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review 2018-01-03 18:45
Spun by J.L. Merrow
Spun! (Shamwell Tales Book 4) - J.L. Merrow

I decided to take a mini-break away from the horror-fest I’d been on and finally read this way overdue Netgalley title. I think I may need to stick with horror a wee bit longer because I found Spun all too sweet for my current mood.


It was also very hard for me to stick to and when it starts there are so many characters from previous books I haven’t read popping in that I had trouble keeping track of who was who and who was connected to who. I’m not sure if it was the dialogue, the accents or just the sometimes overly wordy prose but I found myself going back and rereading many a paragraph for whatever reason and at times it felt a little too much like work to finish this book. It also has kid characters and they’re featured quite heavily and while it added to the characterization and connection between the couple, kids in a romance aren’t exactly my favorite.


The story opens with David getting fired from his job after he is discovered doing sexual things with the husband of somebody at a work event. Oops. He decides to move out of the city and rents a room from Rory. Rory is a divorced dad of two who has just been dumped by his latest girlfriend. Rory is straight or at least always thought he was until he starts thinking thoughts about David that he’s never thought before.


You can guess how it goes from there right? Okay, good.


So I liked David. He is a bit of a nut. He’s quirky, flirty and flamboyant and carries around a teddy bear he’s named Gregory. It is impossible to dislike David even when he’s making poor decisions and doing the whole jumping to conclusions sort of thing. This brings me to the main issue I had with this book, the misunderstandings and lack of talking about those oh-so-pesky feelings! Rory and David talk about everything else but jump to conclusions and listen to outside forces and get themselves all hurt up for no good reason except maybe to make the book a little longer. It kind of wore on my last nerve and made me want to grab them both and clang their skulls together if I’m being completely honest. I also liked Rory. He’s a quite a few years older than David and he is a kind, sweet and open-minded guy. Their attraction and slowly developing romance felt genuine. But again it was too slow for my tastes.


I liked this story but not enough to give it more than a three.

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review 2017-12-23 20:32
Out! (The Shamwell Tales #3) by J.L. Merrow Review
Out! (The Shamwell Tales) - J.L. Merrow

Mark Nugent has spent his life in the closet — at least, the small portion of it he hasn’t spent in the office. Determined to make amends to his neglected teenage daughter from a failed marriage, Mark swears off work — and love — so he can give her a stable home environment. But Mark’s resolve to keep his heart under wraps is tested when he meets an out and proud young man he’s instantly drawn to.

Patrick Owen is a charity worker with strong principles. He doesn’t trust easily, but he’s blown away by his attraction for the older man who’s so new to his own sexuality. Yet Mark is adamant he’s not coming out to his daughter — and Patrick refuses to live a lie.

What with Mark’s old-fashioned attitudes and his flirtatious ex-colleague who’s determined to come between them, Patrick begins to wonder if they’ll ever be on the same page. And when Mark’s career as a tax advisor clashes with Patrick’s social conscience, sparks really start to fly — in all the wrong ways.



I liked this romance between with older man with a very grumpy teenager and a young man.


The most intersting part of me, aside of the setting and the cast of characters in the series which I like very much, was the aspect of the story that dealt with what it meant to be queer and coming of age in different decades. This conflict between the heroes was meaningful and compelling.


There is a lot of fun and dashing around and push and pull.


It make me happier this book need to be longer. I wanted much more couple time after Mark and Patrick were all sorted out and really together. I wanted to see them in a full on relationship to earn the I love you.

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review 2017-12-08 22:51
Just another trip back to the village of Shamwell...
SPUN! - J.L. Merrow,Mark Steadman

We first met David in 'Out' and I liked him so when I found out that he was one of the MCs for this series I simply couldn't resist. 


In 'OUT' David pursues Mark, who was his boss and he has a bit of a crush but not being the object of David's affections things stop before they get started, however, David and Mark do remain friends of a sort and when David's world begins to crumble after he gets caught in an indiscretion at work and the friend he's moved in with when he looses his apartment as a result gives him a not so subtle hint that it's time to move on. Desperate and not knowing where else to go David turns to Mark for help.


Mark offers him a job helping to set up his fledgling business and then helps him to find a place to live...enter Mark's friend, Rory.  Rory's straight but he doesn't have a problem with someone who's gay and a boarder to share the expenses would be good. So suddenly Rory has a roommate and he thinks he might like this idea. 


Rory's kids like David and so does Rory. As David and Rory spend time together and get to know each other they each discover that they really enjoy spending time together and Rory finds that as well as David's company, he just likes David...he likes how he looks.


I liked that this wasn't an insta-love relationship. David and Rory spent time together as roommates and friends getting to know each other, doing things together. Rory was uncertain about himself and I liked that we got to spend page time with Rory as he examined his life and his choices trying to sort out how he felt about David and what he wanted for himself and for him and Rory in terms of a relationship. 


While Rory's looking at himself we also get to see David as he begins to realize that he's attracted to Rory, who isn't someone that David would typically be interested in but the more time David spends with Rory the more he realizes that he really likes Rory the person and he likes what he sees when he looks at Rory the man.


I liked the friendship that developed between Rory and David and the loyalty that they showed to each other from the start in spite of their insecurities and the uncertainty that comes with new love. 


Once again Mark Steadman was the narrator for this story and once again he's done a wonderful job of bringing life to this story and it's characters. Providing unique and expressive voices for the characters while keeping familiarity for characters that we've met in previous stories...characters like Mark and Patrick from 'OUT' or Mark's daughter who we also met in 'OUT' and whom I have to say I enjoyed her more this time around. 


'SPUN' is a story of love when and where you least expect it, of second chances and starting over. This has definitely turned out to be my favorite story in this series so far, but if there's more to come I look forward to taking a trip back to Shamwell and finding out whose story is coming next and hopefully seeing how the residents that I'm met so far are doing.



An audiobook of 'SPUN' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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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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