Paramedic Pete Adams lived through the year from hell watching his lover, Ash, fall apart, and the precarious balance between work and home is becoming more strained. His heart is always home, with Ash, but the dark side to his job is weighing him down.
Tattoo artist Ash Fagin is recovering from a nervous breakdown triggered by revelations about his traumatic childhood. His battle with mental illness is far from over, but with Pete by his side, he’s feeling good again, so good he doesn’t notice something missing until it walks right into his living room.
Ash believes he’s had enough coincidence in his life, but when a voice from the past comes looking for him, it takes the devastating injuries of the one he loves most to convince him to let a ghost become the family he never knew he wanted.
Rare picks up right where Slide left off. I truly enjoyed how all of the different relationships (from Ash and Pete, to Ash, Pete, and Joe, to Ash and Ellie as only a few examples) changed and grew between some of the characters and others weren’t as relevant as before. I was blown away just like Ash when Danni walked into his life. There were times when I was scared that Pete and Ash weren’t going to make it from the way Pete acted when he came home from the hospital. The growth Ash showed in this book is amazing. I love that he’s more settled and has a better handle on his personal brand of crazy. Ash and Pete are so solid at the end of the story I couldn’t help being smiling. The relationship between Ellie, Danni and Ash feels a little unresolved. Plus I want to know what happens with Liam, along with Ash and Pete’s thoughts on their future together. I’d love to see another book, or novella that addresses those topics.
Four and a half
I asked Garrett to have Ash tell us about some of his favorite tattoos he’s done or designed himself. I love the response I got. Read and enjoy!
Now that’s a tough one. Ash does his fair share of run-of-the-mill ink—love hearts, tribal sleeves, etc, and catalogue pieces—but aside from those, he takes his custom designs very seriously. He puts everything he has into each and every one of them.
One of his first custom pieces back in Philadelphia was a watercolour compass, one of the only colour designs he’s ever done. It symbolized a woman’s twelfth year free of heroin. His usual style is dark and brooding, heavy shading and intricate layers, but for this he found himself painting in the colour the woman told him a clean life had brought her.
When he came to Chicago, Ted kept him close for a while, watching in that shrewd way of his, and it was Ted who first noticed Ash’s tendency to drift into fantasy designs—wizards, stars, goblins and ghouls. Enchanted women dancing in the moonlight. One of his favourites was a tree of life his etched on a Vietnam vet’s wrist. He approached that appointment expecting the usual patriotic stars and stripes/eagle stuff, but it turned out to be a pretty spiritual experience for both him and the client.
And then, of course, there was the ink he etched on Pete’s chest, a few simple stars that came to mean the world. For that story, be sure to pick up Marked, the free read that accompanies Slide, available for free download at Dreamspinner Press and ARe.
PETE HAD been busy while I’d been gone. I stood in front of the shiny new door to his apartment and wondered for a moment if I’d come home to the right place. Then I remembered the coarse message he’d sent me a few days ago, telling me in no uncertain terms what a bitch the new door had been to fit. A separate message—perhaps an afterthought—told me he’d left a key on top of the frame.
I reached for it and turned it over in my hand. It was silver and shiny. The old one was battered brass, bruised and familiar. It felt heavy in my pocket as I slid the new key into the lock. I considered the fate of the old key now that the door it belonged to was no longer there. Pete said I pondered the strangest things.
The new door swung open with a whisper. It felt odd after two years with a door that crunched like a gearbox. The new door was like a ghost, all shimmery and silent. I wasn’t sure I liked it.
A wry grin crept over my face. Really? Four days without Pete and you’re worried about a door? I took a tentative step forward. The door closed with a quiet click, and this time, I paid it no heed.
I glanced around the apartment. It was quiet and still. No TV, stereo, or signs of life. That was no surprise. I was a few hours early. Despite hating every moment of the flight between Chicago and Philadelphia, I’d caught an earlier plane home. Pete wasn’t expecting me, but I could feel in my bones that he was home. The invisible cord between us pulled me along, and a minute later, I found him passed out in our bed. He was asleep on his stomach, something he only did when he was alone or too tired to notice. It used to make me uneasy—sometimes it still did—but not today. Today his bare back was exactly what I needed to see. I sat down by his head and brushed my fingers over his stubbly jaw. He didn’t stir, even when I leaned down and breathed in the clean smell of his skin.
Rainbow Award winner Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.
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. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.
Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors under the pseudonym G.D. Leigh. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzpress.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Garrett-Leigh/484336074987986
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10-Feb: Cate Ashwood, MM Good Book Reviews
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