Title: Nine Lights Over Edinburgh
Author: Harper Fox
Buy link: Amazon.com
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Suspense, Action/Adventure
Length: Novel (42K words, 165 PDF pages)
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
Summary Review: A Christmas story with two unusual protagonists who are tough as nails but soft where it counts. Harper fox has written another angst filled, gut wrenching romance that will break your heart, but at the same time will lift you up.
Detective Inspector James McBride is riding high on the belief that he’s about to bust a human-trafficking ring. But just five days before Christmas, his unorthodox methods catch up with him and his world comes crashing down.
McBride tries to concentrate on his new day job as security for the visiting Israeli ambassador. He even starts to feel a renewed sense of self-worth when the leader of the Israeli team, the aristocratic Tobias Leitner, takes a bullet for him in the line of duty. But he can’t forget the trafficking case, especially when his investigations result in the kidnapping of his own daughter! McBride has no one to turn to for help—no one, except Toby.
Can these two very different men work together to bring about a holiday miracle—and heal one another’s heart in the process?
Detective Inspector James McBride had been screwing up his career for some time because he was an alcoholic and a gambler, and he committed the ultimate sin of drinking on the job. One evening, a week or so before Christmas, as he was leaving the department’s office party his second- in-command Andrew Barclay suddenly grabbed and pushed him into a darkened locker room where he proceeded to give him oral sex. McBride was so astonished he didn’t know what to do or say, other than enjoy the blow job because he had not had sex in over a year since his divorce. He was 40 years old and likely on the downslide of his career while Andrew was much younger, handsome and on the promotion fast track, and McBride couldn’t understand why he would do this because, as far as he knew, Andrew was straight. Why would he risk exposure and his career if they were discovered? Something seemed off about the sudden attraction for a man on Andrew’s part, but while he appeared to be uneasy McBride didn’t think anything of it because they had worked together for 5 years and he trusted Andrew.
McBride’s undercover investigation involving a human trafficking ring was jeopardized shortly after when he showed up drunk to meet his contact, and he didn’t realize until it was too late that his cover was blown. The next morning after a trip to the ER he was summoned to a meeting with his Superintendent, Lila Stone, who hated him with a passion and was looking for just this opportunity. She reassigned him to the security team for the visiting Israeli ambassador, took him off the human trafficking case, and demanded that he attend counselling for his alcoholism and gambling or lose his job. It was then he found out the extent of Andrew’s betrayal and how he had been played. As if that wasn’t enough, his ex wife gave him an ultimatum that was the most cruel blow of all. She demanded that he voluntarily stop seeing his daughter Grace until his alcoholism was under control, with no overnight visits even for Christmas, or she would go to court and fight for full custody – a case he had no chance of winning.
He showed up for his new assignment as down and depressed as he had ever been in his life, and it was then he met Tobias Leitner, head of the Israeli security team, a man to whom he felt strangely drawn. But before they could get to know each other they bonded in the way that people do when one saves the other’s life. Something went wrong with the elaborate security arrangements and when Toby saved McBride from a terrorist’s bullet he took the hit and almost lost his life. Can two men who lived so dangerously, who had both lost almost everything they valued, ever love someone so much that protecting him became more important than their own lives?
Harper Fox’s greatest strengths are her characterizations and in Nine Lights over Edinburgh Detective Inspector James McBride came alive in all his Scottish glory. McBride’s colleagues were all three dimensional and loyal to a fault, his ex and daughter Gracie were lovingly drawn as was her godmother Amanda, the former Police Superintendent, and the world building was so authentic I felt as if I were actually in the little town outside Edinburgh, Scotland where McBride lived. As for Toby Leitner, what a wonderful character the author created. He had just the right touch of arrogance as an Israeli Mossad officer, but he was also imbued with so much vulnerability over the loss of his former partner and lover that his grief was palpable. However, although he was still grieving he showed that he was prepared to move forward with a new love and he put his life on the line for McBride and Grace.
James McBride had tried to play the “straight” game for 10 years, having done the accepted thing by getting married and staying when that marriage was long over, for the sake of his daughter. When he could no longer pretend that this was what he wanted for the rest of his life he got a divorce. The only male lover he had ever had was decades ago and his father, a minister, soon put a stop to that. Now he was free to live as a gay man but he didn’t know where to start and had not been attracted to anyone until he met Toby who made it clear that he wanted him, and not just for a night. Their romance played out against a backdrop of the human trafficking case which turned into a debacle that hit too close to home for McBride, and almost led to him losing not only his job but something much more precious – his daughter. Only Toby stood in the way of his life completely blowing up in his face.
This is the fourth book I have reviewed by this author and her stories are not for the faint of heart. Her protagonists are flawed men who are on the brink of destroying their lives and seem determined to do so, no matter what the cost, and they are usually damaged almost beyond redemption. As a reader sometimes the ride is really rough, but in the end the journey is always worth it.
Harper Fox has written another angst filled, gut wrenching romance that will break your heart, but at the same time will lift you up. There’s no fluff or hearts and flowers here. This is a superbly written, intense, action/adventure with danger around every corner, but good things come at the end. 🙂
Nine Lights Over Edinburgh – not your usual Christmas fare.