Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Brix Lusmoore can hardly believe his eyes when he spots one of his oldest friends outside Truro station. He hasn’t seen Calum since he fled the capital himself four years ago, harbouring a life-changing secret. But despite the years of silence, their old bond remains, warm and true—and layered with simmering heat they’ve never forgotten.
Calum takes refuge with Brix and a job at his Porthkennack tattoo shop. Bit by bit, he rebuilds his life, but both men carry the ghosts of the past, and it will take more than a rekindled friendship and the magic of the Cornish coast to chase them away.
There’s a phrase that get’s uttered here whenever Brix or someone feels that a person has been charmed or perhaps conned even by a Lusmoore’s abilities to sway you over, they say “you’ve been Lusmoored”. That I have by this place and people, this story. Everything about Garrett Leigh’s House of Cards resonates with me. From the cornish seaside town of Porthkennack (mythically created for this series yet so believably alive), the harsh sea that calls to the residents, bringing them home, the characters Leigh created that I’ll not forget, or their love story that I’ll soon return to, House of Cards is one of those stories that I’ll always love.
In Calum Hardy and Brix Lusmoore, Leigh has created two damaged men that life tore apart and now ten years later throws back together just when each will need them the most. On the surface, it’s Calum, so desperate for a life raft. The author makes his pain, his feelings of low or no self esteem vivid, his vulnerability real and aching. Years of domestic abuse under the influence of his bullying, dominant boyfriend has reduced him to the point he’s turned everything over to him, finances, beloved tattoo shop…life choices to the event that breaks him and sends him fleeing. Garrett has us with him every step of the way.
Switching perspectives, we get Brix Lusmoore, in demand tattoo artist and owner of his own shop in the village. Brix is as full of complexities as they come, with the depth of the sea behind him. I adore this man and his family. The Lusmoores are an ancient Cornish family, their roots almost as old as the island rocks, some still carrying on the old ways that have served them so well in the past, ways not terribly legal. It’s a fine line that Brix walks here with them. Then there are the chooks, the rescue hens that are a vital element for the story and a tie for the villagers too. A rescue line that works both ways for more than one person in this story. Brix has his own pain and secrets to reveal as the title of the story indicates.
There is no quick romance here. There can’t be under the circumstances. Both men are too heavily damaged, too much needs to be revealed, too much healing needs to be done. But it happens, quietly, beautifully and as it should.
The writing is so wonderful, the storytelling flows so naturally that it went by far too quickly in my eyes. I could have stayed within this universe, within Porthkennack, helping to rescue more chooks for many more stories. A book you take to heart will make you feel that way. House of Cards is one of those. I highly recommend it!
Cover art by GD Leigh is gorgeous and perfect for the character and setting.
ebook, 249 pages
Published July 17th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleHouse of Cards
ISBN 1626495440 (ISBN13: 9781626495449)