by Garrett Leigh
Release Date: January 25, 2021
Publisher: Carina Press
Book #1 in the Forgiven series
Number of pages: 215
Source: ARC from Netgalley & Carina Press
Contemporary Romance M/F
Read 1/18/21 to 1/22/21
High school sweethearts Mia and Luke get a second chance at love in this brand-new contemporary romance from award-winning author Garrett Leigh.
When Mia Amour returns to England to open a florist shop, all she wants to do is put her lousy ex behind her and never look back. But getting a fresh start is easier said than done when her first love, the boy who once broke her teenage heart, strolls back into her life. He’s every bit as sexy as she remembers, and the urge to melt back into his arms almost makes her forget how devastated she was when he took off without a word. Almost.
Left with no choice, Luke Daley did what he had to do, leaving town to earn enough money to save his broken family, though it just about broke him, too. But now he’s back, running his uncle’s business and trying desperately to forget about Mia, the girl he left behind all those years ago. When he runs into her in town, the shock of seeing her again brings an intense rush of emotions: love, guilt…and an overwhelming urge to find out if it’s still as amazing between them as it used to be.
It doesn’t take either of them long to give in to desire and discover the fiery passion they once shared burns hotter than ever. With each new touch, each moment of forgiveness, old hurts heal and the future they’d hoped for ten years ago becomes possible again. But their fragile connection is tested by a threat neither of them saw coming—a threat that could end their second chance before it even gets started.
Author: Garrett Leigh
Series: Forgiven, #1
Imprint: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Romantic Leads: Male/Female
On-Sale: January 25, 2021
Price: $4.99 US
Mia Amour. Her name had haunted me so much my bunkmate had once found me sleep-scrawling it on our cabin wall. He thought it had meant something—that I was writing a message from another dimension in a language he didn’t understand—but the reality had been far more simple: even on the other side of the world, I couldn’t get her out of my head.
Somehow, though, over time, I’d forgotten what her eyes did to me. How they could root me to the spot with a single glance and empty my mind of anything but her. Mia. I counted my heartbeats as they thundered in my ears. One, two, three, four. And then she tore her stormy blue gaze away from mine and walked out of the chip shop.
I reached for the empty space she left behind, and my faculties slowly returned to me as her footsteps echoed in my shell-shocked brain. As drawn to her as I’d always been, I drifted after her, but when I got outside, she was gone.
A thousand emotions warred in my gut, but the age-old frustration was so familiar I felt sick. Fucking Mia Amour. Deep down, I’d always hated her as much as I’d loved her, because there was no one else on earth who could make my heart pound like she did, my palms sweat, and my fingers tremble.
Cursing, I hauled myself back into the van. Gus followed a moment later, an open bag of chips in each hand. “Where’d you get to? It was your turn to buy tea.”
I tossed him a crumpled-up fiver. “Why didn’t you tell me your sister was in town?”
“Oh fuck.” Gus held out a bag of chips, then set it on the dashboard when I made no move to claim it. “Are we really doing this?”
I gave him a flat look.
He sighed. “Fuck’s sake. Why would I tell you? You two aren’t exactly friends, and you haven’t been a couple since I was fourteen and nicking Mayfair Lights from her school bag.”
Shit, had it been that long? Why was it that just a glimpse of her face could set me back a decade? The weight in my chest increased and I started the van, gunning the rickety diesel engine with a roar. “Either way, a fucking heads-up would’ve been nice.”
“But why, though?” Gus pointed a chip at me. “You want her number so you can catch up on old times?”
I wondered if he’d actually give it to me. Then pictured myself calling Mia and her reaction to hearing my voice for the first time in ten long years.
A legit shudder passed through me. I was done torturing myself for putting my family first, for giving up my entire life to keep a roof over my mum’s head, but that didn’t make the obvious anger in Mia’s eyes easier to bear. Her temper had fascinated seventeen-year-old me—sometimes I’d wound her up on purpose, just to revel in her flushed skin and sharp tongue—but I didn’t have the stones to take it now. My Mia angst tolerance was at an all-time complacent low.
I spared Gus another glare. “What?”
“Can I eat your chips?”
I was really looking forward to reading something by this new-to-me author. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity when I was invited to participate on the blog tour for this one. I had been under the impression she wrote strictly LGBTQ stories, so it surprised me a bit when I learned this was a male/female story. I guess it could be said she writes mostly LGBTQ, but not strictly.
While I found this to be a very lovely story, I felt something was missing. I totally bought into the love and attraction between Mia and Luke, but I didn’t feel the connection the way I wanted. I also felt as though there were aspects of this story that weren’t fully fleshed out. It was almost as if this was an introductory novella to a series instead of the first of the series. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the read and am interested to read more by this author.
Mia and Luke have a lot to talk about, yet they go much of the book avoiding talking. Once they do finally tell each other some truths, there is a glimmer of the chemistry I was looking for. And, quite honestly, there is one of the greatest lines I’ve read in a “baring of the souls” scene. Mia didn’t just need to know that Luke understood her animosity and its reasons, she needed to say the words out loud.
“It’s not enough that you know…you have to let me say it.”
Oddly enough, while it would seem Luke was in the wrong in their past relationship, he was the one I attached to and liked the most. Mia had so many walls up, even with her brother, that it made it difficult for me to get to know her and feel an attachment. It came eventually, though.
With the little hints we get of Mia’s brother Gus and Luke’s brother Billy, I have a feeling the next book in this series will be even more enjoyable.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**
About Garrett Leigh
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer.
Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.
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, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.
Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with photographer Dan Burgess.
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