Review: Strays (Urban Soul #2) by Garrett Leigh

strays.jpg

Author: Garrett Leigh
Publication Date: March 25, 2017
Format: E-Book
Page Length: 249 pages
My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

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BLURB

Work, sleep, work, repeat. Nero’s lonely life suits him just fine until his best friend, Cass, asks him to take on a new apprentice—a beautiful young man who’s never set foot in a professional kitchen. Despite his irritation and his lifelong ability to shut the world out, Nero is mesmerised by the vibrant stray, especially when he learns what drove him to seek sanctuary on Nero’s battered old couch.

Lenny Mitchell is living under a cloud of fear. Pursued by a stalker, he has nowhere left to run until Nero offers him a port in a storm—a job at the hottest restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush. Kitchen life proves heady and addictive, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling hard and fast for the man who has taken him in.

Fast-forward a month and a neither man can imagine life without the other, but one thing stands in their way: a lifetime of horrors Nero can’t bring himself to share with Lenny. Or can he? For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking, and Nero must learn to embrace it before fate steps in and rips it away.

I feel like this was such a quick read because I just couldn’t put it down. I was kind of worried about how much I would like this book after reading Misfits (because I LOVED that book), but Nero and Lenny managed to hold their own.

We first met Nero in the first book as a grumpy chef who works diligently and steps in whenever he’s asked. And when Cass asks Nero to look after a friend of his, Lenny, Nero takes him in, because he wouldn’t ever say no to Cass. Lenny has been stalked by a man at his previous job as a waiter at one of the Urban Soul restaurants, and practically any place he goes. His paranoia is getting to him, and the police aren’t doing much to step in and arrest the man. Lenny has no place to hide, and when Cass offers Nero’s place (living quarters above the restaurant Nero works at), Lenny jumps at the chance.

I think, overall, the plot was predictable, but I liked the cameos from the characters in the first book – Tom, Jake, and Cass. I also came to really like Nero and Lenny. Lenny has basically locked himself in his own self-made prison within the four walls of the apartment and the restaurant. He can’t really step back out into the open, so instead of being a waiter, he’s a quick learner at helping Nero in the kitchens. Nero is a grumpy sort, but he’s lived a rough life and he always means well even if he articulates his feelings poorly. Even from book one, we knew that there was some story to tell behind his missing finger (or is it fingers? There seems to be a disconnect between the first book and this one) and the truth is heart-breaking.

Without trust, they had nothing, and as long as Nero kept his soul under lock and key, nothing was all they’d have.

I think the angst is fairly low, even as I waited for the other shoe to drop practically the entire book. I liked reading the interactions between the characters, both old and new, and ending was perfect. This book can definitely be read as a standalone, but I think the characters that appear in and out of this book will make a lot more sense if you read Misfits first. I really love books involving food, restaurants, and romance, so I hope there’s more books in the Urban Soul series, because these books have been very enjoyable reads!

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