Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Tyack & Frayne Part 2 by Harper Fox

Third Solstice #6
Gideon’s managed to swing a few festive days off, and he and Lee are looking forward to celebrating their little girl’s first birthday. But duty calls, and Gideon is too good an officer to ignore the summons. He finds himself on the streets of Penzance, helping police the midwinter Montol celebrations.

It’s his third winter solstice with Lee, and disturbance, danger and magic are in the air. His daughter is beginning to show some remarkable gifts, and not all the family can cope with them. As the Montol festivities reach their fiery heights, will Lee and Gideon find a way to keep those they love best on the right side of the solstice gate?

Preacher, Prophet, Beast #7
This is the seventh book in the Tyack & Frayne Mystery series.

Lee would gladly trade all his psychic gifts for a chance at ordinary life with his husband and his little girl. Three years into their marriage, they’re settled in their new home – but the House of Joy can’t shield them from an oncoming threat with the power to uproot their whole world.

Lee can’t define it further, and even his beloved Gideon can’t unmask a monster with no face at all. Gideon is mired in problems and secrets of his own as he struggles to adjust to his new rank and the complexities of plainclothes police work with CID, and for once the devoted Tyack-Frayne partnership is failing to communicate.

Turbulent times in the world at large reach deep into the Bodmin heartland, and the village of Dark is without its guardian constable. More than Lee and Gideon can possibly know has been depending upon their rapport, and as the summer rises towards the longest day, a new and unfathomable kind of Beast is afoot on the moors...

Third Solstice #6
Original Review January 2016:
How did I not know this came out before Christmas?  I fell in love with Lee & Gideon a few months back and it's a great treat to find them in a holiday setting.  Don't think that just because it's Christmas their lives are any less hectic or paranormal.  When their daughter shows what she can do, will it make things easier or more troubling?  Well, for that you'll have to read it and you most definitely will want to do so.  Now I can file Lee & Gideon under both paranormal and my holiday shelf.

Preacher, Prophet, Beast #7
Original Review May 2017:
When I stumbled onto Once Upon a Haunted Moor, book 1 of Harper Fox's Tyack & Frayne series, I thought I found a great paranormal way to escape reality for a bit.  Well, now with the recent release of Preacher, Prophet, Beast book 7 I realize that, yes it's still a great escape, a chance to let go and recharge but it's also an amazingly balanced tale of mystery, drama, and romance wrapped in a whacky paranormal bow that never fails to make me laugh, shudder, and smile all at the same time.

On the surface, I found Preacher to be the most confusing of the series but I also found that was one of the main reasons I enjoyed it.  The confusion is part of the paranormal charm and fits the plot, not to mention how it fits the characters.  That is as close to a spoiler as you are going to get out of me but don't let it scare you off, yes I found confusion to be a huge factor but a necessary one and I can't imagine the story being told any other way.

As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine, but I find that being freaked out once in a while can be even better.  Why or how you ask?  Well, for me it makes me appreciate what I have because I realize things could be a lot creepier and good or bad it helps me respect what life throws at me.  Now, having made that observation I will say that what Lee and Gideon face on a nearly daily basis is pretty freaky and they manage to face it head on even when they don't realize that's what they're doing.  Throw in little Tamsyn coming into her own paranormal gifts and the family is definitely being kept on their toes.

Preacher, Prophet, Beast is a wonderful addition to my paranormal shelf that has cemented Tyack & Frayne's position on my series shelf.  Hopefully there will be plenty more of Lee, Gideon, and Tamsyn to come.


Third Solstice #6
How long had Lee been sitting there? Gideon sat up, catching his sleeping infant before she could slide off his chest. The so-called watchdog was flat on her back, legs sprawled, hairy paws flickering with dreams. “Lee! Um... Hi, sweetheart. I wasn’t... I didn’t think you’d be back yet.”

“Clearly.” Lee’s face was bright with amusement. He’d had to sit on the edge of the coffee table for want of room on the sofa. “I got in about five minutes ago. I pulled up a pew to watch you three.”

“Sorry.” Gideon yawned hugely. “Sorry. I meant to have supper ready.”

“I stuck a lasagne into the microwave to defrost. We’ll have that.”

