Forgiven is the first book I’ve read by Garrett Leigh, and it wasn’t an entirely successful introduction, but it didn’t put me off the author either. I received an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Mia and Luke had an intense on/off relationship as teens that ended abruptly when Luke joined the navy without telling her he was leaving. Mia left their hometown a few years later, moved to Paris, got married, and opened a florist shop with her husband. She returns to her hometown when her husband cleans out their bank accounts and leaves her. Luke had retired from the navy and returned home to take over his family’s business a year earlier. Mia and Luke immediately fall back into being intense. I often found them exhausting. I’m not sure if it’s because I am now too old to be impressed by the depth of teen love (I know, it can be very deep and intense, especially when there is trauma bonding), or if I’m tired because of the intensity of the last year, plus watching an attempted coup on tv. Either way, I found the emotional drama more tiring than cathartic. Your mileage may vary.
Garrett Leigh is an engaging writer though, and her characters crackled with life. I think I would have enjoyed Mia and Luke figuring out their past, present, and future more if there hadn’t also been the suspense subplot with the stalker. The external danger added what I thought was an unnecessary layer of emotion and drama. I thought Mia and Luke were enough. I didn’t dislike Forgiven, but I probably wouldn’t read it a second time.