Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Teen best friends Will and Jake have shared everything together for as long as they can remember, and Will has loved Jack from the moment he realized he was attracted to men. But not only is Jack straight, he’s not staying in the area after they graduate high school. Jack is taking his love of music on the road, having secured a DJ job in Ibiza, while Will is heading to university to get the degree he needs for his design career.
Just before he leaves though, Will and Jack go further than either of them ever intended, and though Will wants to confess his love for his friend, he lets Jack get away without that conversation but regrets it from the day he goes.
Texts, emails, and one visit to Ibiza accompanied by Will’s female roomies and his boyfriend du jour lead to a further divide between the men and misunderstandings can’t be resolved with the distance they maintain. More texts, and Will thinks there might be a chance for them to get together over the holidays, but Jack doesn’t stay at his parents’ house long enough to fit in a visit to Will, and they’re divided again.
If you like a friends-to-lovers story that is overflowing with angst and miscommunication, this may be the perfect story for you. I enjoyed the characters created by the very talented Garrett Leigh, but I must admit I was a bit lost with the music references, a fact I attribute to my age and lack of interest in music trends. I also get pretty wound up in anxiety when a couple perpetuates misunderstanding by failure to communicate, so this is not one of my favorites from this author, but it was good, nonetheless. I’d give it 3 stars on its own.
BOOK TWO: Lucky Man by Garrett Leigh
Over ten years have gone by since Will and Jack got together in the first book, and they’re still not living together full time. I found this a bit odd, but the author explains it as the nature of their relationship, so odd or not, it works for them. Jack’s got a place in Nottingham that he shares with Finn McGovern, musician, rock star, and a man who is mentally unstable when his disorder acts up. But that’s not evident when he first meets Danny Jones.
Danny is a vice squad detective, currently leading the investigation into the disappearance, and then murder, of prostitutes. Feeling little more than helpless and hopeless some days, he works extremely long hours, so when his boss forces him to take a day off, he decides to catch some music at a pub he infrequently visits. And there he sees Finn McGovern, not in the persona of the lead singer of the rock band, The Lamps, instead, taking the spotlight with his guitar, playing and singing a variety of songs from multiple decades and multiple genres. When Finn catches his eye across the room, Danny is hooked.
Their relationship is tumultuous from then on, not because of any outright hostility, but because Danny can’t commit the time and energy Finn needs from him to feel safe and loved. Danny knows it, but with his case occupying all his time and more than half of his attention, he starts to wonder if he should commit to Finn. And then Finn shares his secret—his medical disorder—one that can lead him to destroy their relationship and himself if left untreated. That’s not an issue right now as he does get his treatment regularly, but Danny’s reaction is not what Finn hoped for and Finn storms off in a snit.
I enjoyed this story immensely. The author delved deeply into Finn’s personality and his illness and gave good insight to the effect one’s state of mental health can have on every aspect of life. Danny was a difficult character to like, though he wasn’t one I’d outright dislike, he simply was, and because he was so reserved and deadpan, and we spent so much time with him in his professional life, it was difficult to know what was underlying his veneer. Unless, or until, he was with Jack, because that’s when his eyes sparkled, and the smile couldn’t help coming out.
It was a tough story, both on the surface where the murder investigation was going on, and below the surface, where Finn was struggling with his disease, and he and Danny were struggling to cement their fledgling relationship.
We did get to enjoy quite a bit of Jack and his partner, Will, throughout the story, and the balance of the cast of characters was quite diverse and well-developed. If I was planning to rate both stories individually, this one would be at least 4.5 stars.
Getting these two books in a bundle is a treat that should not be missed. Garrett Leigh is an excellent author, and although I didn’t enjoy the first story quite as much as the second, I can definitely recommend this Heated Beat bundle to lovers of MM romance, especially those who enjoy a UK romantic action adventure.
Cover art by Garrett Leigh is a split photo of two young men. The one of the left can be any of three MCs: Jack, Finn, or Will and the one on the right is definitely Danny.
ebook, 240 pages
Published December 5th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
SeriesHeated Beat #1-2