Title: Out! (The Shamwell Tales #3)
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: June 26, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 305
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 2.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
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.
Note: This is a revised second edition, originally published elsewhere.
FYI, This is the third book in JL Merrow’s Shamwell Tales series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone.
Mark Nugent finds himself in Shamwell after deciding to take a year away from his career as a tax advisor so as to try his hand at raising his teenager daughter Fen after she was expelled from school. As his ex-wife Ellen says: “It’s about bloody time you took some responsibility for your only child.” It’s also bloody time Mark starts to explore his attraction to men, yet when he meets hot Shamwell local Patrick, rather than act on their mutual attraction, Mark instead decides he needs to hide his sexuality from Fen – “She’s not going to find out. That’s what I’m trying to tell you.” Mark took a deep breath. “There’s not going to be anything to find out. That’s why we can’t do this.”
Sadly, this was only the first time I dearly wanted to whack Mark sharply about the head with a Clue Stick. Mark and Patrick don’t have a relationship as much as a running series of three steps forward, two steps back arguments that lead to them feeling the relationship is OVER, and then a few days later they are back together until the next miscommunication. The pace of their relationship slowly unfolds, ever so slowly, so slowly in fact they finally have sex in the last chapter of the book.
The overall pace of the book didn’t work for me, and I’m realizing the entire Shamwell series is too slowly paced for me. I like the small town setting of the series and how characters from other books in the series pass along the edges of each additional story, but this series is like baseball. A recent study found that 90% of a baseball game is basically standing around, with about 18 minutes of action in an average 2-1/2 hour game.
Don’t get me wrong. Out! has some great secondary characters – Mark’s former personal assistant David with his costumed teddy Gregory (they called him “Camp David” in the office), Mark’s daughter Fen, Patrick’s gender fluid assistant Lex, Barry and the Spartans – but they are the 90% while Mark and Patrick’s relationship is that slim 18 minutes. 3 stars for Out! (although I am very partial to the John Barrowman-esque cover).