AUTHOR: Garrett Leigh
Pages: 274 / 34
Details: Received from the Dreamspinner Press
Through Love Romances and More
Own / Kindle
ONLY LOVE, the blurb:
“The diagnosis of a chronic stomach condition leaves thirty-two-year-old Sergeant Jed Cooper with little choice but to call time on his Army career. Then on the dusty streets of Kirkuk, an ambush gone tragically wrong decimates his team, and he returns to the US with a shattered leg and the memory of his best friend dying in his arms.
Life in his sleepy hometown proves intolerable until he finds solace in a lakeside cabin with vivacious young carpenter, Max O’Dair. In the shadow of the epilepsy that periodically plagues Max, he and Jed form an unspoken bond. After a late night episode, Jed realizes how much Max means to him, and life has taught him not to waste time.
But the lines between contentment and complacency are blurred. Things left hidden resurface to tear through their world, and before they can repair the damage, death comes to call again. Faces, past and present, rally around them to weather the storm, but before long, they are left with only love.”
This review is going to be different from the ones I usually write. While I will discuss my thoughts on the story, this post will touch on more than ‘just’ the book. Jed’s medical nightmare in ‘Only Love’ resonated with me on many levels. Writing about this story without also touching on personal memories has turned out to be impossible.
There was so much I could identify with in this book. Gastroparesis may not be the name of my particular problem but I I’m all too intimately acquainted with gastro-intestinal problems and all the consequences they can have for your (love)life. Similarly, I may have never been on the receiving end of a bullet, I do know what it is like to have a leg that just won’t do what it’s supposed to be doing. Oh, and don’t forget to check off that ugly scar nor the constant lack of appetite.
“Jed wasn’t hungry, but then he never was.”
The frustration Jed experiences was a constant presence in my life for years and still makes regular reappearances. Swinging between gratitude because people look out for you and anger because they feel they have to; been there and done that too.
I’m sure there are emotional triggers in this book for every reader. Mine were probably a bit different from most; I was closest to Jed when the endoscopy was mentioned and literally shuddered in distress at the mention of morphine.
The funny thing is that the hardest part of this story wasn’t Jed’s illness but Max’s helplessness while Jed was on death’s doorstep. It once again brought home to me what it must have been like for my husband when the doctors were ready to write me off.
This book all but killed my while I was reading it. Max and Jed are wonderful characters to read about; well developed, fully rounded and completely realistic, I found myself in their thrall from the moment they were introduced. Their slow progression from roommates, to friends to so much more was smooth, realistic and beautiful. The secondary characters in ‘Only Love’ made it easier for me to understand Max and Jed and added warmth and realism to their story.
While I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn’t read the book, I have to say that I’m grateful that while the author gave us an optimistic ending, she kept it real. Thankfully there are no miracle cures on these pages; ‘just’ two strong yet vulnerable men finding each other and the strength to build a future together.
“How do you do that?
Say nothing at all for months on end, then kill me dead in three sentences.”
I can’t thank Garrett Leigh enough for the way in which she managed to combine harsh realism with thoughtful sensitivity. She took two men who might well have been broken by their medical circumstances and showed that the limitations health issues can throw in your path don’t mean you have to stop living, never mind loving. In fact, I don’t think I have the words to express how much reading this book has meant to me.
To avoid any confusion I should add the following. I would have loved this book if I had never been ill in my life. I would challenge any reader to pick up this book and not feel ALL the emotions. If you find yourself in need of a well written, thought provoking, heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting love story, you can’t go wrong with ‘Only Love’. The book will take your breath away.
“For him, Max was the early morning sun, a cool springtime breeze, and a blanket of fresh white snow. His warm eyes were a guiding light in the dark, and the love they held was the only thing Jed would ever need.”
AWAKE AND ALIVE, the blurb:
“After a successful surgery relieves Jed of the illness that nearly killed him, he returns home to slowly recover with Max. With time to reconnect, Max shows him a new way to love. Now at a crossroads and facing a new life, Jed must listen to his friends and family to learn how to move forward.”
Awake and alive is a 34 page out-take from ‘Only Love’ and is available as a free read on the publisher’s website. If, like me, you’ve read and loved ‘Only Love’ this is a very welcome and beautiful addition to a wonderful story. Make sure to read it after only love though, you will regret it if you don’t.
I was very happy with this opportunity to spend a little bit more time with two men I got very attached to over the course of 274 pages. While I completely understand why it wasn’t included in ‘Only Love’ I’m very glad it was made available to the public separately. It gives us a glimpse of the happier times once the heartbreaking events of ‘Only Love’ are a thing of the past. While the ending of ‘Only Love’ didn’t leave me in any doubt about Jed and Max’s happily ever after, it was a joy to be part of it for a short while; a very welcome burst of light after the trauma they had put me through in the main story.
Since I started on a personal note I guess I might as well end on one as well. Just as Garrett Leigh painted a very realistic picture of what it is like to be brought to your knees by a medical condition in ‘Only Love’ she successfully described the start of a new life afterwards in ‘Awake and Alive’. It may not be the life you’d expected to live, it may mean having to change all the plans you had for your future, it is still a life well worth living. Especially if you’re lucky enough to do it with someone you love and who loves you dearly by your side.