Books · Contemporary · diverse characters · grief · Holiday Story · mental health · MM romance · part of series · physical disability · read the trigger warnings · sexually explicit · substance abuse

REVIEW: Skins Box Set by Garrett Leigh

 

 

Cover Design: Black Jazz Design

The bestselling SKINS series.

“I can’t get enough of this gorgeous series. Heartfelt and beautiful, I’m totally addicted.”

Dream

When unrequited love leaves Dylan Hart sleepless and nursing his wounds, instinct draws him to the one place he’s found mindless respite in the past—Lovato’s. It’s a place for every fantasy—where a night of insane NSA fun with former ballet dancer Angelo brings relief to Dylan’s fragile feelings.
Friends to lovers, hurt comfort, angst.Whisper

Lonely physiotherapist Harry Foster has the world at his feet. A full client list, a six figure Instagram following, and a publishing deal for a book he doesn’t have time to write until his agent offers him a break—a retreat to the wild south west coast.

Cornish horseman Joe Carter is lonely too. On paper, they have nothing in common, but Joe is beautiful…glorious, and when an accident puts his life in Harry’s healing hands, the whisper of true love is inevitable. If the trouble that put the farm on its knees in the first place doesn’t get in the way.

Friends to lovers, hurt comfort, horses, forced proximity.

Believe

Flight paramedic Rhys Foster is hooked on adrenaline. By day it’s blood and guts, by night it’s the thrill of the club. Entertainer Jevon Campbell is a play therapist like no other—dancer, magician, acrobat. Their connection is instant. As the days slip by, Rhys must learn to believe he’s worth the happiness Jevon is offering.

Friends to lovers, first times, men in uniform.

Crossroads

Angelo Giordano and Dylan Hart are more in love than ever. As the end of a tough year approaches, they reach a crossroads. Dylan returns to Cornwall for Christmas and Angelo can’t imagine watching him leave again. Can the love that surrounds them on Whisper Farm show them the way home?

Christmas novella, favourite characters, found family.

My Thoughts: Dream – Dylan Hart is in a relationship with his best friend and his girlfriend. It’s tangled because there’s too much emotion involved for Dylan. And, he wants what the two of them have but he wants it for himself. When he ends the relationship and realizes he needs to take time for himself he heads out for a night of intense sex.

An intense, chance encounter in a sex club gives Dylan memories he can’t leave behind. Then, that night comes back to confront him when the same man appears in his office. Angelo (known as Angel at the club through no choice of his own) is in a mess of trouble and his financial account has been assigned to Dylan.

Dylan refers Angelo back to the office he should be connected with and that should be the end of it. It isn’t though. Through some force neither man seems to understand, they keep meeting up.

I loved the characters in this story. That was no surprise to me because Garrett Leigh writes really character-driven novels. The sexual encounters in this book are really intense but it’s not just physical. There’s a really intense emotional connection between Dylan and Angelo and the two of them struggle through issues that most couples would fall apart over. I liked the fact that Dylan kept struggling for the two of them to have the space they needed, to talk things over, and to make progress.

Angelo is dealing with a debilitating illness that has forced his retirement from dance. The struggle of giving up dance and becoming someone “different” is one I’m intimately familiar with and I appreciated the delicacy and honesty that was brought to this character’s growth.

This is an interesting book; I’ve not read anything quite like it and I think it’s well worth a read. Great beginning to a series.

Whisper: Harry appeared first in book one of this series as Angelo’s physiotherapist. Harry’s techniques for a holistic approach to health and recovery have made him Instagram famous and he’s writing a book. The problem is that he continues to focus on his clients and is putting off the task of writing. His brother Rhys (who also appears briefly in the first book) convinces him to stay at an Air BnB on a farm to do some solid writing while on a sabbatical.

Joe is the stubborn, amusingly grumpy, always-in-trouble, firey man who attempts to run the farm. The farm is a family affair for saving horses. Please be aware there are some brief depictions of animals that are subjected to cruel circumstances, and in some cases die. Rest assured that it is the positive interactions with rescued animals that is the focus.

Whisper Farm was almost run into the ground by Joe’s alcoholic father and it’s nothing but a struggle every time the phone rings and another horse needs to be given a home.

While Joe and Harry share a mutual physical attraction, it takes them a while to get to know one another. The pacing of this book was believable and enjoyable. Harry is caught up in his life to the point that he’s almost in quicksand. The more he tries to do what he thinks is right, the worse things seem to get.

Joe’s sister, Emma is a lovely supporting character. She lives with an anxiety disorder that, at times, has her confined to her home or the farm. Her friendship with Harry seems to happen mostly off-page but it seeps into the story through Emma’s growth. The author has done a wonderful job os illustrating how people can be affected by an anxiety disorder. The range of reactions from Emma’s family is a great way to illustrate the challenges.

Both main characters are beautiful in their own ways. I feel like a broken record when I say that what Garrett Leigh does best is characters. Each man has his own distinct history and there are speedbumps to come. I think what I admire most about Leigh’s character development is that the main characters never “merge” into a couple by losing themselves.  Each character retains their unique life, capacities, and challenges. Let’s face it, love doesn’t make all those things go away but it can make it easier to deal with.

The connections between people are believable. Some books I refer to as “Queer Disneyland” (and don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy those too!). In this book, there happen to be some queer characters who have realistic and believable connections to one another. This series is a demonstration of how our lives can be intertwined without us even really knowing about it… and that I won’t elaborate on further! No spoilers!

Believe: I already knew that I liked Rhys from his interactions with his brother,  Harry in the second book. This book just proved that he was a character I would fall in love with. Jevon – is his opposite in many ways – the two men couldn’t be more different when it comes to sexuality and their confidence!

I will say that they met and things zoomed forward rather quickly. I’m used to Leigh’s characters spending a lot of time getting to know each other before they become close. Not saying I didn’t like it – just that it was different.

These two characters are both on their own journies. Rhys is learning about intimacy… he’s got the sex thing mastered, that’s never been his problem. He is challenged by the intimacy of a relationship, trusting, loving, and just being close to someone. Jevon is growing, going through a fair amount of self-discovery.

I thought some really big issues were slid into the time frame of this novel: the 2017 London Bridge Terrorist Attack, Syria, camps for displaced people. It’s not too in-your-face, and it really makes sense in the context of the novel.

Crossroads: I’m not going to run this one for you… if you read the first three books then this installment is like a gift from Garrett Leigh. All three couples from the previous books in the series reappear in this story. Suffice to say there are very satisfying endings for everyone. For obvious reasons, this story can’t be read as a standalone…okay…it could but there would be so much context missing!

Enjoy this extra tidbit from a great author that seems to signify the end of an absolutely wonderful and entertaining series.

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer.

Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award-winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.

Website: http://www.garrettleigh.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/garrettleighauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Garrett_Leigh

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