Title ~ Only Love
Author ~ Garrett Leigh
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Genre ~ M/M Romance
Published ~ 11th April 2014
Rating ~ 4.5 Stars
The diagnosis of a chronic stomach condition leaves thirty-two-year-old Sergeant Jed Cooper with little choice but to call time on his Army career. Then on the dusty streets of Kirkuk, an ambush gone tragically wrong decimates his team, and he returns to the US with a shattered leg and the memory of his best friend dying in his arms.
Life in his sleepy hometown proves intolerable until he finds solace in a lakeside cabin with vivacious young carpenter, Max O’Dair. In the shadow of the epilepsy that periodically plagues Max, he and Jed form an unspoken bond. After a late night episode, Jed realizes how much Max means to him, and life has taught him not to waste time.
But the lines between contentment and complacency are blurred. Things left hidden resurface to tear through their world, and before they can repair the damage, death comes to call again. Faces, past and present, rally around them to weather the storm, but before long, they are left with only love.
Garrett Leigh is an author that is continuously evolving… each book she releases brings something different, but what doesn’t change is the delivery… the excellence of the writing that continues to astound me. She is a truly gifted and talented author, that takes my emotions to different places and gives me a whole new perspective as a reader.
Garrett Leigh has the ability to totally blow me away with her simplicity… don’t get me wrong, the lives of these characters have been far from simple, in fact their past has been harrowing, with their daily existence a struggle in itself. She titled this book Only Love and quite frankly, in my opinion, Garrett Leigh couldn’t have picked a more apt title. The overwhelming theme of this book is LOVE… a beautifully understated and subtle approach to a love that is powerful and compelling. A love that comes from friendship, not just with our two MC’s Jed and Max but also those people that have touched their lives and are worthy of that love… it’s the pure unselfishness of that emotion, to give and receive. But for Jed and Max, the complex lives of these two broken men, their secrets and lies, pain and hurt, all derived from their traumatic pasts, makes it difficult for them to trust and accept that love in it’s purest form.
Jed, pulled on all my heart strings, there is such sadness that surrounds him, a man of very few words and even less emotion, stoically he has always been the strong and capable leader, he’s a soldier and protects those he loves, for Jed weakness is failure and failure is weakness. So when he returns home after having been thrown out fourteen years earlier by a total bastard of a bigoted father, having experienced the atrocities of war, losing his best friend and many of his brothers in arms who were like his family, in need of rehabilitation due to the leg injuries he sustained in an attack in Iraq and battling a chronic incurable illness …. he is lost and adrift in a world he no longer recognises.
War had sucked the life from him, but without it, what was he?
You get the impression Jed is functioning on auto pilot, disengaged and on the knifes edge of falling apart if he stops to analyse his emotions too closely. He seems to live in denial, afraid of his own vulnerabilities… as if he ignores it, it will all simply disappear.
Violence became fluid, like water or blood, a constant motion he couldn’t escape. Doors closed, faces vanished. Buildings blew up.
Max… there is so much warmth about him, he just lights up the page. He is sweet and caring, but strong, managing his own disability, epilepsy, with the help of Flo… OMG, that dog has an intuition all of its own, you can’t help but fall for Flo. Max is aware of his own limitations and living in a cabin in the mountains alone, preferring his own company and the solitary peace and quite… Flo is his lifeline to normalcy. Although on the surface Max seems content and settled with his life, you get this underlying nagging feeling there is more to both his and his sister Kim’s history than either of them are letting on.
I mentioned earlier that this book is not just about Jed and Max but also of the people that touch their lives… their extended family and friends. When Jed is discharged from hospital he moves in with his estranged brother… a complete and utter arsehole!!! Luckily his wife Kim, Max’s sister, and the two adorable nieces, Belle and Tess, make up for it tenfold and it’s not long before Jed is renting a room in Max’s cabin. We see Jed re-establish relationships with his best friend Dan Valesco, and his family, which had been more a family to Jed in his youth than his own father! I loved this crazy, pushy, quirky bunch… they just radiate love, warmth and compassion and you just can’t help but be drawn in by them. Tentative at first, we begin to see Jed open up more, but still not fully trust and let go.
