Review: The Salisbury Key - Harper Fox

The Salisbury Key by Harper Fox.

Harper Fox is the queen of sensuality. She enthralls us in her world effortlessly, and her characterization is simple but effective. She doesn't over-write, or leave us behind with leaps of imagination. Her details are as evocative as they are largely imagined by ourselves. But about the sensuality, I don't think I would care if no one ever had sex in her books, because the romance sparkles with such electricity, that I could read the non-sex sexiness for hundreds of pages. I jump to add, Salisbury Key is perfect as it is.

Jason Ross is a wealthy, and eminent archaeologist, his young lover Daniel Logan is an up-and-comer and his student, and their passionate affair ends as dramatically, and recklessly, as it began. Salisbury Key is pretty angst ridden. I mean, god, the novel begins shortly before someone commits suicide, that has to carry some weight or else there isn't a proper dimension to the severity of events. Despite, or because of the mysterious nature of Jason's death, Daniel continues to search the Salisbury Plain for the mysterious key which Jason's work had long been pointing toward. Lieutenant Rayne is introduced to help the stoic Daniel finish Jason's life work, but after a few heart-clenching days, Daniel's grief gets the better of him and the attraction between them both comes to a head.

Not over-playing the gay-in-the-military angle, Rayne and Daniel's budding relationship draws some unwanted attention, from friends of Jason's and military personnel who never wanted archaeologists digging around on Salisbury Plain in the first place. But suspicions are aroused when it becomes apparent that the excavations are seen as more than a nuisance, they are potentially even a threat to a secret which has been buried for decades, and should never, ever be brought back into the light of day.

Instead of discussing technique, characters and plot, I'm going to share with you a passage from the book which I really liked.
"But I didn’t have to find him. He was halfway down the stairs on his way to find me. When he saw me he came to a halt, and so did I, transfixed, throwing out a hand to the doorframe to steady myself. The old copper lantern in the hallway was shedding a warm glow from its amber panes. Jason, gripping the banister, looked as I might have imagined his ancient Greek namesake to do, after dealing with his golden fleece and dark-eyed exotic witches and his last Argonaut—descending slowly into his kingdom, his princely hall. Tired, with the salt of his voyages still tangled in his wet hair… So beautiful that my eyes stung, his summer silk robe clinging damply to the contours of his shoulders and back. He was naked underneath. It's front hung open, exposing him from the hollow of his throat to the place where his half-erect c--- was rising from the shadows of his groin."
As one reviewer succinctly says, Harper Fox's dramas should be unbearable, verging on melodramatic, but "somehow they have a wonderful reality, [and] this comes from the light touch within her writing." It's almost as though she's delicately retelling intimate secrets and tales from real people, whom she knows very well. If you enjoy great romance novels, give Harper Fox a read. Though this is the second of hers I've read, I'm willing to vouch that all of them are at least good.

272pp. Samhain Publishing. 3rd Jan. 2012
(Read/Skim/Miss) (Buy/Borrow)