Author: Garrett Leigh
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Type: Standalone Novel
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Cornish pastry chef Seb Wright dreads the summer tourist season. The cash injection to his artisan fudge pantry is more than welcome, the extra work, less so. Then one summer, a shadowy Good Samaritan catches his eye. Irish Traveller Dex is bewitching, a beautiful sullen enigma who turns Seb’s world upside down until he disappears in the night, vanishing like a mystical summer rain.
Twelve months later Dex is in the midst of a dark storm. A slave to his master, ‘Uncle’ Braden, he spends his days cleaning caravans and his nights working in Braden’s other businesses. His short summer with Seb seems a lifetime ago. Lost in the savage violence of the murky underworld, he doesn’t dare dream he’ll ever find his way back, until one night, a brutal crime opens the door for a chance escape. A new life beckons, old faces emerge, and immersed in the heady vibe of London’s East End, new love begins to heal his fractured heart.
Review: True to this authors previous work she will crush you a little. I know going into one of her books to expect an amazing love story about characters that are complex or broken. I know she’s going to write some pretty heavy content that hurts but transports you so completely you feel every minute of it. I’m not one to willingly pick up these types of books but I trust this author to make the payoff worth it. This book was everything I expected. I loved it.
Seb is lonely. He’s working in his the bakery his family left in his care. It’s in a smaller village without a lot of excitement. One day he notices a beautiful young man working on the pier. Seb realizes he’s the type that floats into town a certain time of year. Only to leave after the tourists money leaves town. Sort of like a gypsy stereotype. Seb feels an instant need to help the young man out. What starts out as a friendship turns into more one night. When Seb wakes up Dex is gone. Seb has no idea where he came from or where he’s going. Ending whatever Seb had hoped was blossoming between them.
Dex is summoned back to his awful life of a slave to a local wanna be kingpin of the Travellers. He’s treated horrible and sold as a sex slave to vile men. This is the part of the book that literally made me sick to my stomach. It’s nottoo much to take. Even for a wimp like me. Just know this part of the book hurts. Thankfully it’s not a large section of the book. It does make you understand the world Dex comes from. The reasons for his fears and feelings of being worthless.
Dex eventually finds the nerve to escape and lucks into getting a job at a restaurant in London. Where he hides out while living the most normal life he can remember. Daily meals and a warm bed to lay in at night. Then there’s a new pastry chef hired for the restaurant. Dex is shocked to see it’s his lover from that one night last summer. Seb. Neither man expected to meet again and there are issues to work through but the spark is still there. But the danger of being found and forced back into his old life are always present in Dex’s mind. He’s also afraid of wanting something he can’t have. Seb doesn’t know the true Dex. How could he possibly love a whore.
Uhhhgg….it’s hard to even type that. Poor Dex was so thoroughly abused and mistreated for years. He has no idea about human worth. He literally believes he isn’t allowed in shops because there are notes on the doors. He can’t read them, but that’s what he’s been told they all say. This must have played a huge part of why he never ran from his captors before. The fear that he had no where else to go. I notice this author has a way of making something so simple like a note on a door mean so much. The realization of what goes on in Dex’s head is immense. Reading this book you definitely get why people want to take care of Dex. He’s so sweet and damaged.
I love Seb. He is so totally perfect for Dex. Fun and kind. Patient. Reading about Dex learning to trust and fall in love with Seb was such a beautiful thing. I love how Seb could read him even though Dex almost had no sense of who he was. He didn’t even know what he liked. Yet he was utterly charming! Dex was so used to being without he never even considered buying himself a blanket for his bed. With a little coaxing from Seb, Dex starts to realize he does have value. That he does deserve love. Basic comforts. Happiness.
Although the book does have a very sad tone, you are always hopeful. You need to know Dex will be happy. One of my favorite parts of reading a book is actually feeling what the characters are feeling. In this book you get why Seb is drawn to Dex. He’s this broken beautiful man who shouldn’t be. I felt so much anger at the way he was treated. Dex is always hard working. He’s always functioning but there’s more to life than that. With Seb he learns to enjoy life.
There were a few niggles I had in this story. Like why would his abuser let him go to work the village when he was his major money maker for the camp. Or why the scumbag cop let him be abused. I know that’s probably looked at as for the greater good but that reality sucks and I will always reject it.
This story wasn’t always heavy. Parts of the book were very sweet. The MCs falling in love was so wonderful to experience. Slow and tender which is exactly what Dex needed. Great complex characters that elicited very strong emotions from me as the reader. Another great book by this author. I highly recommend it.