Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: July 17, 2017
Received From: NetGalley
Calum Hardy’s life has unravelled. Reeling from the betrayal of a man he once loved, he boards a train heading south, with no real idea where he’s going except a world away from London.
Brix Lusmoore can hardly believe his eyes when he spots one of his oldest friends outside Truro station. He hasn’t seen Calum since he fled the capital himself four years ago, harbouring a life-changing secret. But despite the years of silence, their old bond remains, warm and true—and layered with simmering heat they’ve never forgotten.
Calum takes refuge with Brix and a job at his Porthkennack tattoo shop. Bit by bit, he rebuilds his life, but both men carry the ghosts of the past, and it will take more than a rekindled friendship and the magic of the Cornish coast to chase them away.
SEXUALITY: bisexual, homosexual
TROPES: friends to lovers, hurt/comfort, found family
TAGS: contemporary, adult, romance, queer romance
WARNINGS: cheating, bimisia / biphobia, transmisia / transphobia, cissexism, physical illness (HIV), abusive relationship, mental abuse, emotional abuse, mention of suicide attempt, suicidal ideation, fatshaming, homomisia / homophobia, ableism
Unbidden, a flash of the day they’d first met intruded on the moment—Brix looking much the same as he did now: ageless and beautiful, with his wise eyes that had seen too much. And then there was himself, fresh-faced and juvenile, gazing at Brix like he was the first bloke he’d ever seen. And maybe he was . . . because Brix was definitely the only man who’d ever truly seen Calum.
The only man Calum would ever want to.
While the first three books in this series were lackluster, this fourth installment certainly was not. I knew Garrett Leigh could never let me down! As always, I am completely in love with the characters she’s created.
Both Calum and Brix are absolute gems, and I loved seeing them slowly circle closer to each other as they found their way. The way their friendship and relationship was handled was stunning. I love that they were not immediately thrust into any kind of romantic entanglement, as Calum just escaped an abusive relationship, and Brix had his own things to work through regarding his HIV status. After not seeing each other for years, they fall right back into friendship, and the way that relationship built both of them up was beautiful. And I loved the way they were able to trust each other and eventually share all their secrets.
I also particularly liked the way Brix’s HIV status was handled, in general but also regarding their romantic relationship, specifically. Years after his diagnosis, Brix has mostly come to terms with having HIV, but he’s not had any kind of sexual encounter since the day he found out, terrified of infecting someone as his ex did him. It was lovely to see Brix and Calum talk about it, with Calum reassuring Brix that his status is not a deal breaker. They have multiple discussions about it, and waited until Brix was comfortable to do anything. And I loved that Brix was the one to initiate sexual contact in all the sex scenes.
Other than the number of ableist slurs that are used, the one area I had issue with was the trans rep in the supporting character Lee. It wasn’t so much that the rep was bad as that it made it clear that the author is cis–Lee is deadnamed once (by herself); the name she chose is a shortened, gender neutral version of her deadname; when she comes out to Cal, he notices “clues” that she’s trans (her Adam’s apple, etc).
All in all, this book was an enjoyable, warm read and I would definitely recommend it.
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.
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 renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.