Love at First Hate is a contemporary m/m romance novel by J.L. Merrow. I prefer historical romance to contemporary, but the premise sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a try.

Sam Ferreira arrives in the small town of Porthkennack to help with an exhibition on Edward of Woodstock. He got the job because his friend Jory recommended him, and Sam sees this as the perfect opportunity for a fresh start. Sam clashes almost immediately with Jory’s older brother Bran, who is sponsoring the exhibition. Their personalities are wildly different, as are their opinions on historical scholarship. Eventually, the acrimony fades and grows into something different, but can this budding relationship withstand secrets from the past?

This is definitely a slow burn book. It takes quite a bit of time for the two heroes to even meet, let alone get together. And then it seems like they have very little time together before they are separated by circumstances. Merrow also splits the narrative between the present day and flashbacks, the latter of which provides the reader with a great deal of insight into the development of Bran’s personality and why he’s so reserved and repressed.

I did not know when I made the request that the Porthkennack books are a loose series with both contemporary and historical entries by several different authors. I also did not know that Bran was the “villain of the piece” in another of Merrow’s books. I wish I had known this because I love a good redemption story.

I would recommend Love at First Hate. I did not feel at too much of a disadvantage because the worldbuilding is very thorough- almost at the expense of the romantic pairing. I would have also liked more clashing between Sam and Bran, as well as more time for them together before the conflict. That said, my interest is piqued, and I am looking forward to checking out Merrow’s other books- including the earlier Porthkennack book- as well as the other books in this series.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.


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