Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Rating: 4.5 stars
Provided by Publisher
Blurb: South London mechanic Devan Thompson has gone to Porthkennack to track down someone he’s been waiting all his life to know. But Dev’s distracted from his quest by Kyle, a broodingly handsome local of only a few months, who’s already got a reputation as an alcoholic because of his strange behaviour—including a habit of collapsing in the street.
Review: Devan Thompson can’t help but notice when an attractive guy falls down. Dev does the right thing and makes sure he’s okay. When they meet again later Kyle Anthony isn’t exactly sure he wants Dev hanging around, but Dev sort of barges his way into Kyle’s day. Dev is relieved Kyle isn’t a drunk and Kyle likes having someone around who doesn’t know every detail of his personal history and isn’t comparing him to his past self. Kyle and Dev begin to like each other. Dev’s whole reason for coming to Porthkennack sort of blew up in his face. In so many more ways than he realizes. As a witness to Dev’s problems Kyle begins to put his own in perspective. Kyle isn’t that far from being diagnosed with narcolepsy. He’s been stuck in mourning for his old life. Then Kyle realizes mourning the past is about to cost him the future.
Most every character in this book has a moment where they realize it’s not all about them, the world doesn’t spin quite like they thought it did, or times changed while they weren’t looking. Yes, even the minor secondary characters. Poor Chantal-from-Birmingham. She really had no clue at all. This was done really, really well. Devan had a devastating wake up call. A tear inducing, potentially relationship destroying, almost involved the police, caused trauma with newfound friends kind of wake up. It was bad. Kyle realized, quietly, that despite having been in mourning he wasn’t actually dead yet. And maybe treating the narcolepsy was okay. Adapting instead of hiding is a thing and a thing worth doing. Everyone has to come to grips with reality in their own time in their own way. Even Jago eventually got a new barmaid.
At times I find holiday/vacation books to be a bit disturbing. When characters are isolated from family and friends then the two main characters become each other’s whole lives is a deeply unhealthy relationship model. Devan makes friends all over the place and his friends and family are a huge part of his life. Even while he’s on vacation. I can’t stress enough how happy I am Devan remained a consistent being even while he was away from home. Kyle, on the other hand, started the book very isolated and depressed, but that was actually the point. Kyle was not in a good place. His story arc was about leaving that place. The unhealthy behavior was called out as unhealthy. I found this to be wonderful and refreshing. It’s proof vacation romances don’t need to be creepy.
There are a lot of very heavy themes in this book, but I didn’t find it all that heavy. In spite of his experiences Devan is a pretty upbeat guy and Kyle slowly becomes less depressed as the book moves along. It also took me a while to realize the title applied to everyone. That sort of happens to me most every time I read a book by JL Merrow. I notice all the good stuff a few days later. Sometimes weeks. Don’t ask how long it took for me to understand how the cover of Fall Hard related to the book. But anyways, this is a wonderful book both on its surface and in its depths. It’s also a great example of healthy relationships and behaviors.