Jamie Yorke has decided time is up for him in California and he is ready to return to England. It’s what he knows and where he feels he fits. Since going back to London is out of the question, Jamie randomly chooses a small, quiet town to call home. Jamie is a recovering addict and he’s a work in process. Everything is difficult, and everything is too sharp and too bright and too loud, but Jamie desperately tries to keep going and silence the demons within his own head. Before he arrives back in England however, a chance meeting on the plane may change the direction of his life, perhaps for the better.
Marc Ramsey is also recovering from war and injuries that took part of his leg. He keeps busy working as a trauma specialist at the hospital, but when Jamie enters his life, Marc would rather spend time with him. But Marc recognizes that Jamie is fragile and haunted and offers Jamie a safe space and friendship. The attraction between them flares hot and bright, but Jamie knows it’s just a matter of time before he messes everything up again and feels he has nothing to offer Marc. Yet the men feel at peace when in each other’s arms and keeping that peace may be a road they intend to walk together.
Jamie was a character that captivated me and stole all the scenes when he appeared in Rented Heart. His journey starts there, and I feel his struggle here would be lost if you haven’t read that book. Soul to Keep is also a crossover book in that Marc appeared in Between Ghosts, but it would be possible to follow along without having read that one.
We catch up with Jamie in California as he’s been making a valiant effort at recovery for the past year. California is so different from London that it’s almost possible for him to think that London never happened, but it did, and Jamie needs to face it all. The plane ride is another difficult task for him and it’s only through the kindness of a stranger, Marc, that Jamie is able to stay grounded.
This book is more Jamie’s story than Marc’s and Leigh does a great job of getting us into Jamie’s mindset. He’s been on the streets and addicted to drugs for so long that he’s having a difficult time adjusting and he’s also haunted by all he did to survive and support his drug habit. Marc is like a balm on an open wound, but Jamie’s calls himself the storm and knows wherever he goes, chaos is not far behind.
The relationship between the men could be seen as slow to progress, but it is ultimately the perfect pace for the two of them. Jamie doesn’t trust himself, he certainly doesn’t trust anyone else, and the simplest acts of kindness from Marc have him balancing between overwhelmed and grateful. The tone of a Garrett Leigh book is often somber and that is the case here as well. The book is highly character driven and Jamie is a well-drawn character that you will want to see succeed if even in the smallest of increments. The scenes between him and Marc have Leigh’s signature sensuality weaved through them and it clear to see how these two men belong together.
I would have like to have seen a little more insight into Jamie’s transition to living on the streets. The catalyst is addressed in just a few lines and that’s all that is ever discussed. Also, Jamie’s OCD is discussed on the edges for much of the book, but then becomes the focus quickly when he and Marc have a blow-up because they don’t understand each other, yet they have an unspoken agreement not to discuss the important matters. There is drama all the way at the end of the book and the placement didn’t work for me and also it didn’t seem to fit the rest of the story. The book had a steady pace all the way thorough until this flurry of drama and then it seemed like it was a race to the finish. Also, I needed a little more from Jamie’s friendship with Zac. Zac has done everything to help Jamie move on even after the incidents from Rented Heart, and while Jamie sort of describes how he feels about it, he needed to step up and give something back to Zac after all this time.
Soul to Keep is mainly Jamie living his life and trying to move forward. On the outside it may look like not a lot is happening, but Jamie is setting the groundwork to move forward in life with Marc. Their relationships fits them and they are better together than apart. If Jamie is a character that has intrigued you, this book offers him that bit of peace that he so desperately craves.