Hello and welcome to the spotlight tour stop for Junkyard Heart by Garrett Leigh! Read about the book and the series and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
About Junkyard Heart
Tired of the London rat race and the heartbreak that comes with it, photographer Jas Manning returns to Porthkennack, the Cornish seaside town where he spent every childhood summer on his father’s farm. Resigned to year-round rain, wind, and homemade jam, he’s sorely unprepared for the impact that artsy carpenter Kim Penrose has on his heart.
Kim’s free-loving reputation precedes him, and he’s as generous with his inked-up body as he is with his time. The sex is hot, the easy friendship even better, and Jas’s time with him building his family’s new farmhouse canteen is everything Jas was missing in his empty city life.
But Kim’s carefree existence isn’t as simple as it appears. He’s worked hard to vanquish his demons and build his dreams, but the devil on his shoulder is ruthless, and when it comes to call, their happy bubble bursts like it was never there at all. The canteen opening looms, but Kim is gone in more ways than one, and it’s down to Jas to shore up Kim’s soul and convince him that he deserves his place in Jas’s heart.
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER NOW!
Fuck. My. Life.
Tie-dye, chickpeas, and hessian. I scowled at the wigwams and peace signs and wondered how the hell I’d ended up at a bloody hippie love-in at 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
You know how.
My gaze fell on the broad shoulders of my favourite brother, and I suppressed a heavy sigh. Gaz had assumed I’d have nothing better to do than lug his junk around Porthkennack’s annual jam festival and, sadly, he’d been right.
Yeah. Fuck my life.
I picked up the bulging bag, stuffed with jars of artisan preserves, pickles, and condiments, and wove my way through the crowds of crusties. Gaz was manning a stall at the back of the food tent, which was in the next field over, and about as far from the festival’s entrance as possible.
Not impressed, Gaz. Not impressed.
Like he gave a shit. His mile-wide grin when I finally caught up with him confirmed that he didn’t much care that I’d dragged my hungover arse out of bed to be his bitch. “Over there, mate,” he said with a wink. “Then you can help me here. Nicky’s gone for breakfast.”
“Are you taking the piss?” I dumped the bag at his feet. “I’m not staying. I only brought these because Ma bribed me with a fry-up.”
Gaz rolled his eyes. “You’re such a mummy’s boy. At least stick around for a bit, show me some love.”
“What do you need my love for?” I glanced pointedly at the Free Hugs sign attached to the pork pie stall a few metres away. “There’s plenty to go round.”
Gaz looked like he wanted to call me worse, but a potential customer distracted him, and he was soon happily diverted, plying them with my stepmother’s scones, smothered in his signature rhubarb jam. Only Gaz could make WI-style jam and chutney cool. With his funky glasses and scruffy beard, he was the epitome of the trailblazing yuppie hipsters I’d moved back from London to escape. Yeah, and the rest. The image of my ex cosying up to his beautiful wife flashed into my mind. I pushed it away. Fuck that shit. It had been six months. I was over it . . . honest.
“Oi, dickhead.” Gaz nudged me. I’d missed him handing the reins to our middle brother, Nicky, and invading my personal space. “What are you up to for the rest of the day?”
“Hmm? Oh, I’ve got a job on tonight. Band gig in Bude.”
“That’s good.” Gaz seemed thoughtful, which was always dangerous. “I meant other than work, though. Seriously, Jas. You need to get out more. Eat, drink, get laid.”
“I got drunk last night, thanks very much.” I left out the part where I’d been home alone.
Gaz ribbed me a little longer before I escaped under the pretence of having a look around, though the smirk he bestowed on me—and the dead arm that came with it—left me in no doubt that he’d seen through my bullshit. Not that I cared. This was my time to not give a crap. As a child, I’d spent most of my school holidays following my dad around these stupid festivals and watching him flog the tiny onions he pickled in the derelict barn on the family farm. But I wasn’t a kid anymore, and I didn’t have the patience for this bollocks.
I wandered out of the food tent and bought a pint from the beer stand. It appeared that I was their first customer, but I didn’t care much about that either. Who cared if it was barely 11 a.m.? Not me, but despite my best attempt at disinterest, a few things caught my eye as I drifted through the farm hosting the festival: a besom broom maker, and a teenaged girl weaving a rug from rags. Behind a bee skep stall, a band, The Mocking Horses, were warming up on a small stage. I was intrigued by their collection of weird and wonderful drums—and the odd smell that lingered around them—but nothing held my attention until I came to an eco-furniture stall in a quiet-ish corner of the second field.
