Harper Kidd is a highly respected marine archaeologist. Yet, with the economy in a slump, he’s trapped working in an oil company’s exploration division. Now, at the ripe age of thirty, Harp is disgusted with his employer’s damage to the undersea world he loves, tired of his ATM-card-filching ex, and tormented by beautiful dreams of an undersea lover. It’s time for a change and when his best friend, Stick, pleads with him to assist on a deep-sea dig in the Mediterranean, he jumps at the chance.
Harper’s spirits are high when they discover the ruins of an ancient civilization, and soar to the heavens when they discover a statue of an ancient pelora, a mysterious hybrid creature said to mediate between the worlds of reality and fantasy—and the very lover who holds the starring role in his dreams.
When the crew discovers the site is teeming with unexploded ordnance from the conflicts in the Middle East, and the excavation turns deadly, Harper must choose between saving his best friend and saving the pelora he’s fallen in love with.
Publisher: Men Over the Rainbow
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: Ageless/Immortal
Tropes: True Love
Word Count: 34,500
Setting: Los Angeles, California, USA & Mediterranean Sea
Languages Available: English, French
Translators: Bénédicte Girault
4.5/5 Stars ~ I must begin this review by mentioning something I thoroughly enjoy about this author—his unquestionably thorough research on his subject matter. I always feel both enriched and entertained by an Aisling Mancy novel, primarily because a rich storyline is key to his novels. His characters are enchanting and real, but it is the careful way in which this author weaves fact with fiction that holds the interest so incredibly well. In the story Heartifact, I felt I got a mythology lesson woven together with fascinating details on real life deep-sea artifact retrieval all rolled into a mysterious love story that left me gasping at the surprise ending.
Harper is, as the blurb indicates, a marine archaeologist. However, after returning home from yet another disappointing assignment, he leaps at the opportunity to work with his best gal pal and go on a dive that promises to be interesting, if not a bit dangerous. If that were all he had to contend with, his life would be exciting, but of late, he has been experiencing vivid dreams of a mysterious lover—one who he cannot seem to shake even in his waking hours—nor does he really want to, either. So, while there is danger at sea in the form of hidden, unexploded mines set on the ocean floor, there is even more danger of Harper losing both his heart and soul to the mysterious blue god-like creature who stirs his very core when the lights go out at night. When Harper discovers that his dream man could actually be real, he will be forced to make a decision—one that could cost his best friend her life.
I have to admit this story drew me in immediately. There was something very endearing about Harper—his frustrations with his current employer and his unwavering professionalism and desire to see the ocean respected. But his relationship with Stick, his best friend, was what really made this man so attractive. The close rapport she and Harper shared made for real drama when a near fatal accident causes Harper to make one of the most difficult decisions of his life—particularly since the story had been building up how intensely Harper felt in his relationship growing with his dream lover. Along with Stick, Aisling Mancy created a full side cast of characters, and this is where his great ability to craft a story really lays–in the interweaving of a multi-faceted story with believable characters that are not merely pretty pieces of furniture but important to the advancement of the plot.
My only complaint, and admittedly it is a selfish one, is that the story was just too darn short. The ending left me reeling (in a good way, never fear), but I wanted more—it was just that good. Aisling Mancy is a gifted writer and he spins a magical tale in this, his latest release. I highly recommend it to you. It’s also worth noting that the net proceeds from the sale of Heartifact go to three worthy organizations, The Trevor Project in the US, le Refuge in France and Arcigay in Italy.