A huge tide of pleasure swept Gideon, as if he’d been offered champagne cocktails under the stars on a luxury liner. This week was the longest time he and Lee had been apart since their wedding. “Sweetheart,” he said, and leaned forward to kiss him, keeping Tamsyn out of the way of crushing or suffocation. “Did the last of the filming go well? How was your journey? How come I didn’t know you were nearly home?”

“Fine. Long. You were asleep.” Lee returned his embrace with hungry warmth. Tamsyn emerged serenely from sleep at the sound of his voice, and he lifted her onto his knee, smiling. “God almighty, look at her. She’s grown while I’ve been away.”

“Not surprised. She’s been eating like a tentacled sea-monster. Do you have to go back between now and New Year?”

“Nope, we’re all done. Jack and Anna just wanted some talking-head stuff to wrap up the London Hauntings series. We’re cleared for our festive take-off.”

“Wonderful.” Gideon had bargained away part of his paternity leave to get this first birthday and Christmas at home with his small family. He rubbed his eyes, trying to focus. Lee’s outline was blurred to him, somehow unreal. “Weird that I didn’t wake up, though. I normally feel you coming a mile off.”

Lee raised a suggestive eyebrow at him, then visibly changed the subject. “Seriously, she’s huge. A week’s too long to be away at the moment, isn’t it? What have I missed?”

“Not much. Some truly horrific nappies.”

“Must be all those sailors and galleons she’s been eating. What else?” His brow creased. “I did miss something, didn’t I? Oh, no—not her first step.”

“No, no. She’s been standing on her own, but she always flops down onto that well-padded backside of hers. Speaking of which, I’d better get her swaddled up before she wrecks this towel.”

“Hang on a second. Tell me.”

Lee would never just reach in. Gideon had learned to lower barricades inside his mind, to offer silent permission. The soft, delicious pushing was absent tonight. Well, having a mindreader in the family was no substitute for honest conversation, and some things just had to be said. “She’s developed a bit of a new party trick. Might be better if she showed you, rather than me trying to explain.” He patted Tamsyn’s cheek with one fingertip to draw her attention. “Tamsie. Where’s your bear?”

She pointed to the floor where the toy had fallen, a clear indication that he should pick it up for her. “You get it,” he encouraged. “Get the bear for Lee.”


It was clear and decisive, and made both her parents start to laugh. After Dada and Eee, her first word had been no, and she’d made liberal use of it since. “She’s not gonna do it,” Gideon said, picking up the bear for her instead. “Here. No more porridge song, though, please.”

She cackled and began to pull the string. Lee grasped his head in mock agony. “Would it be cruel of us to cut that off? What were you expecting her to do, anyway?”

“I’m not sure.” Gideon rubbed his eyes. “It’s been a long week. I was probably hallucinating. Right, you little rug rat—let’s get you to bed, so your daddies can have some food and sex the way they occasionally used to before you came along.”

Lee grinned and got to his feet, hoisting her ceilingwards. “I remember those golden days. The room looks beautiful, Gid. Who knew a big Cornish plod would have such a talent for decoration?”

“Big gay Cornish copper. Comes with the territory.”

“In that case, shouldn’t I be getting a home-baked quiche for my tea, not microwaved lasagne?”

“Only if you want to home-bake one yourself.” Gideon watched the two of them—his husband and his baby—with pride and love warring for place in his heart. He’d never imagined that life would hold such riches for him. “I found a box of ornaments in the parish-house attic. What do you think?”

“Beautiful. Especially the little silver sphere with... Does it have lights in it?”

“No, but it catches the light in the room. That one was my mum’s favourite too.”

“I can’t imagine the pastor approving.”

“Oh, he didn’t. She used to put a little tree up in her parlour where he wouldn’t see it.”

“Looks like it’s found its proper home now.”

Yes, it did. Gideon surveyed the replantable fir he’d strapped to the roof of the police truck to bring home. Nothing but the best for his little girl’s Christmas—her solstice, her Yule, Pagan trimmings aplenty. The little sphere rotated gently, as if a breeze had touched it. Sparkles flashed hypnotically from within its wire cage. Something tugged at the back of Gideon’s brain. Isolde sat up on the sofa and emitted a faint whine.

“Uh-oh. I think she’s gonna do it.”

“What?” Lee asked in alarm. “Nappy?”

“No. Look at her hand. Watch that bauble.”

