Title ~ Tinsel Fish
Author ~ Harper Fox
Publisher ~ Foxtales Publications
Genre ~ M/M (contemporary / mystery)
Rating ~ 5 Stars
Christmas in a Cornish seaside town, bright lights and a hot new romance to ward off the winter storms... What could be finer? But Gideon and Lee’s first festive season together is shockingly interrupted when Lee tries to rid a client’s home of a malevolent presence. The ritual goes wrong, and in its aftermath Lee is strangely altered. As well as dealing with the changes in his lover, Gideon has a sinister thread to follow, linking the haunted house with disappearances among the homeless people of Falmouth.
Can love withstand what looks like a case of possession? As the darkest night of the year comes down, Gideon finds himself locked in a battle to restore his lover’s soul.
A Word from the Author
Hello, everyone! It’s a pleasure to be blogging here at Sinfully Sexy Book reviews today, and thank you very much to Mark for inviting me. I’d like to talk with everyone about Once Upon A Haunted Moor and its sequel Tinsel Fish, the first two books in what I hope will become a series featuring village policeman Gideon Frayne and his clairvoyant lover, Lee Tyack.
The idea for the Tyack & Frayne series arose from my visits to Bodmin Moor during the autumn. It sounds strange, but if you live in the far west of Cornwall as I do, and you mostly travel on the main east-west route along the peninsula, it’s easy to forget the moor is there. You get glimpses as you pass, but what you don’t realise is that, in this friendly county of cream teas and cheerful seaside towns, there is an eighty-square-mile expanse of wild, bleak nothing.
As a writer, this makes me very happy. I like the liminal places, the world’s-edge margins where anything can happen. The village of Dark, where Constable Gideon Frayne lives and works, is a fictional place, but a walk around the real hamlet of Minions will give you an idea. It’s a tiny collection of houses perched on the very shoulder of this wilderness. On a sunny day, nowhere could be prettier, more windswept and refreshing. On a misty autumn evening towards dusk...
Oh, yes. The chills. Suddenly you become aware of the huge emptiness all around you. And the legends of the moor, which in daylight seem only a picturesque dream, suddenly acquire flesh. Teeth. Claws. And I thought, what if there was this rock-solid policeman, this good-hearted, unimaginative guy who’s been dealing with parking fines and lost dogs until now, and suddenly he’s faced with not only his first missing-child case but the terrible fear that one of the legends he’s lived with (and laughed at) all his life – the Beast of Bodmin Moor – might be real? How might he deal with it?
The answer is that he can’t. Shy, chained up, barely able to deal with the facts of his own sexuality, let alone monsters and the appalling responsibility of having a lost kid on his hands, he’s at the end of his rope. And then Lee Tyack arrives, which at first feels like the final insult – Lee is a psychic, sent by Gideon’s own police bosses to help out where Gideon has failed. Not to give away too many plot details, but Gideon soon overcomes his hostility towards this charming newcomer who seems to have a hotline straight into his lonely heart. And because Lee is no stranger to those liminal, scary places – because he’s met monsters in the mist before – he and Gideon join forces to become a formidable investigative team, and that’s the story for Once Upon A Haunted Moor.
They also fall in love very fast, which was my gift to myself as a romance author, because if you’re sequelling a love story, you need a dynamic which will challenge, deepen or change the relationship you’ve already set up. And that’s the story of Tinsel Fish. Here I’ve changed the setting to Falmouth, and as Gideon and Lee investigate a haunted house, I’ve shown not only how the perils of the unknown can pursue Lee into one of those cheerful seaside towns – all lit up for Christmas as it is – but how their fledgling romance stands up to its first real trouble, in this case a burst of spectacular bad behaviour from the normally calm and decorous Lee. Loving someone doesn’t mean you have to like them all the time, after all, and I’m always intrigued by what turns infatuation into solid long-term gold.
It was the hell of a fun book to write. I had my protags all ready set up, I had two great locations – festive Falmouth and wintry Bodmin under a rare covering of snow – and what author doesn’t want to tell a haunted-house story at some time or another? Regular readers of mine will know that I couch the paranormal elements of my tales in the ordinary stuff of life, and often I leave the doors open for the reader to decide whether an event has a supernatural explanation or a simply a hidden human one. Lee is a little different: his gifts as a clairvoyant are undeniable, though he needs his level-headed Gideon to channel them. So he’s a departure for me, and I’m enjoying writing what might unashamedly be called a paranormal adventure mystery romance series!
Now, a series definitely requires three books at least, so will Book 3 of the Tyack & Frayne Mysteries be my next project? I find that I can write them pretty fast (about six weeks each for the first two), and anyone who’s read Tinsel Fish will know that I left a big loose end untied, and a working title for the third instalment could be What’s Haunting Lee? I do intend to answer that question, and soon, but as well as my self-published work, I really would like to try and get another full-length novel out with a publisher soon. So I may turn my attentions to that next, and follow through on my “seasonal stories” for Gideon and Lee later in the year. Anyone fancy a trip to the midsummer moors?
