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review 2017-04-18 01:58
ARC Review: Wake Up Call by JL Merrow
Wake Up Call - J.L. Merrow

I can always count on this author to write a really British book. Wake Up Call is no exception in that. What is different in this book is that while I'm used to JL Merrow writing humorous and thus lighter fare, this book has a melancholy and painful undertone throughout.

First, there's Devan Thompson, a car mechanic, who's come to Porthkennack on the Cornwall coast to find someone he's wanted to meet all his life -

the mother who gave him up for adoption at birth

(spoiler show)

. He's decided that he's going to

track her down and ask her why she did what she did. Basically, he's planning to force the woman to give him a reason, without any thought to what may have led her to the decision

(spoiler show)

, so I wasn't really on his side from the start.

Still, Devan is a good chap, and this becomes clear when he runs into Kyle Anthony, who's lived in Porthkennack for a few months and already has a reputation as the town drunk, as he tends to pass out in inappropriate places. There's a reason for this - Kyle has been diagnosed with narcolepsy, but refuses to seek treatment, and hasn't even told his parents about the diagnosis. The condition has so far cost him his job as a barrister (that's English for attorney), his boyfriend, and he's built a bunch of walls around himself, needing nobody and no one. Or so he tells himself.

Devan makes no assumptions, even when told not to bother, with a sneer to boot, and merely stands guard over a passed out Kyle until the other man wakes up again. Attraction is immediate, and they begin spending time together. Devan's personality comes out in droves, and his compassion and easy-going manner have Kyle second-guessing his decision to keep everyone at bay and living life as a recluse in his house on the cliffs.

I'm not going to tell you the whole plot here - you should read this book and have the full experience - but I will tell you that there's humor and banter and very British English throughout the book, with interesting, complex, fully realized characters who both struggle with their lot in life and have serious doubts about what they might have to offer a partner - what with Kyle's narcolepsy and Devan's being a simple car mechanic. Their budding relationship is not smooth sailing, and there are instances when they both walk away in anger, with slamming doors and hurt feelings. Kyle came across as a bit whiny on occasion - while I understood his frustration with his condition, I didn't quite understand why a grown man would choose to hide himself away, instead of facing the issue head-on. I also lacked sympathy for Devan on occasion, especially when it came to his quest for answers, because it felt supremely selfish to me. It was only when he was given the true reason that he got some clarity on his motivations, and almost grew up before my very eyes.

There are supporting characters too, the most prominent being Ceri, a waitress in the local cafe, to whom Devan takes a liking and with whom he also starts spending time. She's an interesting character, cynical and blunt, but has her reasons for being that way. I liked her a lot - she didn't take crap from anyone, and she made Devan think. There's no romantic interest here for either - but they do become friends. Sort of.

The plot flows easily, and while the romance between Devan and Kyle is rather quiet and languid, there are passionate moments within as well. For the most part, the melancholy undertones persist, as Devan finds out more about

his mother

(spoiler show)

, and Ceri's backstory, and Kyle faces a decision on what to do about the narcolepsy.

The pace picks up a bit toward the ending of the book as Devan's little sister gets herself into a tight spot, and both Devan and Kyle rush to London to help out. This leads to Devan's doubts raising their ugly heads again which... well, you read this for yourself.

The primary location of this book was chosen really well - an old fishing village, with possibly pirates and smugglers in its history, with rocky cliffs and hidden tunnels, which now depends primarily on tourism to support its residents.

The ending felt a little rushed, especially since the subplot with Devan's sister was resolved so quickly, but we did get a fabulous epilogue, so I was happy with that.

Overall, this was a great first book in this series, and I'm keen to check out the others.

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgally. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-02-17 23:39
Pressure Head (The Plumber's Mate #1)
Pressure Head - J.L. Merrow

It took me awhile to get into this one because the snipping-at-each-other form of enemies to lovers is just not that entertaining to me. I also couldn't understand why Tom was allowing Phil to drag him along on his investigation, when he really shouldn't be giving him the time of day. Also, Tom has a day job he was constantly neglecting and Phil wasn't pay him. Though to his credit, Phil did make an attempt.