“Gid, are you all... Oh. Holy fuck.”

The sphere drifted slowly off the branch. Its string caught on the needles, and Tamsyn frowned as if she’d been given a new puzzle and shifted her hand, left and then right. She beamed and gave a yell of delight, and then—because Gideon could have no further doubt of cause and effect, that she was deliberately doing this—she brought the glittering thing to a brief halt in midair, then fired it squarely at Lee.

He caught it on reflex in his free hand. For a few long seconds he stood motionless, cradling the child and the bauble with equal care. Then he turned to Gideon, his colour fading. “Gid, no.”

“No what? I know it’s freaky, but we’ve seen weirder stuff than this.”

“You don’t... Look, she should be in bed. Will you help me put her down?”

“Of course, but—”

“Seriously. Now.”

Preacher, Prophet, Beast #7
Lee fastened the gate after their visitors, and made his way slowly back across the garden. A massive heat still had a grip on the day. The eastern sky held a distant promise of relief, some of the hot gold shading into blue, but the sun was still blazing over Bern-an-Wra tor, and he couldn’t honestly tell from this distance whether the tower had its crowning rock in place or not.

He looked away. His plans for the evening included outdoor dinner with Gid in the orchard’s shade, and later, if their kid was still up for more hijinks, a weekend breaking of the bedtime rules and a stroll and a quick skinny-dip for all three of them in the millstream pond behind the hill. Bodmin winters could be harsh. Experienced moor-dwellers knew to make the best of summer days, and when the weather gods opened a box-of-jewels June like this on the gorse-starred heath, you seized every moment.

Bucca Gwidder, Bucca Dhu. Not figure-of-speech weather gods but two distinct personalities, the Lords of the year’s light and dark halves. The word bucca – meaning spirit, as Rufus Pendower had explained to him, actually stammering nervously over his Bs, the last time they’d been alone together – had become corrupted to pooka or Puck, a mischievous sprite. Out here, the ancient forces were restored. There just wasn’t room for the trappings and twists of civilisation. No room to hide, and no mercy. All the old demons could have sway.

Gideon was on the phone in the hallway when he pushed open the door. Dead-set determined not to hear anything else he shouldn’t today, Lee slipped past him and into the kitchen. He’d volunteered to fix Gid’s favourite casserole, and that required quite a lot of pan-rattling and banging of fridge and cupboard doors before he got stuck in.

Felt good, too. Slam of the chopping board onto the counter top. Slap of beef fillet onto the board, and he diced it as if he’d had a personal grudge with the cow.

Ridiculous. Tamsyn dealt with her emotions better than this. Gideon followed him into the kitchen, and he wiped his hands on a tea towel and turned to greet him with a sane, everyday expression on his face. “Thought that lot were gonna stay around for dinner. You getting hungry?”

“Ravenous. Could eat that raw.”

“I trust you mean the beef.”

“Read it however you want, gorgeous.”

It was a good attempt at their normal repartee. On any other night, it would have driven them back into each other’s arms to take care of unfinished business. Instead Lee took a steadying hold of the counter top behind him and said, uneasily, “Do you think Flora Waite’s all right? She had Tamsie out of the cot before I could stop her, and she was kind of rubbing her face against the poor kid’s. For luck, she said, when I asked.”

“Oh, no. Did Tamsyn wake up?”

“Not really. She doesn’t seem to mind outbreaks of weirdness from her friends.”

“She wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if she did.” Gideon shifted awkwardly. He was flushed, Lee noticed, his handsome summer colour heightened from tan to fever. “I think something is amiss with Flora. We talked a bit about Dev Bowe, and she seemed stressed. Thanks for skipping balletically past me on the phone, but it was nothing you couldn’t know about – I just wanted to give Lamshear Hall a ring and check everything was all right.”

“Lamshear… Oh, right. That’s Dev’s long-term care facility.”

“Mm. Also pronounced bottomless looney bin, poor lad. I dunno – they said he was okay, but something sounded hinky. I might pop over.”

“In your capacity as a police officer? What about poor Rhys?”

“No, just as Flora’s friend. Rhys can take care of Ross Jones.” He fell silent. The helpless, anxious scrape of Lee’s question hung in the air between them. He propped his hands on his hips, looked first out of the window and then at the rug at Lee’s feet. “All right. Speak.”

