Tag Archives: Garrett Leigh

Between Ghosts

Book Review of Between Ghosts, by Garrett Leigh

Between GhostsI received a copy of Garrett Leigh‘s Between Ghosts from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
In 2003, journalist Connor Regan marched through London to add his voice to a million others, decrying the imminent invasion of Iraq. Eight months later, his brother, James, was killed in action in Mosul.

Three years on, Connor finds himself bound for Iraq to embed with an elite SAS team. He sets his boots on the ground looking for closure and solace—anything to ease the pain of his brother’s death. Instead he finds Sergeant Nathan Thompson.

Nat Thompson is a veteran commander, hardened by years of combat and haunted by the loss of his best friend. Being lumbered with a civilian is a hassle Nat doesn’t need, and he vows to do nothing more than keep the hapless hack from harm’s way.

But Connor proves far from hapless, and too compelling to ignore for long. He walks straight through the steel wall Nat’s built around his heart, and when their mission puts him in mortal danger, Nat must lay old ghosts to rest and fight to the death for the only man he’s ever truly loved. 

I was disappointed with this one. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it but it never really grabbed me. My primary issue was that I never felt the chemistry between Conner and Nat. The romance was basically just insta-lust and while the reader was told many times how meaningful their encounters were, it all felt hollow since it was built on nothing.

My secondary issues was that the war was little more than a setting, not truly part of the plot, as far as I was concerned. Sure, Leigh had some interesting things to say against the violence of war and the meaninglessness of the West’s war in the Middle East (all of which I actually agree with) and the setting was vivid and well drafted, but the vast majority of the book was the two men mooning over each-other in a war torn Iraqi setting, rather than anything really incorporating that environment. Which meant, in the end, when something happened that actually did throw Conner against the people of Iraq, it felt as if the book had taken a departure from the previous 80% or so of the book. This is a romance story before a war story, for sure.

I don’t want to sound negative, because I did like the book even if it’s not making a favorites list. I thought the characters were well drawn. I especially appreciated the easy way that Nat’s bi-sexuality is handled and simply Leigh’s willingness to have a bi character. As I said, the setting was well described. I agreed with it’s politics. There was some humor in it. All good things.

It’s just that books that are predominantly based on ‘this person fills some mysterious missing void in another for no observable reason, therefore every little interaction is described as sooooo important, sooooo meaningful, soooo earth shatteringly better than anything else’ always annoy me a little. And there is a certain writing style that goes along with this that is like sandpaper on my skin.


Book Review of Misfits, by Garrett Leigh

MisfitsI received a copy of Misfits (by Garett Leigh) from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Restaurant owner Tom Fearnes has loved his partner Cass for as long as he can remember, but their work often keeps them apart. When he meets a striking young man named Jake on the vibrant streets of Camden Town, their heady first encounter takes an unexpected turn.

Jake Thompson can hardly believe his luck when he wakes up in Tom’s bed. Tom is gorgeous, kind, and . . . taken. Tom’s explanation of his open relationship leaves Jake cold, but Tom is too tempting, and when hard times force Jake to accept Tom’s helping hand, he finds himself between two men who’ve lost their way. 

Cass Pearson is a troubled soul. He loves Tom with all he has, but some days it feels like he hasn’t much to give. Jake seems like the perfect solution. Cass risks everything to push Jake and Tom together, but Jake resists, wary, until the darkness of Cass’s past comes to call. Then Jake finds himself the last man standing, and it’s time to dig deep and shine a light for the men he’s grown to love.

Review:   (slightly Spoilerish)
This is one of those novels I finished feeling quite conflicted about. It’s well written and, without a doubt, it’s very sweet, with relatively low angst and some satisfying sex scenes. So, in terms of feel good factor it scores high. But it fell perilously close to a ‘let’s all learn to accept and understand people with turrets syndrom’ PSA (it starts in with the TS infodrop/lecture conversations very early on) and it’s so far out in fantasy la-la land that I couldn’t at all relate to the characters or their situation.

It’s not that I have any problem accepting the idea of a stable, loving three-way relationship. I don’t and here again, it’s a very very sweet one. But these three men are each painfully earnest Marty Stues who (with the exception of Cass’ single issue) all openly communicate and revel in their mutual sacrifice and worship of one another.

Tom and Cass have been together for a decade and not once do either of them worry that bringing a third into it (the relationship, not just the sex) for the first, and presumably only time will disrupt the balance in any way. Not once does anyone get jealous of diverted attention. Not once is anyone embarrassed as they get to know each other, even with all Jake’s tics. Not once does Jake really balk at the idea of it all. It’s all just far too easy to be believable. There simply isn’t any struggle or apparent adjusting.

It also felt skewed. Eventually, the three men were meant to have settled into an equal relationship, but this is compromised by the unequal time given to each one’s POV. We get almost nothing from Cass and roughly twice as much from Tom as Jake. To me, it left Cass feeling like little more than the object Tom decides to magnanimously share with Jake, even though that’s not how it’s meant to read.

I was also a little put off by how much of the whole thing was only possible because Tom and Cass had the finances to make it so. Despite Tom being 30 and Cass 28, they are successful businessmen and restaurateurs. Tom could afford to hire Jake on a whim, allowing them to get to know each other. Tom and Cass could afford to own several properties in and around LONDON, allowing the space and time apart needed. They could afford to provide each employee a free meal everyday and open food banks and soup kitchens to feed the homeless, proving (repeatedly, like mallet to the mind) what good guys they are. They could afford to allow an unknown young man decision-making control of a new business and even to eventually give him the million dollarish (as they had to buy a building in London, hire architects to design it, builders to remodel it, interior decorators, and advertising companies. Then they had to incorporate, purchase restaurant equipment, furnishings, dishware, product, etc. Each was mentioned and it adds up) business to ensure he feels secure in their less than a year old, unconventional relationship. Sure, it’s sweet (’cause wouldn’t want to forget what good men they are) but how realistic is any of that?

All in all, it was a sweet read, especially seeing Cass and Jake get to know one another, and I enjoyed that aspect of it, but I would have enjoyed the book a bit more if it had been a little less removed from reality.