Published by Samhain Publishing on March 27, 2012
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What would you give up for your family? After the tragic deaths of his mother and older brother, Nichol Seacliff abandons his exciting new life in the city, his university studies, and his promising future to return to Arran and help his grandfather run the family’s isolated, failing sheep farm.
Could you give up even more for the love of your life? Cameron’s on the run (from what or who, he won’t say) that cold, stormy spring night when he tries to take shelter in the barn at Seacliff Farm. When Nichol catches Cameron in the barn, he’s first tempted to send him on his way into the storm, but relents. The offer of a place to sleep in the barn that night turns into an (unpaid) position as farmhand for the city born and bred Cameron.
Nichol is obviously stuck grieving the loss of his mother and brother, as well as the loss of his chosen life. He’s just not doing it very well. He throws himself into the work necessary to help his grandfather keep the farm in the family, putting in 12-hour or longer days. His grandfather, Harry Seacliff, always preferred his older brother and never hid that fact. To say he’s rough on Nichol would be an understatement. In his own fashion, though, Harry is still grieving the loss of his daughter and favorite grandson, and failing just as spectacularly as Nichol is. That’s when Cam comes into their lives.
When Nichol introduces Cam as an agricultural student doing an internship program for room and board, Harry is rightly suspicious. It’s clear to him that Cam knows nothing about sheep, or any other kind of farm animal. Needing help with the farm, he agrees to let Cam stay. Surprisingly, Harry takes a liking to “yon wee lad,” all along unaware of the growing passion between Cam and his grandson, a passion long kept at bay. Cam has secrets, and he keeps them tight within himself. Secrets that make him feel unworthy of Nichol, who for his part isn’t sure how to love anyone any longer. Scrap Metal tells the story of how they pick up the broken and discarded pieces of their lives and create something beautiful with them.
This is the second title from Harper Fox that I’ve read, and I have to admit that I like it even better than the first (Brothers of the Wild North Sea). It’s clear that Fox has a lyrical command of language and a strong sense of place. Reading Scrap Metal you easily picture life on an isolated farm atop the desolate cliffs of Arran. It’s obvious how much Nichol loves his home, even while he hates it for taking him away from his chosen life. But it’s not just place. Fox extends the same use of language to her characterizations. Harry, Nichol and Cam are all so well drawn that I feel like I’ve known them for years. I can see the same love-hate relationship between Harry and Nichol that exists between Nichol and his home. Fox mixes love, anger, disappointment and hurt into a bittersweet brew that makes reading a melancholy joy. I can honestly say that Harper Fox is one of the few writers in this genre that has moved me to tears with every story she writes. Added to that, she knows how to tell a great story and isn’t afraid to tackle some serious subjects, such as loneliness, death, sin, and redemption. While not necessarily easy, her work is always a pleasure to read.
Are there any problems with this book? Well, maybe. Some of the secondary characters didn’t seem to have the depth of the main characters. I couldn’t always understand their motivations. The ending felt a little rushed, although I seem to feel that way a lot with books I really enjoy. None of this was enough to make me dislike the book, or even to feel a little bothered. Scrap Metal is a book that just wraps me up and carries me away, and that’s always a good thing. If you enjoy a good romantic story, this is one you must read.