Amnesia, drama, angst and romance…a review of The River Leith by Leta Blake

: River Leith
Author: Leta Blake
Publisher: self published
Genre: contemporary m/m romance, disability
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: copy provided by NetGalley
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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After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date.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.

Review: Amnesia is one of the more well know tropes in romance, apart from the stalker trope. It’s often used to create drama or to turn a character around from evil to good or forgetting a loved one. When I started this book I half thought it would be an easy and fluffy story of lovers who get to know each other again after an accident.

Nothing is further from the truth. River Leith carries quite a punch and is actually very realistic when it comes to disability, head injuries and amnesia, but also the ramifications for loved ones. I quite liked that. Through Zach we also get to know what it is like to love someone deeply while that person cannot remember you or what you had.

Both characters are heavily flawed and far from perfect, which is why they fit together so well (opposites attract). Leith was in jail for illegal boxing and turned his life around when he was released with the help of his brother (who has some secrets of his own) and later Zach.

Zach is quite the drama queen who sometimes feels just a little too sorry for himself, but he is loving and caring and can’t help but see the best in people. While the story is told from Leith’s point of view, we get to know Zach through the video blog posts he does. They are a welcome change in the story and provide a good insight into his character and the why he behaves the way he does.

The story half carries the gay-for-you trope. When Leith wakes up from his coma, he doesn’t remember the last three year. Including the part where he came to terms with being gay or at the very least bi-sexual. Or of course Zach, who introduced him to the lovely world of hot man love. This provides some complication for Leith and Zach, the last being quite the drama queen about it all. Of course, understandable!

I found the story well written and well edited for a self published book. I enjoyed the flowing narrative and the well balanced plot that not only settled on Leith recovering and him and Zach rediscovering each other, but also the arc where Leith’s friends and family actively keep the truth from Leith. There were parts of this last arc that I found a bit far-fetched, but also comprehensible. There is a lot of psychological damage in losing your memories of the last three years.

Why you should read it: Why not? It’s a fresh contemporary romance story with not so typical main characters that have passion aplenty. It has romance and drama and angst, but just the right amount. For a contemporary story is also believable and realistic. If that is you, go get this story!

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