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Strays

Urban Soul, Book 2
Narrated by: Dan Calley
Series: Urban Soul, Book 2
Length: 6 hrs and 34 mins
Categories: Romance, Contemporary
5.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

Work, sleep, work, repeat. Nero’s lonely life suits him just fine until his best friend Cass asks him to take on a new apprentice - a beautiful young man who’s never set foot in a professional kitchen. Despite his irritation and his lifelong ability to shut the world out, Nero is mesmerized by the vibrant stray, especially when he learns what drove him to seek sanctuary on Nero’s battered old couch.

Lenny Mitchell is living under a cloud of fear. Pursued by a stalker, he has nowhere left to run until Nero offers him a port in a storm - a job at the hottest restaurant in Shepherd's Bush. Kitchen life proves heady and addictive, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling hard and fast for the man who has taken him in.

Fast-forward a month, and a neither man can imagine life without the other, but one thing stands in their way: a lifetime of horrors Nero can’t bring himself to share with Lenny. Or can he? For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking, and Nero must learn to embrace it before fate steps in and rips it away.

©2015 Garrett Leigh (P)2020 Garrett Leigh

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Enjoyable!

4.5 Stars! This is book 2 in the Urban Soul series and it can be perfectly read as a standalone, even if there are appearances by the throuple that features in Misfits.  Lenny is being pursued by a stalker and can barely manage to work for fear that the guy will do more than appear everywhere he goes. Going to the police is useless, as they can't really do anything unless the man attacks him. His boss Cass gets him a new position and a place to live with Nero, one of their chefs in their Urban Soul group of restaurants. Nero is not completely on board about a stranger living with him, but he can't say no, and before long, Lenny becomes an integral part of his life. However close Lenny and he get, Nero isn't ready to let anyone in, and share the horrors that he has gone through.   I felt so bad for Lenny. He was quite resilient despite everything, though, and I loved that he had such a great disposition. It took me a whole lot longer to warm up to Nero. He was just so grumpy and difficult, I get that what he lived through wasn't easy, but him being all hot and cold with Lenny got a bit tiresome after a while. I will admit that I really liked how protective he was of Lenny, and that they definitely had a lot of chemistry.  No one writes ordinary, flawed men like Garrett Leigh does. She gives them depth and makes the reader want to make things better for them. While I can't say I loved Nero, I still felt bad for him, and of course, I adored Lenny, so I wanted everything to work out for them.  Dan Calley has a pleasant voice, although his accent is quite heavy, so it takes me a couple of chapters to adapt to it. Still, his performance was very enjoyable and he really brought these characters to life for me. The stalker storyline felt a bit underdeveloped, even if it got resolved in the end, but other than that, this was a very good, angsty, engaging audiobook that I have no trouble recommending. 

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Gritty and touching; a great love story!

While Strays is part of the Urban Soul series, it can be read as a standalone with no problem. I'm sorry to say that I haven't read book one yet, but I didn't feel like I missed anything by listening to this one on its own. Dan Calley's voice is so nice and mellow and very easy to listen to. As with one other book I listened to recently, I did have just a bit of trouble differentiating between the MC's voices but the way the dialogue was written it wasn't difficult to know who was speaking. I'm pretty sure part of the problem is me – Midwest US gal listening to a great narrator with a strong London (I'm told that's what it is) accent. In any case, I still loved listening to this one. Parts of this story just about broke my heart. Lenny is running from a stalker and he's given refuge within the Urban Soul group of restaurants – specifically he's going to work with Nero at Pippa's. As with most of Garrett Leigh's books that I've read lately, this one is very British and helped to expand my vocabulary of Brit words and slang. 😊 Nero is having a difficult time opening up to Lenny and it causes problems in their relationship; Lenny can't stand the silence between them. But once Nero opens up and tells him everything it just about breaks Lenny's heart. Then, just when it seems like everything is going to work out fine for Lenny and Nero, a twist is thrown into the works. Fantastic stories like Strays is why I've become a huge fan of Garrett Leigh's writing. A copy of this audiobook was provided to me but my review was voluntary and not influenced by the author. ***Reviewed for Xtreme-Delusions dot com*** (Posting on August 29, 2020.)

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  • OldLadyStauffer
  • 31-08-20

Great narration, touching storyline

I’m kind of a sucker for grumpy men, so Nero’s grumpy and stand-offish behavior was right up my alley. Although, I do wish his past wasn’t a big factor. That part breaks my heart. So, here we have one grumpy lion, with a painful past, and a scared mouse, with a fearful present, living together, under one roof. Slowly a friendship develops, and turns into more. The mouse gets braver, but the lion isn’t budging much. Hopefully they will be able to meet in the middle before one, or the other, decides it’s not working. To top it off, danger comes calling. What is it going to take for the lion to open up? This story centers around pain, learning to let people in, and discovering love when you think you don’t deserve it. It was well written, and the characters were likable. My heart ached for Lenny and Nero. Dan Calley’s thick accent is a delight. I did have to slow down the speed in which I normally listen to, but once that was adjusted I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him tell the story. I was impressed with the variations in voices he can use for the characters. If I try to alter mine, they all sound like rednecks. I’m looking forward to listening to more books performed by him.

