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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Strays (Urban Soul #2) [Nero & Lenny] by Garrett Leigh

~sigh~ oh how much I LOVE Garrett's books, besides making me HUNGRY with all the tasty food she keeps on mentioning I can't complain and clearly can't ask for more than I got in this beautiful touching story. There is something so genuine about her writing, the characters she creates that are simply a joy to read (even with all the difficulties she makes them endure before they can find their HEA).

I LOVED Misfits (the previous book in the series) and I guess I was surprised by it since it's a menage, and yet it wasn't at all about the sex, it was about the three of them finding a connection. Everyone has his own faults and seeing them together overcome the difficulties life (or rather Garrett) inflicted upon them was so touching and beautiful. This book was the same (though it's not a menge..). These two books can be read as stand alone ones, though Nero is mentioned in the previous one there isn't a lot about him (mostly because even though Cass is his best friend there is more he DOESN'T know about him than what he actually does..) and in this one we are introduced to Tom-Jake-Cass in a very easy going way, really liked that. 

The setting of this one is similar to the previous one."Urban Soul" is Tom, Cass and now Jake's company, they have many restaurants with special concepts around London. Nero Fierro is a chef who works at some of them, he goes around to wherever he is needed though mostly he works at "Pippa's" (since he lives in the apartment above the restaurant). Nero is a loner, and when he is surrounded by the workers in his kitchens he is mostly grumpy and very difficult to work with but with the life he lived it's really no wonder. Growing up wasn't about roses and daisies it was filled with abuse and distrust. Yet Cass sees him for who he really is, or who he can be, someone who cares for the ones who got in his little tight circle, someone who would protect the ones in need, which is exactly why he "throws" Lenny Mitchell at him. 

Even though Lenny has been living on his own for the last few years, he is dealing with something MUCH more difficult than managing on his own - a stalker. Sadly since he couldn't produce evidence the police aren't very impressed by his complaint and so Cass decided first thing first - keeping him safe. He offers him a job at the kitchen of Pippa's as Nero's "personal helper" while staying in the apartment above it which means he doesn't even has a reason to leave the facility. Sounds like the perfect solution and yet it also means he has to work and live with grumpy Nero and also, he can't be his flamboyant self. It isn't about worrying about fitting in, it's dealing with this consuming fear. He is almost a  shadow of the cheerful guy he used to be a year before the stalker came into his life. 

Lenny crawls under Nero's skin and he isn't even sure why and how. There is something about Lenny's vulnerability that shifts something inside of him, even without knowing WHY Lenny is staying with him (besides the obvious - Lenny's in trouble). As the time goes by they grow closer together, with sharing meals, cigarettes and naturally work at the kitchen, Lenny starts to open up to Nero. Unlike the people around Nero, Lenny takes him the way he is, he laughs at him grumpiness he isn't afraid of it. He sees Nero for the protector he is, his good heart even if it's masks by a layer of mean temper. But even though their feeling for each other progress Lenny is conflicted. He feels he has bared his soul to Nero while Nero keeps to himself and doesn't enable Lenny to truly get to know him, understand him. Nero has to make up a decision - Is what Lenny means to him is worth the pain of reliving and exposing his sad past? 

The book is filled with too much tasty food I wish I could taste through my kindle and like the previous book the constant was the opening of a new restaurant under "Urban Soul" and yet the story itself was mostly about Lenny and Nero (though we did get a little bit of the MC from the previous book). I liked the way their relationship progressed, the way both of them learnt to care for one another. While Lenny started as the "vulnerable" one because of the situation he was in, he wasn't always the "submissive" in their growing relationship, he had a very colorful personality and a backbone (to deal with Nero's moods) and when he finally felt safe it was great seeing another side of him, one that can handle himself wonderfully in a new environment (and under stress) and isn't afraid to let Nero into his heart. Likewise, Nero wasn't just a bossy grumpy guy, there was so much more under the surface like his kindness and loyalty. 

A beautiful heartwarming (and at times heartbreaking) book. I mostly read it yesterday up until I was too tired to continue, filling my dreams with Nero and Lenny then woke up to finish the book before I even got out of bed to start my day. 

Totally a MUST READ like all of Garrett's books are! 

Read on:
27-28 Mar-2017

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