Author ~ Garrett Leigh
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 27th March 2017
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Work, sleep, work, repeat. Nero’s lonely life suits him just fine until his best friend, Cass, asks him to take on a new apprentice—a beautiful young man who’s never set foot in a professional kitchen. Despite his irritation and his lifelong ability to shut the world out, Nero is mesmerised by the vibrant stray, especially when he learns what drove him to seek sanctuary on Nero’s battered old couch.
Lenny Mitchell is living under a cloud of fear. Pursued by a stalker, he has nowhere left to run until Nero offers him a port in a storm—a job at the hottest restaurant in Shepherd's Bush. Kitchen life proves heady and addictive, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling hard and fast for the man who has taken him in.
Fast-forward a month and neither man can imagine life without the other, but one thing stands in their way: a lifetime of horrors Nero can’t bring himself to share with Lenny. Or can he? For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking, and Nero must learn to embrace it before fate steps in and rips it away.
I love this authors’ style of writing and really enjoyed Misfits, book one in this Urban Soul series and so was really excited to read this one. I think I enjoyed it even more than the first, as we get to delve deeper with Cass’s best friend Nero and we also see quite a lot of the characters from Misfits, especially Cass, Tom and Jake. It was great to catch up with where they are in their lives and with their many businesses in the Urban Soul restaurant empire.
Nero Fierro is a floating chef moving between kitchens in the Urban Soul empire, he is good at his job, better than he gives himself credit for and Cass’s right hand man. He is gruff and blunt, with a wicked temper and a sharp tongue. His life is his work and he buries himself in this to forget a painful past. Cass asks Nero to take on an untrained kitchen apprentice at Pippa’s one of the Urban Soul restaurants and to have the guy stay in the flat above Pippa’s on Nero’s couch so he wouldn’t have to venture outdoors at all. Slightly suspicious, Nero agrees as a favour to his boss, to whom he thinks he owes everything. I adored Nero, the way he speaks and his gruff, scowly exterior which hides his warm heart.
Lenny Mitchell is a front of house server at Misfits, but is being stalked by an unknown man. He is becoming increasingly anxious and with the police unable to do anything to help, he finally snaps and is having a panic attack when Cass offers him help. He sets him up with Nero, a job in the kitchens at Pippa’s and a place to stay too. Lenny and Nero become increasingly close as they work and live together and Lenny finally confides in Nero about the stalker and why he left his life behind. However Nero doesn’t extend the same courtesy to Lenny. He hides his past preferring not to talk and just bluster on. Lenny is a very sweet character who has seen a lot of changes happen in his recent life and just needs a break and maybe someone to be there for him.
They are working together on a new concept restaurant and the descriptions of the food and the restaurant design etc. are highly detailed and very evocative. In fact I was so hungry reading this book, from the mouth watering ice cream flavours that Lenny loves, to the dishes they serve at Pippa’s and then the new pizzas. I was salivating at the delectable morsels described.
I love the dialogue between Nero and Lenny and the way it is written throughout the book. It is distinctly British with quite a bit of swearing and slang chucked in. It all adds to the authenticity of the story and even more specifically to the real locations in London that are mentioned in the book. I can put myself in those locales and hear those conversations being spoken around me. A total plus for me reading this.
As their relationship develops, Lenny lets Nero know how much he means to him but he needs to know what happened to Nero in his past and Nero, underneath his gruff exterior, knows to move on with Lenny he needs to tell his story. I really felt for the young Nero, his story is heartbreaking but I was glad he was finally able to release some of his burden. They are such a good couple, each helping the other to heal and move forward together.
The epilogue was everything I’d hoped and more. I just adored every bit of this story from the twists and turns and the drama that plays out, to each individual character and the authentic dialogue. The restaurants, locations and food were epic and I have a total soft spot for both Nero and Lenny. This is must read for lovers of gruff men hiding a painful past and for food lovers everywhere. Immense!
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 enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org