Both Max and Jed are fiercely independent, a product of their pasts. Living together, they become more comfortable and relaxed… and this is where the relationship and their love is subtle because it actually sneaks up on you… it’s a slow burn with each of them learning to receive rather than just give. Jed is a protector, letting someone care for him would be a weakness… but that is what Max does, not in your face fussing but just quietly taking care of Jed without him realising and likewise Max had always taken care of himself not needing protection yet his soul yearns for Jed’s strength and the two slip into their friendship which develops into a love, and their fierce independence becomes a fierce need for each other, so profound it just fills you with the warm and fuzzies,
…the feel of Max’s lips on him was the only thing that felt right.
Everything was tidied up all nice and neat in the epilogue… friends and family, the brothers in arms that turned up and showed their true colours when Jed needed them most, pasts put to rest, the hope for a future… The only thing I didn’t feel there was a resolution to was Nick, I felt I missed something there, does he finally redeem himself as a human being? husband? father? brother?!? I didn’t like him, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing… I think I would have liked to see Kim kick his sorry, self absorbed, pitying arse into touch!
I felt this book had a completely different feel compared to Garrett Leigh’s other works, she totally stripped back on all the angst and drama, even the romance and sex to a certain extent and showed another side to her versatility as a writer and totally focused on forming a relationship, a bond between two men, the foundations and slow growth of which was formed on friendship, trust and just allowing yourself to be vulnerable to love.
The kiss was light and sweet, like they were lying in the sun, touched by it’s warmth without a care in the world.
I can’t recommend Only Love or Garrett Leigh enough… which includes any of the other books she has released in the last few months since she has burst on the m/m romance scene. I just love her and her writing!
Awake & Alive by Garrett Leigh
A Missing Moment from Only Love
After a successful surgery relieves Jed of the illness that nearly killed him, he returns home to slowly recover with Max. With time to reconnect, Max shows him a new way to love. Now at a crossroads and facing a new life, Jed must listen to his friends and family to learn how to move forward.
FREE to download from ~ DREAMSPINNER PRESS
A word from Garrett Leigh
First off I'd like to thank Monique and her crew for having me back on the blog. SSBR have been incredibly supportive of my writing since my first novel came out last year and I can't thank them enough.
On to the book...
What can I say about Only Love? Jed is a character who has been with me for many years and Only Love is really a concoction of a books I tried to write and failed to finish because I never found the right character to partner Jed.
I tried various guys and girls until Max popped into my head some time last year.
Max is special. I wish he was real, because he would be my best friend. But Jed...God, Jed. I know I like to put my characters through the wringer, but believe me when I tell you Jed copped the worst of that. His story is an amalgamation of true stories and my horrid imagination.
Gah, I have no excuses. It is what it is, and I wrote this book from the bottom of my heart so I hope you enjoy it. Through no fault of their own, these two men find themselves on the fine wire between life and death far too often, but beyond all that, Only Love really is just that...love, and I reckon Jed and Max taught me all I know.
About Garrett Leigh
Garrett Leigh lives in a small commuter town just north of London with her husband, two kids, a dog with half a brain, and a cat with a chip on her shoulder. She's twenty-nine, and now she's reached that milestone, she intends to stay there for the foreseeable future. Garrett has been writing just about her whole life, but it's been about three years since she decided to take it seriously. According to Mr. Garrett, it was either give the men in her head a voice or have herself committed.
Angst. She can't write a word without it. She's tried, she really has, but her protagonists will always 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 under the pseudonym G.D Leigh.
Cover art enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other books by Garrett Leigh
Garrett will be gifting one very lucky reader an eBook of Only Love… all you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below.