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.
Garrett Leigh was one of the very first M/M Romance authors I read when I recently found the genre. One of the things I liked the most about her writing was that she managed to write hopeful stories, but at the same time, she didn’t hold back. There’s always this soft air of angst, and in some of her stories there’s a light grittiness that comes with her characters and their stories – it makes them real, and tangible, and very relatable. What Remains felt like that, in a lot of ways.
In this book we meet Rupert and Jodi. They have been together for five years and, man are they happy, but tragedy hits them when one morning Jodi is hit by a car. The accident ends with Jodi in hospital and with amnesia. The last five years of his life (his life with Rupert) are gone. Completely gone.
I’ve always liked the amnesia trope, but I am picky with it at the same time. I want it to feel real, both in how the amnesia is written and how the characters try to overcome what it brought to their lives, and what it took away. I think this book nails it.
If I’m completely honest, I have to confess that the first 30% of the book didn’t quite work for me. The author does a time hop thingy, where, in each chapter, we get a present time event, and a memory of Rupert and Jodi’s life together. While I was really into what was going on now, the past events messed it up for me a bit, and took me out of the story. They felt out of place. I know that the author was trying to show us how they met and fell for each other, but those short scenes felt a bit flat for me… Like, I just couldn’t feel the chemistry, and I actually thought of DNFing because it just wasn’t working. I’m glad I stuck with it, though.
After 30% mark, the story picked up and I just couldn’t put it down. I read most of it overnight and I couldn’t sleep because I kept thinking about Rupe and Jodi, about what would happen to and with them… It’s been a looooooong time since a book had that effect on me. Their story, at some point, became so real and so beautiful.
This kind of story doesn’t come without angst and hurt, and pain, for the reader. One feels so hopeless, and as a witness you want to crawl into the book and help. Help in any way you can because you can feel the characters’ pain. You can feel their frustration, and their sadness and their worry, and their everything. Just like you can feel all those things, you can’t help but break into a huge grin when things start getting better. When the feelings that were there before everything changed, start coming up again and it’s all so new, once more.
I really, really liked this book. I liked Indie (Rupert’s daughter), and I liked how bisexuality was portrayed here, as well. I loved Sophie, man she was awesome. But oh for the life of me, I hated.. HATED Jen. She’s the worst ex-wife and mother. The worst. And here we come to one of my very few complaints… why the bitch ex trope? 😦
What I did love was how amazing Rupert was. He stood by the man he loved knowing there was a chance that he might never get Jodi back. He stood there, and he did everything he could to make Jodi feel safe around him. For his part, Jodi was amazing as well. Leigh wrote him in a realistic way, I think. His mood swings, and the desperation, the frustration, the anger, it all felt very real. But what I loved the most was the ending. It was realistic. There was no magic fix, but they were so happy – And that was more than enough for me.
Good book. Totally recommended!
** Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review