Author: Garrett Leigh
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: G. D. Leigh
Rating: 3.50 of 5 Stars
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.
Atmosphere isn’t just physical description but how characters behave within it. From page one, Leigh shows why she’s so good at this. I wanted to be in Padstow.
Seb and Dex. Their stories start out separately, odd and local like so many things in life. My curiosity yawned awake and took notice. What was coming down the road for these two? Which road would it be? Where?
Something else Leigh does very well is letting us in on the intimacy her characters share. The heat, the passion and need. Emotion is tangled up in her sex scenes, making them feel real, imperfect and warm.
The first few chapters are from Seb’s point of view, while the next few are from Dex’s. Seb’s are well paced, while Dex’s lost a bit of that forward movement and tension. Dex’s past is incredibly difficult to read (no problem there, you know I like and can handle darkness) but it’s clothed in the whole abused young man who needs to be saved by a lonely slightly older guy (at least the older guy sees it like that), which takes something away from the intensity. For me, it’s an overused and thinly veiled plot device.
To follow up, there are very emotionally difficult subjects included in this story. Important subjects. Riding along next to those is the story of two people encountering something (each other) wholly unexpected and discovering what it means for their lives. They can not only coexist but augment each other, these two major aspects of a story, but each one needs to have more than what is offered here in order to make it all work. Instead, a lot of this feels like emotional vignettes strung together, making it a challenge to connect to all of it. I made some connections, especially with the characters, but it ebbed and flowed instead of remaining steady, consistent. The minor time jumps – whether a day, a week, a few months – probably added to this uneven mix of magical moments and overexposed suffering.
There are definitely emotional, humorous and incredibly hot and intimate scenes in this story. Each time I read one of those scenes, it was like getting a fresh glass of the best raspberry lemonade, only to have it go a bit bland during the next transition. The thread binding all of these scenes together felt thin sometimes. Despite this, it was very easy to see how much heart was put into this story, how important it is, to what depths the author must have gone in order to portray a lot of it.
Luckily, things picked up, my interest reawakening. We were getting to the meaty stuff. It took nearly half the story to get there, but we’d arrived. Seb and Dex allow more of themselves to be revealed, to us and to each other.
The closing third of the story was sort of predictable, though it did tie some things together, if a bit too perfectly. If the story had been made of more, if Seb and Dex had been given more time together, I may have felt more invested and therefore more impacted by these events. More.
This is a well written story, just not a sock-knocker-offer for me. It felt like it couldn’t decide between being an exploration of serious subject matter or two people working their way through those very subjects. As I said above, you can have both, undoubtedly, in a single story. It just feels like this was somewhat shortchanged in that attempt.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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