Nonplussed, I stared at a wardrobe that looked like it had walked out of the Laura Ashley catalogue. What the fuck was so eco-friendly about that? It took me far too long to realise it had been crafted entirely from disused warehouse pallets. Bloody hell. I circled the wardrobe, studying it from every angle, and tried to find something to feed my inner cynic. Failed. The wardrobe was imperfectly perfect, like every other piece of furniture dotted around the sun-faded grass: a bed built from stripped tree trunks; a sofa from old tractor tyres; and, my new favourite, a pool table built into the upturned hull of a vintage fishing boat.
The boat was fascinating. My hands itched for my camera, but I’d left it at home. Instead, I retrieved my iPhone from my pocket and crouched to get a decent shot of the boat, trying to capture all its magical elements. I was on my third attempt when a low chuckle startled me.
“Got a thing for rust, mate?”
I glanced up, squinting in the sunlight. The soft Cornish accent sounded old, but as the haze of the sun cleared, I found it belonged to one of the hottest blokes I’d ever seen in real life. With his dark windswept hair, scruffy jawline, and inked skin, he looked like a rock star—a skinny one, though he wore his slenderness like a dream.
“Erm . . .” I scrambled to my feet and was instantly lost in an amused set of warm green eyes. “Actually, I do like the rust. The piece would be gimmicky if they’d cleaned the boat up too much.”
“Yeah, like those mirrors you get with seashells around them.” I deleted two of my three shots, hyperaware of Hot Bloke still watching. “Or all that fake shabby chic shit you see on the high street.”
Hot Bloke laughed. “I don’t spend much time on the high street. Here, come and have a butcher’s at this.”
He gave my arm a tug that sent shock waves through me, but before I could recover, I was transfixed by a rejuvenated slab of an old wooden printing press, framed in dark-brown oak. It was mesmerising. “Damn,” I said, as much to myself as my mystery companion. “That’s beautiful.”
“Do you think so? I only finished it last night.”
“Finished it? This is your work?”
Hot Bloke shrugged and held out his hand. “Yep. All mine. Kim Penrose. Pleased to meet you.”
“Jas Manning.” I shook his hand. “Nice to meet you too.”
“Jas? As in, Jason?”
I rolled my eyes. “No, that would be ‘Jase,’ not ‘Jas,’ wouldn’t it? It’s Jasper, actually, but don’t even think about pulling a Brummie accent on me. I’ve heard all the carrot jokes in the world.”
That earned me a grin that made the sun look pale. Kim laughed too, deep and rumbling. “Not gonna lie, if you’d been a redhead instead of them ebony curls, I might’ve tried it.”
I didn’t doubt it for a second. Hot Bloke—Kim—had a mischievous gleam in his eyes that I’d seen many times from my brothers. Not that he reminded me of Gaz or Nicky.
Fuck no. I gave myself an internal shake and gazed around at the rest of the stall’s offerings, which were complete with a work-in-progress at the very back. “So this is your stuff?”
“Aye. Never done this event before, though. We’re kinda new.”
“To the area?”
“Nah, Porthkennack born and bred. You?”
I didn’t bother to quip that if I’d grown up in Porthkennack, we’d likely have already crossed paths. Since returning to the family fold, I’d fast learned that native folk didn’t take kindly to their tight-knit community being mocked, however well-meant. “I was born here, but I grew up in London with my mum. Only just moved back. My family has been doing these festivals for years, though. There’s a lot of them around, if you like that kind of thing.”
We? I forced myself not to ask the question. Gay, straight, whatever, I’d sworn off men for good. I couldn’t help giving Kim a second once-over, though, and I bit back another sigh. Whichever way he swung, he obviously wasn’t single. And anyway, I’d finished my pint, so it was time I moved on.
I said goodbye and started to turn away. Kim caught my arm. “You never said why you were here. Do you have a stall? Or are you browsing?”
“Uh, I’m helping my brother in the food tent.”
Kim’s hand on my arm was electric. “You’ll be here all day, then?”
Looks like it.
Eventually, after explaining the family business I’d spent my whole life dodging, I tore myself away from Kim and his intriguing stall and drifted back to the food tent, though not before pulling out my phone and snapping a discreet shot of Kim’s slender back, because, damn, I couldn’t help myself.
