Title: To Love a Traitor
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 202 Pages
At a Glance: I think fans of historical romance will find plenty to love about To Love a Traitor.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: 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.
Review: JL Merrow and a Historical Romance are an irresistible combination for me. Not only do I love her characters, but I love her writing voice—which probably goes a long way towards explaining why I love her characters.
In To Love a Traitor we get two of the better examples of this author’s gift for creating men who immediately endear themselves to us. George Johnson is on an undercover mission, assuming an alternate identity in order to find the traitor who’d betrayed his brother and cost Hugh his life in 1917. It’s effortless to feel compassion for George’s need to get answers to the questions that haunt him, as the loss of his brother only serves to underscore the overall consequences of him standing by his decisions during the war.
Meanwhile, Matthew Connaught is the man suspected of treason—of giving up England’s secrets to the Germans while Matthew himself avoided being sent on the mission that ended in the ambush where his fellow officers perished. Guilty? Well, JL Merrow makes it all but impossible for us to believe it from the moment Matthew makes his first appearance on the page, which creates a nice contrast to our empathy for George. As the story progresses, though, the question remains in the back of our minds whether Matthew’s charm is all smoke and mirrors, or, if he’s really just that lovely a man?
As the author lays out George and Matthew’s story for the reader, we want George to both succeed and fail—to succeed in his goal of finding closure for himself and Hugh’s fiancé, Mabel, but also to fail in proving that Matthew is the man who would commit such a foul and underhanded deed against his country and his fellow countrymen. Why? Because Matthew is one of the most charming and luminous characters this author has ever created. Matthew shines in every scene, our veteran who came back from the war physically less than whole, and because of this, we can’t help but root against George even as we watch the man fall victim himself to Matthew’s many charms.
To Love a Traitor is a sweet romance tempered by George’s subterfuge, his secrets and motives, and the story’s 1920’s setting, which, in itself, adds the built-in challenge of two men beginning a relationship and finding love in a less than accepting time. George and Matthew and the simple pleasures they find in spending time together elevate this story from one that might have offered us a standard-fare historical romance into a love story that speaks to the optimist in us all, and that hopeful part of us that wants to believe love truly does overcome every obstacle, while this novel’s climactic moment does nothing but reinforce what is felt from the beginning—that Matthew is utterly irresistible and that George never stood a chance against him. And, in the end, the only traitor in this story would have been the man who would betray what his heart knew long before his head.
I think fans of historical romance will find plenty to love about To Love a Traitor.
You can buy To Love a Traitor here: