Review: Driftwood, by Harper Fox

Blurb:

cover-harperfox-driftwoodWhat the tide washes in, the past can sweep away.

All Dr. Tom Penrose wants is his old life back. He’s home in Cornwall after a hellish tour of duty in Afghanistan, but while the village is the same, he isn’t. His grip on his control is fragile, and it slips dangerously when Flynn Summers explodes into his life. The vision in tight neoprene nearly wipes them both out in a surfing mishaps and shatters Tom’s lonely peace.

Flynn is a crash-and-burn in progress, one of only two survivors of a devastating rescue helicopter crash that killed his crew. His carefree charm is merely a cover for the messed-up soul within. The sparks between him and Tom are the first light he’s seen in a long, dark tunnel of self-recrimination, which includes living in sexual thrall to fellow crash survivor and former co-pilot, Robert.

As their attraction burns through spring and into summer, Tom must confront not only his own shadows, but Flynn’s before the past rises up to swallow his lover whole.

Warning Contains explicit m/m sex, hot helicopter pilots and skin-tight wetsuits. Also, in true British tradition, a tiny bit of joystick innuendo.


Stats:

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Edition read:
August 4, 2010
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Contemporary, M/M, LGBT+
139 e-book pages
3rd person
stand-alone
June 6-7, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Review:

I’d like to note that I think Harper Fox has a gorgeous and eloquent style of writing. This is only my second book of hers, and the first knocked my socks off.

But it takes more than one note to create harmony.

This felt so disjointed to me in…well, all the ways.

I don’t feel like I got a good enough grip on Tom to understand how and why he was so damaged, such a loner, and a functioning alcoholic. There were tiny bits scattered about, but I don’t feel like I got the full picture.

I didn’t understand Flynn at all — or the immediate attraction. Flynn was caught up in a highly abusive relationship that I never fully grasped. I get people who feel trapped — more than I’m willing to admit. But, he was still in this relationship when we met him, and throughout the majority of the book. There was time. There was plenty of time to dig into this a bit more to understand the heft of the weight he was under.

The relationship between Tom and Flynn was nearly immediate. Very few, very brief (mostly sex-charged) encounters where Tom was admitting in his head that he was falling or already in love. Flynn clearly couldn’t stay away, looked at Tom with eyes full of adoration, and fibbed about being split from his partner.

Flynn’s partner was a baaaad dude. Scary bad. But even with him, the picture was hazy.

My favorite character? Belle. Belle the dog. I love a dog that’s super intuitive, a bit quirky, unflinchingly loyal, and knows how to open doors. Belle was awesome.

As for the story, none of it felt cohesive for me. I was on board with the insta-attraction — but not the insta-love, and not with damaged Tom jumping into a relationship with damaged Flynn without more information. But the timeline was a rapid-fire chain of events over the course of a few very short weeks with more introspection that interaction.

Then the last 30% or so is one big WTF of medical miracles and James Bond heroics that…I can’t even without massive spoilers. But…just. No. I can’t dangle my disbelief over that steep a cliff without a stronger support system or a strong enough story to keep me tethered, or cushion the fall.

It makes me think Harper was set on writing a novella and keeping to the constraints of length as opposed to using as many words as necessary to flesh out the characters, draw out the timeline to make it more believable, inject more emotion, or fully explore motivations and guide us to the Big Thing near the end with enough information to carry us through. You know…all that jazz.

This wasn’t a hit for me. But I’m not giving up.

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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