Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
After a massive anxiety attack, Sam Atkins left his high-powered job in the City and committed himself to life on the road in a small van. Six months in, he’s running out of savings and coming to the conclusion that he might have to go home to his emotionally abusive family.
Needing time to think, he takes a walk through a copse by the Cornish roadside, only to stumble upon the body of a ritualistically killed sheep. As he’s trying to work out what the symbols around the animal mean, the sheep’s owner, Jennifer, and her nephew, Ruan Gwynn, come upon him.
Ruan is a kind-hearted young man with a large supportive clan, and since he and Sam feel almost instant attraction, he doesn’t want to believe Sam is a sheep-killing cultist. In fact, the moment he lays eyes on Sam’s miserable solitary life, he wants to rescue the man. But as the killings escalate, he and Sam need to stop whoever is actually to blame before they can concentrate on saving each other.
The Porthkennack series from Riptide Publishing has become a serious addiction of mine and this latest story, Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack #5) by Alex Beecroft is an excellent example why. Alex Beecroft gives us Porthkennack from two perspectives, that from the insider, Ruan Gwynn, from one of the ancient families in this Cornish seaside town and the other, Sam Atkins, an ’emmett’, an outsider. Sam has left his old life behind as a matter of emotional and physical survival. Sam has fled his controlling, emotionally abusive family, his job, everything and he’s now living out of his van which he has parked in a field in Porthkennack. And trouble has found in in a huge and troubling way.
Porthkennack itself is not just a setting but a vivid, stirring major element of this series. It’s layered in ancient history, murder, smugglers, a tightly knit community that believes it can police itself and its actions as it has for hundreds of years. There’s a tapestry of dependency and communication that’s often invisible to outsiders and making that come alive and apparent to everyone in all the scenes takes a wonderful eye and great writing. Alex Beecroft has done that here.
All the hidden currents of this village flow around the events that are happening and Sam picks on up them even if he’s not sure what they mean at first. Ruan is aware at the surface of which families might be involved, but as Ruan investigates further into his village’s past, even he is surprised by the revelations. I love Ruan. His desperation and bravery as he knowingly goes against village “law’ and tradition only bring us closer to him. This is a character who’s very vulnerability makes him shine so bright.
Each author builds on the other’s stories and universe which is fascinating. Porthkennack’s legends and histories keep evolving. I loved the author’s take on characters met in other stories. As always the local, ancient criminal family, the Lusmoores figure large and here I got to see matriarch Wyn Lusmoore in a totally different light than I did in House of Cards (A Porthkennack novel) by Garrett Leigh. Which was perfect indeed. Nor was she the only Lusmoore that showed up or character from the village.
So many terrific elements here from the young girls who banded together around the van and Sam, like Tegan and Maryam, aunt Jennifer and Alana. With Beecroft’s excellent characterizations, these people came to life here and I felt like I knew them all. Plus the sensitive manner in which the author handled Sam’s anxiety attacks and their debilitating effects it made our connection to and understanding of Sam even stronger.
In all, Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack #5) by Alex Beecroft is just a terrific story. It has a great mystery, wonderful romance and is set in a village I never tire of visiting. The books in this series are mostly independent of each other. House of Cards by Garrett Leigh does have a sequel coming out soon and some in the series are historical. But if you love M/M contemporary romance with a touch of mystery, this one is a sure winner!
Cover by G.D. Leigh is perfection. From the color tone to the character, it has it all.
ebook, 249 pages
Expected publication: September 4th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
This title is part of the Porthkennack universe.