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Summary

Cornish pastry chef Seb Wright dreads the summer tourist season. The cash injection to his artisan fudge pantry is more than welcome, the extra work, less so. Then one summer, a shadowy Good Samaritan catches his eye. Irish traveler Dex is bewitching, a beautiful sullen enigma who turns Seb's world upside down until he disappears in the night, vanishing like a mystical summer rain.  

Twelve months later, Dex is in the midst of a dark storm. A slave to his master, "Uncle" Braden, he spends his days cleaning caravans and his nights working in Braden's other businesses. His short summer with Seb seems a lifetime ago. Lost in the savage violence of the murky underworld, he doesn't dare dream he'll ever find his way back, until one night, a brutal crime opens the door for a chance escape. A new life beckons, old faces emerge, and immersed in the heady vibe of London’s East End, new love begins to heal his fractured heart.

©2014 Garrett Leigh (P)2020 Garrett Leigh

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    5 out of 5 stars

Heart and soul

This is the 2nd audiobook I’ve listened to by Garrett, so they’re still a fairly new author to me, but if this was right up my street. I love the angsty ones, the feeling I’ll have my heart trampled on, and from the reviews I’d seen this was a good contender. The story was well set up, the characters felt very real and the prejudice toward to traveller community was well handled and not gratuitous. I felt the connection between Seb and Dex immediately, even though Seb was wary of the traveller, there was no way to stop the inevitable. I knew there was heartbreak coming, and I wasn’t disappointed. I felt Dex’s pain and anguish, his total and utter loss of the connection and life he’d built with Seb. I have to say at this point, this for me was beautifully enhanced by the skillful narration exhibited by Dan Calley. The emotions and sometimes downright despair came through as he breathed life into the softly spoken words and internal monologue as he seamlessly breathed life into the tortured soul that was Dex. The accents in this were clear and distinct, Dan made it easy to differentiate between them, and they never lost their identities. I think his experience as a narrator shone through and added another layer to the story in the most subtle of ways, He gave this story a heart and soul and I loved every minute of it. More like this please!

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Angsty and emotional...

Overall ~ 4.5 Stars I really liked Dex. He was young but had gone through so much in his life already. He was hard working and not conscious of his self-worth. I wanted to hug him and shield him from anyone who wanted to hurt him. Seb was perfect for him, protective and supportive, but not overbearingly so. They were really sweet together and it was lovely seeing Dex start realizing that he could have everything he'd been denied all his life. Garrett Leigh has this special talent to bring us flawed, ordinary men and make us care for them as they navigate through life, oftentimes a hard one. This was not the exception, Dex goes through a lot of things, and Ms. Leigh doesn't shy away from showing us the darker side of human nature. It's angsty and it's raw and gritty, and it's a story that will tug at your heartstrings. Dan Calley did a great job with Dex, Seb, and the rest of the cast. His voice suits Garrett Leigh's characters and stories so well, I really hope they'll continue to collaborate in the future. 

