Series: Roads: Book One
Author: Garrett Leigh
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 366 Pages
At a Glance: Overall, I must say that Slide is very impressive. The story was riveting, the characters believable, and the love element really beautiful.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Don’t look back. Don’t you ever look back…
Shy tattoo artist Ash has a troubled past. Years of neglect, drug abuse, and life on the streets have taken their toll, and sometimes it seems the deep, unspoken bond with his lover is the only balm for wounds he doesn’t quite understand.
Chicago paramedic Pete is warmth, love, and strength—things Ash never knew he could have, and never even knew he wanted until Pete showed him. But fate is a cruel, cruel mistress, and when nightmares collide with the present, their tentatively built world comes crashing down.
Traumatic events in Pete’s work life distance him from home, and he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Ash has slipped away. Betrayal, secrets, and lies unfold, and when a devastating coincidence takes hold, Pete must fight with all he has to save the love of his life.
Review: While Slide by Garrett Leigh may have a few minor flaws here and there, this was an extremely well-constructed story with just the right amount of heat and angst along with a gripping plot. The written blurb doesn’t begin to do justice to the depth of woundedness that exists inside Ash. While his time on the street is admittedly glossed over, it’s the abuse that he suffered while there that slowly trickles out in this incredibly moving story, leaving you just a bit breathless at the sheer enormity of what he has endured.
Ash has literally made an art of living on the street by the time he is found by Ellie, drawing sketches on the sidewalks in Philadelphia. Coming from a wealthy family and being a persistent little bee, Ellie finally convinces Ash to come home with her, where her family takes him in and helps him return to what they consider a normal existence.
But Ash is more than broken inside, he is a raw bundle of fears and guilt, with a self-esteem so low that he can barely cope with Ellie much less a job or finding a place to live. Not a problem, as Ellie plows right on ahead and introduces him to Pete, who has been looking for a roommate. Managing to get his work seen by an Ink artist, Ash is able to apprentice and land himself a job in a successful tattoo parlor, and things seem to begin to turn around for him.
He begins to feel more and more settled when he is around Pete and before long, he is sleeping in his bed, but sex is not necessarily problematic. With phenomenal patience, Pete slowly coaxes Ash into a more intimate relationship that is fraught with panic attacks and recurring nightmares for Ash. However, Ash is soothed, calmed when he is with Pete, and so the two fall into a rhythm of sorts—a tentative yet loving relationship that stutters along until Pete’s schedule as a paramedic keeps him away more and more, and Ash steadily becomes unglued. Gradually, the love these men have for each other is heavily burdened by a serious lack of communication as well as the demons that haunt Ash relentlessly.
What I’ve just described above is the mere tip of an involved and dramatic story that is told in two parts, with alternating points of view featuring Ash and Pete as narrators. I loved the distinctly different views from these two men. These were well-defined characters with profoundly different voices, and to see the same events unfold through both their perspectives added to the story in so many ways. Pete, the second narrator, was not simply “retelling” the story, he added depth and nuance to previously seen events. And, because his was a more sound and well-reasoned voice, we really got to experience the dark and twisted way in which Ash often perceived things. The only light in Ash’s life was Pete, and when Pete seemed to reject Ash, Ash simply shut down and folded into himself, described as becoming catatonic and unaware of his surroundings.
As the narration changed hands, more and more of the horror that was Ash’s life in foster care began to surface. Garrett Leigh cleverly allowed Pete’s horrified reactions to be the barometer of how deeply Ash was tortured and abused. Piece by piece this story began to take on the aspect of a runaway train in all its grim detail. Ash was that train, Pete was merely a passenger and when the train derailed, Pete was forced to watch the wreck, watch Ash spiral down and out of control. The question wasn’t did Pete love Ash, that was a given; rather, the question was how much did he love him. By forcing Pete to acknowledge that he could not “save or heal” Ash, the author maintained the realism behind this story and, in doing so, breathed even more life into her two main characters.
Though Slide is a good story, I found that the lack of details about Ash’s life on the street began to jar just a bit. At first, it was difficult to understand the strange gaps in what might be called his cultural frame of reference. For instance, movies and books he seemed to completely have missed. A distinct lack of education is revealed and yet no mention is made of how he finally manages to attend the local community college without a GED. Then, there was the gap between the time he meets Ellie, manages to apprentice in Philadelphia, and then land a job in a fairly prestigious ink shop. I felt like I missed out on experiences that shaped the person Ash had become by the time he met Pete.
Overall, I must say that Slide is very impressive. The story was riveting, the characters believable, and the love element really beautiful. I wish when the author chose to re-release this novel, she had taken the opportunity to give us just a bit more about Ash and his past. However, despite that, the book remains a well written story of recovery and love.
You can buy Slide here:
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