Title: To Love a Traitor
Author: J.L. Merrow
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Page Count: 167
Reviewed by: Alissa
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Wounds of the heart take the longest to heal.
When solicitor’s clerk George Johnson moves into a rented London room in the winter of 1920, it’s with a secret goal: to find out if his fellow lodger, Matthew Connaught, is the wartime traitor who cost George’s adored older brother his life.
Yet as he gets to know Matthew—an irrepressibly cheerful ad man whose missing arm hasn’t dimmed his smile—George begins to lose sight of his mission.
As Matthew’s advances become ever harder to resist, George tries to convince himself his brother’s death was just the luck of the draw, and to forget he’s hiding a secret of his own. His true identity—and an act of conscience that shamed his family.
But as their mutual attraction grows, so does George’s desperation to know the truth about what happened that day in Ypres. If only to prove Matthew innocent—even if it means losing the man he’s come to love.
Warning: Contains larks in the snow, stiff upper lips, shadows of the Great War, and one man working undercover while another tries to lure him under the covers.
When I first read the blurb for To Love a Traitor my heart skipped a beat … a post WWI intrigue? Hell, yes! As a history teacher, I love when my two passions come together … m/m romance in a historical setting. From the gorgeous cover art to the accurate portrayal of the period, To Love a Traitor did not disappoint. The book is very well done.
Proof the author did their research into this era is in the details. Ms. Merrow captures the period perfectly. Describing the numerous amputees returned from the war, the description of the trenches, recalling the giving of the white feathers (google it), the reminder that not everyone returned from the war … the list goes on. I was pleased to say the least.
Roger Cottingham is a troubled young man. His feelings of guilt over his brother’s death in the war and his own decision not to fight weighs heavily upon him. His family sees him as an embarrassment. He has difficulty finding work. No C.O.’s (conscientious objector) need apply. When his deceased brother’s fiancee asks Roger to look into his death as she finds it quite suspicious, Roger cannot find it in himself to say no. He goes to one of the few people who never turned their back on him … a former intelligence officer whom Roger worked for during the war. Sir Arthur agrees to help him, not only in the suspicious death of his brother but for employment as well. This road leads him to a boardinghouse in London where a man who served with his brother is renting a room. A man who might be a traitor. A man quite possibly responsible for his brother’s death.
Matthew Connaught is a veteran of the war. An amputee. He lost his arm in a mortar attack. But he doesn’t let his handicap affect his attitude. He is a pleasant young man who believes you should live each day to the fullest. It’s only at night, in his dreams, that the memories of the war torment him. Matthew is immediately drawn to George (Roger) the new border. The two immediately strike up a friendship … a friendship that Matthew doesn’t know is based upon deceit.
To Love a Traitor is an old fashioned romance. There is no instalove. Or instalust even. This is a story about two young men who have been touched in completely different ways by the war. Their friendship is immediate but their love for each other is slow burning. Very slow. There is very little sex involved but what there is can be described as steamy with a side of understated. I will admit to being quite frustrated by this development. The reader knows these two have great chemistry together so let the sparks fly. But alas ….
The pacing of the book was not quite even. The story stars out with things settling into place rather quickly. George begins his investigation of Matthew … but as their friendship becomes real the story slows down to build their relationship. I felt the original plot of finding the traitor was puts aside in favor of this development. The investigation really doesn’t get going until the last 15% of the book. And when the traitor is finally revealed, I can only describe it as anticlimactic. What saved the ending in my opinion is that Matthew and George’s HEA is cemented. I will not go into details but the reader will be quite happy with how everything is tied up neatly into a bow.
I highly recommend to history lovers who want an old fashioned, slow burning romance with a side of intrigue.