Title: The River Leith
Author: Leta Blake
Publisher: Self Publishd
Release Date: 05-14-2014
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance, M/M Bisexual
Page Count: 215
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Memory is everything.
After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Unmoored and struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope anew with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain.
For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach’s choices may come back to haunt him.
Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer.
4.5 stars- A frustratingly amazing romance
Occasionally I find books I love despite wanting to throttle the characters. That was my experience while reading The River Leith. I was irrationally frustrated while reading it. I have personal hang-ups over miscommunication as a major plot point or source of conflict in books and that was rampant here. It irritated me so much at times that I would jab my e-reader into sleep mode and walk away, only to reopen and keep reading the book almost immediately. As much as it drove me nuts, the story was utterly fascinating.
I cannot remember previously reading an amnesia book, but I may explore some in the future because it was really interesting how the author wove that element into a romance about rediscovering one’s soulmate. Fair warning: the author oversimplifies the amnesia and brain injury aspect, and even some of the post-trauma therapy, in an effort to not overshadow the men’s journey. Though this may frustrate some readers, I appreciated the author’s honesty that she chose the approach on purpose. I really liked the way this book was set up. Miss Blake used a unique way to express both heroes’ perspectives. The story is narrated in the third person, but from Leith’s point of view. Zach’s thoughts are told through the transcripts of his vlogs. With all the secrecy and emotional upheaval, both points of view were crucial. The vlogging gave the reader insight into how much Zach warred with himself over Leith’s amnesia and how to get their relationship back. It forced me to have empathy even when I was overwhelmingly frustrated with his refusal to talk to Leith about their past and try to bridge those gaps in memory. Similarly, having Leith’s uncertainty vividly narrated made it impossible to not understand why he couldn’t confess to his unconscious attraction to Zach without knowing their past. The heroes both had legitimate reasons and fears that made them hold back details and the author does a wonderful job explaining this to the reader. I alternated between wanting to slap both men upside the head and hug them close while whispering reassurances.
The River Leith is a fast read. The pacing is a bit sporadic at times, but I’d say it’s primarily brisk. I felt as though I was dropped into the book initially, like I was missing chunks of the background. However, as the story progressed, those pieces were all filled in. The writing was solid overall. The scenes and dialogue flowed well and the plot progressed steadily toward a satisfying resolution. The inescapable emotion which poured off the pages gripped me the most. The romance and connection between these men was palpable. I loved the way the author explored the concept of two souls recognizing each other, through scent, touch, and ultimately that comfort you find with your partner. However, this wasn’t just about chemistry and connection. It encompassed all the reactions one could imagine in this situation. I could feel the weight of the emotions in the scenes and it never let up throughout the book- be it anguish, anxiety, hope, dismay, or boundless love. This was truly an honest study of insecurities in the wake of a tragedy and it came together to create a powerful story. So yes, I was frustrated with both men avoiding conflict and discussing their feelings, but I was also captivated from start to finish and would happily reread and recommend this book.