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review 2017-10-26 00:16
This one was more miss than hit for me...
Out! (The Shamwell Tales) - J.L. Merrow,Mark Steadman

'Out' is the third book in JL Merrow's 'Shamwell Tales' story and so far it's the one that I've enjoyed the least. 


Patrick was a secondary character that we met in 'Played' and I was actually looking forward to his story. In 'Played' we met Patrick when he was recovering from a broken leg and he did a bit of flirting with Con...that basically went nowhere, but I was intrigued and when I found out that he was the subject of this book...well that was all I needed to say 'ok, hook me up.' 


Unfortunately, nothing really hooked me until about halfway through the story. For the most part the first half of this book for me just seemed like a big ole bitchfest.


Patrick's a 25 year old charity worker, he's out and proud and spends more than a little time on his soapbox and apparently has a thing for older men. 


Mark's a recently divorced father of a 14 year old who's closeted but not...it's complicated and I'm not sure I can explain this one so let's just move on from this. When Patrick's ex calls him at her wits end about their daughter's latest escapades. Mark decides that it's time he stepped up and took a more active role in her upbringing. So he leaves his job as a successful tax adviser and moves himself and his daughter to the small village of Shamwell. I think that Mark's daughter Fen (Florence) is suppose to be a feisty, sassy, little spitfire unfortunately what I got was an obnoxious, mouthy, ungrateful brat and I have to admit this was at times due in no small part to the parents...sorry, the dynamics between Mark, his ex and their daughter just were not good.


Then there's Patrick and his mother. Age gaps aren't really a big issue for me these days...usually, but when it was made clear more than once that 'Mark was old enough to be Patrick's dad or date his mom' which can I just say 'I think this was a case of overstating the issue...the age difference here is 14 years old so...we're talking a really young daddy here folks' and when it comes to Patrick's mom well for part of the story I was pretty unimpressed with her.


While the last part of the book worked better for me...mostly, it still just wasn't great and truthfully what was probably suppose to be an over the top comedy of errors, with a bit of tongue in cheek thrown felt more like something that was just trying to hard and falling flat more often than not. 


Worst of all I totally didn't get Patrick and Mark. The spent so much times at odds with each other that when they finally got around to  the 'I love yous' I was like what the hell? Really, cause I'm not seeing it?'


Ok so I've made my point overall this one just didn't work for me. But that's not to say that there wasn't anything that I liked. I liked Mark's PA from his tax advisor days and then there was Lex, Patrick's assistant at the non-profit and probably my favorite character in the story. There were in fact some enjoyable moments and Fen in fact actually began to become a likeable kid in the last part of the story...she felt more like a feisty, angst and emotion driven teenager and her obnoxious, brattiness definitely eased up.


Lastly if you take a boo over on GR you'll find a lot of reviews that don't share my sentiment and I'm thinking that this is just a case of it works or it doesn't and for me overall to much of it didn't. 


Oh and before I forget the other thing that worked for me was the narration. Mark Steadman was once again the narrator for this story and from start to finish his narration was one of the things that worked and while I may not have enjoyed all of the story, I did enjoy all of the narration.



An audio book of 'Out' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-09-19 17:32
Well this is a bit of a quandry...
Played! - J.L. Merrow

I was more than willing to give this one a go. It had a lot going for it...I like J.L. Merrow's writing, Mark Steadman is the narrator and I like him, I enjoyed 'Caught' the first book in this series. The blurb sounded cute and Shamwell seems like a quaint little place to visit...so I was all in and while I gave this one 3 stars, I have to admit it probably fell a little bit short of that mark. But between the quality of the writing and the audio narration in good conscience I wasn't really comfortable giving this one less than 3 stars and there were several things that I liked about this one.


I liked Con. While he was a bit sensitive about his dyslexia, I can't in all honesty say that he was 'bitter' or 'excessive' about it. It struck me that his attitude was more a case of it was what it was and he just seemed to want to get on with his life. He's had his heart broken before and he's not looking for any one night stands or quick hook-ups. 


Tristan on the other hand is just in town for the summer and he's more than happy to do no-strings-attached, commitment free fun as he sorts out the house he's inherited and gets it ready for sale before going to New York to join the family business, give up his desires to perform live theater and fulfill his obligation to the family as per daddy's instructions. 


Tristan's also more than a bit full of himself which leads to him being more than a little surprised when Con turns him down and doesn't return his interest. When circumstances conspire to throw Con and Tristan together in an amateur production for the local theater company.  Con and Tristan begin to form a tentative friendship and feelings begin to grow on both sides. 


At first glance this had all the makings of a fun, sweet, friends to lovers romance. Unfortunately as the story progressed Tristan went from self-absorbed and bit arrogant to a total, absolute jerk, I started to like him less and less. Now in his defense I will say he had help being such a huge jerk and that was his bbf  Amanda...his Best Biotch Forever...because trust me folks this piece of work was no one's friend but her own. More often than not I found Tristan to be demeaning and condescending in how he treated Con. 


As well as just not feeling the love for Tristan, I never really felt the love between Tristan and Con. It just didn't work for me and by the time they got together it was just a bit too rushed for me.


While the story overall was promising in the end it just wasn't enough to save it from what wasn't working for me so it ended up just being ok and with the addition of another solid job on the narration by Mark Steadman I'm comfortable leaving this one with 3 stars.


