Things have settled down a bit for Whyborne and Griffin, though Griffin is still mourning his father and hurt by the fact that his father died not accepting that Griffin was gay. Fortunately, Griffin has managed to track down one of his brothers, who had been adopted by another family. Jack is living in Alaska mining for gold, and Griffin hopes that he can build a relationship with Jack after losing his connection with his father.
When Jack sends a note that he has stumbled upon what appear to be ancient shards with mysterious writing on them, he asks for Griffin’s help discovering what they are. Griffin is only too happy to help, especially when Whyborne finds indication that the shards speak of some sort of horrible beast that is trapped by a seal that will be weakening in the approaching winter solstice. The research also seems to indicate the the shards are from an ancient civilization, older than any human settlement ever discovered. There is no way Griffin will leave his brother at risk, and Christine wants nothing more than to get her hands on that site and start excavating. So Whyborne and Griffin, along with Christine and Iskander, take off for the remote reaches of the Alaskan wilderness.
If Whyborne thought traveling to Egypt was bad, the conditions in Hoarfrost are even worse. The weather is freezing, the facilities are primitive, and travel over the rugged terrain is incredibly difficult. But when they arrive, it appears that signs do in fact point to a city buried in the mountains. Griffin still worries about the legend of the creatures who will break free when the seal weakens during solstice. However, Whybourne seems certain he can reinforce them and Christine is just eager to get her hands on the dig site. Of course nothing is as simple as it seems. Not everyone they encounter is honest about their motives, Griffin is hearing strange voices in his head, and someone would be very happy to see Whyborne dead. Not to mention that the beasts within the mountain would be happy to destroy them all.
So I will admit I have been stalling a little on reading this book, as it is the most recently released in Hawk’s fabulous Whyborne & Griffin series. Up until now I have been able to binge on this series as fast as I wanted, but after this story I will be forced to wait for the next installment. But I stretched it out as long as I could stand, and ultimately couldn’t wait any longer to catch up on Whyborne and Griffin’s latest adventures.
The best part of this book for me is the amazing sense of time and place Hawk portrays. The details about the time period Hawk captures throughout this series are just fabulous. In every book I feel completely immersed in the setting and the historical period. Here we once again get a fabulous sense of life in Alaska during the gold rush period. It is primitive and rugged and violent. Travel is dangerous and difficult. The miners work hard with virtually no hope of striking it rich, and in fact may spend months or years digging for no reward. We also get such a wonderful sense of the Alaska of 100 years ago, a land that is barely settled and that only the hardiest can survive. It was all so fascinating to read about and really enhances their adventure and the sense of urgency as the group attempts to find the ancient city and to fight against the murderous beasts.
Throughout the series, primary focus shifts back and forth between our main characters, and Hoarfrost really feels like Griffin’s story. We see his pain at having lost his father while the issues between them were still unresolved and his fervent hope that he can build a relationship with his brother. He worries that Jack will reject him as well if he learns about Griffin’s relationship with Whyborne, so they are forced to hide the nature of connection for much of the story. Griffin is also dealing with more nightmares from his experiences in Chicago and in Egypt, and begins hearing voices that make him fear he is in fact going crazy. I don’t want to go into much detail here, because the explanations unfold as the story continues, but I love the way Hawk circles back to earlier points in the series and builds upon them in subsequent books. Once again Whyborne and Griffin are the biggest sources of strength for one another. Their love for each other is so focused and intense. We never doubt for a minute that these men would do anything for one another, and we can feel the connection between them so beautifully. Sadly (for me at least), the men don’t have a whole lot of time alone throughout this book, so while we can feel their emotional connection, the sexy times (which are always so wonderfully done) are a bit limited. But despite that, these guys continue to be so mushy and romantic, I just adore them.
The paranormal/suspense end of things takes a while to develop here, and I didn’t feel like it was quite as strong as in previous books. As things heat up toward the end, I found it all quite fascinating and exciting, but it does take a while for that element to come into play. I think that is partly because our focus is more on the travel and the experiences of getting to Hoarfrost and finding the city, and I thoroughly enjoyed that. But I did miss that creepy supernatural element just a little bit through most of the story.
Overall, however, this was another hit from Hawk. Honestly I can’t imagine how I am going to wait even close to patiently for the next installment in this fabulous series. I adore these guys beyond reason and would highly recommend this series to anyone. You need to start at the beginning, but trust me, once you read the first one you will not be able to stop yourself from continuing. Wonderful book, fabulous series, and highly recommended.
Cover: OMG, how cute is Whyborne is his fur coat? Love this one!