A Stella Review: Love at First Hate by J.L. Merrow

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RATING 3  out of 5 stars

First impressions can doom second chances.

Bran Roscarrock has been living in the closet all his life. As heir to an expansive family legacy in the town of Porthkennack, old-fashioned ideals of respectability and duty were drummed into him since childhood, and he’s never dared to live—or love—openly.

Sam Ferreira, an old friend of Bran’s brother, Jory, is a disgraced academic desperate to leave his dead-end job. When Jory asks him to take over as curator of a planned exhibition on Edward of Woodstock, the fourteenth-century Black Prince, Sam leaps at the chance to do what he loves and make a fresh start.

But Bran’s funding the exhibition, and though sparks fly between the two men, they’re not all happy ones. Bran idolises Prince Edward as a hero, while Sam’s determined to present a balanced picture. With neither of them prepared to give ground, a hundred years of war seems all too possible. And if Bran finds out about Sam’s past, his future may not be bright, and their budding romance may be lost to history.

I’m a little conflicted about this new release in the Porthkennack series. As always happens to me with JL Merrow books, I got caught into the reading and the perfect writing (although I still have to look for some British words I don’t understand), into the characters’ lives, trying to connect and find all the characters I loved in the previous books.

Still, Love at First Hate is surely not my favorite in this series for different reasons. First of all I wasn’t able to feel the MCs. I saw them and read about them, they were well depicted, complete with their pasts and dreams and faults, with their families and friends. Sam and Bran met and it was as the title says, love at first hate. Their bickering was funny and actually interesting, they were loud and smart. And later when things between them changed and they finally saw what was there right in front of them, the couple was hot and sweet too. I objectively could see all of these but I missed something, that little spark that connect me with the MCs, I couldn’t feel it.

And then there was the mystery part, I didn’t like it at all. I had so high expectation, I dreamt about million sceneries, different people could have been the one who beated Bran unconscious. The resolve was in my opinion so lacking, it left me quite disappointed. I was  ready for the fireworks, instead I got just a little pop.

If  I could ignore the lack of spark with the main couple, I would give the novel all the five stars. Plot, world building, second character, development, writing, the author did everything perfectly, she missed nothing. It was simply me.

The cover art by Garrett Leigh is really well done, i can easily see the MCs in the models’ faces.

SALE LINKS  Riptide Publishing  |  amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 325 pages

Published September 3rd 2018 by Riptide Publishing

ISBN13 9781626498327

Edition Language English

In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Love at First Hate (Porthkennack #11) by J.L. Merrow

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Love at First Hate (Porthkennack #11) by J.L. Merrow
Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: Garrett Leigh

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host JL Merrow here today on tour for her amazing latest story in the Porthkennack series from RIptide Publishing, Love at First Hate.  Welcome, J.L.

 

🌊

 

 

Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m delighted to be here today as part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of Love at First Hate, the second of my contemporary MM romances in Riptide’s multi-author Porthkennack series.

Love at First Hate features a romance between a newcomer to Porthkennack and a character whom readers of my first two Porthkennack books, Wake Up Call  and One Under, will have already met: Bran Roscarrock. As you might imagine, Bran, who is an antagonist in the first two books, is on something of a redemption arc. But we’ll also get to see where he’s been coming from, and why he’s acted as he has.

 

About Love at First Hate

First impressions can doom second chances.

Bran Roscarrock has been living in the closet all his life. As heir to an expansive family legacy in the town of Porthkennack, old-fashioned ideals of respectability and duty were drummed into him since childhood, and he’s never dared to live—or love—openly.

Sam Ferreira, an old friend of Bran’s brother, Jory, is a disgraced academic desperate to leave his dead-end job. When Jory asks him to take over as curator of a planned exhibition on Edward of Woodstock, the fourteenth-century Black Prince, Sam leaps at the chance to do what he loves and make a fresh start.

But Bran’s funding the exhibition, and though sparks fly between the two men, they’re not all happy ones. Bran idolises Prince Edward as a hero, while Sam’s determined to present a balanced picture. With neither of them prepared to give ground, a hundred years of war seems all too possible. And if Bran finds out about Sam’s past, his future may not be bright, and their budding romance may be lost to history.

About Porthkennack

Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history.

