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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.
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.)
World Building Characterization 5/5
Overall 4.5 of 5 hearts