by Garrett Leigh
Release Date: February 16, 2021
Publisher: Carina Press
Book #2 in the Forgiven series
Number of pages: 224
Source: ARC from NetGalley & Carina Press
Contemporary Romance M/M
Read 2/6/21 to 2/7/21
Billy Daley hasn’t been home in years, and he likes it that way. He’s just fine on his own—he has a cash-in-hand job at a scrapyard, a half-feral cat to keep him company, and many miles between him, his hometown and all the baggage that comes with it.
Until the job goes sideways. Suddenly he’s back in Rushmere, working for none other than his brother’s best friend—a man whose kiss Billy can’t seem to forget.
Gus Amour’s memories of Billy Daley are all spiky edges, lips crushed against lips and a reckless streak that always ended in trouble. But when Billy needs a place to stay, Gus steps in. He’d do anything for the Daley family, including living, and working, side by side with a man who makes his heart beat too fast and his blood run too hot—two things he’s been running from for years.
It doesn’t take long before their easy banter, lingering touches and heated glances become a temptation too hard to resist. But falling into bed and falling in love are two different things, and love has never come easy to either Billy or Gus. Only when fate threatens to steal away their opportunity for a second chance will they realize they don’t need easy.
They just need each other.
Author: Garrett Leigh
Series: Forgiven, #2
Imprint: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Romantic Leads: Male/Male
On-Sale: February 16, 2021
Price: $4.99 US
It had been years since I’d last seen Billy Daley, but since Luke had given up pretending his brother didn’t exist, and had rekindled with his long-lost true love—again, my sister—Billy had come up in conversation a lot. I wondered if he still had the same hair: scruffy, soft, and just long enough to hang over his collar. I—
“Where is he now?” Mia snapped.
“He didn’t say, and he sounded off his nut.”
“Don’t make assumptions. He’s been sober every time you’ve seen him since the accident.”
“I’ve seen him twice.”
“Whose fault is that?”
I winced and averted my gaze as Luke let out a heavy sigh. God, why were families so complicated? The Daleys made mine look like the Waltons, and we’d been reunited for less than a year.
A year that had changed my life for the better. Mia was a royal pain even when she was trying to be nice, but despite the years we’d spent hurting and apart, I couldn’t imagine her not being more than a phone call away, or turning her back if I was the one down on my luck.
Saying all that, Luke was right: him and Billy would murder each other in the first ten minutes of cohabitation. With their ma decamped to Spain, if Billy wanted to come home to Rushmere, there was only one option. “He can stay here.”
Mia and Luke swivelled their collective attention to me, eyes wide, as if they’d forgotten I was there, in my own kitchen. Nice. I pushed my cereal bowl away and wiped my mouth. “I have a spare room, remember? Not doing anything with it now you two are shacked up at Luke’s place, so…”
They were still staring. I switched between them. Comprehension was starting to dawn in Mia’s gaze, but Luke was looking at me like I was an alien.
“But…” He scrubbed a hand through his hair and darted a glance at Mia.
Oh lord, this was going to be funny. The bloke was the coolest I’d ever known, and surprisingly open-minded given his military background and the fact that he spoke about three whole sentences a day, but I didn’t need him to speak to know what was making him squirm, and I couldn’t contain my amusement.
A laugh bubbled out of me. “Jesus, man. Please tell me you’re not still hung up on what I told you over the summer? It really wasn’t a big deal.”
Luke slow blinked. “You hooked up with my brother. How is that not a big deal?”
“Please,” I scoffed. “It wasn’t a hook-up, it didn’t get that far. And we were both bladdered. He’s probably forgotten about it.”
“Yeah, but I’m not your brother, am I? Besides, it was years ago. I don’t even know why I told you. And in case you’ve forgotten, you’ve been hooking up with my sister my entire life and I’ve never complained.”
Luke said nothing, his standard MO.
I let him be and looked at Mia.
She shrugged. “I think it’s a good idea, if Billy’s up for it. Gus is boring as hell, and better than that, he’s never home, so you won’t have to worry about a repeat performance.”
“As if I’m worried about that.” Luke’s frown deepened. “I’m more concerned that Billy will fuck up Gus’s life like he has his own. My brother is a shitshow of chaos.”
“So am I,” Mia countered. “And you both deal with that just fine.”
“Yeah, but—” Luke caught himself before the conversation strayed into a zone I was definitely not comfortable playing in. These days, dude was my BFF whether he’d admit it or not, but I wasn’t down with bearing witness to whatever dirty words had been about to come out of his mouth to my sister.
To distract myself from the smouldering smirk he sent her way instead, I let my mind drift to his brother. With his dirty blond hair and chiseled jaw, Luke had long been the hottest dude in town, if the graffiti on lampposts and toilet doors was to be believed. But for me, it had always been Billy. He was darker than Luke, in more ways than one. Wild. More hooligan than lovable rogue.
Even if I never saw him again, I’d remember his kiss forever.
When I read and reviewed the first book in this series, Forgiven, I noted that I felt something was missing from the story. Garrett Leigh was a new-to-me author at that point and what I read didn’t match up to what I had heard of her stories. I’m pleased to say that I felt this story was much more of what I had expected from her reputation. Because I had heard of her as an author who writes LGBTQ stories and that was not what the first book was, I thought perhaps that was the issue. And maybe it was, since I felt this story was much more fleshed out and I felt a much deeper connection to the characters in this story than in the last.
Both Gus and Billy are in the previous story, but as supporting characters. There are plenty of hints in that story as to the potential connection between these two. I must say, the author did a beautiful job writing their connection. The push/pull they felt was palpable. I just wanted them both to talk to each other and clear the air.
Gus has a special place in my heart. From the first time he was introduced I felt myself taking his side. Over his sister Mia, his best friend Luke, and now over Billy. Gus stayed. Gus didn’t run away like everyone else in his life has done. Sure, he doesn’t go about facing his issues in a great way. He often uses meaningless sex to keep himself from thinking too deeply about how everyone leaves. Gus does not like being alone. So, while he is a very reliable and respected figure in the community, he hasn’t learned to deal with real emotions.
While Gus always stays, Billy always runs. That man has a chip on his shoulder bigger than the Taj Mahal. Some of it is with good reason. But, just like everyone else in his life, he’s not good with dealing with emotions. Billy seems to understand Gus on a level nobody else does, but he’s so insecure about his own worth in anyone’s life that he holds back when Gus really needs him to step forward.
I have to note that although I really love this story, I still am not a fan of Gus’ sister. Sometimes I felt Luke wasn’t being the best friend, and Billy often held himself back when he shouldn’t have, Mia is still oblivious to how her words and actions hurt her brother. Gus started to develop more of a backbone with those around him as this story progressed, but I still feel he needs to have a real knock down drag out fight with Mia so she’ll maybe stop thinking only of herself.
The main takeaway I have on this story is that I am now interested in reading more by this author. I believe, from what I’ve read so far, that the author’s writing takes on a different tone when delving into the lives of LGBTQ characters and I’m interested to explore if that holds true in other stories she’s written.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley 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.
Connect with the Garrett Leigh
Buy Unforgotten by Garrett Leigh