Leigh, Garrett. “Rented Heart”, Riptide Publishing, 2016.
Liam Mallaney moved back to Holkham, Norfolk, to mourn the loss of his husband. His grief and loneliness has kept him as a solitary figure, and he seems to like it that way.
Rentboy Zac Payne left London and only knows one way to make a living. When he sees Liam in a club one night, he feels that he has found what he is looking for. However, Liam is so nice and the two soon have a connection more than either man had planned on having. However, things become too complicated for Zac since he is also dealing with Jamie, his best friend and flatmate, Jamie. Zac owes Jamie everything, and even as Jamie’s drug addiction destroys all they have, Zac won’t leave him behind.
Liam knows nothing of Zac’s home life but when Zac’s life is suddenly put in danger, Liam understands that he must push his own feelings of grief to the side and help him. Liam is no kid; he is thirty-four-years-old and is really having a hard time dealing with the death of his lover, Cory, and business partner a little over a year ago. He is simply existing, going through life a day at a time. He has kept the business afloat and it is doing very well and he is proud of that. Yet, his loneliness convinces Liam to get out and have some fun. By snap decision, he goes home with Zac thinking that it would be nothing more than a hook up and not knowing that Zac is a rent boy.
Zac is only 23 and has never had a day that was some kind of struggle. He survived a heroin overdose six months before, thanks to being saved by his best friend and fellow rent boy Jamie and he took that second chance at life and moved away from the people and temptations of London to Norfolk and King’s Lynn.
Jamie and Zac are best friends who have taken comfort in each other. Jamie came with Zac to King’s Lynn but still loves and desires the oblivion and numbness the drugs give him. He will not give them up and he is quite a sad character.
Liam is good man who really cares about the people in his life and wants the best for them. The age gap between Liam and Zac is no problem because Zac is fierce and strong and has had to be to survive. He is vulnerable, however.
The chemistry between Liam and Zac is great right from the start, and it bothers both of them for different reasons. Zac has been hooking for a long time and he’s never felt any attraction to any of his other johns but Liam becomes important to him and rather quickly. Because of Cory, the only man he had ever had sex with, Liam feels a sense of guilt when he is with Zac and he begins to really enjoy his life once again. It is hard for him to deal with the fact that what the two share is a “business transaction”. Since both men have so much baggage from their pasts, they have a hard time seeing themselves as they see each other.
This is “a second chance” novel and the writing is excellent. The characters are wonderfully drawn. I wasn’t prepared to read the entire book in one sitting but I became so involved with the characters that I could not stop reading. I believe many will feel the same way.