Title: Once Upon a Western Shore
Series: Tyack & Frayne: Book Nine
Author: Harper Fox
Length: 160 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Paranormal
At a Glance: The Tyack & Frayne series is one of the finest examples of speculative fiction in the LGBTQ genre, and as long as there are books to be read set in this deceptively quiet little village in Cornwall, I’ll be there to read them. It will always hold a special place in my reading lexicon.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: It’s May Eve, and for once the body discovered in a meadow isn’t Gideon’s concern. The remains are decades old, and Gid and Lee are free to enjoy a proper Cornish Beltane, with maypoles, mirth, and a wild, sexy dash into the greenwood.
When trouble flares, it’s from an unexpected source: Tamsyn, after a quiet few months, suddenly manifests terrifying new paranormal powers. She can’t be kept hidden forever, and working out how to shield her is enough to drive a wedge even between these most united of parents.
Then Gideon’s cold case becomes a hot one for Lee. The dead man in the field has been forgotten by the living, but his memories are vivid and riding wild on the wind from the sea. No-one can act out his unfinished business but Lee, and it’s going to take all Gideon’s strength and love to get him through the ordeal.
Beltane magic past and present sweeps through Cornwall as Tamsyn steps into her powers, and the witches of the western shore look set to pay a dreadful price unless Gideon and Lee can bring to light the truth buried so long ago.
Review: Tamsyn Tyack-Frayne has powers that no one but the mysterious Granny Ragwen seems to comprehend. Tamsyn is related to her daddy Lee by blood—his sister, Elowen, is her birth mother—so the fact there’s something special about the little girl is seemingly just part and parcel to the Tyack lineage. And she couldn’t have two better parents—because Gideon is something other, too, and Lee is the only one who can tame his beast. There are those in the village who have witnessed odd and inexplicable occurrences in Tamsyn’s presence, and her power seems to be building exponentially as she grows, but heaven help the outsider who comes nosing around the Tyack-Frayne household—there are folks in Dark who are protective of their own and mindful of little Tamsyn’s place there, and I love the way Fox is teasing out the prophesies surrounding her and the legacy of the Dark witch. How this will influence the series going forward remains to be seen, but I can guarantee it will be intensely interesting, if the previous books in the series are any sort of indicator of Fox’s imagination and gift for weaving local mythology and mysticism into her storytelling.
There was a momentous tone of friction between Lee and Gid in this book, something that hasn’t been as prominent before as it is here. These two are such a committed team, operating on the same side against whatever comes their way, and when they don’t see eye-to-eye about an intrusive visitor, it’s striking and impactful, and I was so jarred by it, I don’t mind admitting. Fortunately it was short-lived, though; Fox doesn’t serve up drama that’s extended for drama’s sake, but just enough to remind us that every couple, no matter how deeply in love they are, has issues to work through. The things these men are working through have farther reaching implications than most, however, and their bond is as strong as ever.
There’s a bit of the Big Bad Wolf afoot in Gideon’s becoming…whatever destiny he is meant to fulfill, and Lee once again gets to flex his extrasensory muscles in Once Upon a Western Shore. It just wouldn’t be a Tyack & Frayne mystery without something otherworldly being visited upon Lee. There is always a sense of the veil between worlds being a bit thinner in this little corner of Cornwall, the pagan rituals and ancient magick running deep, and it’s the bones of a man murdered some sixty years before that calls up a restless spirit in need of Lee’s help to find peace at last, exposing secrets along the way. There was a distinct tone of poignancy in the unraveling of this mystery, one that speaks to a less accepting time, and I appreciated the emotional implications of it.
There are very few fictional couples I love as much as Gideon and Lee Tyack-Frayne. There are plenty of couples I love as well as I love them, but I’d be pretty hard-pressed to name a couple I love more. I would also have a difficult time naming an author who, time after time, delivers romance through such lyrical prose and, in this case, such imaginative circumstances as author Harper Fox does. The Tyack & Frayne series is one of the finest examples of speculative fiction in the LGBTQ genre, and as long as there are books to be read set in this deceptively quiet little village in Cornwall, I’ll be there to read them. It will always hold a special place in my reading lexicon.
I did miss seeing more of Zeke Frayne, Gideon’s upright, uptight but loving brother, who, remarkably, I’ve grown to adore as the series has progressed, something I wouldn’t have predicted when he was first introduced. And while this installment won’t go down as an immediate favorite—that title still belongs to Guardians of the Haunted Moor—it still opens the doorway to a whole new avenue of mystical occurrences yet to come. One I can’t wait to explore.
You can buy Once Upon a Western Shore here:
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