Reformed gangster Luis falls hard for his boss. When friendship turns to love, it’s up to Paolo to convince him second chances are worth the pain.
Luis Pope is back on the street after a six year stretch in prison, but life on the outside seems just out of reach, especially when the whole neighbourhood knows his face for all the wrong reasons.
Paolo’s temper makes it hard to keep staff, and he knows Luis’s rep all too well. But his nonno believes in redemption, and Luis isn’t the tough guy Paolo remembers. Prison has left its mark, inside and out, and all the kindness in the world can’t fix the three inch scar on Luis’s skull.
And it can’t keep ghosts locked up. Luis’s the best worker Paolo’s ever had, and Luis’s happier than he’s ever been. But his old life doesn’t want to stay in the past. Trouble comes to call, and when it makes him an offer he can’t refuse, keeping Paolo safe hurts the most.
Redemption is an angsty, standalone MM romance novel, with second chances, found family, friends-to-lovers, and buckets of hurt/comfort themed loveliness.
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
What do I like? Broken main characters! What is better than one? TWO!
So yes, this book sucked me RIGHT in. And let me tell ya, I needed it after reading 3 bombs in a row. I actually started it 10 minutes after I finished a book because I needed good writing in my brain.
Luis walks out of prison after 6 years with nothing. He was a member of his brother’s gang and when he got caught stealing, he admitted it and did his time. It also cost him most of the hearing in one ear. (more on that later)
He is restless without the schedule he had to follow in prison and wanders into a local cafe to inquire about a job. Paolo, owner of the cafe, recognizes him immediately from when they were in school together and later from the rumors about the gang. Paolo is a mess as well. Running his grandfather’s cafe, literally by himself, 7 days a week is killing him slowly. But he needs the money to take care of his grandparents who raised him. He doesn’t trust Luis, but he will give him a chance.
Ugh, Luis. He is like that puppy in a shelter who was beaten daily by his previous owner. He broke my heart. He just wants to live his life. He expects nothing. He doesn’t want what little family he has and all of his “friends” are tied up with that family.
Paolo just plods on. Day by day, doing what he needs to do, never really thinking about the future. These two broken men belong together.
They very quickly fall into a routine, and become hesitant friends. Until the booze comes out. Then perhaps more than friends?
Watching them slowly open up and trust each other and begin to fall in love is swoony. There are no great declarations. So huge romantic gestures. Because they are just 2 guys, working 7 days a week because they have to. Spending time with Paolo’s grandparents when they aren’t working.
Back to Luis’ hearing loss. I am deaf in one ear and everything she described is so spot on. From not being able to hear at all if someone is on the “wrong” side to being overwhelmed with too much sound. Including anxiety attacks because of it. Kudos for that. I think this might be the first character I’ve read that was hard of hearing in the same (or similar) way that I am and I really appreciate the representation.
4 pieces of eye candy
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer.
Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.
When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.
Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.