Driftwood

Title: Driftwood
Author: Harper Fox
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Action/Adventure
Length: novel (133 PDF pages)
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5

 

 

 

Summary Review: If you love adventure, if you want to read a story that will enchant and excite you, if you hunger for wonderfully flawed characters with whom you will fall in love, and a location that reeks of atmosphere, Driftwood serves up all this and more, in spades.

THE BLURB

What 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 mishap—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.

THE REVIEW

I’m sitting here with mixed emotions, after having just finished reading Driftwood which moved me beyond words, something that rarely happens. When I read Life After Joe which I absolutely loved, I knew that Harper Fox was a talented writer and I anticipated that she would continue to grow and her skill would improve. What I didn’t expect was to be blown away by the phenomenal ride she served up in Driftwood which is set in the wild, untamed coast of Cornwall in the United Kingdom. This story is so different from her first book it’s like night and day. The wonderful prose and heartbreaking emotions that drew me into Life After Joe are evident, but the similarities end there as Driftwood literally took my breath away.

Tom Penrose is the local doctor in a small Cornish village, the same place where he grew up.  He is trying to cope with the effects of PTSD after serving three terms in Afghanistan and losing his lover in the war. He lives in a converted watchtower or lighthouse with his wolfhound Belle, and occasionally, when he can’t bear the nightmares any more, he gives in to his alcoholic tendencies and goes on a binge. One morning when he was out walking Belle along the coast he saw a man riding the perfect wave recklessly, who then wiped out and disappeared from sight.  Since as a doctor he couldn’t stand by and see him drown, he jumped into the raging currents to rescue the surfer who seemed to have a death wish that ended up almost taking both their lives. That man was Lieutenant Flynn Summers, a former Sea King rescue helicopter pilot. When Tom got over his anger they chatted a bit after their horrific ordeal, and it was apparent that they were attracted to each other.

Tom never expected to see Flynn again, but a few days later there was another chance meeting when he was at a local air show where there was a display of the Sea King helicopters. Flynn was there, of course, and invited him to have a drink that evening at a nearby pub. Tom couldn’t resist the opportunity to see Flynn and showed up. Flynn was very happy to see him, but someone else was not pleased and made his displeasure known by picking a fight with Tom. Robert Tremaine was Flynn’s lover and former co-pilot on a flight piloted by Flynn where 6 of his teammates had died. The accident was ruled pilot error and Flynn was no longer allowed to fly, although he was still part of Search & Rescue. His new job was called a “tea bag” – i.e. he rescued people by being winched into the sea at the end of a rope from a helicopter. Robert had rescued and taken care of Flynn after the accident and paid for expensive medical treatments during his convalescence. Now he felt that he owned Flynn and he was not going to let anyone else have him.

The attraction between Tom and Flynn would not be denied and they spent that night at the lighthouse. The sex was unbelievably tender, poignant, erotic and emotional. Here’s a bit of the prose from one scene:

God, Flynn tasted of sea salt. He was so warm. He reached up and placed a hand on Thomas’s shoulder—an open hand, no restraint, just a palm circling his clavicle, tenderly round and round the protuberant bone, even when its fingers closed, no restraint. And so the choice was Thomas’s, when the hundred reasons why he shouldn’t flickered like sheet-lightning through his mind and he leaned hungrily forward anyway, into Flynn’s taste of sunlight and salt, the evanescent sweetness of the Riesling.

He moaned, taking hold of the edge of Flynn’s T-shirt. His fingers felt clumsy and damp, but Flynn briefly touched the back of his hand in a gesture of assent and suggestion, his mouth opening under Thomas’s, slow as a sea anemone. Instinct stirred in Thomas, and he shyly let his tongue press inward, feeling the welcoming flutter of Flynn’s before he could recoil at his own daring.

The next morning Robert came to Tom’s home to collect his ‘property,’ and made it clear to him that if he went anywhere near Flynn he would pay dearly. Tom knew that Flynn was in an abusive relationship but there was nothing he could do if Flynn didn’t want to leave.

Shortly after, Tom was forced off the road by another vehicle and Flynn, who happened to be driving in the vicinity, pulled him out of his car just in the nick of time, at the risk of his own life. As Tom hovered between life and death there was another crisis, a rescue that could part the lovers forever. This was the kind of action you see in the movies, with gun runners, covert operations, and the drama of the Search and Rescue helicopters. What a wild ride on the sea in a storm with gale force winds in the driving rain as men fought the elements to save their brothers.

I never knew that the Cornish coast was so wild, rugged and beautiful. The location was so much a part of the story it seemed alive – talk about atmosphere! Harper Fox achieved something that few authors are capable of doing well – she made the location into  another character in her book. Driftwood may be responsible for enticing many new visitors to Cornwall. 🙂 Here’s a bit of  prose about Cornwall:

There was the quoit. This was one of Thomas’s commuting runs and he saw it every day, often twice, but it never failed to seize him. Placed here by unknown hands five thousand years before, knocked down in a storm and badly reconstructed in the 1800s, it was a stupendous thing, as breathtaking today as it must have been when its Neolithic builders had somehow raised its ten-ton flying capstone onto its four granite supports—three, now, after its clumsy rebuild—and set it to dominate the Morvah moor.

This is what I said, in part, about this author when I reviewed her first book:

Harper Fox is a fresh new talent in the M/M genre with great writing skills and I hope that her other books are just as imaginative and entertaining as this one

Well, did she ever kick my butt! Her sense of timing was unbelievably precise. The pace started off at breakneck speed and never let up so I had to buckle myself in for this incredible ride. The book was the stuff of dreams if you love adventure, with crisis piled on top of crisis, the good guys and the villains fighting to the death. WOW! There is so much packed into Driftwood that you will need to read it more than once to get the full breadth of the story because I have only skimmed the surface in this review. Of course some of the action was too unbelievable for words, but this is, after all, not reality.

