I wasn't going to tackle this series not for any reason in particular just because I have so many books...specifically series on the go right now that I thought I'd try and behave because seriously the books in this series have gotten some really good reviews but I was trying to behave myself and then I saw "House of Cards' by Leigh Garrett...what can I say, willpower...I has none.
Add to this the fact that Calum's last name is 'Hardy' and seriously how could I ignore a book with such an awesome name in it? Well obviously I couldn't.
'House of Cards' was one of those books that grabbed me from the start, as seems to be the case with me and Garrett Leigh stories. First off for me this was not a romance story...it was more...so, so much more. This was friendship, love, second chances, starting over all wrapped up in a beautiful gift of words.
When Calum Hardy's life takes a very rapid nose dive he gets on a train and heads out of London neither knowing nor caring where he's going. When Brix Lusmoore spots a familiar form at Truro station it doesn't really enter his mind not to stop. It's been years since he's seen Calum but he'd know him anywhere. Calum's hit rock bottom both in his life and in the bottle he's been consoling himself with on his train ride to who-know's-where so he's pretty sure he's imagining seeing the friend who disappeared from his life years earlier the friend he's missed every day since.
Brix loads Calum into his van and takes him home but for Brix and Calum this is only the beginning. Both men have a lot to sort out and work through before they can find their way home to each other.
I loved, loved, loved everything about this book...well, everything except Rob and Jordan they can go die in a fire both of them. They are the dickiest of dicks...yep, I hated them both.
Ok enough of that on to better things like Calum. He's so broken seriously, I didn't think a vat of crazy glue was going to put him back together but still there was also such a sweet and decent man there. Thank heavens Brix is better than crazy glue, but sadly he's got his own problems and issues and yet, he's got a strength of character that's amazing. He's a fixer, a nurturer. He takes Calum back into his life and he gives him the a home and the strength to he needs to start rebuilding his life and in doing this he finds the strength to begin fixing his own fragmented life.
As well as Calum and Brix there's a wonderful collection of characters in Porthkanneck who definitely keep life interesting, so needless to say I was more than a little happy to learn that book #6 in the Porthkannek series will be Kim's story. We met him here in 'House of Cards' and I have to admit the blurb for his book promises to be every bit as good as this one.
'House of Cards' is a story that will make you both smile and cry. It will leave you wishing that you could visit this quirky, fictional place where people can nurse their wounds and make themselves whole again and at the end of it all it'll leave you feeling like you went to Porthkanneck without leaving your favorite reading chair.
A copy of 'House of Cards' was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Strays is a sexy little romance with a slight hint of danger. I needed a mini horror break but wasn’t in the mood for hearts and unicorns and this one came through for me.
Nero splits his time working at several restaurants. His life consists of waking, prepping, cooking and sleeping and he likes it that way. He’s grumpy and a workaholic and his routine keeps him from thinking too hard about anything – especially about that awful thing in his past. His grumpiness keeps most people at arm’s length which is just fine by him. When his boss (who he owes) asks him to take in a stray named Lenny his routine is about to get all kinds effed up.
“Keep Lenny close, if you can. Don’t let him be scared.” What the fuck did that mean?
Lenny is on the run from a persistent, super creepy stalker whose last letter to Lenny included Lenny’s own blue painted toe-nail clipping (ugh). The cops won’t help and he has no family support so when his kind boss finds him a safe place to land and a new place to work, he doesn’t turn down the offer. Had he known he was going to be holed up with such a prickly dude he might’ve reconsidered.
As Nero shows him the ropes, the two become friends and Nero (who is bi) finds himself wildly attracted to Lenny and quickly gets used to him being around. Wherever Nero is, Lenny is but their fast friendship and obvious adoration of each other might not last if Nero continues to keep his guard up even when it comes to Lenny. And, of course, there’s that nasty stalker . . .
Lenny is an open book and easily shares his past hurts and life with Nero and finds Nero’s crabbery amusing. He’s vibrant, artistic, sassy and used to be the life of any party. Now he’s afraid to look outside. Nero doesn’t know what to make of him and all of these feelings he’s stirred up.
