Book: House of Cards
A Porthkennack Novel
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist: G.D. Leigh
Publication Date: July 17, 2017
Length: 249 pages
Reviewed by Erin
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.
House of Cards is the first book I've read in the Porthkennack series, but since it's written by Garrett Leigh, I knew I'd be in for something fantastic. She's one of my favorite authors, for very good reason, and I wasn't at all surprised when I finished the book, she more than delivered. There's no other author out there who writes such atmospheric, evocatively crafted stories as Garrett. The nuance, the emotions, the extremely complex characters that she writes about is really unparalleled. Yes, her books are often heavy on the angst, and there is a sense of melancholy throughout, but there is always a satisfying HEA at the end, and along the way there are a few laughs as well.
I always love a story about old friends reconnecting and that solid friendship turning into more. This is what happens between Calum and Brix. To say things are going downhill in a hurry for Calum Hardy is more than a small understatement. One disaster after another compiles until Calum can't do anything but hop on a train with no idea of where he's going, the only thing he knows is he has to get out of London. When he ends up in Cornwall, drunk and disoriented outside the Truro station, he has no idea what he's going to do or where he's going to go. Good thing for him, then, that his long lost friend Brix Lushmoore happens to pass by and recognize him. It's been years since they've seen one another, but the passage of time has done little to damage their strong bond of friendship.
From the very first moment these two are together on the page you can just tell that their connection is genuine and so deep. They each have secrets, pains and hurts that they're both trying to overcome, but that intense bond between Brix and Calum is so, so bright and palpable. Calum is damaged, there's no question. He's suffering from depression, self loathing, and there's this sense of hoplesness that he's shrouded himself in, but the more time he spends with Brix, the lighter he gets. The more the two talk, about the past and the present, the more Calum begins to feel like himself again. I loved their friendship, the respect these two have for one another as people. Yes there's sexual attraction, but it's much deeper than simply lust. Brix, even though he harbors his own secrets, is this force of light that Calum needs so desperately. Brix has offered Calum a soft space to heal, but it's also the safety and acceptance that Calum needs just as much, maybe more. Brix brings Calum home with him to Porthkennack where he can do just that.
The British feel of Garrett's work is just wonderful, even the moments that are dark and stormy, much like the weather on the Cornish coast, you still feel like you're wrapped in a warm blanket. The scenery, the food, the dialect ... all of it is a refreshing change. I adored the secondary characters at Brix's tattoo shop, especially Lee. I loved that Brix rescues chickens. I even liked Brix's less than savory family and their history. It all just added to the entire atmosphere of the entire book as a whole. House of Cards is a wonderful read full of vivid imagery, Garrett Leigh's brilliant story telling, and characters that are likable and ones who will stick with you long after you turn the last page.
Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur's Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.
This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.
Check out Porthkennack! Riptide Publishing
About Garrett Leigh
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 renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.
Cover art enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
To celebrate the release of House of Cards, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 22, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!