Here's the deal: Phil had bullied Tom back in high school, which resulted in an accident that permanently injured Tom and altered his life in significant ways. Even if that was 13 years ago, I just don't get the "fancying the guy who bullied you" trope, and Phil kind of quasi-stalking Tom didn't help. Nor do I get Tom just going along with Phil's demands for help before anything was really resolved between them. Thankfully, things do eventually get resolved and in satisfying enough ways to make me forgive the slow, awkward, weird start.


The mystery was well done and there was no obvious villain, though I do admit I wasn't paying as much attention to the details and clues as I usually do since I was getting hung up on trying to figure out Tom. Still, there were enough red herrings and everyone had possible motives, so it wasn't easy to pick any one character out as the whodunit. 


Gary and Darren were the standouts here. They're only side characters, but they steal the show every time they're on page, and they're a hoot and a half. Then there are Merlin and Arthur, Tom's cats, who are very catty and fluffy. :D And even though there were a lot of Britishisms, there was only one I couldn't figure out. The humor is very dry though, so might not be to everyone's taste.



Actually, that's a good way to sum up Tom and Phil, innit?

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review 2016-08-21 10:31
Well plotted and fun mystery
Blow Down - J.L. Merrow

I’d completely forgotten how much I love reading mysteries. Well, good mysteries that is. English village style mysteries. Mysteries inhabited by CHARACTERS. And ‘Blow Down’ was the perfect book to remind me. I had a ball reading this story.


I have to make a confession first; I didn’t actually read the first three books in this series. Yes, I’m asking myself ‘why the hell not?’ too, but that doesn’t change the fact that I read this book without any knowledge as to what had happened previously. And it didn’t matter. Of course I can’t judge whether or not I would have enjoyed this book (even) more if I had read the three preceding titles, but I do know that I never felt lost in this book. Not once did I wonder what something or somebody was referring to, or whether I was missing something. The book provides enough background information for the uninitiated to be fully emerged in the story, without ever dumping said information on the reader.


Tom and Phil are fabulous characters. I want to be their mate and wouldn’t mind going for a pint with them—even if I’m not much of a beer drinker. I loved them as individuals and I loved them together. They’re gruff; more inclined to slag each other off than to be lovey-dovey. And like typical men, they’re disinclined to talk, leading to huge statements being made in the form of abrupt outbursts. All of which, of course, only served to make those moments when they do allow the mask to slip and their feelings to shine through, all the  more touching.


The mystery in this book was good. It is what I would consider to be a ‘typical’ English village mystery with a limited cast of all too likely suspects, most if not all of whom have something to hide—be it murder or something else. I’ve read many mysteries in my life and one of the reasons I started reading other genres is because I got too good at guessing the culprit. A mystery just isn’t as much fun when you know who ‘done’ it as soon as the character is introduced. I was delighted when the revelation of who the murderer was, surprised me and yet made perfect sense.


And then the humour... I can’t remember the last time I laughed as much or as loudly while reading a book. In fact, I laughed out loud so much my poor husband went from bemused to somewhat worried. But then I made him read the following passage and, well, he laughed:


“Rugby, now… Well, it’s just a bunch of big bastards getting up close and personal with each other, innit? Sort of like wrestling, only not faked, with intervals of some bloke built like an armoured car grabbing the ball and legging it, trying to make it to the other side of the pitch before fifteen other blokes, some of who’re built like Chieftain bloody tanks, throw themselves on top of him.”


Oh, and did I mention this is the most English of stories?


Long review short: I loved this book. An interesting and well plotted mystery, combined with great characters, a charming couple, and laugh out loud humour made what for me is pretty much a perfect read.

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review 2016-07-29 12:47
Pressure Head - J.L. Merrow

I enjoyed this :D 

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review 2016-07-29 08:20
Short sexy story, got it for free.
A Calling for Pleasure - J.L. Merrow

And it was really short - not even novella-length.


So it felt a bit more like a sketch than a real story with real characters.


It was a quick and moderately entertaining read.

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