Jul 15, 2015

Pre-Release ARC REVIEW: To Love a Traitor By J. L. Merrow

Expected publication: September 15th 2015 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.

MM Historical Romance/ Suspense

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Synopsis On Goodreads:

Wounds of the heart take the longest to heal.

When solicitor’s clerk George Johnson moves into a rented London room in the winter of 1920, it’s with a secret goal: to find out if his fellow lodger, Matthew Connaught, is the wartime traitor who cost George’s adored older brother his life.

Yet as he gets to know Matthew—an irrepressibly cheerful ad man whose missing arm hasn’t dimmed his smile—George begins to lose sight of his mission.

As Matthew’s advances become ever harder to resist, George tries to convince himself his brother’s death was just the luck of the draw, and to forget he’s hiding a secret of his own. His true identity—and an act of conscience that shamed his family.

But as their mutual attraction grows, so does George’s desperation to know the truth about what happened that day in Ypres. If only to prove Matthew innocent—even if it means losing the man he’s come to love.

Warning: Contains larks in the snow, stiff upper lips, shadows of the Great War, and one man working undercover while another tries to lure him under the covers.

RATING: 3.5/ 5 stars

*** REVIEW ***

War brings out the darkest side of human beings- fighting, killing, death...And what is even worse, if you're one of the lucky ones who survive, later on you have to learn how to live with the consequences, guilt, memories and nightmares of your sins which keep haunting you til' the day you die. 

If anyone knows the dark side of the war it's the solicitor’s clerk Roger George Johnson who did the one thing the society despises and condemns the most in the time of war- he refused to take part in it and became C.O. a.k.a conscientious objector. Conscientious objector is a person who refuses to serve in the military because of his moral or religious beliefs, but the society doesn't forgive or care about your reasons, so that was the one mistake which in the end costed him almost everything in his life.

In search to redeem himself to his family and best friend Mable he undertakes sort of an "undercover mission" to investigate the suspicious circumstances around his brother murder in one secret military operation. On this mission he meets his main suspect, the person who was potentially a war traitor and who costed his brother his life- Matthew. But Matthew is definitely not the person he suspected him to be. He is in fact a genuine, charming, inspiring person, the spirit of every conversation and everyone seems to be fond of him, even Roger himself. That kind of person could never be a traitor or could it all be an act?

3.5 very emotional, touching, thought-provoking, suspenseful and quite charming stars.

The heart of this post-war story was definitely the lovely Matthew and his loving family who won me over completely, even though we didn't get his pov. Ex-soldier who lost his arm in war, but who despite every horrible thing he's been through hasn't lost his will or joy for life. Such an endearing and awe-inspiring character. And don't let me forget his lazy, mischievous, but adorable cat named Marmaduke.

The whole book was written from Roger's pov. Even though Matthew stole the show, I liked Roger too. Unlike Matthew, it seemed that the war left even bigger emotional and psychic scars on Roger and it was impossible not to feel sorry and protective of  him. I also liked the fact that he wasn't a drama queen when it came to his investigation and that he didn't jump to conclusions without strong evidence.

The romance was sweet, slow-building and light on the heat. In around 160 pages Merrow has managed to touch many sensitive subjects- war history, the strict measures and influence of society, the inferior and hard position of women and homosexuals during that time, family and friendship bonds etc. When it comes to the plot- it was one of those I've enjoyed it, but I didn't love it types. The suspense part and the ending could have been done a bit better in my opinion and maybe be a bit longer, not so rushed. That is why 3.5 stars. All in all- it was an interesting story. It was my first book by this author, but it won't be the last.




  1. Interesting! Somehow, the cover doesn't quite match the topic of the novel. Lol. But I'm curious, nonetheless!

    1. Agreed- the cover looks more modern/contemporary for a historical romance.

  2. What Joy said. I was not expecting this type of book after seeing that cover. It still sounds like a wonderful story though.

    1. It was and the characters were charming. Finally a good historical romance after a long time.


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