Dev has gone on holiday, but it’s a jaunt with a purpose to find his birth mother, the one who abandoned him at birth. Though he’s sent many letters to the little port town of Porthkennack where his birth mother resides, he’s heard nothing in return, so he is taking the chance that she will see him and finally acknowledge his existence. On one of his first days there, Dev stumbles on a man passed out on a seaside bench. Thinking he is a town drunk, he tries to rouse the man and give him a hand; little does Dev know that Kyle is far from an alcoholic. Instead, he suffers from a far more debilitating disease, one that has cost him his partner of many years, his home, and his job as a barrister.
Kyle has fled to Porthkennack to hide and to wallow in a fair bit of self-pity. No one can deny he has the right to do so for his life is unutterably changed, but Dev is not one to allow another man, nor himself, to be down in the dumps for long. A tentative friendship blossoms between the two men and then rapidly progresses into something more physical. However, Dev is just a poor uneducated mechanic and Kyle is posh—a barrister and smart. How can the two of them ever be a couple when their lives are so different?
Wake Up Call is a classic story of near missed chances that has its fair share of frustrating miscommunication between two very insecure men who deep down really like each other and are very afraid to show their hand. Dev cannot seem to get beyond the idea that he will never be good enough for the likes of Kyle and the interactions he finally shares with his birth mother do nothing more than cement those very thoughts. That particular scene, his first encounter with her, is heart shattering—be forewarned—but it is also brilliantly written and painstakingly crafted to deliver every emotion poor Dev feels before, during, and after his meeting with her.
However, the real beauty in this story lies in the way in which Dev sets out to take care of Kyle—to pull him away from his self loathing and his hiding and carry him into the light, into a place where he can begin to accept the awful blow life has dealt him and learn to cope with it. Take note, however, that if you are going into this story thinking these two fellows will gradually begin to realize how very little they truly communicate and to what extent that leaves them both feeling so vulnerable and uncertain of each other you are going to be sorely disappointed.
This story is a journey, one of self discovery, one of building trust and of learning how to really talk to the person you find yourself falling in love with over time. There is no easy fix for Kyle’s disease or for Dev’s lack of roots or family and the pain that causes him; nor is there a ready solution for how two men who struggle to put into words how they feel can manage to keep from losing each other before they even start their relationship. But, you see, it is the pathways that author J.L. Merrow builds for these two that make this novel one well worth reading. Slowly and surely the author lays a foundation for Kyle and Dev and coaxes them along it, exposing their flaws, celebrating their compassion and generosity, and building their faith in themselves and each other. It is a lovely way to watch a relationship unfold.
I really enjoyed Wake Up Call by J.L. Merrow as it built slowly toward a lovely ending that showed truly how a person can cope with all the trouble that life can throw at them and still manage to find love and happiness.