Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Good-looking, confident, and doted on by his widowed mum, Michael is used to thinking only of himself. Getting shoved off an Isle of Wight pier by an exasperated ex ought to come as a wake-up call—but then he meets Rufus and he’s right back to letting the little head take charge. Rufus is cute, keen, and gets under Michael’s skin in a disturbing way.
Would-be chef Rufus can’t believe his luck when a dripping wet dream of a man walks out of the sea on his birthday, especially when Michael ends up staying at the family B&B. Life is perfect—at least until Michael has to go home to the mainland.
Rufus can’t leave the island for reasons he’s entirely neglected to mention. And though Michael identifies as bi, breaking his mum’s heart by coming out and having an actual relationship with a guy has never been his plan. With both men determined to keep their secrets, a leap of faith could land them in deep water.
I just love JL Merrow and her ability to deliver characters that, whether you adore them, look at them with a little dislike and (yes, contempt for some), always feel downright real and human. In Lovers Leap, Merrow delivers just such a story full of characters that are almost guaranteed to put readers down on one side or the other. I fall firmly down on the side that sees this as a story full of characters that I understood, believed in and even when I was less then fond of their actions, I accepted them once I got the back history and foundation upon which they were based. That’s wonderful storytelling.
The character in conflict, for the reader, himself and Rufus? Michael, the man who came from the sea…the reason for which is one that is startling and is probably the basis for many readers dislike. His actions that follow don’t help. But there is something, as Merrow has written him, that draws you in, a certain vulnerability that pays off the more the story unfolds. There are some very serious issues for Michael to deal with, his sexuality, his faith and family, and some are deeply shattering as the story unfolds. Especially when it comes to his mother. All his prior arrogance and obnoxiousness in words and deeds? Well, there are reasons and a basis for all of them and Merrow lays it out for us like a very sad banquet.
Rufus is not without deep issues himself. They too start at home with a father and stepmother whose fragile relationship with each other and perhaps Rufus is keeping them all tied in a knot that might be choking them in the B & B in which they all work and live.
Lovers Leap is all about twin needs that speak to each other without Rufus and Michael realizing how much at first, and then slowing pulling towards each other, with humor, with heartbreak, with passion…in true English form on the Isle of Wight. I even adored the best friend, and her surprise coupling. Definitely could have used more of them.
If you like your main characters with flaws that you can handle, you know a little gruff, nothing too bad, certainly not obnoxious or bi, perhaps this isn’t your story. But if you love layered characters, people who need to work on themselves, and relationships that need just that bit of luck as well as love? Don’t let Lovers Leap pass you by. I highly recommend it and can’t wait to see what the Isle of Wight inspires JL Merrow to write next.
Cover art by Lou Harper is well done and indicative of the characters and story. Loved it.
ebook, 202 pages
Published February 27th 2016 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleLovers Leap
ISBN 1626493820 (ISBN13: 9781626493827)