In spite of it all I'm hoping to give the next book in this series a try it's Patrick's story and we met him in this book and he had a bit of bad luck happening so with any luck things will go better for him on my next trip to the wee village of Shamwell.



An audio book of 'Played' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-09-11 20:03
This was cute...
Caught! (The Shamwell Tales) - J.L. Merrow

'Caught' was the first book in J. L. Merrow's 'Shamwell Tales' and I enjoyed listening to this on audio.


Robert's teaching at the village primary school trying to rebuild his life after losing his last teaching position and the man he thought was the love of his life. He's happy with teaching and not looking to replace the man who left him. 


On the surface Sean doesn't seem to be anyone that would interest Robert and the only thing these two have in common is the fact that Sean's nephew's are in Robert's class. But looks are deceiving and Sean effortlessly charms his way into Robert's life but not without more than a few mishaps and misunderstandings, due largely to Robert's stubborn desire to keep his past a secret and his rather quirky and naive personality. 


I was more than a little amused by Robert's inclination to be overly precise and often times take things far more literal than necessary. I like Robert and found him to be quirky, kind and sensitive, no to mention a bit of a worrier as well. While Sean was more laid back, spontaneous and just generally more outgoing about life.


There were also some excellent secondary characters in this story...Robert's friends Rose and Fordy, his family and Sean's. But I think my favorite secondary characters this time around was Charlie and his dad. Charlie was a sweet little boy in Robert's class who liked to dress up at home and wanted fairy wings for Christmas and while Charlie's mom wasn't around he had an awesome dad because dad didn't want him not to dress up or have fairy wings he just didn't want his boy to get hurt for wanting these things and he wanted to try and understand his son not change him...I bet there are a lot of kids out there who'd love a dad like this and as a parent I have to say all we can do is love our kids and try our best to give them a home where they're always loved for who they are and know that they shelter from the storm called life...yep, Charlie and his dad made this one good all on their own.


Mark Steadman was the narrator and needless to say he's definitely got the Brit accent nailed. I'm guessing possibly because he's British. But it's also more than that, he also gives the character voices the individuality, consistency and expressiveness that I enjoy in an audio book. 


Unfortunately in spite of the good stuff I just didn't really feel the connection between the MCs with this one...not like I did with 'Muscling Through' the only other book I've read by this author. So while 'Muscling Through' was a 5 star read and this one was only 3 stars, I still had more than a couple of LOL moments and look forward to enjoying more by this author...whether it's e-book or audio book, I'm always on board for a good story and few laughs...although maybe no rats next time.



An audio book of 'Caught' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-09-03 18:40
Blow Down (The Plumber's Mate #4)
Blow Down - J.L. Merrow

More fun and snark from our psychic plumber. 


Tom's little secret - the ability to locate hidden objects (which occasionally includes dead bodies) and leaky pipes - is not so secret anymore now that someone let the cat out of the metaphorical bag. Tom's propensity to martyrdom allows him to be guilt-tripped into displaying his talents to the public - with the expected disastrous results.


Really, y'all, this is why you don't ask the guy who can find dead bodies to perform "magic" tricks. I mean, that should just go without saying.

(spoiler show)


I did feel the whodunit was a bit more obvious this time around and wondered why Tom and Phil didn't cotton onto them sooner. That aside though, the mystery was full of wackadoodles and cagey relatives aplenty, enough to be fun while still making you wish Tom would start wearing a helmet everywhere he goes. :P And it does seem Tom's abilities are taking on possible new skills - not that he's anymore open to testing them out than he was before.


I like the way Tom and Phil's relationship is progressing. There's still plenty of ways for them to miscommunicate without going the whole Big Misunderstanding route, and they trust each other enough that they don't blow everything (well, most things) out of proportion.


That's not the only relationship Tom has to foster here either, now that he's found his "real" dad. I like that their reunion and getting to know each other was realistically awkward and that they're taking their time getting a feel for each other. I still need to know a lot more about Mike, so hopefully we'll see that in the next book, which I'm pleased to see Ms. Merrow has planned for next year. Fingers crossed there are no delays it getting it to us. 

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review 2017-08-22 03:12
Heat Trap (The Plumber's Mate #3)
Heat Trap - J.L. Merrow

Oh geez, so much going on in this one! 


I complained in my review for the last book that I thought Tom and Phil's relationship took a backseat. That was not the case here. The case Phil's working on effects them both personally and even brings out some secrets Phil has been hiding about himself. It really tests their relationship, bringing up old concerns, but doesn't go into melodrama territory. 


The case is again well-done. Marianne, the new bartender at the Dyke, is running from her abusive ex-boyfriend, and Phil's asked to dig up dirt on him. The ex is a Douche-with-a-capital-D and annoyingly wily when it comes to the law. 

And I can't believe Tom fell for Grant's line about being misunderstood. Com'n Tom, that's Abuser Manipulation 101.

(spoiler show)

This has some good and creepy twists to it and definitely doesn't end up anywhere I thought it would.


On the personal front, Tom's still trying to sort out how he feels about a family secret coming out in the previous book,

about his mother having an affair and his father not being his biological father,

(spoiler show)

so there are family tensions to deal with but again it avoids from going into melodramatic territory. I enjoyed seeing more of Cherry and Greg, and of course Gary and Darren are always a hoot. Oh, and I have to give a shout out to Arthur and Merlin too. They're just the coolest cats, if maybe a bit too quick with their affections. :D

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