Saturday, May 3, 2014

Only Love by Garrett Leigh

Title: Only Love
Author: Garrett Leigh
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: -
Main Characters: Jed and Max
Release Date: April 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
The diagnosis of a chronic stomach condition leaves thirty-two-year-old Sergeant Jed Cooper with little choice but to call time on his Army career. Then on the dusty streets of Kirkuk, an ambush gone tragically wrong decimates his team, and he returns to the US with a shattered leg and the memory of his best friend dying in his arms.

Life in his sleepy hometown proves intolerable until he finds solace in a lakeside cabin with vivacious young carpenter, Max O’Dair. In the shadow of the epilepsy that periodically plagues Max, he and Jed form an unspoken bond. After a late night episode, Jed realizes how much Max means to him, and life has taught him not to waste time.

But the lines between contentment and complacency are blurred. Things left hidden resurface to tear through their world, and before they can repair the damage, death comes to call again. Faces, past and present, rally around them to weather the storm, but before long, they are left with only love.

My Review:
It's rare for me to read a book the same day that I buy it just because I have so many books in my TBR list, but Garrett Leigh is quickly becoming one of "those" authors for me. Auto-buy and then drop everything to read it NOW. I did that with this one and then stayed up WAY too late devouring every word in it. 

Jed is the typical alpha tough guy, but this is a person who is so wounded. He had a horrible childhood/teenage years which culminated with him getting thrown out when it was discovered he was gay. He hasn't been back since, but when he gets hurt on active duty and discharged, there was nowhere else for him to go. So he goes home with his younger brother who he hasn't talked to in 14 years. There are all kinds of issues within that dynamic, but at the heart is a good thing...because he meets Max and truly finds a sort of happiness for the first time ever. But it is certainly not without trials to get there.

This was an interesting book just because both the main characters have so many physical issues going on. Max has really bad epilepsy and Jed just came back from active duty injured and with his a chronic intestinal disease. It doesn't take much for either one of them to end up in real trouble physically. So in this book  there was a third character who was vital. Max has a dog, Flo, who's always been there to help him when he has an episode. She can always keep track of when things are about to go south for him in a really bad way. But she also began doing this for Jed. She'd hover over him when he began to get sick. It was one of those little details I loved...mainly because no one really knows how bad off Jed truly is. He keeps everything inside when he's hurting.

Jed is a former spec forces guy and he has all the scars, both mental and physical to go with that. Their last mission, when they were all on the cusp of finished with everything, went south in a very big way. Hardly any of his team made it out. The story of who his team was plays out alongside the present day romance, but the military story is done in flashbacks throughout the book. He lost the only other person who he's truly ever let himself get close to. That story with Paul was interesting and overall, I enjoyed it. I wish that his feelings had been a little more fleshed out in the end after he got the letter, but I did like that twist in the story. 

I loved Max and Jed together. Yes, they are a mess physically, but they do well together as a team to watch out for each other. Max is used to people reacting negatively to his minor episodes, which are pretty common for him. Jed doesn't react at all. He just makes sure that Max isn't falling into a bigger issue. Jed knows how to stay calm under intense pressure so he handles Max's episodes brilliantly. Then there is Jed's issue of his stomach. Max isn't even truly aware of it, but Max is a health-food, healthy eating nut and that is so much better for Jed. Max is also a natural care-giver and stays on top of Jed's eating, pushing food on him when he needs it. Because Jed's stomach is so messed up, it's much easier for him to ignore his hunger, but Max eases that. 

This is a book that has a lot of deep emotion (hello, it's a Garrett Leigh story), but the way this one was written meant that it didn't totally shred me and feeling drained after reading it. It's constructed really well to keep you engaged, but not completely emotionally wrung out when it's all over. I liked it. I liked the military aspect of the story. I enjoyed the fact that these guys had to overcome such hard physical odds. It's good and I definitely recommend it. 

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