Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Recovering addict Jamie Yorke has returned to England from California. With no home or family to speak of, he sticks a pin in a map and finds a small town in the Derbyshire Peak District. Matlock Bath is a quiet place—he just needs to get there, keep his head down, and stay clean. Simple, right? Until a chance meeting on the flight home alters the course of his so-called life forever.
Ex-Army medic Marc Ramsey is recovering from life-changing combat injuries while pulling nights as a trauma specialist at th
e local hospital. Keeping busy is a habit he can’t quit, but when Jamie—so wild and beautiful—bursts into his life, working himself into the ground isn’t as compelling as it used to be.
Marc falls hard, but chaos lurks behind Jamie’s fragile facade. He’s winning his battle against addiction, but another old foe is slowly consuming him. Both men have weathered many storms, but the path to the peace they deserve might prove the roughest ride yet.
Soul to Keep by Garrett Leigh literally brings together two wounded men. One who’s back is a mass of scars, courtesy of a bad location for a ketamine binge and the other man’s is a ex Army and amputee, the loss received from a blast during his tour. It’s the second in her Rented Hearts series and features a character we’ve met before, Jamie Yorke.
As the story opens Jamie is a recovering addict returning home to England after spending a year in rehab in California. A pin in a map sends him to Matlock Bath and a new start. However a chance meeting on a airplane with Marc Ramsey who comforts a frightened Jamie during a turbulent patch forms a tenuous bond even before Jamie lands.
Garrett Leigh is wonderful with hurt/comfort stories and wounded to the soul characters. Soul to Keep is all of that. Jamie is fighting more than just substance abuse issues. He has undiagnosed mental health issues in the form of OCD and his inability to deal with that has driven him to abuse other substances. Plus there’s his past as a rental boy and bad family life. All of which the author lets us understand by bringing us into Jamie’s mindset. It’s a labyrinthine complex of pain, needs, intelligence, and the search for love. Jamie is trying to find his way and you are with him, hoping he will too.
Marc has other sorts of pain. Ex-Army, he’s a doctor with a specialty in emergency surgery. His experience came on tour. When he meets Jamie, something in Jamie, the need to help as well as being attracted to him, forms a bond that asserts itself when they meet up again. While, it happens quickly, Leigh somehow makes it a relationship where Marc and Jamie’s needs and wants mesh, that they recognize something in each other that pulls them close.
It’s not an easy relationship. It can’t be given these individuals and perhaps the story could have used additional length to strengthen their ties, especially given the severity of the issues being dealt with (Jamie’s OCD). Highlighted here is also the difference between the American health system and the British one. At least in the length of time it takes to get appointments and such. I already was aware of the as we have friends in the UK, but that point is made here as it takes Marc pulling strings to get Jamie an appointment with a doctor.
All else involved, I was completely caught up in this romance and the establishment of their relationship. I loved the epilogue at the end where we got to see the first couple again as well. Rented Hearts is turning out to be a terrific series and I can’t wait to see where it goes next. I definitely recommend Soul to Keep by Garrett Leigh and both Rented Hearts stories.
Cover art by Garrett Leigh is just what I would expect of the character and story.
ebook, 239 pages
Published April 2nd 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title Soul to Keep (A Rented Heart Novel)
ISBN 1626496889 (ISBN13: 9781626496880)
Series Rented Heart #2