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Summary

LAMBDA Finalist 2017 

Ex-surfer-turned-businessman Liam Mallaney moved back to Holkham, Norfolk, to mourn the loss of his husband. Grief and loneliness keep him a solitary figure, and he likes it that way. There’s no room in his broken heart for anything else. 

Rentboy Zac Payne left London and most of his demons behind, but he still only knows one way to make a living. When he spots Liam in a club one night, it seems he’s found his mark. But Liam proves nicer — and their connection far deeper — than he’d bargained for. 

Their arrangement quickly becomes too complicated for Zac, who has other things on his mind: namely his BFF and wayward flatmate, Jamie. Zac owes Jamie the world, and even as Jamie’s drug addiction destroys all they have, Zac won’t leave him behind. 

Besides, Liam knows nothing of Zac’s home life, too caught up in his own head to think much beyond the crazy heat he and Zac share. But when trouble comes to Zac’s door, putting his life in danger, Liam must set his grief and anger aside to pick up the pieces of Zac’s shattered heart and his own.

©2015 Garrett Leigh (P)2020 Garrett Leigh

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Making me whole again

Being a rentboy and a former drug addict isn’t easy. Zac uses his body to survive, never turning down an opportunity to sell himself to make rent or buy food. He’s eking by, has a small pot of savings, and does his best to live with himself. He’s suffered and has pulled himself together. Now only if his flatmate Jamie could do the same thing. While Zac has overcome the drug addiction, Jamie is in the grips of it and that destructive spiral winds up pulling Zac into a world of hurt.

When Zac spots Liam, he sees a mark. An attractive guy who might be up for a good time. He didn’t foresee that Liam would be a great guy who wants to help Zac. Shades of Pretty Woman anyone? But it’s a classic tale for a reason – hooker with a heart of gold. My god, did I empathize with Zac. He’s doing what he has to in order to survive and here some guy shows up and offers to help him. Zac could use Liam’s money, sure, but that comes with a different price – he just might lose his heart.

I admit to sniffing a few times in this book. It hit me square in the heart. And as much as I felt I understood Zac, Liam was the character I think I was most drawn to. His loneliness. His big heart. His ailing father. Although I’ve never lost a partner in the way he did, I’ve endured that kind of loneliness. He has his dogs and his work and his family, but there’s still a gaping hole. A hole Zac can fill.

Having listened to a number of Garrett Leigh books, I’d known I would be challenged and I was. It was easy to have sympathy for Jamie who was in the throes of addiction or for Zac who faced some tough choices or Liam who wasn’t sure he could love again. I got my happy ending and have discovered there’s a second book centring on Jamie so I can’t wait to listen to that one.

Since this was an audio, I have to mention Dan Calley. He’s narrated a pile of Ms. Leigh’s books and he’s a great fit. He has a voice made for these characters and he enhanced the story, making it even better. So well done and I can’t wait to listen to the next one.

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Pretty woman on crack

This had all the stuff I love about Garett's books but with less angst than normal. That doesn't mean it's cute and fluffy though. Zach is an ex-junkie rentboy afterall, with a junkie rentboy roommate. And Liam is living with his own issues.
As normal Garrett's writing has a great sense of place and Britishness.
Loved it. Can't wait for the next one.

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A Heartbreaking Beautiful Story

I'm a relative newcomer to Garrett Leigh's books and I hadn't read Rented Heart when it was originally released back in 2016. I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this audiobook and I'm so happy I listened to it.

I've read a fair number of MM books with a rent-boy theme and I really enjoy this romance trope. Zac Payne is a rent-boy who has left addiction and demons behind – for the most part. Selling himself is the only thing he knows and he has to earn money to survive. He's managed to compartmentalize that aspect of his life so that he doesn't feel anything – until he meets Liam Mallaney.

Liam is still grieving the loss of his husband but when he sees Zac outside a club something draws him to him. He still wants Zac even after he finds out that he sells his body. They begin spending time together and Liam is in danger of falling for Zac.

