What Remains, by Garrett Leigh
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: July 4, 2016
Rafa’s Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
DMac’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Web designer Jodi Peters is a solitary creature. Lunch twice a week with his ex-girlfriend-turned-BFF and the occasional messy venture to a dodgy gay bar is all the company he needs, right?
Then one night he stumbles across newly divorced firefighter Rupert O’Neil. Rupert is lost and lonely, but just about the sweetest bloke Jodi has ever known. Add in the heady current between them, and Jodi can’t help falling hard in love. He offers Rupert a home within the walls of his cosy Tottenham flat—a sanctuary to nurture their own brand of family—and for four blissful years, life is never sweeter.
Until a cruel twist of fate snatches it all away. A moment of distraction leaves Jodi fighting for a life he can’t remember and shatters Rupert’s heart. Jodi doesn’t know him—or want to. With little left of the man he adores, Rupert must cling to what remains of his shaky faith and pray that Jodi can learn to love him again.
This book gutted me and left me for dead.
From its laser sharp plotting and deft timing, to the dual POVs of two remarkable main characters, What Remains had me reeling from the start. Even the cover art had me transfixed. It’s hard to believe I had almost forgotten what an absolute maestro the author can be plucking at our unsuspecting heartstrings.
The book was more or less split into a before and after, with a brief interlude in between. The first part was told in dramatic nonlinear fashion – to lure us in before tearing our hearts out, obviously. It teased us with sweet anecdotes of Jodi and Rupert’s early days when they fell effortlessly in love and built a life together. These flashbacks were interspersed with heartbreaking scenes of Rupert’s vigil over Jodi’s hospital bed and other equally grim moments marking the passage of time and the loss of hope.
I was an emotional wreck by the end of Part One, and even with a welcome interlude in between, I was still completely unprepared for the new realities of Jodi and Rupert’s lives in Part Two. Neither were the two men. Witnessing their struggles, which varied day-to-day, was both heartbreaking and eye-opening. I really appreciated the way the author dealt with Jodi’s recovery and the realities of living with a disability. There was no magic wand, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t moments of magic amidst the frustration and fear.
I adored both men, who were so different yet so undeniably compatible. Their bisexuality, which is discussed early in their acquaintance, comes into play later in a surprising and meaningful way that brought added depth to the story. This book made me fall in love then promptly curse the vagaries of life. But it also reinforced my belief that while relationships can be really hard work, love is worth it.
Pro tip: Don’t read this book in public unless you want the world to see your ugly cry face.
Very rarely will I mention a cover but for some reason I really really loved the cover of this book. Bearded dude plus smoke? Why is this pinging me so hard? *sigh*
Leigh’s book is an amnesia trope done right. I enjoyed that the first part of the book changed from before and right after Jodi got amnesia. It made it so that we could see how they met, and it made it sadder that Jodi couldn’t remember Rupert (his hot, sweet, firefighter boyfriend). Poor lambs.
That being said I am glad the rest of the book stayed with one timeline because it made it easier to focus on Jodi and Rupert’s reconnection. In some ways I felt worse for Rupert than I did for Jodi. Jodi was kind of a brat and Rupert was so sweet to him even though he was hurting too. Jodi straight up didn’t remember him and kept calling for his ex-girlfriend. *sigh*
My favorite part of the book was that Rupert and Jodi reconnected even though Jodi’s amnesia didn’t magically go away. Don’t get me wrong– not every amnesia book needs to end with the amnesiac stuck with it, but it was nice to see a different take on it. Especially a book that dealt with it so well. Sometimes the quick fix isn’t as satisfying as the long burn.
This book was really angsty though so be warned that you’re going to have a lot of heartache to sort through before anything even starts to get better. Jodi goes from being a carefree, fun-loving, web designer to a short-tempered, hurtful amnesiac and Leigh makes you really hurt for him and Rupert.
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.
Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits is 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.
Read more about Garrett and find more of her books over at her website (Click here!)
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.