Legend says King Arthur’s Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore.

Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum.

The Porthkennack novels are standalone stories; release order and era are:


About JL Merrow

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an 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.

She writes (mostly) contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour.  Two of her novels have won Rainbow Awards for Romantic Comedy (Slam!, 2013 and Spun!, 2017) and several of her books have been EPIC Awards finalists, including Muscling Through, Relief Valve (the Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) and To Love a Traitor.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Crime Writers Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Connect with JL:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Love at First Hate, JL is giving away a $10 Amazon credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 8, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Love at First Hate (Porthkennack #11) by J.L. Merrow

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Another visit to Porthkennack on the Cornwall coast in England, this time guided by the inimitable style of JL Merrow, who not only lends British authenticity to the tale, but who has a wonderful, understated sense of humor that creates multiple moments of quiet laughter throughout the story. Number eleven in this series that’s written by various British authors, this is one of three that focus on the Roscarrock family—founding members of the community, complete with the snobbery that goes with the bragging rights.

Bran is the patriarch, a man in his thirties, of diminutive stature, who’s lived in the closet all his adult life. His father drilled responsibility and the ideals of duty to their legacy into him since childhood, and though he is a twin, his sister knew it would be Bran who took over the estate when their father passed on. Now he’s got a reputation the community of being tight-fisted, uncaring, and uninterested in the working man. He’s creating an exhibition—a tribute to Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince—and he’s doing it to bring attention to the town, but he’s also doing it to pay homage to his hero, and he’s a bit prejudiced in that regard.

Sam Ferreira holds a doctoral degree and has curator experience and is the first person Bran’s brother Jory (One Under) thinks of when Bran is attacked and hospitalized and needs someone to take over the exhibition. Sam jumps at the chance, after assuring that Jory knows about the disgrace he suffered at his university post which resulted in him being fired. He’s doing a great job with the exhibit and is removing that slight prejudice that seems to make the Black Prince look like a hero, when Bran is released from the hospital and finds out what Sam is up to. And then the sparks fly.

A great enemies-to-lovers story, this truly was first hate before the two decided to compromise and get to know one another. After that, the sparks were flying for a different reason, and it looked like Bran might finally decide that the closet is too small to live in. Of course, that’s when he finds out what happened at Sam’s previous job and creates such a ruckus about it that Sam flees both the job and their budding relationship.

