Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: October 9, 2017
Received From: NetGalley
How do you find a home when your heart is in ashes?
With their mum dead and their father on remand for her murder, Leo Hendry and his little sister, Lila, have nothing in the world but each other. Broken and burned, they’re thrust into the foster care system. Leo shields Lila from the fake families and forced affection, until the Poulton household is the only place left to go.
Charlie de Sousa is used to other kids passing through the Poulton home, but there’s never been anyone like his new foster brother. Leo’s physical injuries are plain to see, but it’s the pain in his eyes that draws Charlie in the most.
Day by day, they grow closer, but the darkness inside Leo consumes him. He rejects his foster parents, and when Charlie gets into trouble, Leo’s attempt to protect him turns violent. When Leo loses control, no one can reach him—except Charlie. He desperately needs a family—a home—and only Charlie can show him the way.
TROPES: first love, hurt/comfort
TAGS: young adult, contemporary, romance, queer romance, queer characters, adoption, HOH character, Deaf character, speech impaired character, family dynamics, sibling relationship, disabled characters, Brazilian character, POC character, coming out, interracial relationship
WARNINGS: violence, explicit violence, drug usage, bullying, child abuse, domestic violence, mental illness (PTSD), hospitalization, homomisia / homophobia, slurs, gendered slurs, ableism, murder, mention of suicide
Charlie had always felt good—magic, even—but now, when there was nothing left of Leo but darkness, Charlie was the sun.
On her first venture into Young Adult, Garrett Leigh hits it out of the park!
When I requested this on NetGalley, I wasn’t sure what exactly to anticipate, other than the standard Leigh fare–angst, painful backgrounds, tender moments, and lovable characters. As the book is YA, I was very curious as to how these things, which are staples for her Adult works, would manifest. But basically, it’s the same as her Adult novels, with teenage characters (who behavior like teenagers!) and markedly less sex. I think needless to say, but I will gladly pick up any future YA novels that Leigh writes because she does a wonderful job presenting a great story for this age group.
Leo and Charlie, the main characters, are both incredibly complex. I loved the ways in which Leigh was able to show both characters being strong in different ways as well as highlighting their vulnerabilities and the fact that it’s okay to be or feel this way. The boys were so good for each other and had a balancing effect on one another that was really nice to see.
The rest of the family was really great also, and I loved how they all were there for Leo and Lila, without qualms, without qualifications. They gave the two kids a home and were a strong, understanding support system, understanding and abiding by the boundaries and limitations of Leo and Lila due to what they’d been through.
I would definitely recommend this book and I look forward to, hopefully, more YA from Garrett Leigh in the future.
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.