Wake Up Call by J.L. Merrow
4 of 5 stars
This is the first book in Riptide’s Porthkennack series, and what a great start it is.
Dev Thompson is a young mechanic from South London visiting the fictional Cornish town of Porthkennack to meet someone he’s dreamed about meeting for a long time. He meets Kyle Anthony when Kyle suddenly collapses onto a bench, and no one goes to help him except Dev. Turns out everyone in town thinks Kyle’s an alcoholic, including Ceri, a server whom Dev befriends at a cafe. Ceri is cynical and sardonic, and their banter is entertaining.
Kyle is not an alcoholic. He has narcolepsy with cataplexy, a terrible sleep disorder that Merrow adeptly demonstrates is largely misunderstood. He has fled to Porthkennack after receiving his diagnosis and lives as a recluse from his former life as a barrister with a partner who left him.
Dev and Kyle are instantly attracted to each other, but they dance around each other a bit before giving in. There isn’t a lot of steaminess, yet their sexy times are believable and passionate. Their chemistry is palpable. The development of their relationship is marked by a lot of emotional disagreements. Both of our heroes are enduring different stresses that fuel these disagreements as well as serve as the sources of their hang ups about pursuing a relationship beyond a vacation fling.
There is miscommunication, but it’s not the type that usually makes me roll my eyes; it’s believable.
Merrow also writes the secondary characters, including the town of Porthkennack, so well. The world really comes to life and feels like a place where real people exist and struggle to live. I wouldn’t call this a light read at all, although there is humor and Britishness aplenty. The humor keeps the book from actually becoming dark, despite the heavy subjects it tackles.
I hope the rest of the Porthkennack series is as good as this. Merrow knocked it out of the park.
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