Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Only Love by Garrett Leigh - five shooting stars and a reviewer's choice award

Title: Only Love

Author: Garrett Leigh

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Page Count: 274

Genre: GLBT, Contemporary

 (M/M, anal sex, oral sex)

Reviewer: Cassiopeia
Buy link:

Publisher Blurb:

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 ODair. 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.

Review of book:

When I was finished reading this book and sat down to write the review, I had a few moments where I couldn't get beyond the word "wow".  Only Love by Garrett Leigh (who is a new to me author by the way) was the best book I've read in awhile.  It's raw, gritty and realistic in its portrayal of how difficult it can be for a veteran of combat service to reintegrate into society.  Coupled with difficult family dynamics and a chronic illness, it could have easily been a recipe for disaster.  Instead, I found myself nodding my head in confirmation when Jed would feel his grip on the "here and now" slip when confronted with a trigger to his PTSD.  I've seen the anger and frustration it can cause, and can tell you that the author did her homework. 

Yes, I said, "did her homework."Garrett Leigh is a woman.

Why would that be a big deal?  Women write books in this genre all of the time, though for many I've found that the characters, while engaging, can be unrealistic. Ms. Leigh I feel captured the rough exterior, emotionally undemonstrative male archetype very accurately, and for that shame on me for making assumptions on her gender.  While reading Only Love, I wanted to reach up and smack both Max and Jed at times for their collective evasiveness, even though I figured that their communication issues would be worked out over the length of the plot.  And while this is, I feel, a character driven piece, the plot was just as brilliant - well thought out, engaging and pulled all of the right strings with me.  Both main characters dealt with chronic illnesses/conditions that heavily impacted their day to day activities.  Instead of sitting and pouting about it, they made the necessary adjustments and moved forward, having lives that were fulfilling and satisfying.

In short, I loved everything about Only Love, and have already recommended to a few of my friends.  I'm looking forward to the next Garrett Leigh piece! 

                                                    Five Shooting Stars

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