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Powerful and Raw

Garrett Leigh has a way of making me work both while listening to the book and then after when I sit down to write a review. How do I describe a book that moved me? That was both painful and redemptive? That broke my heart and then put it back together again? That made me think and made me feel? That I never wanted to end. Heart is such a book. Also, with Ms. Leigh’s books, there is an uneven narrative structure. I’m accustomed to alternating back and forth – one chapter per hero. In this book, Ms. Leigh chose to make Seb the point of view character for the first and last chapters, and Dex carried the bulk of the heavy lifting. As it should be. His point of view was critical to the story telling. His life was the most painful and at every turn, he had the most to lose. The breaking of the convention forced me to work harder at figuring out Seb and how he was viewing things. The opening is Seb working at his family’s fudge shop. He meets Dex, an Irish traveller who is passing through town. They begin something special only to have it end abruptly when Dex disappears. Seb believes that’s the end and he’ll never see Dex again. Dex is in a horrible place. He cleans caravans during the day, submits to horrific events at night, and wonders how long he can keep going. He’s starved, painfully thin, and faces terrible poverty. He’s responsible for keeping the horses alive and there’s barely enough to feed them. Knowing that kind of poverty exists is one thing, facing that deprivation is something altogether different. Then something terrible happens and Dex finds a way to escape. He makes his way to London, but things aren’t much better there. Until he happens upon a generous restaurant owner who offers him a job. It’s a rough go at first as Dex adapts to a semi-normal life. He manages to get a roof over his head, food in his belly, and money in his pocket. It’s a small amount because he can’t work legally, but it’s better than turning tricks in the tube station. Then Seb reappears. Now, maybe this was addressed and I missed it, but I never did understand what happened to his family shop on the seashore. Anyway, he’s hired at the restaurant to prepare desserts. He’s shocked to see Dex, but slowly, with patience, reaches out to the young man. It’s tenuous at first, but eventually Dex opens up and allows Seb to take care of some of his needs. He’s still stubbornly independent, and constantly worried he’s going to have to move on. His past is never far away both in reality and in his mind. And, eventually, that past does come crashing down around him. There’s plenty of violence in this book and although it serves a purpose, it wasn’t any easier to swallow. I knew the book would have a happy ending, but I despaired what Dex would have to endure to get to that place. I did get my happy ending and I was able to see Dex’s healing through Seb’s eyes for that final chapter. I loved how the book ended. I’ll mention Dan Calley’s narration. I swear Ms. Leigh’s books are perfect for him as he brings his talent and adds that something special to what is already a powerful story. So yeah, heartbreaking, heartmending, and beautiful. The power of love in the heart.

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The first Garrett Leigh novel I did not like

I am aware the narrator, reading every sentence the same, made this novel worse. But the story was lacking too. Every paragraph seemed to jump a few weeks in time, making all occurrences disconnected. I missed the emotions and inner monologs. I did not care how the story ended, although a lot needs to be addressed to get a happy ending.

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  • OldLadyStauffer
  • 29-11-20

Heart wrenching, beautiful story

Garrett Leigh thrives at writing stories that are full of angst, tug at your heart, and have beautifully developed, and wonderfully flawed, characters. This book is a little darker than I am even used to from her. Darker, but not disturbingly so. It guts you, though, and will have you wanting to scoop Dex up, in order to protect him from everything. This story is about Seb and Dex, but is mostly told through Dex’s POV. The bulk of the angst is his storyline, with Seb being the man who wants to love him, protect him, and show him another way for ‘normal’ to look like. They meet up at the beginning of the story, then are separated. Later on, they are surprisingly reunited by a twist of life. They pursue their second chance of being together, although things aren’t easy. This is a well-written story, and it had my emotions feeling like they were on a rollercoaster. I was completely drawn in and rooting for Dex and Seb to find their HEA. Dan Calley crushed it with this book. His narration skills just keep getting better! His voice, plus Leigh’s words, is a major hit. He elevates an already emotional story, by giving it a voice.

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  • ButtonsMom2003
  • 26-11-20

Broke my heart and put it back together by the end

OMG this is a fantastic story! Heart really tore me up but put me back together before the end. There are some rather dark scenes in this book but I didn't think that they were gratuitous; they were integral to the overall storyline. I've not read any MM stories about Travellers before and I think Garrett Leigh handled what could be a touchy subject with a lot of care and sensitivity. Dex is a Traveller but he is forced to do things that no one should ever have to do. Seb owns and artisan fudge shop in a tourist town. This unlikely pair came together through a series of unexpected encounters. I'm finding it really hard to put into words how this story made me feel. It had my emotions all over the place and had me reaching for tissues more than once. Heart if tied with Finding Home as the best performances I've listened to by Dan Calley. Each characters' voice was very distinctive and the emotions he put into the books was perfect. Once I started listening to Heart I couldn't turn it off and listened straight through. This is another Garrett Leigh book/audiobook that I can't recommend highly enough. A complimentary copy of this audiobook was provided to me but my review was voluntary and not influenced by the author and/or narrator.

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  • Karen Hardy
  • 29-10-20

When I first saw the blurb for this story...