Nero hung up and stared at his phone screen, wondering why Lenny’s voice twisted his insides so much. He’d started walking again while they’d talked, but he drifted to a stop now, feeling somehow . . . lighter? What the actual fuck? Nero was used to trudging through life under a cloud of temper and sarcasm, his only shield between him and a world that had fucked him over more times than he could count, not spinning giddily because of the way a bloke he hardly knew said his name.
Ah, poor Nero is a goner.
I really enjoyed this book and both of the main characters. Nero is young but very much like a crabby old man and he does not care.
"Sorry I screeched at you.”
“Don’t be. I’m a dick.”
He’s like many people I’ve met in real life and I can easily picture him as an old guy screaming at brats to get the hell off his lawn. His thoughts, his cursing and his whole way of dealing with people were very real and often funny to me. People are annoying and Nero doesn’t hide his annoyance with them. The romance builds naturally out of friendship and doesn’t suffer from the dreaded insta-lust/love thing that drives me insane. Together they are lovely and somehow their very different personalities work together.
This is book 2 in the "Urban Soul" series and there are appearances by characters from a previous book but it stood on its own just fine. I hate mid-series books that don’t make sense unless you’ve read them all and this isn’t one of them.
I may even seek out the first book now.
'Strays' is the second book in Garrett Leigh's 'Urban Soul' series and while it was very different from the first book it was every bit as good. You could probably read either of these books as stand-alones but seriously? Do you want to miss out on any of the yumminess that is 'Urban Soul'? No, trust me you don't.
Nero is Urban Soul's main chef and he's Cass's best friend. He's been with the company for years and when Cass calls him and ask him to take on an apprentice, saying no isn't even a consideration in his eyes. What he doesn't count on is his apprentice being a beautiful young man that stirs feelings in him that he'd long ago abandoned.
Lenny's scared and he quickly realizes that when he's with Nero, he feels safe. These men are drawn to each other but for their own reasons they're also hesitant to act on their mutual attraction.
Because of his past Nero's sure that love and happiness are not for him. He doesn't deserve them. Lenny's running and hiding from a stalker and he's living under a dark cloud that leaves him too afraid of hoping for anything.
It takes time and being together constantly to wear away at the barriers these two men are hiding behind. When Lenny's circumstances change he starts to reach out and try to build something with Nero but Nero's walls are high and they're solid. Lenny's got his work cut out for him...
"What do you want me to say?"
"I don't care, but don't ever say nothing, Nero. Silence is too loud."
Still talking and opening up doesn't seem to be in the cards with Nero and Lenny is left wondering how they'll ever be able to make things work and how could he possibly leave when Nero keeps asking him to stay...
"...Because as addictive as the warmth of Nero's embrace had become, what did it mean if his arms were those of a stranger?"
It's a slow burn between these two and sometimes it feels like one step forward and ten steps back but little by little Lenny starts to break through and Nero slowly realizes that he needs to open up and share some of himself with Lenny. If he wants them to have a future together...
"I get that, 'cause I feel the same in reverse, I s'pose. I'd forgotten how to see colour before you came along and trashed my living room. You even brightened up my food."
Hey, come on now that's some poetry right there coming from a chef. Plus once you get reading this book you realize it's a very Nero statement.
In a nutshell these two men have embedded themselves in my heart. I loved them. Every moment spent in their world felt real. There was love and warmth and laughter but there were also moments of heartache, frustration, anger and uncertainty.
In the background of all this we are given moments of Tom, Cass and Jake. It was so awesome to have these three back even the little bit that we got was enough to make me smile and just like in the end of 'Misfits' we were gifted with another Urban Soul restaurant this one was called 'The Stray Tiger' and it specializes in pizza...seriously PIZZA!!! I feel like I'm being teased here because damn! gourmet pizza is totally one of my favorite food groups and I love tigers...they're a close second...ok, third to dragons and panthers...I want to go eat at an Urban Soul restaurant really these places sound incredible so...who wants to join me?
An ARC of "Strays" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.