“Love at First Hate” by JL Merrow is part of the ‘Porthkennack’ series and centers around Bran Rosacarrock, who is used to being in charge and who bears the weight and responsibility of his family legacy. He is opinionated and has high expectations, and when he discovers that the man hired to curate an exhibition isn’t necessarily of the same opinion, sparks fly in more ways than one. Bran hasn’t been willing to come out of the closet, but Dr. Sam Ferreira somehow manages to make him rethink that stance…until Bran learns about his past and everything implodes.
This contemporary m/m romance is a nice addition to the series but I think it probably would be difficult to read as a stand-alone story, because of the various ties to other books in the series. I’ve read one of the others connected (“One Under”) and I particularly enjoyed the zingers by one particular secondary character but this story didn’t have that leavening influence and consequently was a bit weighty to read. I’m not a big fan of flashbacks, so the multitudinous ones frustrated me, and this family is so dysfunctional, that it’s hard to redeem Bran, even with the painful backstory that is revealed. I also wasn’t sure I understood why the guy who served as the model was handled the way he was since I couldn’t appreciate his excuse for his actions.
Despite all of that, I liked seeing the progression of Sam and Bran’s relationship, even with its thorny ups and downs, and it’s nice to see that the family is starting to evolve from the ruts it was in. Hopefully, Bea will also get a chance for a happy ever after at some point.
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.