“This was how it would feel, then, to want a whole future with someone. To see it unspooling in front of me, a wide Highland track, swept with sun and infinite possibilities.” – Harper Fox
Title: Scrap Metal
Author: Harper Fox
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 258 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: 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.
Review: I’ve come to discover there’s a quiet beauty to Harper Fox’s writing. There’s nothing brash about it, it doesn’t shout to be heard or exaggerate in order to be understood. In its serenity, the reader discovers that each brushstroke of lyrical prose paints scenery so real that the sights and sounds come to life in the imagination.
Scrap Metal is filled with that sort of quiet beauty. Seacliff Farm and its surrounding landscape impose themselves on this story as much as any other character introduced, and Nichol Seacliff, along with his Granda Harry, complement this rugged and virile backdrop with strength and stoicism and, for Harry, no little amount of pride in his Arran homestead. There are struggles to be faced—the sudden death of Nichol’s mother and brother that leaves these two men reeling, the farm in decay and on the brink of bankruptcy—and it’s those struggles that delineate the character of both Nichol and Harry. They don’t converse as a means of solving problems, they clash and do everything but discuss the issues at hand. It’s the pattern of the relationship for the grandson who’s always come in second best in his grandfather’s eyes, and it sets the scene perfectly for everything that happens throughout the book, from Cameron unintentionally insinuating himself into their lives, to the way the three of them form a tenuous bond—Cam being a bridge of sorts—in the struggle to save the farm.
Cameron’s introduction adds the mystery and drama to the storyline, as his meeting with Nichol wasn’t meant to happen at all, not to mention the way it happened, but his vulnerability and fear is evident immediately as the thing that will draw Nichol to him. Cameron is the proverbial lost sheep and Nichol the shepherd who will give him a home and keep him safe from the wolves in human clothing from whom Cam, for reasons he’s not ready to fully disclose, is hiding. While there is a certain fragility to Cameron, a score at the seams of his very being, there’s strength as well. As he and Nichol fall in love and the cracks become chasms, the author mines every drop of conflict from the depths of Cameron’s secrets to impose the danger in this otherwise placid story.
There’s a parallel to Scrap Metal that’s a lot like life itself—not every moment is filled with turbulence. Some days are about the simple, often mundane act of being, and that’s a lot of what this story is. Nothing is rushed for the sake of manufactured angst. Nichol and Cam’s relationship builds at a pace that fits the mood and tone of the book itself, slow and realistic, given the secrets Cam is keeping and the fact that Nichol is in a state of existence in the place he’s found himself rather than the place he’d prefer to be. Leaving Edinburgh and moving back to the family homestead, back to the place where his ex, who had dumped him five years before because he couldn’t reconcile being a police officer with being in a relationship with another man, brings some added conflict to the story, but the true drama comes with a past that catches up with Cam.
I’m the last person who’d have believed I could read a story set on a remote farm on a rugged Scottish island, in a place where words such as sheep dip are bandied about, a place where the weather provides much of the ambiance, and love it, but I did. I can’t say that this is a book for everyone, especially if you require more than a fair amount of action and suspense in your books, but I can say it’s the perfect book when you’re in the mood for what amounts to an exceedingly romantic, contemporary pastoral.
You can buy Scrap Metal here: