Monday, July 18, 2016

What Remains by Garrett Leigh

Web designer Jodi Peters is a solitary creature. Lunch twice a week with his ex-girlfriend-turned-BFF and the occasional messy venture to a dodgy gay bar is all the company he needs, right?

Then one night he stumbles across newly divorced firefighter Rupert O’Neil. Rupert is lost and lonely, but just about the sweetest bloke Jodi has ever known. Add in the heady current between them, and Jodi can’t help falling hard in love. He offers Rupert a home within the walls of his cosy Tottenham flat—a sanctuary to nurture their own brand of family—and for four blissful years, life is never sweeter.

Until a cruel twist of fate snatches it all away. A moment of distraction leaves Jodi fighting for a life he can’t remember and shatters Rupert’s heart. Jodi doesn’t know him—or want to. With little left of the man he adores, Rupert must cling to what remains of his shaky faith and pray that Jodi can learn to love him again.

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Riptide  Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

5 Emotional Roller Coaster Stars.

Garrett Leigh is a new-to-me author, and I found her writing style fluid, with true-to-life emotions, and an engaging pacing. I was clicking the pages at a rapid rate, yet not wanting the book to end.

Rupert and Jodi have been together for 5 years when a devastating event rocks their entire world. In the beginning, the reader is thrust into an already committed relationship, then the event happens. While Rupert is beside himself with grief at Jodi's bedside, the narration goes 5 years into the past to show how it all began. Then, once Jodi returns home, the couple have to rebuild their life from scratch.

Truly, I give the author mad props on how the story evolved, creating a solid foundation while showing us the past, recent past, and the current time, weaving it all together in a heart-wrenching read. I respect the author for showing the darker nature of overcoming an accident, and for not erasing it all by having Jodi be 100% in the blink of an eye, if ever. The realism is what kept me engaged.

Recommended for MM romance fans who want a character-driven read, showing real struggles of everyday people. No bells and whistles, stereotypes, smexy on every other page, forced romance or comedy, or overused tropes – just solid character development and storytelling, with a realistic bond between the cast of characters.

What a powerful, thoughtful story. I was totally engrossed from the beginning and loved how the story was recounted. Initially going backwards and forwards, revealing the passion, love and habits of these two very normal men, to life after disaster strikes. Everything ripped away. Some really powerful lines, and wonderful revelations, I was anxious, optimistic, and compelled to read on, until I had answers.

I love it when a love story is pinned around an unusual and thought-provoking way, and this certainly achieved that. It is subtle, carefully timed, and wonderfully understated – all things which make it much more powerful. Their coming together is beautiful, romantic, and hot, hot, hot. Their journey through the hell that befalls them, is pure devotion and endurance. I shall think about, and talk about this book for a very long time. Thank you!

What Remains may be only the third book I have read by Garrett Leigh, but I am still in awe of the author’s ability to suck me into a story so fully. It’s not just that the author creates believable characters and weaves heartbreaking and compelling romances that feel real to me, but that she does so using settings that I don’t, as a rule, read (war zones) or uses storytelling techniques the I don’t typically enjoy (switching between the present and the past). It is the latter that takes place in What Remains and Leigh’s transitions between the present, the near past, and the farther past, work beautifully in this tale that broke my heart, made me cry, and ultimately gave me an even better ending than I envisioned.

The Prologue gives us a brief glimpse into the relationship between Jodi and Rupert and it’s just enough for us to know that the men are in a loving and committed relationship, and have no problem communicating their feelings with one another. We then move forward two days to discover that Jodi is in the hospital in a coma, and while Rupert is at his bedside waiting for him to wake up, the reader takes the first trip to the past to see how they met. The story continues on this way, moving from the present, with Jodi in the hospital, to the past, seeing how the relationship developed between the two men. As I said, this isn’t a technique I enjoy reading often because I’ve encountered too many authors who cannot do it successfully. However, Leigh is not among that group and as I watched Rupert suffer in the present, waiting for Jodi to wake, I felt his pain even as I watched his past with Jodi unfold as he came to terms with his sexuality and fell in love with the man. Of course, when Jodi wakes from the coma, the first thought is that things will finally get better for both men. But it becomes apparent all too quickly that their true trials are just beginning because Jodi’s amnesia has stolen more than just Rupert from his memory. As Jodi struggles to recover his memories and physical abilities, Rupert struggles to keep his heart from breaking permanently with each reminder that Jodi no longer knows who they were to one another.

I love how Leigh’s storytelling had me connecting with both characters. I felt Jodi’s frustration and helplessness as he tried to resume a life when so much of his memory was missing, knowing that his close friends know things about him that he does not but can’t reveal to him because of the doctors’ warnings, and floundering as he tries to find his place in the world again. At the same time, I connected with Rupert’s fear as Jodi laid in the hospital, his devastation when the extent of Jodi’s amnesia was discovered, and the heartbreak he experienced each time Jodi failed to remember what they had. For me, Rupert’s pain and disappointment was compounded each time we saw more of their past, how they fell in love and became a family. Seeing the full extent of what it was that Rupert lost, and coming to understand that Rupert was going to remain by Jodi’s side as long as Jodi would let him, even as Rupert accepted that Jodi was never going to remember what they had, ripped my heart out. Even as I accepted that Leigh would find a way for everything to turn out as it should, I was not prepared for the ending to be all that it was. It certainly made the tears I shed well worth the book hangover I was sporting. What Remains is another excellent read from Garrett Leigh and has left me wanting to explore more of her writing.

Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.

Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors. For cover art info, please visit

Connect with Garrett

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Google+  ~  Blog  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of What Remains by Garrett Leigh to read and review.

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