Gaz greeted me with barely concealed surprise. “Where’ve you been? Thought you’d sloped off home.”
“Moi?” I slipped seamlessly behind the bench like I did it all the time. “Just went for a pint. Where do you need me?”
Gaz eyed me with suspicion. “How many pints did you have? Twenty?”
He relented and passed me an apron. I winced. Baby blue was so not my colour, but despite my chagrin, I still got a kick out of having the family business plastered across my torso. Belly Acre Farm. Side-splitting, eh? My dad had thought so when he’d renamed his Porthkennack farm in the seventies.
Though being tied to the resulting artisan food company sometimes felt like the bane of my life, it didn’t take long to slip into my well-practiced role of master salesman. The patter came to me like breathing, and it was well into the afternoon by the time Gaz nudged me and said, “You’ve got company, kiddo.”
I looked up from the gooseberry chutney I was relabelling on Gaz’s behalf—was it really so hard to stick the labels on the right way round?—and found myself lost once again in Kim’s eyes.
“Got time for a drink?”
“Er . . .” I glanced at Gaz, who raised an amused eyebrow before he shrugged and turned away, and cleared my throat. “Sure. Let’s go.”
I escaped the stall and fell into step beside Kim. He didn’t say anything at first, and it took me a while to notice he was staring at the apron I’d forgotten to ditch. “Don’t ask,” I warned, though I knew it was pointless.
“What’s your connection to the farm? I’ve often chuckled over the name.”
“My dad and his missus own it,” I said. “And he’s to blame for the name. He smoked a lot of weed in the seventies. Still thinks it’s hilarious.”
Kim smiled. “Nothing wrong with that. My old man wouldn’t know fun if it bit him on the arse.”
Even with the warmth of the late summer sun, the way his melodic Cornish brogue curled around arse made me shiver, and I couldn’t help wondering why he’d sought me out. Couldn’t have been my dazzling knowledge of eco-friendly food production, or my jaded enthusiasm for the enigmatic seaside town I’d readopted as my home, and despite his easy grin, Kim seemed to have one of those faces that gave nothing away.
We ambled to the beer tent. Kim bought a pint from a local microbrewery for me, and a lemonade for himself.
“I’m glad you got me ale, not cider,” I said with a shudder. “I got pissed on that scrumpy shite last weekend. Never again. Still feel rough.”
Kim chuckled. “We’ve all made that mistake. My mate’s dad used to charge us a score for six pints and a pasty. Didn’t make it past three for years.”
“Did you get the pasty when you got to number six?”
“Something like that. So, you grew up in London?”
“For my sins, yeah.” I set my pint down and glanced around. The festival had picked up after lunch, and was buzzing now. “My dad slept with my mum at a swingers’ party. She had me here, then fucked off back to London, taking me with her. I spent most summers on the farm, but I’m a city boy, really.”
“Wouldn’t know it from your jam sales pitch.”
I chuckled. “My big brothers trained me well. Said I’d end up back here eventually, so I had to learn.”
“And they weren’t wrong, eh?”
I shook my head, waiting for Kim to ask what had happened to make my brothers’ shared prophecy come true, but he didn’t. Instead, he looked over my shoulder at the band getting ready for the afternoon performances. “Is that a bassoon?”
“A what?” I followed his gaze to the stage and saw what appeared to be a mini woodwind section setting up with a folk band I’d seen a hundred times at festivals just like this one. “Wouldn’t surprise me with that lot. Crusty bloody lunatics.”
Kim shrugged. “I like their vibe, but I’m more of a Chili Peppers bloke to be honest.”
That fit with the surfer hair and leather bracelets. “You’d probably like Moon-Hot Monkey Paste, then,” I said. “They’re playing in Bude tonight.”
“I know. A bunch of us blagged tickets at the last minute.”
“Really?” My heart skipped a beat. What were the chances? MHMP were the hottest band in the southwest and tickets to their shows were like gold dust. I’d been lucky to get a press pass. “I’ve wanted to shoot them live for ages.”
“Shoot them?” Kim frowned a second before his face cleared. “Ah . . . and you finally get to tonight, eh?”
Kim stared at me for a long moment before his devilish grin split his face in half and his knee nudged mine. “Then I guess I’ll see you there.”
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! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/porthkennack
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: email@example.com
To celebrate the release of Junkyard Heart, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 9, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!