Oh boy, this book is full of all kinds of feels and Dan Calley's voices for the characters were nice and smooth and easy to listen to. It's been a while since an audiobook has moved me to tears but this one did.

Zac and Liam's relationship is moving along at a nice pace (with lots of hot sexy time) but then Zac's friend Jamie causes things to get really messed up. I wanted to shake Liam and tell him to let Zac explain. Things really come to a head when Zac is seriously hurt, and this is the point in the book that made my tears fall.

Because this is a romance, I knew there would be an HEA for Zac and Liam but there was some really rough terrain to cover before that happened. I wouldn't say that this is the most angst filled book I've ever read or listened to but it certainly has its fair share and I loved it! Now I really want to listen to Jamie's story – Soul to Keep.

A copy of this audiobook was provided to me but my review was voluntary and not influenced by the narrator.

***Reviewed for Xtreme-Delusions dot com***

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  • Erryn Barratt
  • 23-10-20

Making me whole again

Being a rentboy and a former drug addict isn’t easy. Zac uses his body to survive, never turning down an opportunity to sell himself to make rent or buy food. He’s eking by, has a small pot of savings, and does his best to live with himself. He’s suffered and has pulled himself together. Now only if his flatmate Jamie could do the same thing. While Zac has overcome the drug addiction, Jamie is in the grips of it and that destructive spiral winds up pulling Zac into a world of hurt.

When Zac spots Liam, he sees a mark. An attractive guy who might be up for a good time. He didn’t foresee that Liam would be a great guy who wants to help Zac. Shades of Pretty Woman anyone? But it’s a classic tale for a reason – hooker with a heart of gold. My god, did I empathize with Zac. He’s doing what he has to in order to survive and here some guy shows up and offers to help him. Zac could use Liam’s money, sure, but that comes with a different price – he just might lose his heart.

I admit to sniffing a few times in this book. It hit me square in the heart. And as much as I felt I understood Zac, Liam was the character I think I was most drawn to. His loneliness. His big heart. His ailing father. Although I’ve never lost a partner in the way he did, I’ve endured that kind of loneliness. He has his dogs and his work and his family, but there’s still a gaping hole. A hole Zac can fill.

Having listened to a number of Garrett Leigh books, I’d known I would be challenged and I was. It was easy to have sympathy for Jamie who was in the throes of addiction or for Zac who faced some tough choices or Liam who wasn’t sure he could love again. I got my happy ending and have discovered there’s a second book centring on Jamie so I can’t wait to listen to that one.

Since this was an audio, I have to mention Dan Calley. He’s narrated a pile of Ms. Leigh’s books and he’s a great fit. He has a voice made for these characters and he enhanced the story, making it even better. So well done and I can’t wait to listen to the next one.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Christina Wade
  • 09-08-20

Good story, excellent performance!

I loved the vocal performance. There is distinction between all the voices and the Scottish brogue is awesome. He put great emotion in the characters and the story. I don’t know that I would have made it through as quickly if reading instead of listening.

This book is very heavy and angsty…it includes prostitution, drug addiction and stone-cold recovery (while still being subjected to the drugs), death of a spouse, Alzheimer's disease, family issues, and brutal violence.

I think the biggest difference in this book and other rent-boy books I’ve read is Zac seems to have no life aspirations. He doesn’t want to go to college or have dreams of a missed career opportunity. Once he and Liam become a couple, he just stops working as a rent boy. I found it a bit odd that he never had ANY aspirations for his future.

There is a bit of miscommunication in the story that escalated very quickly – which I’m not a fan of – but it was resolved or rather glossed over quickly due to another issue which swiftly brought on our HEA.

The pacing of the book was a bit unbalanced. The first half was better paced than the second half, but I was invested enough in Jamie to want his story.

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  • Lena Belle
  • 31-07-20

Rent Boy Done Right

Loved how I was hooked from the first few lines and stayed entertained until the end. Well written book that is performed fabulously.

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  • Pat Johnson
  • 21-07-20

Absolutely wonderful.

