Salt by Fearne Hill

Salt is the first in a new series, Island Love. Charles and Florian go through a lot to reach their extremely hard-won HEA.

From the blurb:

When was the right time to tell someone that silver flames were shooting from their hair? And that your own tranquil green desired nothing more than to tangle with them, if only it could escape a malevolent orange flare hounding your every move?   

Over-stressed businessman Charles Heyer is not like most people. With a rare medical condition that scrambles the senses, he experiences emotions as flashes of colour, giving them the power to disrupt, dismay, or delight. Alone in his over-vivid world, a devastating bereavement leaves him mentally scarred and recuperating on the picturesque French island of Ré where, through a chance encounter and a good deed, he is introduced to Florian, a flirty local salt farmer.

What with trying to protect the island salt cooperative from a corporate takeover and keeping a watchful eye on his errant grandfather, handsome Florian is not as carefree as he appears. Falling in love with this odd Englishman is as unexpected as it is welcome. Both exploring new feelings, the lazy days of summer stretch out for miles until a visitor from Charles’s London life throws their peaceful idyll into a kaleidoscope of chaos. And, all of a sudden, the island’s glorious palette of colour turns several shades darker.

SNiK's Review:

First in series (Island Love). Age gap. Hurt/comfort. Dual POV. Heed content warnings.

Charles is a venture capitalist on vacation, but it is a much needed break for his mental health and he is still struggling every day but the island of Ré and a flirtatious local feels like a balm to his soul. When Charles meets the beautiful salt harvester Florian, he is soothed by Florian’s comforting existence, as Florian is dedicated to working his family’s land and taking care of his grandfather.

This story is filled with lyrical writing and heart wrenching moments of despair, Charles and Florian falling for each other but having all sorts of issues hovering over any possible future they might build, ready to tear it all down. I appreciated that the mental health struggle Charles has does not magically disappear, and that Florian realistically hesitates to jump into a relationship with someone that has a difficult history and possible future. I wish there were more scenes with Charles and Florian talking about their backgrounds and getting to know each other more but I really enjoyed their hard fought relationship and HEA.

Rogue's Review:

Mental health rep, bi-sexual awakening, age gap, slow burn.

This is the first in a new series, set on a French Island, where Florian is a salt farmer, and Charles has come to recover from a breakdown caused by overwork, stress and grief. Charles also has synaesthesia, which means he sees colours - not just emotions but people are different colours too. Fearne Hill never shies away from difficult topics in her books, and they're always handled brilliantly. Charles is in a battle with his own mind, and that's even more terrifying than it sounds. Charles and Florian meet when Charles helps Florian's grandfather one day, and the attraction is fairly instant between them, although it does take some time for them to get together.

I really enjoyed the slow pace of the relationship between the two, they've both got a lot going on but they do fit together so well. I loved 'seeing' Charles' colours for Florian, and the happiness they made together. Of course, it never runs smoothly and the inevitable breakdown Charles suffered was traumatising to read. It's quite dark, angsty in places but ultimately hopeful at the end. I also wasn't a fan of the casual homophobia among Florian's peers - but that does sadly happen.

I loved this so much, it's a real rollercoaster and I can't wait for the next in the series.

Salt is currently available as an e-book and can be read as part of your Kindle Unlimited Subscription