Friday, July 10, 2020

Redemption by Garrett Leigh Blog Tour

Reformed gangster Luis falls hard for his boss. When friendship turns to love, it’s up to Paolo to convince him second chances are worth the pain.

Luis Pope is back on the street after a six year stretch in prison, but life on the outside seems just out of reach, especially when the whole neighbourhood knows his face for all the wrong reasons.

Paolo’s temper makes it hard to keep staff, and he knows Luis’s rep all too well. But his nonno believes in redemption, and Luis isn’t the tough guy Paolo remembers. Prison has left its mark, inside and out, and all the kindness in the world can’t fix the three inch scar on Luis’s skull.

And it can’t keep ghosts locked up. Luis’s the best worker Paolo’s ever had, and Luis’s happier than he’s ever been. But his old life doesn’t want to stay in the past. Trouble comes to call, and when it makes him an offer he can’t refuse, keeping Paolo safe hurts the most.

Redemption is an angsty, standalone MM romance novel, with second chances, found family, friends-to-lovers, and buckets of hurt/comfort themed loveliness.

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
~  Also Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Redemption is a story of just that. Luis Pope is doing his hardest to keep to the straight and narrow, avoiding a life he was born into yet never wanted. He wants nothing to do with the gang his elder brother heads, especially since he was the reason Luis was sent to prison in the first place.

Paolo runs a multi-generational diner, while footing the bill for two separate care homes for the grandparents that raised him. He's a one-man show, needing help at the diner. In walks Louis Pope, his reputation proceeding him.

Paolo and Luis grew up in the same neighborhood, went to the same school, and were even in the same grade year, but Luis doesn't remember Paolo because he ran in his brother's circles. Their first few meetings, Paolo remembers the old Luis and judges him accordingly.

A story of redemption, based on a slow-building friendship turned lust turned romance, while Luis fights the demons of the past as they try to call him home.

There's a dark depressive air to the story, the pacing on a slower side, the scenes not exactly exciting, because the story is based on character-building and the evolution of their relationship. Done realistically, with actions and reactions based on human nature. An engaging tale of redemption.

While I was invested in the story, as well as with Paolo and Luis, I wasn't necessarily entertained. It had all the right pieces, but it just didn't connect with me. I felt disconnected emotionally with both Paolo and Luis, even with the grandparents, the brother, and the fear of losing everything Luis loved. The only emotional connection I truly felt was between the brothers. While I got it 'on paper,' I didn't feel the lust, love, romance, or connection, and not because their character traits didn't resonate within me. I can't explain it – everything was there, in all the right places, but I just didn't connect.

Highly recommended to fans of Garrett Leigh, contemporary MM romance that focuses on real world issues, and slow-burn romance.

This is the dark and gritty story of a former gangster attempting to start a new life after his release from prison. Louis flounders until he meets Paolo, who reluctantly offers him a job in his cafe.

This is one of Garrett Leigh’s darker books – and most of her books are pretty gritty. Set in London’s grimy underbelly, this story feels miles away from the hipster eateries in the Urban Soul series. The odds of Louis surviving life after prison without returning to his brother’s gang are pretty slim and Louis doesn’t hold out much hope for himself. And while Paolo manages to offer Louis a lifeline, he is trapped by his own family responsibilities.

I enjoyed this book but I didn’t love it the way I have loved so many of Leigh’s books. As a reader, I felt quite detached from Louis and Paolo’s struggles and much of the book feels like social commentary – not a love story. Louis’ impossible options feel similar to those of Ken Loach’s Daniel Blake, but the social observations sit uneasily in romance novel format. The issues raised in the book are important, but I feel Leigh focuses too much on situations and experiences without quite fully capturing Louis and Paolo themselves. Neither Louis nor Paolo really came alive for me in the way I expect from Leigh’s best writing.

I wanted to like this book. I'm a fan of the author. I wanted to love Luis and Paolo. I found myself bored. I couldn't make a connection with any of the characters. I found myself skimming at times, hoping this would click and get better for me, but they didn't. This was a story about redemption, second chances, a friendship turned to lust then a relationship. I'm sure others will enjoy this book, but it just didn't work for me.

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer.

Garrett's debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.

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, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at
Black Jazz Design, and co-owns the specialist stock site M O O N Stock Photography with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.

Connect with Garrett

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Blog  ~  Goodreads
Garrett’s Den Facebook Group

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Redemption (Darkest Skies #1) by Garrett Leigh to read and review for this tour.

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