really enjoyed this book and all Lane Hayes novels.

Writing/Editing 5

Romance 4.5

Sex/Heat 4.5

Storyline 4

World Building/Characterizations 5

Overall 4.5 of 5 hearts