So many layers to this beautiful – and at times bleak – romance

Whisper (Skins, #2)Whisper by Garrett Leigh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Full review in the morning, well the later morning when it’s not 2.17am!

Right, here we go. This book is pure Garrett Leigh. It’s all about finding love in unexpected places, it’s about overcoming the odds, it’s about hope, it’s about never giving in and never stopping fighting. It’s about Harry and Joe.

Harry is Rhys’ brother from Dream (if you’ve not read that yet, why not?!) and he’s floundering. While on the surface he’s successful with his Instagram blog, his physio and private clients, his book deal, inside he’s lost and hurting.

He sees the love between his client, and now friend Angelo, and his partner Dylan – both guys are hot but he’s not into threesomes – and he’s envious but unsure of what exactly he’s jealous of – the sex or the closeness and love the men have found.

Harry’s also struggling with his own mental health. He’s great at giving advice but not so hot at following it himself and he’s starting to drown under the stress.

When he’s given the chance to go on a sabbatical at a Cornish farm he’s still not 100% with the programme but goes anyway. What he finds is something completely unexpected – Joe.

And oh boy is Joe something! Hot-headed and quick to fly off the handle, struggling to keep the farm going, not dealing with anything that isn’t the day to day care of his rescue horses (and other associated menagerie) and put out by the thought of some bloke sleeping in his much loved and dead granddad’s bedroom.

This is a slow, slow, burn. There’s clearly an attraction but there’s just so much other stuff going on in both men’s heads that they really can’t get a minute to breathe. Garrett amps up the tension slowly, with external pressures of money, Joe’s deadbeat dad’s antics, the in-built prejudice that a Roma family has to deal with, his sister Emma’s agoraphobia, too many horses needing rescuing and nowhere to put them, and Harry’s increasing panic that he’s not going to be able to write the book about wellness and mental health when his own is tanking.

I was totally on edge, in a good way, while I was reading this story, the time just flew by and before I knew it, almost 2/3rds of the book had gone past before Harry and Joe finally get it together and let’s just say, when they do, all bets are off and it’s a gorgeously written scene of acceptance and emotions and just finding that space to breathe.

This romance isn’t as erotic as Skins #1 was but it never suffers for it. Harry and Joe connect on so many levels that the physical is just one outward manifestation of that. That’s not to say the sex between them isn’t smoking hot either, because it is, but it’s intimate, it’s small and between just the two of them.

There’s a lovely surprise guest appearance in this book from Dex, whose story is told in Heart and it was so great to see him and Seb still going strong and there’s such a strong sense of family in this narrative. The secondary cast of characters fully complement the story being told and are unique and bring their own selves to life.

As with every Garrett Leigh book, there’s great research, this time around the Roma/Gypsy heritage and lifestyle and it shows in the authentic feel to each character in this extended family. The cover, as always given Garrett’s talents as a cover artist herself, is sublime and the strength depicted in Harry is perfectly mirrored in his actions as he finds a place for himself alongside Joe and the mixed up crazy that is Whisper Farm.

#ARC kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. The fangirling, as will ever be the case with this author, is all my own work and I’m not a bit ashamed of it.

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