Thursday, September 6, 2018

Virtual Book Tour: Love at First Hate by JL Merrow (Guest Post+Review+Giveaway)

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:

4 Stars 

I really disliked Bran when he was introduced in his brother, Jory’s story, and truthfully, it took ages for my opinion of him to change and I was never completely swayed. He was arrogant, snobby and believed he was better than everyone else, and it wasn’t easy to feel any sympathy for him even when he was beaten, battered, bruised and hurting.

Sam, I absolutely loved. He was not only likable, but I really loved that he stood up to Bran and didn’t let Bran’s stature and power intimidate him or make him cower down to him. He gave as good as he got and I cheered him on the entire time!

This is a definite enemies to lovers story and while it was an enjoyable read for the most part, the romance, for me, didn’t fully work. While Sam and Bran were hot together and had amazing chemistry, the progression of their relationship didn’t work for me. For as adamant as Bran was about hiding out in the closet, it just wasn’t all that believable that after only one sexual encounter with Sam he was ready to come out and live openly and enter into a relationship with Sam. He and Sam barely knew one another. That was another thing that bothered me: It took forever for them to even meet and then it was all insta-something. They moved much too fast. I wanted a more gradual courtship between them. I wanted to be able to get to really know them as a couple.

The story is mostly well-written and although I’ve never heard of Prince Edward, it was actually interesting to learn about him.

I loved getting to catch-up with Jory and Mal. I love this little town and while not my favorite book in the series, as I thought there were a couple of issues that needed resolving and frankly, I just wanted more from the romance, still, it was an enjoyable and recommendable book.

*copy provided by author/publisher via the NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Fact or Fantasy: History Versus Legend

Today, I’d like to look at the conflict between history and myth, both of which have played a strong role in my Porthkennack books.

Porthkennack’s local castle, as readers of previous books set there may know, is surrounded by legend. Who could forget the story about King Arthur’s Black Knight, whose pair of hunting sea serpents bored out the tunnels that riddle the headland?

History, however, has a different tale to tell, and it’s about not a Black Knight, but a Black Prince, the campaign-loving son of Edward III and Duke of Cornwall, who had the castle built. King Arthur doesn’t rate a mention at all in the castle’s history.

As is so often the case, the truth is less colourful than the legend. Legend is fanciful and fantastic: tales of dragons, giants and sorcery. History is cold, hard facts. Can the two peacefully coexist?

To find out the answer, I asked a bunch of history buffs. The British Medieval History group on Facebook has a wide, active membership, and a fondness for staying firmly on topic, so I thought they’d be an ideal group to poll. And what they said pleasantly surprised me*—the majority of those who responded to my neutrally worded question were in favour of continuing to remember and celebrate legends. Legends, they argued, could spark in young people an interest in history—a sort of gateway drug to the hard stuff. Others pointed out that thrilling legends encourage visitor footfall at sites they’re associated with, and hence increase the money available for the upkeep of the sites.

Others argued for the value of legends in their own right, as an insight into the minds of people who first told these tales. Legends can add local colour, show what people were concerned about in days gone by and how they thought, or may be attempts to explain what was then inexplicable. One respondent, in a lovely bit of phrasing, called adding the spice of legend to tales of history akin to changing “a text into an illuminated manuscript”.

There are, of course, blurred lines between legend and history. How much evidence do we demand, one commenter asked, before we feel confident enough to take a story and call it historical fact? They described historians as “sleuths, detectives, factfinders, judges and jurors and at a stretch, scientists who can often really only hypothesise and not state with absolute certainty”.

In places such as Australia, as another commenter pointed out, legends are history. There are few historic monuments or written records, but there exist tales over 10,000 years old, passed down via an oral history tradition that valued faithfulness to the original tale. Some of them involve animals that the fossil record shows died out ten millennia ago, lending credence to the view that the stories have not evolved out of all recognition over the years.

So it seems the title of this blog post is a misnomer. History and legend aren’t in conflict after all: in fact, they support each other.

*The thread also included one commenter saying to another: “I have the utmost respect and admiration for you” which is not a comment you see every day on social media.

Question: Is history hallowed, or do you love a good legend?

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:


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!


  1. History is a story, mostly told from one point of view. Thanks for the review!
    jlshannon74 at

  2. congrats JL and sounds like a great read
    jmarinich33 at aol dot com

  3. This sounds wonderful. Great review
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  4. I do love a good legend....*wonders where the Aussie Bunyip got to...*


  5. Thank you for the review and post!
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  6. I love history and I love legends as well. For me, they complement each other, legends just give a different shine to any place, I agree they reflect people's beliefs at the time, and I think they should be studied together with the history of the place

  7. Congrats on the new release!

  8. Congrats on the new release!
    I love a good legend, it makes history more appealing and interesting. Simple facts can be boring sometimes.