Favorite Quote: Getting clean had saved him, but in turn his so-called life had become a dedication to his addiction-a necessary homage that he’d never be free of.
Reviewed by Tori
Recovering addict Jamie Yorke has returned to England from California. With no home or family to speak of, he sticks a pin in a map and finds a small town in the Derbyshire Peak District. Matlock Bath is a quiet place—he just needs to get there, keep his head down, and stay clean. Simple, right? Until a chance meeting on the flight home alters the course of his so-called life forever.
Ex-Army medic Marc Ramsey is recovering from life-changing combat injuries while pulling nights as a trauma specialist at the local hospital. Keeping busy is a habit he can’t quit, but when Jamie—so wild and beautiful—bursts into his life, working himself into the ground isn’t as compelling as it used to be.
Marc falls hard, but chaos lurks behind Jamie’s fragile facade. He’s winning his battle against addiction, but another old foe is slowly consuming him. Both men have weathered many storms, but the path to the peace they deserve might prove the roughest ride yet. (Goodreads)
I’ve always been a fan of Garrett Leigh and her tortured heroes. Whether it’s abuse, addiction, or PTSD, Leigh digs down beneath the stereotypes to educate readers to the truth of the matter and the hard road those who suffer must follow to put their life back on track. I like that Leigh doesn’t offer readers the idea that love solves everything. Rather she pushes the fact that friends, family, and lovers can help and there is no shame in relying on them.
Set in the Rented Hearts series, Soul To Keep can be easily read as a standalone though some may want to read book one, Rented Heart, to get more information Jamie’s background. Marc is a crossover character from Between Ghosts; an emotional standalone war romance that broke my heart a million times over. Much quieter then I would normally expect from Leigh, this is more Jamie’s story than his and Marc’s. Though both characters carry some pretty heavy baggage, Jamie is a recovering drug addict who suffers from panic attacks and OCD while Marc is a recovering alcoholic whose need to care for others has been waylaid by losing part of his leg, the focus is a soft raw wound that centers on Jamie’s need to stand on his own two feet and deal with all the internal factors that attributed to his addiction.
“I’m afraid of myself…and you should be too”
The romance is very slow burning as Marc instigates himself in Jamie’s life with good intentions. An attraction and Marc’s internal need to care for others manifests into him giving Jamie a job, rides, feeding him, etc… Basically, Marc is wooing him the only way he knows how and Jamie teeters between being relieved and overwhelmed. Jamie left California to come back to England so he could prove to himself that he could stand alone in his recovery. Jamie carries a tremendous amount of guilt with him over his treatment of Zac, his best friend, and the amount of time and money Zac’s boyfriend, Liam, spent to help him get clean. Hints at an abusive childhood and very low self-esteem create a vacuum of self-pity, anger, and fear that Jamie can’t escape from anymore now that he is clean.
He didn’t deserve Marc’s kindness any more then he had Zac’s, or Liam’s, or Marvins. He was the storm.
Some steamy sex scenes and swoony romantic overtures offer readers the assurance that this couple has a chance if time and patience is used. I enjoyed the banter between Jamie and Marc; their chemistry flows smooth and sure. Even the awkward moments worked as they paid homage to what was going on with Jamie and his emotions at the time. I do wish more time had been spent talking about their issues rather than the habit of sweeping it all under the rug when it became too much. It seemed like Marc spent an inordinate amount of time trying to guess what all Jamie’s problems are while Jamie offers him random clues to follow while getting angry at Marc for trying to diagnose him. I also wished we could have seen Jamie make some sort of amends towards his friends. Especially Zac.
“I don’t find storms I am the storm.”
The ending is a mashup of manufactured drama that threw me off a little. It wasn’t necessary for relation to Jamie and Marc’s situation and felt rushed and haphazard. I felt maybe it was used to set up the storyline for book three. We’ll see. Regardless, Soul to Keep is a quiet emotional story about one man’s journey towards sobriety from his point of view and the various relationships he forms with those around him.