This story is an excellent mix of well drawn, flawed protagonists, an exciting adventure, a love story that will move you, an evil villain who was realistically portrayed and not a caricature, secondary characters who were three dimensional and actually had roles in the book rather than being just window dressing, and a damn dog that I adored. The protagonists were so emotionally open that I could feel their pain and need, and for me to become so invested in Driftwood and feel a part of the story is an indication of great writing. When you mix in the prose, which is exquisite, I had to give this book 5+ stars which I think it more than deserves. Harper Fox is a unique talent and I can’t wait for her next book.

Run, don’t walk, to get your copy. Highly recommended.

Driftwood is available from Samhain Publishing on August 17.

Damon Suede
5 years 6 months ago

AGree a thousand percent with this glowing review. She’s a marvel, huh? After I read this book I turned to my boyfriend and said, “I’m sorry honey; I want to have her baby.”

What I noticed in this book, even more than LIfe After Joe, is her funny knack for building objects and moments so that they resonate for characters (and for us) polysemically. And she does it so subtly that you barely notice the accretion of detail and emotion. Great worldbuilding and great romance.

Haunting and fierce and mesmerizing.

Graeme
Graeme
5 years 11 months ago
I love Harper. No, really I *love* Harper. Life after Joe blew my mind; Driftwood blew what was left me right away. I f*cking love Thomas Penrose. What a man. In fact, I think I am in love with him. Damn you, Harper, for creating such gorgeous characters: I’m hoping against hope that such people do exist outside of your novels! (I could do without the many brushes with death, though.) The quoit, the dog, the crumbling watch tower – such important symbols. And so deftly done. I truly value Harper’s work as it gives me faith in the all-encompassing,… Read more »
Tj
6 years 9 days ago
Hi Wave, I’m absolutely speechless as I’ve just finished reading this book. You perfectly captured the experience in your review. There aren’t words descriptive enough to encompass this whirlwind of a story detailing the lives of two complex, damaged and very fascinating men.  Tom and Flynn are so fully fleshed out that I feel as if they really exist somewhere in the world, not just in Harper’s imagination. The story was so engrossing, the action left my heart pounding along with the two protagonists, and the location felt so real that it was like an additional character.  This talented new author had… Read more »
Mary
Mary
6 years 10 days ago

This absolutely a phenomenal read and the prose is mesmerizing. I loved the men Flynn and Tom are great complicated characters that you can not help falling in love with. I also looked up all the places mentioned in Cornwall. It sounds like an enchanted place. I think this could be a a brilliant film if anyone was brave enough to make it.Harper Fox is my next Favorite author.Just an amazing story.

allie2
allie2
6 years 16 days ago

I want this book now!!!

Also, there seems to be a new and welcome sub-genre of m/m set in Cornwall. As well as Driftwood, I’ve found Shining in the Sun by Alex Beecroft, Lover’s Knot by Donald A Hardy and Sea Change by Syd McGinley. Any more out there I should know about?

stacy
stacy
6 years 18 days ago

Like everyone else, I loved “Life After Joe”, so Harper will be an automatic buy for me.

Can’t wait for Driftwood! Sounds like a great story.

Sirius
6 years 19 days ago

Oh yes Wave, I preordered this one even before seeing you review. I loved Life after Joe so much that this writer now has my credit of trust for several books ahead and somehow I do not anticipate massive dissappointment after reading your excellent review 🙂

Harper Fox
6 years 18 days ago

Hi Sirius. I’m deeply honoured – and just that small bit scared 🙂

Will do my best never to let you down. Thank you for enjoying the show so far! x

ElaineG
6 years 19 days ago

Life After Joe was on my TBB list after Wave profiled Harper Fox……looks like I will be adding Driftwood. Great review, I know I will enjoy both of these books!

Harper Fox
6 years 18 days ago

Hope you like them both, Elaine x

Patty
Patty
6 years 19 days ago

I loved Life After Joe; the beauty of the writing, the unique setting of the story, and the shared love,warmth, and joy the men had at the end of the book.

I’m thrilled for Harper that you’ve given Driftwood such high marks. Next Tuesday, the Aug. 17th release, will not come around soon enough for me!

Harper Fox
6 years 18 days ago

Thank you, Patty. I hope Driftwood is as much (or even more?) fun for you as (than?) LAJ. xxx

Harper Fox
6 years 19 days ago

Thank you TJ, Lily, Chris, Val, Josh! (Er, that would be Mr Josh “Top of the Carina Bestseller List” Lanyon, BTW. *Congratulations*!!!)

Harper Fox
6 years 19 days ago

Hi, Wave – just picking myself up off the carpet whilst simultaneously blushing, grinning and attempting to fan myself. Thank you so much for that amazing review. I may have to retire now 🙂

It means a huge deal to me to be so well reviewed on a site like this.

All best wishes
Harper

Josh Lanyon
6 years 19 days ago

I freely admit I love Harper’s work. I think this is my favorite of her first three stories — although that’s like trying to choose between a box of wonderful chocolates. Is it the truffle I love best? The nuts and cream? The almond cluster?

Wonderful review of a wonderful novel.

Val Kovalin
6 years 19 days ago

Wave, this sounds totally amazing! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. 🙂

Lily
6 years 19 days ago

Sounds fabulous. I’ve got Life After Joe in my TBR. I’ve got to get to it soon and add this one. Great review, Wave! 🙂

Tj
6 years 19 days ago

Yes! Yes! Yes! I knew this would be brilliant. Wonderful review Wave. Everything about this sounds fantastic. As you said, after reading LAJ, I realized what a great talent we had stumbled upon. Now I have to wait a WHOLE week! Grrrr.

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