Tyack and Frayne ride again in deepest, darkest mysterious Cornwall.
“What I do believe is that, as we live with the people we love – or even those we hate – we take some part of them inside ourselves. And when those people die, that part stays with us. So if I tap into anything that seems to come from what's called the other side, I believe I’m reading signals you carry about with you from your connection with those people”
I really liked the take that Lee has on things, even I could find myself agreeing with that and also rational enough for Gideon to get his mind around the whole idea of Lee’s perceptions and talents too.
This time Lee has been called in by a woman who is experiencing strange and unexplainable things in her house. While having a romantic evening for two, Lee and Gideon are approached in a restaurant by a woman who is obviously in some distress. The presence in her house is affecting her well being and she doesn’t know where else to go but to Lee to get answers. Lee and Gideon go to visit the house and bring the camera team with them. Well, needless to say what happens defies explanation and leaves Lee a changed man. He starts to behave in ways that worry Gideon and is totally out of character for him. So Gideon whisks him off to his cottage on Bodmin Moor to get him away from things. However, Lee is still out of sorts.
One morning Lee wakes and starts to wonder and Gideon has to go chasing after him. Here we meet the bible thumping, austere, Methodist minister that is Gideon’s older brother. Quite a spooky character in his own right. However, we learn that deep beneath this religious fanaticism he still cares and can’t totally reject his younger brother Gideon, no matter how he might disapprove of his lifestyle. Ezekiel seems to recognise the problem and looks like the only one that can get Lee back to normal.
I liked the fact we get to meet Gideon’s side of the family. If you want to know where people are coming from with their attitudes in life I’ve always been a firm believer of meet the direct family, it always explains a lot. I hope in the next Tyack and Frayne adventure we learn a little more about Lee’s side of the family. However, Gideon in this book becomes more comfortable in his skin and basically has a coming out of sorts in the fact he learns not to care what others really think about him and his open affection for Lee in public.
Lee goes back to the house with Ezekiel and Gideon this time and manages to get behind the problem causing the disturbance in the house. It’s obviously very difficult to write a more in-depth synopsis of this story otherwise I would have to give too much of the mystery surprise away. Needless to say the mystery-murder part is once again well plotted out, cohesive and although dealing with supernatural goings-on still remains totally within the bounds of reality and believability. There are more things to heaven and earth than meets the eye!
What I loved about this book is that Gideon's and Lee’s love for each other deepens as they both start to understand each other better. Gideon realising that Lee is not his normal self after the experience in the house, worries constantly about this but doesn’t reject him or cast him aside, but cares for him and tries to make everything right.
Harper manages so well in her writing to create the mysterious atmosphere of Cornwall. A place that sometimes, even though I come from Cornwall, I reckon still manages to remain twenty years behind the rest of the world – lol! The foreboding atmosphere in the Cornish cottage is one such example. Some of these cottages are hundreds of years old and made of solid granite and every cottage probably has it’s own deep rooted history to tell ~ if walls could only talk. Harper obviously knows the area well, describes the locals beautifully with their quirkiness and maybe simple views on things. Here is one of my favourite quotes which really sums the attitude of the locals up in such a simple way….
“Lee’s T-shirt fitted him well, which in rural Cornwall was as good as a rainbow flag”
Never a truer word spoke – lol! This illustrated to me how well Harper has got to know the locals and their peninsular mentality. Not a local herself, but obviously has a great love of the area, its traditions, its countryside, nature and local people. This so comes across in her writing. Again her writing is descriptive, flows easily and reads beautifully. She manages to create a mysterious and spooky atmosphere that will send cold, shivery showers down your back and will keep you turning the page for more.
Can’t wait for the next Tyack and Frayne adventure. Let there be lots more to come.
2) Tinsel Fish
About The Author
Bestselling British author Harper Fox has established herself as a firm favourite with readers of M/M romance. Over the past three years, she’s delivered thirteen critically acclaimed novels, novellas and short stories, including Scrap Metal (Rainbow Awards Honourable Mention),The Salisbury Key (CAPA nominated) and Life After Joe (Band of Thebes Best LGBT Book, 2011).
Harper takes her inspiration from a wide range of British settings – wild countryside, edgy urban and most things in between – and loves to use these backdrops for stories about sexy gay men sharing passion, adventure and happy endings. She also runs her own publishing imprint, FoxTales.
Harper is enjoying life in Cornwall after her move from Northumberland, and soaking up ideas and inspiration from the wildly lovely Cornish coasts.
Contact The Author
Harper will be giving away one ebook copy of Tinsel Fish
Just enter the draw below.