JL Merrow wrote the first book in this series, Wake Up Call, and though I know this is not the last, this is certainly one of the best. The whole series is terrific, but these tales of the Roscarrock family have been among my favorites. Now I’m hoping we’ll get one about the illegitimate son of the family, Devon Thompson, the boy that Bran’s twin, Bea, gave birth to and who was turned away, rejected and dejected, when he found out who is mother is. That would be top of my must-buy list. In any event, in a roundabout way, I’m trying to say that I highly recommend this series, and most definitely this story. Yes, it can be read as a standalone but I think that at least reading One Under would make this more meaningful.

~~~~~

The cover art by Garrett Leigh features two men, who resemble the descriptions of Bran and Sam, set against a dark gray stormy background which represents the Cornwall coast setting of the series.

Sales:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 325 pages
Expected publication: September 3rd 2018 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626498327
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Porthkennack #11

Connected stories by JL Merrow in this series:

Wake Up Call

One Under

Love at First Hate

A MelanieM Pre-release Review: Love at First Hate (Porthkennack #11) by J.L. Merrow

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Bran Roscarrock has been living in the closet all his life. As heir to an expansive family legacy in the town of Porthkennack, old-fashioned ideals of respectability and duty were drummed into him since childhood, and he’s never dared to live—or love—openly.

Sam Ferreira, an old friend of Bran’s brother, Jory, is a disgraced academic desperate to leave his dead-end job. When Jory asks him to take over as curator of a planned exhibition on Edward of Woodstock, the fourteenth-century Black Prince, Sam leaps at the chance to do what he loves and make a fresh start.

But Bran’s funding the exhibition, and though sparks fly between the two men, they’re not all happy ones. Bran idolises Prince Edward as a hero, while Sam’s determined to present a balanced picture. With neither of them prepared to give ground, a hundred years of war seems all too possible. And if Bran finds out about Sam’s past, his future may not be bright, and their budding romance may be lost to history.

Bran Roscarrock has been a troublesome, complex character, along with his twin sister Bea, in all his appearances in JL Merrow’s previous Porthkennack stories.  Stern, righteous even in his belief about the Roscarrock position in the Porthkennack at the top of the  community and keeper of its  history, Bran has not been one that the reader sought to connect with.  Same with with his sister.  We knew there were reasons for their remoteness and often troubling behavior towards others (younger brother, Jory’s upbringing underneath them bordered on the horrible).  But the narrative walls remained high around these characters and the readers  feelings stood well back from any emotional connection.

Now with Love At First Hate, JL Merrow starts to bring all those narrative walls she has constructed over Bran and Bea the last two tales down and it’s an arduous journey.  Hundreds of years of Roscarrock upbringing and tradition stand in the way of both Bran and Bea’s freedom from their pasts,  and the stasis of their present behaviors.  They aren’t even aware of how totally mired in just how much the past has cost them until an attack on Bran brings a crashing halt to the routine of their lives.

That’s the startling introduction to this story.  An assault on Bran.  A shocking event that rattles the lives of everyone in the Roscarrock enclosed circle and without in Porthkennack, a clannish and tight-knit village culture that has existed for hundreds of years.  As chief landowner and landlord in town, Bran is not well liked for his policies of business first, people second or even third.  So the fact he can’t remember who attacked him, puts him at risk of another assault from any and everyone around him.

It also opens the door for a young historian to step into job of Curator of a project close to Bran’s heart.  That of an exhibition of the Black Prince.  Enter Dr. Sam Ferreira, someone with his own demons to fight and a past that follows him.  Sam is in need of a new start in life and Bran’s fight with the last curator has left the job open for Sam.  Because Jory is a friend, that let’s Sam glide right into the job he needs desperately and starts to love.

JL Merrow, understandably gets the every day inner workings of museums (see JL’s bio), their staff, the politics of the curating big exhibits and manages to make it all so lively, informative, and entertaining.  But even more, something I became totally invested in, was the passion and enthusiasm of the historians and Bran for their subject and era.  And the need to see it conveyed in a truthful and wide ranging manner for the public.  JL Merrow uses her characters arguing…madly, wonderfully, loudly…about the inclusivity of women, the poor, the middle class vs knights, the Black Prince perception, homosexuality, carnage vs taxation….just incredible well researched discussions…to illuminate her character’s personalities.  Merrow brings them closer together, makes them re-examine their own thought processes and emotions through the very way they look at the Black Prince’s exhibits and interpretations.  And in the journey through sifting out the “old” preformed ideas they  now realized were based on their pasts, the men become closer and find common  ground with each other.

It’s amazing to watch, it’s intimate and joyful in the change that occurs with Bran and yes, Sam as well.  In a way history was setting the men free of their pasts by loosing old preconceptions and providing paths for new ones.

As Bran and Sam hesitantly make their way through the Black Prince exhibit, others are also being affected. That includes Jory and Mal (and his son heir to Roscarrock), Bea who has been just as stock as her brother in that great grey rock of a hall of a house, bound by the sea and haunted by the ghosts of their parents.  So many lives get tossed about here, upset, and finally freed.

And yes, the mystery of Bran’s assault is solved as well.  I can’t help but feeling we haven’t seen the last of that one as well.

Love at First Hate demonstrates why JL Merrow and the Portthkennack series are a must buy for me.  The writing is superb, the characters are memorable (two characters who found redemption after being some of the least liked  people going), history made lively, vivid, and incredibly important in how its presented, and a whole HEA that made my heart sing.

Plus another visit to Porthkennack, a place that’s found a permanent spot deep in my heart.

There are 11 books now in the Porthkennack series, three of them by JL Merrow.  I have listed them below.  Real them all, I highly recommend them, starting with the first one and working your way here to Love at First Hate.

Cover art: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design.  That is a gorgeous design.  Both men work for Bran and Sam, plus that tone and design is great for the story and a place by the sea.  Love it.

Sales:  Riptide Publishing | Amazpm

Book Details:

ebook, 325 pages
Expected publication: September 3rd 2018 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626498327
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Porthkennack #11

Connected stories by JL Merrow in this series:

Wake Up Call

One Under

Love at First Hate