What a fantastic audiobook I couldn’t stop listening. Perfect words by Garrett Leigh added with wonderful english narration by Dan Calley- the book came alive.

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  • Karen Hardy
  • 21-06-20

When I first read this story back in 2016...

I felt like the story got off to a bit of a slow start and while I very much enjoyed the story back then upon re-reading my review I feel like the me of 4 years ago thought that maybe this slow start wasn't such a good thing. Interestingly enough 4 years later I'm feeling like that slow start was just what this story needed.

While the sex came fast in this story...lonely, rich man meets rent boy...I don't think one can realistically expect differently. It's the other part...the emotion, the connections and deeper feelings that are slow to follow and in the scheme of things it all works and makes sense to the me of now.

Liam's still reeling from the loss of the man he thought he'd spend his life with. A loss that's affected him in so many ways both personal and professional. When Zac sees him and decides that he's going to hit on him, it's only with a moments hesitation before he agrees and follows Zac to his flat for night of no strings attached sex. It's a win/win all the way around...Liam gets what he needs and Zac...well, Zac's got to eat and pay the rent so Zac gets what Zac needs as well.

What was suppose to be a one night stand slowly turns into two and then three and then more. Neither Liam or Zac truly realize when it happened but both men slowly realize that things have changed or maybe it's just that they've come to see that things were never what they thought they were. After all Liam never really thought that Zac was a rent boy and Zac never truly felt like Liam was just another John. Unfortunately realizing this isn't enough to make things right for either man.

It's going to take a drug addicts intervention, a huge misunderstanding and nearly loosing Zac to make Liam see the second chance that he's being given and make him see that if you want something bad enough than fighting for it isn't an option it's simply what you do.

Zac's never believed that he deserved anything good in this life. He's worked on the streets as a hooker since he was 15 and kicked out of his home by his parents for being gay. He's already been saved once by his best mate Jamie the only person who's ever had his back.

I really needed to see Zac get some happy in his life and there really wasn't anyone better suited to give him that happiness than someone who'd had it once and lost it through no fault of their own. Sweet, kind, lonely, sexy Liam. A man who'd had love, lost it and still had so much to give.

While I've only listened to a few books narrated by Dan Calley, I'd have to say this one is probably my favorite so far. I've enjoyed them all but for me, Dan Calley really nailed the voices and brought Zac and Liam to life just a bit more than previous stories that I've enjoyed...which is not to say that they were bad by any means but just that this one was even better.

'Rented Heart' may have had a bit of predictability to it but sometimes knowing there's something good coming and knowing that you can count on it to happen in a story really can be a good thing. I loved knowing that in the end Liam would have Zac to love and that Zac was willing to love him back and letting Garret Leigh put the icing on the cake with the details of how they got there was all I needed to make my soul sigh with contentment.

************************

An audio book of 'Rented Heart' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Dilyana
  • 15-06-20

An emotional, non-mushy romance

I'm a huge Garrett Leigh fan, my two favorite books by her being Misfits and Rented Heart. Needless to say, I was very excited when I heard that the latter will be turned into an audiobook, but since I'm picky about the way my audiobooks are narrated, I was also very nervous. So the question is: did Dan Calley do one of my all-time favorite books justice?

Before we get to that: a little bit about the book itself and why I love it so much.

Long story short: the characters.

They pop off the page, making me want to meet them in real life. Their ups and downs make me emotional, their positive relationships are something I root for, the tragedies of their pasts make me want to give them a hug.

Naturally, I imagined certain voices for each of them and while Dan didn't sound anything like what I had in mind (especially in the case of Zack's best friend - Jamie), it wasn't a bad narration. I enjoy it when someone reads aloud and surprises me with an even better version than what I'd had in mind. However, while Dan's rendition didn't come off as flat or rushed, the voices were very similar, to the point where I think I would've confused some of Liam and Zack's lines if I hadn't read the book.

I'd recommend the Rented Heart e-book or paperback to everyone who wants an emotional, non-mushy romance, and the audio version to less picky listeners.