Wake Up Call (Crabbypatty’s Review)

Title: Wake Up Call (Porthkennack #1)
Author: J.L. Merrow
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: April 17, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 320
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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.

I really enjoyed J.L Merrow’s “The Plumber’s Mate” series, so I began “Wake Up Call” looking forward to this story of two men: Dev, who comes to Cornwall with a purpose – find the woman who gave him up for adoption – and Kyle, who comes to escape – from his stressful career, his diagnosis of narcolepsy and the boyfriend he pushed away.

“Wake Up Call” is set in Porthkennack on the Cornish coast – windy, rocky and wild with steep cliffs cascading down to sandy beaches (think Game of Thrones location) – a former fishing village that now depends heavily on tourism. You really get a sense of the bleak, gray atmosphere. This is no light and happy Brighton Beach setting.

Dev meets a local girl Ceri at the Square Peg cafe; you just know there’s a story behind her defensiveness and anger and some local “mean girls” hint at an incident that happened a while ago … but then this subplot sputters out.

The reason Dev comes to Cornwall is to find the mother who gave him up for adoption. Yet there are only a few scenes in the book that deal with this, and then this subplot sputters out. Dev’s sister gets in trouble with the law and Kyle is able to help get her representation, but the whole situation is quickly resolved.

I felt the time devoted to these subplots really dragged down the flow of the story and took away from a relationship that already had enough conflict and contrast in background, interests, status, outlook, etc. Both Kyle and Dev are given to long internal monologues (with Kyle being more whiny, IMHO) and the end result is too little action and too much introspection. Kyle and Dev’s sexual dynamic is interesting, but their relationship is also fraught with too many misunderstandings, slammed doors and stalking off.

I realize that other readers may not have the same experience with “Wake Up Call” and find the pace reflective and feel the internal conflicts give texture to the love story, but personally I could not get past the abortive subplots and the slow pace. My rating is 3 stars, but then again …

Porthkennack Series

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Galley copy of Wake Up Call provided by Riptide Publishing, via NetGalley, in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader