Book Reviews

House of Cards (A Porthkennack Novel) by Garrett Leigh at Riptide Publishing

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Erotic Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 25-January-2018

Book Blurb

Calum Hardy’s life has unravelled. Reeling from the betrayal of a man he once loved, he boards a train heading south, with no real idea where he’s going except a world away from London.


Brix Lusmoore can hardly believe his eyes when he spots one of his oldest friends outside Truro station. He hasn’t seen Calum since he fled the capital himself four years ago, harbouring a life-changing secret. But despite the years of silence, their old bond remains, warm and true—and layered with simmering heat they’ve never forgotten.


Calum takes refuge with Brix and a job at his Porthkennack tattoo shop. Bit by bit, he rebuilds his life, but both men carry the ghosts of the past, and it will take more than a rekindled friendship and the magic of the Cornish coast to chase them away.


Book Review

“Nothing’s ever perfect… it’s a house of cards, nothing more. You can’t count on anything’cept yourself, and even that’s a bonehead idea.” ~ Garrett Leigh (House of Cards)

Calum Hardy, of 'House of Cards' by Garrett Leigh, comes home from work early one day to find his boyfriend in bed with another man. It's the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back for him after enduring years of abuse in this relationship. Calum does what Rob, his now, ex-boyfriend, thought he'd never do. He leaves everything behind not knowing where he's going, except away.

Calum ends up in Porthkennack, drunk out of his mind and alone, looking lost. His old friend, Brix, finds Calum and takes him in with no questions asked. It is good to be with Brix again and bask in his easy-going, nurturing manner. Brix is so kind-hearted that he tries to take care of everyone – friends, family, and coworkers. Calum is very grateful to Brix, but he doesn't want to be a burden. The truth is, after being beaten down for so long, Calum doesn't know how to get back up. Calum sees how Brix's life is going, with friends, family, and work. Calum is envious of what he assumes is a happy life; but he's wrong. Brix has been living with a dark secret that has caused him to be fearful, anxious, and afraid someone will discover what he's hiding. If that happens, Brix knows that he will lose everything. Calum appreciates what Brix is doing for him, but he's determined to earn his keep.' Brix knows that Calum is a fantastic tattoo artist so he encourages him to come down to the shop he owns and help out, taking his time getting back into his grove. Calum starts slow but is soon in demand due to his talent and the uniqueness of his work.

The elephant in the room for Calum and Brix is their prior and current attraction to each other. They both feel it, but both men are too damaged to make a move. Calum's past has caused him to lose his self-esteem to the point where he has no confidence at all. Brix is nursing his own big secret, the one that he has decided will keep him from loving or being loved by anyone. Although everyone else can see they moon over each other, Calum and Brix are having problems communicating their feelings. One drunken night, Calum's inhibitions are low and he kisses Brix. Instead of bringing them closer, things between them become strained. Brix becomes unpredictable, happy one day and depressed the next. Calum can’t figure it out, but neither of them ever mentions the kiss. It seems that Calum and Brix are at an impasse with no idea how to get beyond it.

I know what it's like to be in a controlling, abusive relationship. Because of this, I felt a great deal of empathy for Calum. Many of the challenges he has while trying to find himself again are ones that I am all too familiar with. Learning to trust again is tricky. The old tapes in my head that belittle, as in Calum's case, are relentless; at times, are difficult to silence. But, like Calum, I am a survivor. I love the way Brix takes the people close to him under his wing, even the chickens he rescues. Although skewed in his thinking, I admire Brix's attempt to protect anyone else from going through what he is. Primarily, Brix may have come to Calum's rescue, but Calum also came to his. The power of love becomes a healing force in their lives. Thanks, Garrett for the insightful, emotionally charged story. Of all the stories in the 'Porthkennack' series, yours has had most profound effect on me.

If you like thoughtful, character-driven stories about change and growth, if you want to see what a liberating experience it can be to learn how to be true to yourself – including all the pitfalls and baby steps, and if you’re looking for a read that is insightful rather than action-packed, then you will probably like this novella.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 249 pages/66000 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 17-July-2017
Price $4.99 ebook $17.99 paperback, $22.98 bundle
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