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Book CoverStevie‘s review of Wake Up Call (Porthkennack, Book 1) by JL Merrow
Contemporary Gay Romance published by Riptide Publishing 17 Apr 17

I love the idea of shared universes, particularly those created by a good mix of well-loved authors and authors who are new to me. While most of the series of that ilk I’ve encountered through Riptide and other publishers have featured stories set in one time period – be that historical or contemporary – the Porthkennack novels promise a mix of contemporary and historical romances. Somewhat fittingly, however, the introduction to the series shows us the Cornish town of Porthkennack through the eyes of two newcomers, both of whom have family links to the area.

Devan Thompson is the more recent newcomer of the two, and has no real plan to stay beyond his two week holiday in Cornwall. In town on his own, after his flatmate had a change of plans, Devan soon makes friends with some of the locals: the waitress at a café, and an incomer to the town, albeit with past family connections, who is considering settling there on a semi-permanent basis, Kyle Anthony. Kyle has recently been diagnosed with narcolepsy, and has taken an extended leave of absence from his high-pressure work as a barrister while he tries to either get his condition under control or find an alternative career.

Kyle and Devan first meet under uncertain circumstances: Kyle collapses due to his condition and Devan comes to his rescue, but is a little unsure what help he can be without knowing anything of Kyle’s background. The two soon form a tentative friendship, although both worry that the differences between them in terms of age and social standing may ultimately put paid to any sort of long-term relationship. Plus, Devan has a life back in London: friends, foster siblings, and a job he enjoys, while Kyle is reluctant to face up to the issues waiting for him at his own former home: both his ex, who still lives there, and the other partners at his work need him to make decisions he doesn’t feel ready for.

Ultimately, however, most of the challenges facing both men relate to their families. Kyle has yet to tell his parents the full details of his diagnosis – or the fact that he’s split from his ex – for fear they’ll be concerned enough to return to England and interfere in his life. Devan, meanwhile, is trying to make contact with his birth mother – a member of Porthkennack’s most influential family – and, through her, discover the identity of his biological father. Although he cares greatly for his foster sister and his other friends in London, Devan didn’t always have an easy time of things growing up and believes that meeting his parents will help him understand his circumstances and ancestry. Fortunately, Kyle is there for support when things don’t initially run to plan, and also when Devan’s foster sister inadvertently finds herself on the wrong side of the law.

I was greatly charmed by the town of Porthkennack and its inhabitants. I love all the thought that’s gone into the area’s history and geography and I’m keen to meet more of the residents and visitors, as well as hopefully catching up again with some of the characters that are featured in this story. I’d have liked to have seen Kyle and Devan’s story stretched out over a little more time, but hopefully some of the pieces of their emotional journeys that were necessarily skipped over here may get referenced again later in the series. I’m determined to keep up with the books as they come out, and am greatly looking forward to my future visits to this fictional corner of Cornwall: both present and past.

Stevies CatGrade: B


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.

Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series:
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