Author: Garrett Leigh
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Tired of the London rat race and the heartbreak that comes with it, photographer Jas Manning returns to Porthkennack, the Cornish seaside town where he spent every childhood summer on his father’s farm. Resigned to year-round rain, wind, and homemade jam, he’s sorely unprepared for the impact that artsy carpenter Kim Penrose has on his heart.
Kim’s free-loving reputation precedes him, and he’s as generous with his inked-up body as he is with his time. The sex is hot, the easy friendship even better, and Jas’s time with him building his family’s new farmhouse canteen is everything Jas was missing in his empty city life.
But Kim’s carefree existence isn’t as simple as it appears. He’s worked hard to vanquish his demons and build his dreams, but the devil on his shoulder is ruthless, and when it comes to call, their happy bubble bursts like it was never there at all. The canteen opening looms, but Kim is gone in more ways than one, and it’s down to Jas to shore up Kim’s soul and convince him that he deserves his place in Jas’s heart.
Photographer and web designer Jas Manning returns from London to Porthkennack, the Cornish seaside town where his father and stepmother live on their farm. When he meets Kim Penrose, it’s lust at first sight. The slender, inked man is an artist who crafts furniture and other household items from driftwood and other scrap woods. The two fall into sex together and it’s as hot as they anticipate, but Jas isn’t ready for another relationship and he starts to see Kim as being too good to just use for sex. Having recently broken up with his cheating long-term partner who took Jas’s trust with him, he’s come home to Porthkennack to find some peace. Add to Jas’s respect for Kim the fact that Kim is still close to his ex-wife in an on-again, off-again odd relationship that allows both to be in each other’s space pretty frequently and it’s better for the two men to just be friends.
Kim has his own demons. A recovering alcoholic who falls easily into bouts of depression, especially when things go well, Kim is crazy about Jas and yet continually pushes him away.
The early part of this book was spent establishing this push-pull arrangement, the basics of each man’s psyche, and their attraction to each other despite their conscious efforts to maintain a distance. Emotions obviously win in this case as they decide they can indeed have a “friends-with-benefits” relationship. But then they go on their merry way and don’t hook up at all. They’re “back in the silent phase of (our) never-ending cycle of miscommunication.”
When the author finally brings them together, they each discover in their own way, and in their own time, that theirs is much more than a passing encounter. In Jas’s words: “Falling in love. Because I could love him and he could love me, if only we’d both stop sitting down at the foot of the hill.” They realize are in it for the long haul, and eventually Jas gets to heal his soul from his breakup and Kim finds someone to take care of his “junkyard heart.”
I enjoyed this story right from the start as the author’s writing style and creativity brought the story to life. I’ve also enjoyed this series, penned by various authors, but so far, I think those I’ve enjoyed most have been those written by Garrett Leigh. There’s a lot of character development here and no nasty females or homophobic evil-preacher fathers, both of which seem to be making an appearance in many stories recently. Each character undergoes a period of self-reflection, coming to accept themselves and their life circumstances as they are. And both acknowledge that they will be true to the other, worthy of their trust, as they love each other deeply.
As a bonus to this story, some of the secondary characters include Brix Lusmoore and his lover, Calum Hardy, both of whom appeared in House of Cards.
I recommend this to all lovers of MM romance, especially those who enjoy hurt-comfort and UK-based stories set on the Cornish coast. I always feel transported there when I visit Porthkennack, and I hope others will too. Though the story has a good deal of angst, there’s even more hope to it. Very definitely worth reading.