REVIEW: Redemption by Garrett Leigh

The Official Description: Reformed gangster Luis falls hard for his boss. When friendship turns to love, it’s up to Paolo to convince him second chances are worth the pain.

Luis Pope is back on the street after a six year stretch in prison, but life on the outside seems just out of reach, especially when the whole neighbourhood knows his face for all the wrong reasons.

Paolo’s temper makes it hard to keep staff, and he knows Luis’s rep all too well. But his nonno believes in redemption, and Luis isn’t the tough guy Paolo remembers. Prison has left its mark, inside and out, and all the kindness in the world can’t fix the three inch scar on Luis’s skull.

And it can’t keep ghosts locked up. Luis’s the best worker Paolo’s ever had, and Luis’s happier than he’s ever been. But his old life doesn’t want to stay in the past. Trouble comes to call, and when it makes him an offer he can’t refuse, keeping Paolo safe hurts the most.

Redemption is an angsty, standalone MM romance novel, with second chances, found family, friends-to-lovers, and buckets of hurt/comfort themed loveliness.

Just the facts:  M/M romance, hurt/comfort, redemption

No one writes redeemable, broken characters better than Garrett Leigh…and I always fall in love with them. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: This book begins with Luis Pope being released from prison. He’s been serving time for a crime that he carried alone… protecting his brother. But now that he’s out, he doesn’t want to go back to the family business. He just doesn’t know where to start. He finds his way to a small cafe where he remembers the tea… and meets Paolo.

Paolo remembers Luis. Not only did they go to school together once upon a time, he remembers seeing him around the neighborhood. He knows what kind of background Luis has…but his father talks him into given the ex-con a chance.

A relationship develops between the two men, but there’s a lot going on around them that gets in the way… not the least of which is Luis’ issues with his past and feeling as though nothing he can ever do will make him worth loving.

I love the way Garrett Leigh writes characters. They are always flawed in pretty realistic ways and they read as really authentic. Luis was my favorite in this particular story. When he was released from prison, everything seemed to overwhelm him. After spending 6 years in a small room, having to watch over his shoulder, he’s suddenly dumped back into the middle of city life.

The build-up of trust between Luis and Paolo was great to read. The two men were very different. Paolo’s fiery temper and gruff exterior gave way eventually to a very caring man who seemed perfect for Luis. But, Luis continues to struggle with his feelings of worthlessness. The way he lived in the past conflicts with the way he’s trying to live in the present and he’s torn. The progression of their friendship… the slow development of trust … it was a joy to read!

There’s some real frustration that builds in this novel. I felt, along with Luis, the fact that he was so trapped by his past and prevented from moving on to a future that he had wished for. As much as Paolo tried to convince Luis he was worth loving, ultimately that comfort won’t come until Luis can come to that conclusion by himself.

I can’t wait to read more in this series and I’m certain that I’ll continue to read anything that Garrett Leigh publishes.

The warnings bit: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) crime, past mention of dubious consent because of power imbalance, some minor descriptions of being incarcerated, threats against characters family, illegal activity, mentions of drug dealing, a character is involved in crime against will, injuries, mentions of past injuries.

I received an ARC of Redemption by Garrett Leigh via Signal Boost Promotions in exchange for an unbiased review.


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