Review: The Salisbury Key, by Harper Fox

Blurb:

cover-harperfox-thesalisburykeyCan love repair a shattered life in time to save the world?

Daniel Logan is on a lonely quest to find out what drove his lover, a wealthy, respected archaeologist, to take his own life. The answer the elusive key for which Jason was desperately searching lies somewhere on a dangerous and deadly section of Salisbury Plain.

The only way to gain access, though, is to allow an army explosives expert to help him navigate the bomb-riddled military zone. A man he met once more than three years ago, who is even more serious and enigmatic than before.

Lieutenant Rayne has better things to do than risk his life protecting a scientist on an apparent suicide mission. Like get back to Iraq and prove he will never again miss another roadside bomb. Yet as he helps Dan uncover the truth, an attraction neither man is in the mood for springs up against their will. And stirs up the nervous attention of powerfully placed people military and academic alike.

First in conflict, then in passion, Rayne and Dan are drawn together in a relationship as rocky and complicated as the ancient land they search. Where every step leads them closer to a terrible legacy written in death.


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Edition read:
February 22, 2011
Samhain Publishing, LTD
Contemporary, Mystery, M/M, LGBT+
213 e-book pages
1st person
stand-alone
April 26-27, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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Review:

May-December and/or Student-Professor stories tend to squick me out.

Insta-love stories tend to revolt me.

This book had some serious premise elements going against it in my mind.

But daaamn was this book delicious.

This was my first book by Harper Fox, and I’m wondering what took me so long. The good news is I have a few others on my e-shelf I’ll be diving into soon.

I think the prose here is the most elegant and gorgeous I’ve read in years with the kind of phrasing and imagery that transports me to be perfectly present in every scene without being overdone and tinged in hues of purple.

It was so beautifully written that I was drawn in, crying, and mourning then laughing and cheering everything on.

There are bits of suspense, little bits of mystery that added just enough intrigue to keep things exciting in an Indiana Jones kind of way.  And there were perfect nuggets of British humor tucked in just the right places to save it from being so heavily weighted on the side of tragic loss, deception, and the crushing lies of omission from a man no longer around to answer the lingering questions.

I’m not crazy about reading about one relationship that ends and has the hero moving forward into another — especially at such a rapid-fire pace. I prefer a book to encompass and focus on one relationship. But, that’s not life, is it? So, I can set aside my prejudice on what a romance should be and embrace that the story was stronger because of everything we get to see in the beginning.

The love affair between Daniel and his professor, Jason, seemed more like Daniel in need of a father figure than a real, everlasting kind of love — and quite co-dependent at times. Fortunately, story-wise, this relationship is only about the first 15% of the book. Unfortunately, and quite devastatingly, is that that it ends with Jason taking his life. (It’s in the blurb, y’all.)

Daniel is left to pick up the pieces that were ensnared in an ages old mystery. Mourning in his own way, dealing (or not) as he feels best for him, his involvement with Rayne escalates rapidly from a reluctant working partnership to friendship to a whole lot more.

For me, Rayne stole the show. He’s strong, capable, and quite no-nonsense as he attempts to be a friend to Daniel. He brings levity and relief with perfect timing as Daniel’s life spins out of control. Also, a man in uniform just does it for me. He’s a much better match personality wise and far more equipped to be an equal partner to Daniel. The relationship felt right regardless of how fast it transpired under a massive cloud of grief.

The setting of the Salisbury Plain and Stonehenge was fascinating, mystical, and kind of eerie at times. The descriptions were eloquent and felt as much like a character as each person who graced the pages. It’s a special thing to feel that in books that are more often so focused on the characters and emotions.

The Salisbury Key surpassed my expectations by taking me on a whirlwind of emotions and a journey of love and loss and love again with lots of fascinating twists along the way.

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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