Title: Rented Heart
Author: Garrett Leigh
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: September 5, 2016
Page Count: 228
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Ex-surfer-turned-businessman Liam Mallaney moved back to Holkham, Norfolk, to mourn the loss of his husband. Grief and loneliness keep him a solitary figure, and he likes it that way. There’s no room in his broken heart for anything else.
Rentboy Zac Payne left London and most of his demons behind, but he still only knows one way to make a living. When he spots Liam in a club one night, it seems he’s found his mark. But Liam proves nicer—and their connection far deeper—than he’d bargained for.
Their arrangement quickly becomes too complicated for Zac, who has other things on his mind: namely his BFF and wayward flatmate, Jamie. Zac owes Jamie the world, and even as Jamie’s drug addiction destroys all they have, Zac won’t leave him behind.
Besides, Liam knows nothing of Zac’s home life, too caught up in his own head to think much beyond the crazy heat he and Zac share. But when trouble comes to Zac’s door, putting his life in danger, Liam must set his grief and anger aside to pick up the pieces of Zac’s shattered heart and his own.
Rent-boy tropes are a big hit or miss for me. Trust Garrett Leigh to write a rent-boy story filled with loss and addiction without it being depressing! Total win!
Liam is a 35 year-old widower who becomes enthralled by Zac’s sexy ways. Zac is young in years but his life experiences make up for that big time. Zac is cynical and even though he likes Liam, that is not enough for Zac to start trusting someone when he’s been let down his whole life. So Liam pursues Zac’s company. Yes, some of those pursuits are for sexual purposes but not all. Liam is lonely and there is something about Zac that makes Liam feel alive again. So Liam invites Zac to go on a road trip with him. He invites Zac to visit him in his London home. Liam tries to take care of Zac, not because he has a saviour complex, but because he actually cares. And under no circumstances does Liam ever show entitlement in regard to Zac’s time or compensation. Liam remains respectful, even when Zac is self-deprecating.
Their relationship develops slowly, even if their first sexual encounter happens within the first few pages under a professional capacity. Liam and Zac are good together and their sexual encounters are very steamy. Liam has is rough with Zac but always with consent and they seem to both get off on it, which makes for even sexier times.
But, the thorns on their sides are Zac’s flatmate, Jamie and the drug history that follows Zac. Jamie is a hot mess. He won’t listen to Zac and manages to get himself in hot water with some very unsavoury characters. Things actually get a little dangerous at some point as well. Also, something happens at some point with Zac and Jamie that I personally found unnecessary and off-putting. Honestly, it was cringe-worthy. The resolution to the Jamie issues was convenient but I’m not sure it was entirely plausible. And even though Zac and Liam got their HEA, there were some issues that left me wondering about Zac’s future as an individual.
Final verdict: I loved this story even though I had a few niggles here and there. The writing is spectacular and even though there is a hurt/comfort undertone due to the subject matter, it never overwhelms the story.
PS. That cover is the bomb!