Review: What Remains by Garrett Leigh

Web designer Jodi Peters is a solitary creature. Lunch twice a week with his ex-girlfriend-turned-BFF and the occasional messy venture to a dodgy gay bar is all the company he needs, right?

Then one night he stumbles across newly divorced firefighter Rupert O’Neil. Rupert is lost and lonely, but just about the sweetest bloke Jodi has ever known. Add in the heady current between them, and Jodi can’t help falling hard in love. He offers Rupert a home within the walls of his cosy Tottenham flat—a sanctuary to nurture their own brand of family—and for four blissful years, life is never sweeter.

Until a cruel twist of fate snatches it all away. A moment of distraction leaves Jodi fighting for a life he can’t remember and shatters Rupert’s heart. Jodi doesn’t know him—or want to. With little left of the man he adores, Rupert must cling to what remains of his shaky faith and pray that Jodi can learn to love him again.

In a moment of distraction and bad timing, everything Jodi and Rupert spent years building disappears. Jodi survives the accident, but spends months in a coma. When he finally wakes up, he has little memory of the last five years of his life. He doesn’t remember Rupert, or their life together. He doesn’t even remember being bisexual or attracted to men at all.

Not wanting to upset Jodi and interfere with his recovery, Rupert lets Jodi believe that the two are just flatmates and friends. Rupert spends the following months helping Jodi heal, both physically and mentally. But as Jodi recovers, Rupert can’t help but yearn for more.

‘What Remains’ is not an easy book to read. It’s angst-filled from the first chapter, and continues like that for the rest of the book. However, I would say it’s the good kind of angst, the kind that you know will lead to a special ending that makes it all worth it.

I tend to avoid books with an amnesia premise, because it’s often not very believable and becomes too melodramatic. I’m not an expert on the matter, but I thought that the author did a good job of portraying the medical effects of Jodi’s brain injury, and the recovery process.

While the book is told in the present, we get many flashbacks in the first third showing how Rupert and Jodi met and fell in love. I’m not usually a fan of this format, but it was necessary to establish the relationship. Without those glimpses into the past, I would have had trouble connecting to the MCs.

The flashbacks show how deeply in love the two were, and made me root for them from the start.

Rupert stole my heart early on, with his quiet hope that he would win back Jodi. Each time Jodi treated Rupert like a stranger, my heart broke for him. I just wanted to bundle him up and never let go.

When Jodi wakes up from his coma, he not only doesn’t remember Rupert, he also thinks that he’s strictly heterosexual. Jodi can only recall one serious relationship, and that’s with his ex-girlfriend. His gradual rediscovery of his sexuality was sweet, if at times sad. He struggles with his increasing attraction to Rupert, but doesn’t mind exploring once he accepts it.

What I enjoyed most was the cautious friendship that Rupert and Jodi built, and how that became their foundation for a new life together. As Jodi recovers, the two begin spending more time together. For Rupert, this time together is all that’s left of their past life. Jodi doesn’t understand why, but being around Rupert brings him peace and calm when he can barely remember who he is.

That friendship is what makes Jodi falling back in love with Rupert believable. No switch goes off that makes him suddenly love Rupert again. What Jodi feels for Rupert as he falls for him for the second time is as real as it was the first time around.

The happy ever after was sweet and perfect, though it takes a lot of work. Neither Jodi or Rupert are the same men that they were before Jodi’s accident, but it’s clear that they’re meant to be together.

An ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.

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