Strays, Urban Soul Book 2 by Garrett Leigh

Strays is the 2nd book in the Urban Soul series, featuring a grumpy/sunshine pairing.

From the blurb:


Award winning MM romance. Expect: A grumpy hero with the sweetest heart as forced proximity and found family give two damaged men the HEA they deserve.

Work, sleep, work, repeat. Nero’s lonely life suits him just fine until his best friend, Cass, asks him to take on a new apprentice—a beautiful young man who’s never set foot in a professional kitchen.

Despite his irritation and his lifelong ability to shut the world out, Nero is mesmerised by the vibrant stray, especially when he learns what drove him to seek sanctuary on Nero’s battered old couch.

Lenny Mitchell is living under a cloud of fear. Pursued by a stalker, he has nowhere left to run until Nero offers him a port in a storm—a job at the hottest restaurant in Shepherd's Bush. Kitchen life proves heady and addictive, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling hard and fast for the man who has taken him in.

Fast-forward a month and a neither man can imagine life without the other, but one thing stands in their way: a lifetime of horrors Nero can’t bring himself to share with Lenny. Or can he? For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking, and Nero must learn to embrace it before fate steps in and rips it away.

Sheena's Review:

Strays is the second in the Urban Soul series, it’s a re-issue of an already published book with additional material. This series is new to me, so I can’t comment on the new parts of it. While it’s the second in a series, it can be read as a standalone but I would recommend reading Misfits first as Tom, Jake and Cass from that book feature prominently in this one too.

I loved Nero and Lenny. When we meet Lenny he’s running scared from a stalker, that the police will do nothing about, and he needs a safe place to stay. Enter Nero, AKA the grumpiest chef in the world with an absolute heart of gold, and walls higher than Fort Knox. He likes Cass and Jake and that's about it, but has a protective streak a mile wide when it comes to Lenny. Grumpy/sunshine is my absolute favourite trope, and there's nobody grumpier than Nero. It was such a joy to see Lenny and Nero get closer over the course of the book, both men absolutely deserve all the best.

I loved seeing Lenny gradually get under Nero's skin, and behind his walls, even though Nero's story broke my heart when we eventually find out what it is. These two just fitted together so well, even though the reason they met in the first place isn't fun either. I loved this story, I loved Nero and Lenny, and I'm so happy they got their hard earned HEA, both deserve it so much.

Rating: 5 Stars

Angel's Review:

So! This book was the revised second edition, I had not read the first one so this story, along with the characters, were completely new to me. I fell in love with the restaurant world as soon as I read Misfits. And while I was reading Misfits, Nero's character really stood out to me. He was devoted to his passion but he was very mysterious didn't give too much about himself away. 

I thought since this is his story that we would get to know more about him right away, but that wasn't quite what happened. 

While we did get to know him through his job, and his passion for cooking and being busy, we didn't really get to know him more until the midpoint of the book, his character was a mystery until the very end. 

I adored Lenny's character, I read the first pov from his perspective and was immediately hooked. He was such a great contrast to Nero's character while also complimenting him so beautifully. And while these two men are both flawed and scarred in their own ways from their own traumas, these two men come together in such a beautiful and believable way. 

It wasn't happy ever after right away, they took their time to get there, and even when things were going well, turmoil still struck. I really appreciated how Garrett had Lenny's character  stick to his gut instead of not being open with Nero. Lenny could've easily not said anything to Nero, but he wasn't comfortable with that and wasn't happy. And that was for the best to speak up. That moment was so pivotal to Lenny and Nero's relationship, it was really great. 

I loved seeing Cass, Tom, and Jake again. Overall a great book that you should definitely read! While this can be read as a standalone I recommend reading Misfits as well. 

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Strays is available to buy as an ebook, paperback, hardback, or to read with Kindle Unlimited subscription.