Out!, by J.L. Merrow
Series: Shamewell Tales, Book 3
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: June 26, 2017
This book was previously published by Samhain Publishing (Jan 2015). See El’s review of the previous version here.
When love wars with principle, which one will win?
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.
In the Closet
See review for possible warnings.
Man I really wanted to like this book more than I did. The book is really about Mark, a middle aged divorcee, who is in the process of making some radical changes after taking on the main parenting role for his teenage daughter. His daughter has been getting in trouble, and after being expelled Mark decides it’s time for him to quit his job (he’s a tax accountant), sell his place in the city and move to the burbs to raise his daughter with 100% of his focus. The problem, Mark soon figures out, is that a teenage girl doesn’t really take up a ton of his time, and she also would like him to get out and have his own life.
Mark joins his local… club(?)– I can’t be bothered to look it up– which seems to have a neighborhood charity focus, but also includes a ton of beer drinking. There he meets a much younger man, Patrick, who immediately takes a liking to Mark. UNFORTUNATELY Mark is still firmly in the closet… he thinks it’s best as FINALLY living his life as a gay man would make him not able to focus 100% on his daughter.
Patrick is a nice guy, works at a charity and has some kind of “child of a scammer” guilt that makes him try and give back at every opportunity.
Overall, when I even write this review it SEEMS like an interesting book. And the concept was VERY INTERESTING and yet… the book was dull. Also the entire relationship between Mark and Patrick seemed secondary to all the other mundane things the two had going on in their lives. Mark of course was focused on parenting and… not coming out. Patrick was focused on organizing a work charity event (a fun run) which took up lots of time.
The most interesting things about this book was a secondary character named David…who luckily gets his own book that comes out July 3rd.
A couple of things to note: I didn’t tag them because they were primarily related to side characters, but there is some bullying (happens off page but is discussed, as one of the daughters’ teenage friends is having issues at school because of it) and there is a transphobic character in the book (Patrick’s coworker is gender fluid/possibly trans, as it’s not fully discussed, more like a thing that is known) and is worried about losing their job because of it.
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.
She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through is a 2013 EPIC ebook Award finalist. She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.