Lee couldn’t, not at first. His throat was tight with pent-up fear. He waited until he thought his voice would be calm. “I’ll head Ma off at the pass for you, if you like. On Monday.”

“Er… yeah. That would be good.”

“There’s a new garden centre just opened up outside Truro. With Edwardian tearooms. Ought to be irresistible, even against the prospect of getting beaten up by fascists at a Pride parade.”

“Bloody hell, Lee. You weren’t meant to know.”

“Is that the point? This isn’t like a pub fight or a few kids kicking off at Montol. It’s violence, hatred, right here on our streets in Cornwall, and… and you, right there in the middle of it. I don’t understand – why the hell hasn’t the march just been cancelled?”

Gideon took a step towards him, dismay dawning in his eyes. Lee turned to the sink and blindly ran water into the washing-up bowl. He couldn’t let Gideon get a close-up view of him now, on the edge of stupid tears, fighting like a toddler not to crack and cry outright. It’s not that you’d have gone off and done it, although that thought freezes the marrow in my bones. You’d have done it without letting me know. And here I am, locked up like some sea-widow at home, staring off over the water, knowing the damn ship’s gone down.

Gideon’s arms closed round his waist. “It doesn’t work like that,” he said, his mouth like hot velvet against Lee’s ear. “We don’t know if it’s fascists, or some nutter acting alone, or even if anything’s going to happen at all. Oh, my God, sweetheart – don’t cry.”

“I’m not.” Lee wiped the heel of one wet hand over his eyes. “I’m fine, okay? I’m really sorry.”

“What for?”

“Eavesdropping. Getting in your way. Making things harder for you.”

“You don’t do any of those things.” Gideon rocked him. “Listen – I know this new work’s been tough as fuck on both of us. It’s just… very different, that’s all. I don’t go out and get into the middle of things anymore.”

“That must be killing you.”

“A bit. But I’ll get used to it. As for cancelling, we don’t have nearly enough information to justify that, although…”

He fell into a reverberant silence. Lee, who could read his body as well as his mind, and who knew the village bobby of Dark would have cancelled this march at the breath of a threat to its participants, listened to the tensions in the warm body pressed against his. “Gid, tell me what’s wrong.”

“I saw something. In the orchard.”

Lee’s spine chilled. Was this how it felt to other people, when one of his own visions fell from him unannounced? I can see something. Not a stray dog or one of their distant neighbours’ sheep on the loose – something eerie, not to be contained by earthly walls or defences. “What?”

“Not sure. It went round the front. You stay there.”

He set off at a run. It went without saying that Lee would never obey an order of that kind, and he followed on, securing the porch door behind them. God help any serious intruders, encountering Detective Sergeant Frayne in the garden! If it was Daz or any of his feckless mates, he’d rumble at them like a volcano but send them about their business with startling gentleness. Only once had Lee seen him on the edge of unleashed violence: when Elowen had decided she wanted the baby back, and Zeke and Michel had made the mistake of trying to block his response. Still he’d let Lee bear him down to his knees on the clifftop path. All that power, shuddering and restrained in his arms… “Gideon, hold up. I don’t see anyone.”

“No. Me neither, now.” He came to a halt by the gate. “Hang on – over there. Look.”

He was pointing to the thicket of gorse on the far side of the lane. Lee saw the yellow blossoms quiver, as if someone had passed briskly behind them, but then the heavy stillness of the evening returned.

Harper Fox
Harper Fox is an M/M author with a mission. She’s produced six critically acclaimed novels in a year and is trying to dispel rumours that she has a clone/twin sister locked away in a study in her basement. In fact she simply continues working on what she loves best– creating worlds and stories for the huge cast of lovely gay men queuing up inside her head. She lives in rural Northumberland in northern England and does most of her writing at a pensioned-off kitchen table in her back garden, often with blanket and hot water bottle.

She lives with her SO Jane, who has somehow put up with her for a quarter of a century now, and three enigmatic cats, chief among whom is Lucy, who knows the secret of the universe but isn't letting on. When not writing, she either despairs or makes bread, specialities foccacia and her amazing seven-strand challah. If she has any other skills, she's yet to discover them.


Third Solstice #6

Peacher, Prophet, Beast #7

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