Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Junkyard Heart
SERIES: Porthkennack #7
AUTHOR: Garrett Leigh
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 192 pages
RELEASE DATE: December 4, 2017
Tired of the London rat race and the heartbreak that comes with it, photographer Jas Manning returns to Porthkennack, the Cornish seaside town where he spent every childhood summer on his father’s farm. Resigned to year-round rain, wind, and homemade jam, he’s sorely unprepared for the impact that artsy carpenter Kim Penrose has on his heart.
Kim’s free-loving reputation precedes him, and he’s as generous with his inked-up body as he is with his time. The sex is hot, the easy friendship even better, and Jas’s time with him building his family’s new farmhouse canteen is everything Jas was missing in his empty city life.
But Kim’s carefree existence isn’t as simple as it appears. He’s worked hard to vanquish his demons and build his dreams, but the devil on his shoulder is ruthless, and when it comes to call, their happy bubble bursts like it was never there at all. The canteen opening looms, but Kim is gone in more ways than one, and it’s down to Jas to shore up Kim’s soul and convince him that he deserves his place in Jas’s heart.
In Garrett Leigh’s second contribution to Riptide’s Porthkennack Series, we get a further look into the life of Kim Penrose, one of the fellow tattooists at Brix’s tattoo shop.
Kim will be the first to admit that he made a rather big hash of his life. Alcohol and some bad choices meant that he knows exactly how horribly he can screw up a good thing. But that is behind him–by about ten feet, but still, better than nothing.
Jas Manning doesn’t know if London broke him or just wore him down, but whatever it did, it was done with him. Or at least Jas was done with London. But coming back to Porthkennack, sadly, isn’t the cure for all ills. He has his family, though they can be more trial than balm, and a job that he loves…at least 50% of the time.
Neither Jas or Kim are in a place to fall for anyone, let alone another person just as messed up as they are. Yet it is sparks at first glance. It’s just that they aren’t quite sure if it’s the kind that leads to a warm cuddle by the fireplace…or to their fragile new lives burning down around their feet.
I quite enjoyed Leigh’s previous book in this series. I was glad we were getting the chance to learn a bit more about one of the secondary characters in that story. And while this story is told through Jas’ perspective, and so is more focused on him, I found Kim to be the kind of mess that is incredibly hard to look away from. They both are, to be honest.
Actually one of the things I find I love best about Leigh’s characters is how broken they are allowed to be. Their resulting character arcs are all the better for being able to actually fit those pieces back together. But they never feed into the cliche of the “broken boy” who only needs love and all is fixed. They instead allow themselves to be in love and still a bit of a mess. It doesn’t make for the neatest of ending, but they feel all the more real for that–but also allow the reader to leave off their stories with hope that things are getting better.
That’s pretty much how I felt after this book ended. Jas and Kim are not all better now. They are still feeling their way to ok, but there was a sense of hope and accomplishment by the end. As someone who tends to enjoy stories where not everything is wrapped up in bows in the last chapter, I found this refreshing. I do kinda wish that there had been maybe one more scene between the last chapter and the epilogue six months later. Don’t know why, but it felt just a tad bit rushed in the end there.
Though that might be the result of the climax not feeling all that climatic. It was ok, but it didn’t hit me nearly as much as I would have wished.
I also–and I totally cop to this being a personal thing–had an issue with the relationship between Kim and Lena–his ex. Something about the undefined nature of it just didn’t work for me. Mostly because I prefer to have clear lines drawn when it comes to relationships. I like that relationships like theirs–with the open nature of it–exist in stories, I just have a hard time with them sometimes because it is not something I would ever really want for myself. And while Lena really isn’t in a lot of the story, Jas does have to deal with his conflicting feelings on the whole thing throughout the book, and so it was something I had to come to terms with. I do think it was handled well in this story though. And being challenged to take a look at my preconceived notions in regards to how relationships work is not a bad thing for me.
While I might have liked Leigh’s previous Porthkennack book a bit better, I found this to be an enjoyable story. I would have liked to have a bit more time spent digging into Kim and his life/past, but what I got was rather interesting. A solid story and one I recommend you pick up if you have enjoyed Leigh’s other works, or have been devouring the Porthkennack Series as much as I have.