Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M British romance from JL Merrow. WAKE UP CALL is an interesting look at forging a new life after a disabling disease, getting over past hurts, and being open to love even when it’s not easy. I really enjoyed OUT! and PLAYED! as well as BLOW DOWN and LOVER’S LEAP, so I jumped at the chance to read this first book in a series set in a fictional seaside town in Cornwall.
About the book:
South London mechanic Devan Thompson has gone to Porthkennack to track down someone he’s been waiting all his life to know. But Dev’s distracted from his quest by Kyle, a broodingly handsome local of only a few months, who’s already got a reputation as an alcoholic because of his strange behaviour—including a habit of collapsing in the street.
Kyle Anthony fled to Porthkennack to escape from the ruins of his life. Still raging against his diagnosis of narcolepsy—a condition that’s cost him his job as a barrister, his lover, and all chance of normality—the last thing he wants is another relationship that’s doomed to fail. But Dev’s easy-going acceptance and adaptability, not to mention his good looks, have Kyle breaking all his self-imposed rules.
When disaster strikes Dev’s adored little sister, Kyle steps up to the plate, and Dev sees a side of his lover he wasn’t prepared for: competent, professional—and way out of Dev’s league. With one man determined that they don’t have a future, and the other fearing it, life after Porthkennack is starting to look bleak for both of them.
Devan Thompson is a 24 y/o mechanic who desperately wants to know who his family was. He was given up for adoption, but the family who took him disintegrated when he was young and he was shuffled from placement to placement and group home to group home until he aged out of the system. He recently learned that his birth mother is alive and part of a prominent family in Porthkennack, a seaside town on Cornwall’s Atlantic coast, so he’s come on an extended holiday to attempt to meet her in person, now that his attempts to reach her via email have been ignored.
While getting up his courage, and staking out the lay of the land in Porthkennack, Dev meets Kyle, when it seems he’s collapsed due to heavy drinking at eleven in the morning. That’s what a local girl says, anyway, as the townies see, Kyle, the strange new resident, as a lewd mystery. Dev didn’t smell any alcohol though, and some of his “caregivers” were chronic alcoholics, so he’s familiar with the signs. Digging deeper, Dev learns that Kyle was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy, and he is often struck by attacks of either quite suddenly. He retired from his job as a barrister, fearing that he’d have an attack while in court, and not being able to control his situation left him bitter and frustrated. Kyle’s unsure what Devan might want with a surly, broken man like himself, and isn’t excited to even begin a friendship. But, Devan also knows people, not just cars, and he’s got precious little else to do. Reuniting with his mum seems as exercise in failure, and he’s glad to have Kyle’s shoulder to cry on when it gets ugly.
I liked this textured and layered story of two isolated men building a connection that makes them both whole. Devan’s sweet and faithful attitude is a balm to Kyle’s wounded heart. Kyle has worked his whole life for a career that now seems moot–and he laments giving up on so many opportunities to have a richer life for studies that haven’t borne fruit. Kyle has a lot of resentment about his disability, but Dev hardly finds it a challenge; he’s searching out ways to accommodate Kyle’s attacks and Kyle’s touched that this stranger is more compassionate and conscientious than his former lover of several years. Meanwhile, Dev’s always lamented his lack of family. He’s desired the connections all his friends have–someplace to go come Christmas, and people who build a life around knowing you. His dreams are realized in Porthkennack, but not in the way he anticipated. This is a sweet and tender romance, with some steam, but it’s also an interesting story that educated me regarding new disabilities and the insensitivity some have towards afflicted persons.
About the Author:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, and English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.
She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards Finalists.
JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.