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REVIEW: The Harp and the Sea – Anne Barwell & Lou Sylvre

The Harp and the Sea - Anne Barwell & Lou Sylvre

Genre: Fantasy, Historical, Romance

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

In 1605, Robbie Elliot—a Reiver and musician from the Scottish borders—nearly went to the gallows. The Witch of the Hermitage saved him with a ruse, but weeks later, she cursed him to an ethereal existence in the sea. He has seven chances to come alive, come ashore, and find true love. For over a century, Robbie’s been lost to that magic; six times love has failed. When he washes ashore on the Isle of Skye in 1745, he’s arrived at his last chance at love, his last chance at life.

Highland warrior Ian MacDonald came to Skye for loyalty and rebellion. He’s lost once at love, and stands as an outsider in his own clan. When Ian’s uncle and laird sends him to lonely Skye to hide and protect treasure meant for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s coffers, he resigns himself to a solitary life—his only companion the eternal sea. Lonely doldrums transform into romance and mystery when the tide brings beautiful Robbie Elliot and his broken harp ashore.

A curse dogs them, enemies hunt them, and war looms over their lives. Robbie and Ian will fight with love, will, and the sword. But without the help of magic and ancient gods, will it be enough to win them a future together?

The Review

The first time I read Lou Sylvre was in 2011 – “Loving Luki Vasquez,” the first book in the “Vasquez and James” series.  In 2012 I read my first Anne Barwell book  – “Shadow Boxing,” from the “Echoes Rising” series.  I continued reading both these authors, and recently they collaborated with “Sunset at Pencarrow”  a sweet, romantic tale, very entertaining.  With “The Harp and The Sea,” Sylvre and Barwell are becoming an outstanding writing team.  I was so impressed with the research of the 16th and 17th century history and mythology of Scotland’s events, places and clans that created this superb novel.  

 “Sometimes stories exist because some part of them used to be true.”

Robert “Robbie” Elliott is a Reiver, not a very good one, but very talented at playing the harp.  Unfortunately, he’s captured during the battle of Border Marches in 1605.   He’s up against many dangerous situations – the Border Marches, King James, dungeon and death.  While watching the death of many men he didn’t know (and some he did), he spies Melisandre, Witch of Hermitage.  Robbie has no idea what he’s up against when Melisandre saves his life.

In 1744, Ian MacDonald the husky, kilt wearing, Highlander had put himself in a few situations that are looked down upon. His Laird and Uncle Alistair loves his nephew like a son, but to help Ian he has a plan.  Although it leaves Ian feeling banished, he goes with the plan and is off to live a lonely life on the Isle of Skye.  He does so with a dangerous assignment – to protect the treasure for a Prince.

When Ian eventually saves Robbie and the harp, they find themselves on a dangerous and amazing quest to protect the treasure and to gain freedom and love for themselves. 

I don’t often say “I loved the characters,” but Ian and Robbie were wonderful.  Even though Ian is leery of Robbie he still accepts him magic and all.  The romance the authors create for Ian and Robbie couldn’t be more perfect.  Not only did the authors create a story with two lovable characters, but they transport the reader back to 16th and 17th century Scotland.

When I got to 60% of “The Harp & The Sea” I had to stop and look up the history of this place and people.  Sylvre & Barwell made this novel so enticing I went in search of the Scottish clans:  Elliott, MacDonald, MacQuarrie, Campbell, MacLeod, with their crests and tartans.  I looked up the places and events: Duntulm Castle, An Uaimh Bhinn, Manannan mac Lir, Carlisle Castle, Border Marches battle and Jacobite rising of 1745.  I even went so far as finding a map to locate all the Isles:  Skye, Staffa, Rum, Man. So many more fascinating things to read about. 

I highly recommend this amazing, page-turning tale of fact, fiction, fantasy, magic, romance, suspense, adventure and action.  “The Harp and The Sea” was not what I expected, and I thank Lou Sylvre and Anne Barwell for surprising me and keeping me thoroughly entertained! 

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! 

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams.  

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