Winter Knights

Title: Winter Knights
Author: Harper Fox
Publisher: Carina Press
Amazon: Buy Link Winter Knights
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance/Paranormal-lite/Holiday
Length: 35000 words
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: Reality and fantasy collide in this beautifully written story, where two lovers learn how to compromise and respect each other with some extra help.

Blurb:

Historian Gavin Lowden is in Northumberland on Christmas Eve for two reasons: to find evidence of a romantic bond between Arthur and Lancelot, and to finally tell his partner Piers that he loves him. Piers has promised to come clean with his conservative family and join Gavin for their first holiday as a couple, but at the last minute, he bails. Devastated, Gavin heads out onto the moors alone, just as snow begins to fall…

Gavin stumbles into an underground chamber, where strange happenings cause him to question what is real and what is fantasy. He’s found by two mysterious men who offer him a bed for the night—and awaken him to nuances of erotic pleasure he didn’t know existed. Pleasure he hopes to share with Piers.

When Piers learns that Gavin has gone missing, he is desperate to find him. He knows now breaking up was a terrible mistake, and he’s ready to take the next step in their relationship—if it’s not already too late.

Review:

This story is a part of the Carina Press winter holiday-themed anthology, Men Under the Mistletoe. There are some things I expect in a holiday anthology — reunions, second chances, forgiveness, willingness to move forward from the past hurts and yes, some miracles too. I think this story certainly delivered on all of those themes.

I thought that the setting was beautifully done and I loved how Harper Fox mixed fantasy and reality in it while still making me wonder as to what was real and what was not at the end. Any man who wants to prove that Arthur and Lancelot were real and had a strong bond is a man after my heart as I have such a weakness for those two, so I was bound to like Gavin from the moment he appears on page. I also enjoyed how the writer managed to portray both Gavin and Piers as very layered and flawed, but at the same time likeable characters. I thought that first and foremost the story dealt with the fragility of the human relationships, with how easy it is to destroy something and how much harder to mend it back.

“Exactly. We’re such frail things, Gav. So easy to knock the trust and hope out of us. There has to be something to make us fight.”

I also enjoyed how Fox developed the religious theme in this tale. This is not the first story I have read which deals with one of the characters struggling with reconciling his faith and being gay, but this was one of the few stories which dealt with this theme with such effortless skill and without being preachy at all. Does true faith need to be reconciled with anything or does the one who truly believes understand that loving another person is a part of true faith? Piers may have made a few missteps along the way, but he does know where his heart lies. Gavin does not need to learn how much he loves Piers, but he learns to be more patient and tolerant and realizes how much Piers already moved forward to be with him. It was actually quite refreshing for me to read a story where one of the protagonists is reminded of being patient towards the other who is still somewhat in the closet and who is travelling the road with his own pace. More often than not I am so very annoyed when I read a story where one of the heroes demands that his beloved just needs to get out of the closet and to do it NOW. I was pleased when Gavin learns to change his tune and of course Piers meets him halfway as well.

“He was never going to lapse from his Catholicism any more than I was likely to convert, but our worlds had met somewhere in this shared vision and we both knew it”.

Lastly, just a note for those of you who are sensitive to it, there is, as the blurb hints at, a ménage scene.

Overall I thought this story was just overwhelmingly beautiful. Highly recommended.

12 comments

  • This was a lovely review of a really special story. It is the one of the very few I’ve read this year that I think escapes the ‘ holiday story ‘ boundaries. Harper Fox manages to sell me the unbelievable every time. Stunning. Thanks Sirius.

    Reply
    • Ah thanks Raine. So glad you enjoyed this one. I completely agree that this story is so much more than just a holiday story. I want to ask what you thought about paranormal element in the story, but since the question is very specific I will do it by email. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  • I’m with Diane – I’ve just finished the story and really enjoyed it. I also haven’t read any other stories by Harper, so I’m going to track some of them down now, too. 🙂

    Reply
  • I just finished this story and loved it! It’s the perfect balance of bitter, sweet and sexy.

    I don’t think I’ve read any of Harper Fox’s books but I am definitely going to pick up some now!
    😉

    Reply
    • I am so happy you enjoyed this one Diane. I think all books by this writer are worth while reads, the only thing I have to warn you about, do not expect any light heartedness, in fact do not expect any light hearted breaks in the narrative till the very end.

      Reply
  • This is the favourite of the four story’s for me. I am still thinking about it 3 days later – there is so much layered into the story. I loved the generosity of the characters to each other how Piers and Gavin wanted only to care for each other but struggled with how to do that. Having grown up on Malory’s Le Mort d’Arthur, the Weird Stone of Brisingamen and the Mabinogion I found this story so delicate and rich and infused with place. A five for me too.

    Reply
    • Hi Merrian, this is my favorite story in the anthology too (followed closely by Josh Lanyon’s and Ava March’s story) and not because I reviewed it :). OOOO – beatifully said about Gavin and Piers, I completely agree. You know, I do not want to talk too much about mysterious element of the story, do not want to spoil it, but while I understood who they were, I am still not sure whether their names were accidental or not :). So much richness in the story indeed.

      Reply
  • Yes, Harper writes the most beautiful scenes and characters, this is another story that deserves a second reading (and third, and… 😀 )

    Reply
    • She did so much with her characters within shorter page count that some writers will not do within a novel. Truly awesome 🙂

      Reply

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