I was thrilled to get the opportunity to review Scrap Metal as one of our retro reads here at Prism. I first read this title a couple of years ago and remembered being quite taken with it. Upon this second reading, however, I am more than just taken. I am bewitched.
Author: Harper Fox
Cover Artist: Angela Waters
Rating: 5.0 of 5 Stars
Is there room for love in a heart full of secrets?
One year ago, before Fate took a wrecking ball to his life, Nichol was happily working on his doctorate in linguistics. Now he’s hip deep in sheep, mud and collies. His late brother and mother had been well suited to life on Seacliff Farm. Nichol? Not so much.
As lambing season progresses in the teeth of an icy north wind, the last straw is the intruder Nichol catches in the barn. He says his name is Cam, and he’s on the run from a Glasgow gang. Something about the young man’s tired resignation touches Nichol deeply, and instead of giving him the business end of a shotgun, he offers Cam a blanket and a place to stay.
Somehow, Cam quickly charms his way through Nichol’s defenses and into his heart. Even his grandfather takes to the cheeky city boy, whose hard work and good head for figures help set the farm back on its feet.
As the cold Scottish springtime melts into summer, Nichol finds himself falling in love. When tragedy strikes, Cam’s resolutely held secret is finally revealed and Nichol must face the truth. He’s given his heart away, and it’s time to pay the price.
Warning: Contains explicit M/M sex and the disruption of a quiet Scottish town by a fistfight and some tight designer jeans.
There is nothing I can add in summary of this story that the blurb doesn’t cover perfectly. I would much rather share a few lines of glorious prose from the opening scene of the book, which finds the main character, Nichol Seacliff, struggling to rescue an orphaned lamb from the perilous weather engulfing Seacliff Farm:
The first time my grandfather gave one to me to hold, I fell on my backside in the barnyard mud. They’re solid. Little lumps of muscle, meat and hoof. Granted, I was five years old when he dumped the first one into my arms, but twenty years later, after a climb up a cliff face in horizontal rain and a three-mile walk, I could still have dropped to my knees beneath the weight.
And wept, if there was any point. There was no one in a hundred wet acres to see. One great advantage of Arran in winter—you could break your heart with dignity. The rain would take your tears, the gale whip them away from you, and beyond the outskirts of the handful of towns and villages that clung to the island coasts, chances were you’d be alone.
This just the first page. The reader is treated to this kind of beautifully raw and expertly crafted prose throughout the remainder of this arresting novel. The rich, vivid images and lush details unceremoniously drop the reader onto the island of Arran off the Scottish coast, sure as Nichol’s “granda” dumped that lamb into his arms all those years ago. Harper Fox’s writing is pure genius as she paints a lavish portrait of the rugged land and people of Arran Island. Peppered with island lore and touches of whimsy, the narrative weaves the story of the joys, sorrows, struggles, and triumphs of the hapless Nichol, his blustery grandfather Harry, and the wayward Cameron as they struggle together to run the sheep farm and to overcome the obstacles brought on by grief and a family history of misunderstandings and unmet expectations.
The voices of the characters, whether main or peripheral, are unique and captivating. Though their delicious Brogue is not specifically written upon the page, the reader can hear it, clear as a bell, and Harry and Nichol’s occasional exchanges in Gaelic are at once powerful and touching. The dialogue is natural, genuine in tone and content, reflecting the charm and color of the characters. Fallible, real, and tangible, these personalities are skillfully drawn, from Harry’s rough-hewn brutishness to Cameron’s mystery and sincerity. Secondary characters are lively and bold, much like I would imagine Arran Islanders to be. Nichol’s evolution throughout the story is lovely and satisfying, and Cameron’s appearance provides a necessary balm to the jagged wounds being carried by the men of Seacliff Farm.
Together, Nichol and Cameron are stunning. The sexual tension between them is cultivated to the point of it being as rich and thick as a decadent dessert. Though Cameron remains an endearing, adorable mystery throughout the majority of the story, he bears an unmistakable appeal, and Nichol’s attraction to him is primal. There is a tangy earthiness to their scenes together, heady with emotion, passion, and yearning. Yum!
There is so much more to say about this book, but I will try to sum it all up here. Cherished cultural traditions, legends, possible island ghosts, family struggles, grief, loss, healing, humor, and vibrant characters are all present and abundant here. The writing is some of the most exquisite I’ve ever read, full of layered details that bring to the page the agonizing, the comical, and everything in between. Tears and laughter are elicited in equal measure. The story of these men and their connectedness to one another and to the rugged land of the island is one that seeps into the reader’s heart and soul and takes up residence there. I highly recommend Scrap Metal and would give it more than 5 stars if I could. It is and will remain one of my favorite m/m romances of all time.
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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