Author ~ Garrett Leigh
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 4 July 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
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.
Garrett Leigh is a personal favorite for good reason. This book hurt so good, and I have no doubt it will stay with me for quite some time. With brilliant writing, a take on the memory loss trope without the clichés one would expect, a great approach on disability and two wonderful MCs that stole my heart, What Remains is one of my best reads of 2016 so far. Extra points for the amazing bi representation.
Jodi and Rupert met five years ago. It was probably fate that brought them together, two quite different men who turned out to be exactly what the other needed. They fell in love, made a home in their small apartment and planned their future together. But after a freak accident Jodi isn't the same and doesn't have any memories of their shared life leaving Rupert heartbroken and trying to hope for the both of them.
The book begins a few hours before the accident and even that little glimpse of Jodi and Rupert together, oblivious of how ruthlessly their lives are about to change, was enough to ruin me. Alternating between present and past for the first part of the book was genius. With the present being all about the aftershock of the accident and all the bedside agony, having glimpses of the happiness Jodi and Rupert used to share made the darkness manageable. Not that witnessing the two men falling in love isn't bittersweet when you know what's in store for them, but it worked for me and made me relate to the characters even more. The stark difference in the tone between the before and after chapters punctuated the loss they're experiencing and showcased some pretty great writing skills.
I can't even begin to describe what an amazing job the author did portraying the aftermath of Jodi's accident. The impact of Jodi's memory loss on Rupert was staggering and his effort to be strong and see to Jodi's needs, when he himself feels forlorn in his own home with his own partner, was painful to witness. Usually with amnesia stories the characters that remember the past and have to deal with a loved one that doesn't recognize them take center stage, but fortunately not here. Jodi's loss of not only his memory, but in many ways his identity, and his grueling efforts to make sense of a home and a man who are strange to him while dealing with the physical aspects of his recovery are the core of the second part of the book. The chapters that were from Jodi's point of view were the more difficult ones, but ultimately the most rewarding, and one of my favorite parts of the book.
What Remains is a very apt title. Rupert is essentially mourning a lover that is alive and breathing in their home, but at the same moment even this Jodi loving him back would be enough. Jodi relies on bits and pieces of his memories to reconcile what he remembers as his life with the one he is presented with, but it seems like a jigsaw puzzle where pieces are missing. With so little to work with the two of them manage to find each other again because when everything is peeled apart the only thing that matters is what brought them together in the first place. Love.
I was a mess reading this one but I loved every bit of it. It's like Garrett Leigh went out to break some record of “largest number of emotions evoked while reading a book” and underestimated the result, because this was a roller coaster of a story and I went from laughing to crying, sighing to snickering and everything in between. I am not complaining, because I love heartbreaking stories that lead to an HEA, and this one in particular could serve as a “this is how it's done” example. It's that good and I will be reading again and again in the future. Painfully beautiful.
Meet Garrett Leigh
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 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. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzpress.com. Cover art enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org