Title: Roads, Book One: Slide
Author: Garrett Leigh
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
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.
I am officially in bits. This book blew me away, and left me shattered. What a ride, what a journey, what a read.
Let’s see if I can find some kind of perspective.
I’m going to start with Ash. I loved Ash. Vulnerable. Innocent. Creative. Ash was a haunting character to read. He slayed me. No boy should have to go through what he went through, and his reactions to his past were superbly written.
Ash’s battle with mental illness was brutal. Panic attacks and the like are often used as plot devices, but I’ve never seen a book take real mental illness by the horns and tackle it the way Slide does. There is nowhere to hide here. No sexing it up, or trying to hide the warts of it. It’s gritty and real, and though it upset me, I found myself applauding the balls of not only the characters who had to face it, but the author for putting it out there. The subject was at the forefront of the book from the start, and it never went away. It wasn’t magically cured by true love, or swept under the carpet when its purpose to the plot had been fulfilled.
This aspect of the book is excellent.
Onto Pete. Without wanting to sound like a broken record, I loved Pete. Pete was a beautifully flawed character. I get that the focus was supposed to be Ash and his trauma, but now, days after I finished the book, I keep coming back to Pete.
Italian. Paramedic. Tattooed. On the surface, I was always going to like him, but beneath all that he is the one who really suffers in this book.
What happens/happened to Ash is awful…so tragic it’s almost incomprehensible, but though Ash goes to hell and back, for at least some of it, he’s so far gone he’s not aware of how ill he is. Pete…poor, poor, Pete, has to watch…has to watch this man he clearly adores disintegrate into a rambling, stuttering mess. His pain broke my heart, and I cried for him.
Also, as I read, I got the feeling that there was more to Pete than we ever got to see. His role as a caregiver was clearly defined: Ash, his mom, his job, but what about the rest of him? What about the man who hid his sexuality from just about everyone? What about the man who had a fuse short enough to start punch someone out?
Pete, Pete, Pete. Yeah, I’m still thinking about him. I feel like there wasn’t room in the book to give him the space he deserved.
Onto the sex…
The sex scenes in this book are some of the best I’ve read in a long time. Each one was full of emotion, and though they left me in no doubt of what was happening, they felt very subtle. I saw a point to each one, and felt the plot move as Ash and Pete’s relationship developed in my mind.
The prologue is a perfect example of this. It opens with a sex scene so haunting I had goosebumps. It’s a beautiful example of writing.
I have to point out that there are some editing fails in the book. A few typos, and continuity glitches. There’s an instance when Ash gave me the impression it was the dead of night, but then talked about the sunlight. Not the worst thing in the world, but if you have an eagle eye, you will notice them.
Saying that though, the errors are minor, and infrequent, and for the most part, I was too caught up in the plot to care.
I did feel the pacing of the book faltered slightly about two thirds in, but perhaps that was because I could sense it was all about to come crashing down. It picked up again before I could worry too much about it, and by then, I was enthralled again. Enthralled, traumatized and totally captivated.
Seriously. I couldn’t put this book down. At times the plot was a little convoluted, and coincidence a little convenient, but I got the feeling that was the point, and overall it worked really well. There was nothing predictable about this book. Tropes I assumed would be followed were torn up and left in pieces at my feet.
Given the subject matter of sexual abuse, I was wary when I picked up this book, but though what happens to Ash clouds every page, at no point was it shoved in my face. That part of the story is subtle, undefined, and perhaps even unresolved, even by the end of the book. I’m not going to spoil, but after the poignant epilogue, I still didn’t feel like I really knew what had happened.
I don’t know if that was intentional or not, but it worked for me.
So, to sum up, Slide is a beautiful, haunting book. Angst ridden, the warmth between the two young MC’s is touching and heartbreaking. The writing is, for the most part, superb, and somehow, even the glitches are part of this book’s charm. I chose it up on a whim, having never heard of the author, but it definitely won’t be the last Garrett Leigh book I read.
Highly recommended to those who enjoy angst, emotion, deep, flawed characters and enduring love.
Reviewed by: Luke