Advance Review by Rafa: Spun!, by J.L. Merrow

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Spun!, by J.L. Merrow
Series: Shamwell Tales, Book 4
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: July 3, 2017

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


With friends like these . . .

An ill-advised encounter at the office party leaves David Greenlake jobless and homeless in one heady weekend. But he quickly begs work from his ex-boss and takes a room in Shamwell with easygoing postman Rory Deamer. David doesn’t mean to flirt with the recently divorced Rory—just like he doesn’t consciously decide to breathe. After all, Rory’s far too nice for him. And far too straight.

Rory finds his new lodger surprisingly fun to be with, and what’s more, David is a hit with Rory’s troubled children. But while Rory’s world may have turned upside down in the last few years, there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s straight as a die. So he can’t be falling for David . . . can he?

Their friends and family think they know all the answers, and David’s office party hookup has his own plans for romance. Rory and David need to make up their minds and take a stand for what they really want—or their love could be over before it’s even begun.


M/M Pairing
Gay Character
Bisexual Character
Friends to Lovers
Opposites Attract
Coming Out
Age Gap

Content Warning for:
Homophobic Slurs

It’s been a few years since I last read anything by this author but I’m so glad I corrected that oversight recently. Spun! was a delightful friends to lovers romance that checked a lot of my favorite boxes – in addition to adding some new ones (pardon me, is our hero actually carrying around a teddy bear?).

But seriously, it’s quite something when partway into a book, I was as enamored by the fun and flirty Davey as I was by his childhood bear, which he dresses in the height of fashion. On the surface, Davey was sassy, sophisticated and well, silly, so I was delighted (and relieved) at how well he got along with Rory, who is decidedly none of those things. They were very much the odd couple but with a lot less bickering and a whole lot more playtime. Get your mind out of the gutter, I meant playtime with the children, ie. Rory’s two kids who came over every other weekend. But speaking of bears, Rory was warm, gentle and infinitely cuddly and I adored his easygoing approach to everything, including the prospect of bisexuality and coming out in his forties. I also loved that he was just a regular joe with average looks and a soft middle and hints of male pattern baldness.

Family and friends were central to the story, which if I recall correctly is an underlying theme in the Shamwell Tales universe (Shamwell being a small and presumably fictional village outside of London). As awesome as many of the side characters were (friends, kids, various exes and all), not all of them were well-meaning. There was the odd biphobic comment tossed out early on which I suppose was meant to illustrate the challenges the unsuspecting couple-to-be would face down the road, and Rory’s best mate in particular was overtly homophobic throughout. But the book generally kept away from any real ugliness and pulled off the “all’s well that ends well” thing neatly in keeping with the positive tone of the book.

Indeed, Spun! was pretty much zero angst and all fun. I loved how the unlikely pair bonded over really simple things like watching geeky shows together and competing for the title of Most Mediocre Cook. Between that and quality time with the children, they fell into an easy domestic pattern and I really liked that their relationship was based on compatibility and comfort. It reminded me that the “friends to lovers” trope doesn’t always have to be about the sexual tension, and that it can also be warm and cozy, like slipping on a favorite pair of socks.

It’s not a romance that will sweep you off your feet but it will charm your socks off. I may or may not have giggled occasionally (okay, cackled every few minutes, whatevs) and perhaps even sniffled (Davey and Rory are so misunderstood, you guys!). It’s a charming and hilarious read and I highly recommend 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.

Connect with JL:

You can purchase Spun! from:
Riptide Publishing
Google Play
Barnes & Noble

Or add it to Goodreads

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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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