Dante Pope is out of prison after four years. However, he’s not sure what to do with that freedom. He’s banned from returning to London as part of his probation; his brother, Luis, wants nothing to do with him; and PTSD is his companion now. Dante did develop an interest in plants while in prison and a rehabilitation program has him working in and living on a public estate. The estate not only has lots of garden space, but it also has a gardener, Sid, who Dante will be working with and Dante can’t keep his eyes off of the man.
Sid has his own issues going on. Diagnosed with a disease that limits everything in his life, Sid is reluctant to ask for help and even more reluctant to accept it when it is offered. Even if Sid thinks Dante is the most beautiful man he has ever seen, Sid is too proud to allow Dante to see that he needs assistance. But the men need each other in ways they never could have imagined and together is the only place they want to be. Yet, while Dante may be done with the gang life, that life may not be done with him, and Dante will have to put that life to rest for good in order to stand in the sun with Sid.
There is something about most Garrett Leigh novels that speak to me and Salvation is a book I was able to easily get caught up in. Dante has not been a good man. He knows it, his brother knows it, and the crew back in London know it. He’s also not trying to hide it and lets Sid know from the start that he’s not a good man. But Sid only sees the Dante from now, not the Dante from then, and he likes what he sees.
Dante’s journey is a redemption story, but it is not an absolution story as Dante knows the consequences of his past will linger forever. He has been seen in the Darkest Skies series in previous books as Luis’ brother and we were supposed to not like him then—really not like him. But here he’s out of the gang life, calmer, more introspective, and owns who he is. Dante doesn’t try to make excuses for the way his life has played out, even though the origin of his downward spiral wasn’t his fault. He’s just trying to figure out what he does next.
Although Sid comes off as a little gruff, he’s an easy character to like. The symptoms of his medical condition are depicted well and it’s clear to see what being Sid feels like. He would like to have a relationship, but feels that time has passed him by because his body fails him more often than he would like. The men are drawn to each other by a number of things and for as hard core as Dante has come across, he’s protective and sweet with Sid. They both support each other and know they can be better together and Dante craves the life he could have with Sid.
There is mild angst with Dante’s old life and it further reinforces what Dante wants and what he stands to lose. Luis and Paolo also appear and the men try to work out if there is any place in their lives for Dante.
If you have followed this series, Salvation is the next book you want to be reading. Garrett Leigh offers multi-layered characters with real life issues that aren’t always easy to sort out, as her characters fall hard for the one person who will make life worth it.