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  • Christina Wade
  • 21-08-20

Hands down one of my favorite series

I’m not gonna lie, after listening to Misfits I was a little nervous to listen to this book. I was afraid I wouldn't love it as much. And to see the vocal performer changed, I was a little heartbroken because I absolutely loved the performance of book one. I needn’t have worried…Mr. Calley NAILED it. I was just as wrapped up in his performance as I was in the performance of book one. I could SEE Nero’s grumpiness and FEEL every emotion of this book right along with the characters. While I think this could be listened to (or read) as a standalone, I HIGHLY recommend book one, especially the audiobook for several reasons. Nero is in book one. The heart of Urban Soul truly can’t be understood without meeting the original trio. Cass, Tom, and Jake are in this story quite a bit and play a major role in Nero and Lenny ending up together. And it is a damn good story and amazing vocal performance. Nero is a prickly b*stard. But boy does he have a heart of gold which you cannot help but fall in love with. His backstory is appalling and the outcome even worse. I honestly thought he should have been given a free pass on the crime he committed. Lenny handles him perfectly and I just love them together. He never backs down from or gets offended by Nero’s blustering. I love their banter and I adore how Nero is so no-nonsense with him in the kitchen. I really enjoyed getting chunks of the book from each character’s POV vs. switching per chapter. We still get to know each character personally but didn’t get as much whiplash from the more frequent switches. Cass, Tom, and Jake show up quite a bit in this one and are just as amazing in this one as they were in their book. I love the idea of the Urban Soul concept; I love what they do with each location and how they treat their employees. They are still one of my favorite triads. This will absolutely be a duet I listen to again and again.

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  • Karen Hardy
  • 16-08-20

It’s been 3 years since...

I first read this story and even after all that time...and all the books so many books...e-books, audio books, hardcopy books as soon as I saw the title I had total recall on the story. I loved ‘Misfits’ the first book in this series and this one was every bit as good as ‘Misfits’ so once again when I was fortunate enough to be offered the chance to revisit this story on audio it was without hesitation that I said “Yes please!” Dan Calley is once again the narrator for this book by one of my favorite authors and he’s once again done a superb job of bringing these men to life through their voices. I’m not sure what I have to say about this story that’s new from my last review except that maybe I fell a little more in love with Nero and Lenny than I did the first time around. I cannot lie stories about people like Nero and Lenny…people who no matter how broken and battered life may leave them…people who have the resilience to pick themselves up and not just keep going but keep trying. That’s who both Nero and Lenny are they’re two people who refuse to stay down or give up no matter what hand life deals them. Nero’s haunted by a past that won’t let go of him. Lenny’s terrors are in the present and it’s the reason why Nero suddenly finds himself with a roommate…a roommate that Nero can’t help but notice. I wish I had a whole lot of words to express how heartfelt this story is and how perfectly the author has captured the beauty of these two resilient souls as they find a life together, but I feel like I used my best words in my original review so I’m just going to leave you with the same words that I did in my original review… In a nutshell these two men have embedded themselves in my heart. I loved them. Every moment spent in their world felt real. There was love and warmth and laughter but there were also moments of heartache, frustration, anger and uncertainty.

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  • M. Womochil
  • 12-08-20

An Emotional Ride

This story was amazing the first time I read it, but Dan Calley’s narration added another level to the story that allowed me to connect with the story even more than before. Lenny and Nero are part of the Misfits crew and they both have their issues but they need each other and don’t realize it until they meet! My original review: I devoured this book... Nero and Lenny are so perfect for each other! I can’t get enough is the Urban Soul series and its characters. Garrett creates a world that is so real you actually feel like you are a part of it. Between the horrors in Nero’s past and the horrible things happening to Lenny in the present, watching them navigate their fragile friendship and eventual relationship is heartwarming and, at times, frustrating, but it’s the perfect story. You can see how much they need each other but Lenny needs more from Nero and Nero has to figure out how to give it to him. I need more of this world in my life! I just loved it!

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  • Cranky Reader
  • 10-08-20

Food & love

This is my first book by the author. I found it enjoyable once I settled in to the rhythm of it. It was interesting because despite both guys having some traumatic pasts that came up regularly in their thoughts, the book wasn’t mired in angst, mostly because they threw themselves into commercial cooking. I found this lack of wallowing refreshing. I enjoyed following them while they cooked and created. It was nice reading about a couple of regular blokes who started rough but managed to create an average, but interesting, enjoyable life together, with some friends. I liked how Lenny’s artistic flair was incorporated into the food production and he learned cooking backwards plating from rather than forcing him to start from his deficits. I liked how Nero was protective in a way that didn’t burden Lenny. The scene where Nero forbids strangers in the kitchen, it’s his choice, there’s no tossing Lenny’s issues in front of other staff. Even though Nero was grumpy, I was glad he wasn’t abusive. Difficult and prickly, yes, but he didn’t go after coworkers. My quibbles, which may or may not resonate with other readers: - Lenny seemed to have no friends from his past at all. not from uni, not from dancing, not from restaurants, not from childhood. I get that he wouldn’t have felt safe staying with dance friends any other restaurant friends but for such a personable guy, how did he have none? I get keeping a character list tight, but friendless orphans feel like quitting before you start. Especially contrasted with Nero’s inability to make friends, having all of the friends be Nero’s felt unbalanced. - Nero’s instalove was clunky. That they spent a lot of time together before acting on anything saved it. I get having chemistry when meeting. I get that Lenny needed to look under Nero’s grump. But it seemed to be taken as a done deal from day one that Nero would provide infinite chances for Lenny, and Lenny would overlook grumpiness. And it wasn’t wrong, as such, it just felt like a shortcut that wasn’t necessary given how much time they had to grow together. Why start at all in? Steam: Low. Mostly off page M/M starting with a slow burn then ramping up. Narration: My US ears took a while to acclimate to the accent. It felt mumbly. I listen at +25%, though, and didn’t slow it. I did rewind a couple sections multiple times. Maybe it was my unfamiliarity or maybe the narration was just mumbly.