Reformed gangster Luis falls hard for his boss. When friendship turns to love, it’s up to Paolo to convince him second chances are worth the pain.
Luis Pope is back on the street after a six year stretch in prison, but life on the outside seems just out of reach, especially when the whole neighbourhood knows his face for all the wrong reasons.
Paolo’s temper makes it hard to keep staff, and he knows Luis’s rep all too well. But his nonno believes in redemption, and Luis isn’t the tough guy Paolo remembers. Prison has left its mark, inside and out, and all the kindness in the world can’t fix the three inch scar on Luis’s skull.
And it can’t keep ghosts locked up. Luis’s the best worker Paolo’s ever had, and Luis’s happier than he’s ever been. But his old life doesn’t want to stay in the past. Trouble comes to call, and when it makes him an offer he can’t refuse, keeping Paolo safe hurts the most.
Redemption. Forgiveness. Salvation. This beautiful story spares no one and no heart, gripping with such ferocity that reformation is the only option. On a more personal note, I’ve been fragile lately but no matter, I’ll always share my whole heart when it comes to Leigh’s stories. I know that she does the same… putting everything into her creations and my trust and confidence are boundless when it comes to GL. This gritty tale is the epitome of ‘everything they didn’t know they needed‘ and I adored discovering all the reasons why it was worth it right along with them. Not every story Garrett creates pivots around food but I always appreciate those that do. A hungry soul is fed with food made with love…and Paolo knows this firsthand. The power of good comfort food is something he understands. Running his grandparent’s restaurant is more than a job, it’s his life. When a familiar bad boy returns to the neighborhood his first instinct is to give him the cold shoulder but his grandfather’s wisdom echoes in the quiet kitchen. When it comes to second chances, everyone deserves one. Who knows why they fell? Maybe they tripped or perhaps they were pushed? But if they are willing to start over why not help them?
As usual with her stories, Leigh delivers a deeply layered story. Family is a key element here but with polarizing effects. Luis has done his time and he’s eager to leave his past behind him. Unfortunately, his wishes are like grasping sand in his hands and they slip away before his eyes. He just wants to keep his head down while maintaining a roof over it and start fresh. But new beginnings aren’t always simple or easy. Paolo, on the other hand, has been shaped into the fiery passionate man he is by the love from his Nonno and Nonna. His path was cleared and paved by them and he vows to continue their legacy of filling more than empty bellies. When the familiar stranger appears in his cafe, he’s caught off guard and feels tremors in the foundation. Everything is about to change…and he’s not sure he’s ready. Blindsided love is one of my favorite things!
Things begin with a chance and end with fate and I was enraptured every step of the way. It’s clear from the start that Luis isn’t exactly free. I held my breath and prayed he would break away from his chains. Paolo was full of life but not exactly living to his full potential. Luis balanced his off-kilter world and reminded him of what he was missing. Pride would never let him admit it but he was slowly sinking. Luis was a life preserver but at the same time, Paolo sheltered him from the storm. It was absolutely beautiful. I was nervous and excited. I melted and burned. And…I salivated. Ha! There’s much to love about Leigh’s trademark angst and this was no exception.
Tension so thick, you’ll need wellies to wade through. Gang survival isn’t always pretty but always admirable. A stark reminder that everyone is worthy of love…imperfections, and all. And an ending that will warm you to your core.
If you’re looking for those blinding rays that appear after a thunderstorm, I highly recommend this courageous couple and their savory yet sweet story.