I thought two things…the first one being that there was something familiar about this story and after poking around on Ms Leigh’s list of books I discovered that I was right, ‘Heart’ is a more in depth retelling of her story ‘Gypsy Rain’ which I’ve had on my ‘To Read’ list for a while now and the second thing was that this was a story that was going to break my heart and sadly I was kinda’ right about that too…thankfully by the end of it all my heart was pretty much put back together again. Seb’s a pastry chef and when he first meets Dex he’s running his family’s artisan fudge pantry. Seb’s enchanted by Dex and what starts as an act of kindness when Dex finds Seb’s wallet and returns it to him becomes a slow and cautiously played out effort on Seb’s part to draw Dex into his world where he can get to know him better and hopefully keep him safe or at least that was what Seb hoped for until Dex disappears without a trace. When Dex gets the chance to escape the nightmare that’s become his life…he takes it and attempts to loose himself in the hustle and bustle of London never guessing that his path would cross with Seb’s. Garrett Leigh without a doubt has become one of my favorite authors. Her stories are packed with emotion, they’re thought provoking and while she’s not afraid to show us the darker side of human nature, she also shows us the side that strives, hopes and struggles at times to not only persevere but to find more…to have a life that’s better…to find that someone they can love and be happy with. Seb and Dex come from very different worlds. Seb’s grown up with the love and shelter of family, while Dex has had to rely on himself because for him family meant betrayal and being used…traded like a commodity to a man who would bring him nothing but pain and suffering. Dex also comes from a world where talking to outsiders is never acceptable no matter what and it’s this unwritten law of his culture that creates a world in which people like ‘Uncle Braden’ not only survive but thrive. I don’t think there was honestly anything about this story that I didn’t like. I may not have totally agreed with some of the decision and actions taken by characters at times…in particular some choices that Dex made at the end, however, I can also see where the decisions he made were the ones that were right for him and ultimately they were decisions that each person has to make for themselves based on that factor…what is right for the individual in that circumstance. As always Ms Leigh has created a story that kept me riveted to my seat from start to finish and along with the talented and insightful narration provided by Dan Calley this was a story that easily came to life for me and one that I look forward to enjoying again. ************************* An audio book of ‘Heart’ was graciously provided by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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  • M. Womochil
  • 21-10-20

Hauntingly Heartwarming

This book is as close to a feel good story as any I’ve read from Garrett Leigh, and that’s including the prostitution ring, broken bones, violence and down right heartache that Dex has to go through to get to his happy ending. Seb is the type of man that every Dex out there deserves. He doesn’t make Dex feel bad about himself. He tries to get Dex to see he’s worth much more than the things that have happened to him. To realize that no matter what he thinks, he’s not defined by that. He’s only defined by what he thinks of himself and and what he wants his life to be! I even got the warm fuzzies a few times! Garrett sure knows how to take those broken hearts and mend them right up! I just love how the story doesn’t need any tension or big drama between the main characters and Seb is just a pillar of support without being overbearing or controlling. Everything is Dex’s decision and he understands that’s what Dex needs without resenting him for it! It’s so dang well written and it evokes so many emotions! The narration by Dan Calley is phenomenal and definitely adds a new layer to the story! You feel the emotion more and the warm fuzzies are stronger from the emotional connection that’s easier to make!

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  • Shea
  • 19-10-20

perfect narrator for this book

This is one of my favorite books by Garrett Leigh, and I have read the EBook several times. When I found that it had finally been recorded, I was glad to see that it was Dan Kallie narrating as the last few books he has narrated by Ms. Leigh have been brilliantly done. I love his use of all the different accents, and this book is no exception. I'm not going to talk much about the plot as the blurb gives a fairly good description, but there could be a few triggers for some people in this book. As with many of this author's books, this one deals with some tough issues and there are a few scenes that I found hard to read, but I just love Seb and Dex. Dan's voicing of the two MCs was spot on, and really helped bring the story to life. I hope the rest of her books get recorded, and Dan Kallie narrates those set in the UK.I give this 5 out of 5. Great Job.