Today I am so pleased to welcome Garrett Leigh to Joyfully Jay. Garrett has come to talk to us about her latest release, Whisper (which we reviewed here and loved). She has also brought along a tour wide giveaway. Please join me in giving Garrett a big welcome!
Joe came up on me, his face grave. “We need to get a move on. These nags are starving. Can you call home and check they’re going to be ready?”
“Of course. Can I have—”
But Joe was gone again before I could ask him for the number. I dug my phone out of my pocket—apart from checking in with Rhys, I’d hardly used it since I’d been on the farm—and searched out the email that had Emma’s mobile number in it. I called, praying that she’d answer. I’d only seen Sal when I’d picked Joe up from the bungalow.
Emma answered on the third ring, breathless and clearly stressed. “Harry? What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, as far as I know,” I said quickly. “Joe just asked me to call and see how Sal was getting on in the tack room. He wants to move fast with these ponies.”
“Oh. Okay. You scared me. We’ve never spoken on the phone before, and I’m not very good at it.”
I chuckled softly. “Neither am I, but don’t worry. Joe’s fine. He just wants to get home.”
“I know Joe’s fine if he’s with you. I’m being silly. And you can tell him that we’ll be ready for you. We’ve got most of the stuff out. It’s all on your bed at the moment. Sorry about that.”
“It’s fine.” I glanced across the muddy farmyard and spied Joe heading back my way with the first of the ponies. “We’ll be there in half an hour.”
“Drive safe, Harry.”
I put the phone in my pocket and met Joe at the back of the horsebox. “Are we taking three at a time?”
“Nah. The four strongest first, then the other two. I’m gonna have to go in the back with them to stop them keeling over.”
I didn’t like the sound of that but knew better than to argue with Joe about horses. He stood aside while I opened up the box, then led the ponies up the ramp. Another two followed, and then we were on the road, heading back to the farm.<
Emma was waiting for us. George had appeared from somewhere too. He took the ponies to get settled in the paddock.
Joe watched him go, then turned to Emma. “I need to call Dex.”
“Because the next two aren’t fit enough to go out in the paddock. The foaling stable is the only safe place for them, so I need him to take a couple of old-timers off my hands.”
We need him to. This isn’t just your problem.”
“So you’ll call him?”
Emma flushed, her face pale, like someone had pulled the plug out of her complexion. I nudged her and held up three fingers, hoping she remembered the coping mechanisms we’d gone through the other day.
She stuck out her chin. “Of course.”
It was a small victory, but when I saw the state of the remaining horses, I clung to it. the ponies were skin and bone, empty eyes, and bleeding gums. I asked Joe if they’d survive, and his hollow stare said it all.
I drove the box back to the farm while Joe stayed in the back with them. I took it slow, avoiding bumps and sharp turns, but he still looked traumatised when we pulled up. “Are you okay?”
He shrugged. “Not really. Holding two nags up for ten miles is a bitch on your shoulders.”
I could believe it and made a note to check him over before we called it a night. But it soon became clear Joe had no intention of going to bed any time before sunrise. “I can’t leave them in the yard by themselves all night. Someone’s got to watch them.”
The emaciated ponies had laid themselves down by now, collapsing in the first clean bedding they’d likely ever seen. Joe was hand-feeding one of them bran mash. Lacking any better ideas, I grabbed a fistful and held it out to the other one.
“You don’t have to do that.” Joe wasn’t looking at me. “You’ve done enough already.”
I manoeuvred myself to sit next to the pony, mirroring Joe’s position with my back to the side of the box. “Just tell me what to do, and we’ll get it done.”
He didn’t argue, and a companionable silence settled over us. George checked in from time to time, taking a break from his own watch over the other four ponies, but no one said much until Emma brought tea and toast to us at dawn.
I was half-asleep by then. Joe shook me gently. “Go to bed.”
“Hmm?” I blinked rapidly.
“Bed,” Joe repeated. “Dex is on his way to pick Gerrard and Lily up. As soon as they’re gone, I’ll get these two set up.”
Gerrard and Lily were the farm’s hardiest horses—it made sense they’d be the ones to go—but my heart hurt all the same. It wasn’t right that any of these horses were suffering, and it wasn’t right that I snoozed in bed when Joe was still working.
I shook my head. “I’ll stay till they’re settled. Kind of attached to them now.”
Joe frowned, and I braced myself for an argument, but he simply handed me a cup of sugary tea and went back to tending his sick pony.
I drank my tea, barely thinking about the tooth-rotting sugar content, and considered the mare I’d nursed through the night. I’d assumed she was old when I’d first seen her, but George—the farm’s expert on such matters—thought she was juvenile . . . barely two.
“Hard life ages God’s creatures.”
Was he right?
I chanced a glance at Joe’s face as he muttered nonsense to his sick pony and had to disagree. His eyes, haunted and wise, were older than his years, but his face was young. And that broke my heart all over again.
Standalone second book in the Skins series.
Lonely physiotherapist Harry Foster has the world at his feet. A full client list, a six figure Instagram following, and a publishing deal for a book he doesn’t have time to write until his agent offers him a break—a retreat to the wild south west coast.
Cornish horseman Joe Carter is lonely too. Rescuing horses and managing Whisper Farm takes up most of his days, and by night he plays chicken with the farm’s perilous bank accounts.
At his sister’s unwelcome suggestion, he rents his only bedroom to a bloke from the city, and when Harry arrives, he’s everything Joe isn’t—calm, patient, and gorgeous enough to be exactly the kind of distraction Joe doesn’t need.
Harry doesn’t have time for distractions either—even shirtless farmers riding bareback past his bedroom window—but his moody host proves impossible to ignore.
On paper, they have nothing in common, but Joe is beautiful…glorious, and when an accident puts his life in Harry’s healing hands, the whisper of true love is inevitable. If the trouble that put the farm on its knees in the first place doesn’t get in the way.
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.
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 photographer Dan Burgess.
- Website: http://www.garrettleigh.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/garrettleighauthor/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Garrett_Leigh
Garrett has brought along a great tour wide giveaway. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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Welcome, Garrett, and best wishes for the success of Whisper. Thanks for sharing the excerpt; the book sounds lovely!