Title: Rented Heart
Author: Garrett Leigh
My Rating: A
Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Main Characters: Liam and Zac
Release Date: September 2016
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase:
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.
If I have a weak spot in my m/m tropes, it's definitely for rent boys or porn stars. This book was made even better, because not only does it feature a rent boy, but it also features another angst-filled hero who's husband died. Yeah, there is lots of angst in this one, but honestly, it wasn't as tear filled as Garrett Leigh's normal angst-filled stories are. The angst was there, but it didn't shred the reader to pieces before putting them back together (like a lot of Ms. Leigh's writing tends to do).
Okay, so this book features Zac and Liam. Liam is the CEO of a company that he started with his husband who died two years ago. Although he doesn't take any joy from the company anymore, he is continuing on with the vision that his husband started. I loved the premise of this company and how family/employee oriented it was...above profits. I know this is a fictional book, but gah...if only there were companies out there like this. I loved what Liam and his husband, Cody, built.
For the past two years, Liam has simply survived. He lives day by day, but it's a hollow life...and he hasn't had sex since his husband died. A mate pulled him out to a club one night and he was outside trying to sober up when he met Zac. For Liam, meeting an attractive rent-boy is perfect. He's not willing to emotionally separate from his dead husband, so just-sex-no-strings-attached is perfect for him. But the sex turns out to be phenomenal for both him and Zac...and the story develops from there.
I liked this story and how realistic it felt. When Zac and Liam meet, it's a business transaction. Yes, there are a few other moments of more, but it's certainly not a life-changing thing...at first. Zac still has to go home and figure out how to pay the rent and deal with the fears attached to his junkie best friend. Zac's life has NEVER been one where happiness was involved, so his moments with Liam are respite. But they're that way for Liam, too. When he's with Zac he feels again...alive.
I really liked the story and thought it was really amazingly well-written. It's not all rainbows and hearts...not at all. That's not the kind of story that Garrett Leigh writes, but it is a romance that's believable and heartbreaking at the same time it is gorgeous. From the moment I started reading it, I didn't set it down. It was just really good.
Reader warning...Zac is a rent boy simply trying to survive, and this is a fairly realistic book. As such, he doesn't stop working after becoming involved with Liam. I'll admit, normally that would bother me...at least on some level. But the way that the author wrote it was brilliant. I never felt uncomfortable with it at all (besides hating it for Zac). But I do know that can be a trigger for some people, so just know that it is in there.
Please, please, please let Garrett Leigh be writing Jamie's book sometime soon, too. I want him to be happy.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.