All That You Can’t Leave Behind by Kirby Quinlan

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This is the debut novel from Kirby Quinlan. To find out more about Kirby’s work, visit kirbyquinlan.com

REVIEW

From the moment Brayzen Mapleridge is belayed down from his private helicoptor to his first day of community service, I was hooked.

Briefly, Tailor Sway is the host of a TV programme that declutters peoples’ houses and (hopefully) changes their lives. He is struggling to cope with his husband, Grant, a veteran of the Iraq War who is suffering from PTSD. Brayzen Mapleridge is the ultra-famous pop star who is avoiding jail by doing hard labour in front of the cameras. A publicity stunt went wrong and he is paying the price. There is an instant attraction between him and Tailor, but of course, Tailor is married, and does not want to hurt his husband, even though he knows their marriage is on borrowed time.

So there is quite a lot in that paragraph alone for me to say, “hang on, how is this going to work?” But it does. In turn funny, if not downright hysterical, and moving, the serious subjects are dealt with deftly and with great sensitivity, whilst not compromising on the humour. THis book has to be read to be believed. Quinlan has thrown a lot at this but it works. Against the odds, it really does.

I loved Tailor’s humility, and the way he deals with Grant. I can’t say too much for fear of giving a spoiler, but I can tell you the ending is worth while.

Brayzen is created brilliantly as well. At first you think “what an asshole” but he grows on you. He really does. I wanted to give him a hug by the end and I’m not easily swayed by glamour, money and good looks. He has everything that could make him a really unsympathetic character. The fact that I was rooting for him is testiment to the skillful way he was drawn.

And Grant was a real surprise. I wasn’t expecting what happened in the end. Did he deserve it? Vote is still out on that one. Again, no spoilers.

I loved the unpredictability of this book. It wasn’t like any other I have read recently. And the sex is HOT. There’s a lot of it, and it scorches the page. I thought I would have a problem with some of the moral dilemmas, but no. This is massively entertaining and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t insist on romance following the same old tired tropes. Nice work for a debut novel!

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