Review: Merry Gentlemen by Josephine Myles (Blog Tour)

’Tis the season of goodwill to all men…even the one who dumped you. Riley MacDermott’s ambitions are simple. Managing the annual Bath Christmas Market—which involves long hours in the cold and a whole lot of hassle—will secure the promotion he needs to afford to move out of his noisy, top-floor flat. Where not even his balcony is safe from an aggressive herring gull. The last stallholder he expects to see is his ex. Riley never recovered from their break up, and five years on the old chemistry still sparkles. So does their habitual head butting. Stan never wanted to leave the love of his life, but the pull of the woods was too strong—and Riley was firmly planted in the city. Reconnecting is painful, but Stan still jumps at the chance to stay with his old flame during the Market. And damn the consequences. As the weeks pass, the two grow closer than ever. But despite scorching sex and cozy intimacy, they both know they face a cold and lonely future. Unless one of them can compromise.

Warning: Contains sex in a shed, a seagull with a grudge, glamping, awful Secret Santa underwear, misuse of Abba song, and as many wood-related puns as the author thought she could get away with.

I’m a big fan of Josephine Myles. I’m a big fan of Christmas. It would stand to reason that I should like this book. I did not like this book. I LOVED this book.

My absolute favorite thing about Jo Myles’s books are her characters and these two MC’s are no exception. Honestly, Riley is hilarious. I love his slightly entitled attitude. Especially for the fact he doesn’t really know what he’s entitled to or why, he just knows he should have more than he does. When tasked with ridding his balcony of a seagull, who really seems to have it out for him, he thinks,

“I was meant to have servants to do that sort of thing for me by now. Or at least one servant. Just a part time cleaner would have been a good start.”

Oh Riley. Poor delusional Riley.

This is really a story about Riley and his journey to figure out what makes him happy. Riley is in that no man’s land between a young party boy and true adulthood. He knows how to be a party boy but it’s getting old and nothing (and no one) compares to the time he spent with his first true love, Stan. Riley is working towards a promotion. He is the manager of the Christmas Market in Bath and he knows if he can pull this off with a modicum of success, he’ll get his promotion. Problem is, he really isn’t sure if that is what will make him happy. He wants it because he thinks he should and it’s the next logical step for his career. But will it make him happy? Riley is floundering a little but he’s not really sure why.

As the vendors are setting up Riley is making his rounds and who does he see? Why Stan of course. Stan had given Riley balance when they were together but he’s also the one who moved away. Stan moved away because he just had to. He’s not a city dweller and in order to accomplish all his life’s goals he had to go. While Riley felt he had to stay behind. Hearts were broken. There really isn’t animosity between the two, more of a wary caution, they were young and wanted vastly different things from life and looking back, they can admit they didn’t communicate well about their decisions. They communicated like self-centered young men. Which, given their ages and stages in life, was completely normal and unfortunately predictable. There is still plenty of heat left from their years together though and it doesn’t take long for the two of them to reconnect.

So, the two start the reconnection in the steamiest of ways, albeit temporarily as the Market only lasts so long giving their reunion a bittersweet quality. They’re reminded why they are just so good together and yet how different they are too. Seriously, Riley and Stan really couldn’t be more different. Stan is the country badger to Riley’s city mouse and Riley can’t help but mock Stan’s country life. Stan takes it with a good natured humor as these two have great chemistry, and matches Riley quip for quip,

“Yeah, I’ve got myself a harem of trained badgers. They’re shy, but really filthy when you get to know them.”

I like Stan. I like Stan a lot.

Stan also reminds Riley that sex, and life, should be fun and that Riley is more than just the flighty party boy he plays at. Plus Stan doesn’t fall for Riley’s “flouncy grand exits”. Riley knows this and in the years since Stan left he’s grown up some. They both have. Riley can’t help but be frustrated because they want such different things out of life. So, the Market ends, Riley is a success and it’s time for Stan to go home. Hearts are breaking again, but, Riley is a bit older and wiser now and he really listens to Stan when Stan says as he is leaving for home,

“Goodbye Ri. Look after yourself. And try to figure out what makes you happy, yeah?”

Well, one thing that Riley is really good at, it’s what got him his promotion, he is a problem solver. He just never really saw his life as a problem until he started questioning his own happiness when Stan had to leave. Riley finally realized he could solve this problem and he sets out to do just that. He channels his inner country badger and heads out to claim his mountain man. Riley has a plan and he’s certainly not going to let any pesky nature get in his way. He’s determined to make this new life work with Stan and now just has to convince Stan to let him in. Of course he has “Riley adventures” on the way to Stan’s place and Stan doesn’t let Riley off the hook too easily at first. Not everyone is cut out to be a country badger, Riley especially and Stan knows this. Stan needs to be sure Riley is in this for the long haul. As he puts Riley through his paces with country life, Riley starts to really appreciate the beauty of the life Stan is living, once he lets go of what he thinks he should want and sees what is right in front of him.

Riley and Stan grew up, and Riley finally figures out that compromise can lead to everything in the world that will make him happy.

Just a few extra bonus things that I absolutely loved in this story . . .

I absolutely have to mention Riley’s best friend and confidante, Janine. I love when the “best friend” is portrayed in a really positive way and doesn’t fall into stereotype. Janine was great. She was a true supportive friend, but she called Riley on his BS too. I love how he is amazed at her ability to spot another gay man without fail. He says,

“You’d think that woman had been born with her own personal Grindr app installed in her brain.”

Can that be a real thing? I’d really like for that to be a real thing.

Riley is known at work for being the guy who strips down to some fancy manties, climbs atop a desk and belts out a Christmas tune at the office Christmas party. It’s what he does. So, of course, his Secret Santa gifts every year are said fancy manties. He swears this year will be different. There is a promotion on the line after all. But, after a little too much to drink coupled with missing his mountain man the ability to actually care is completely gone and he fulfills his legacy with pride. He insists on singing Santa Baby even though,

“And while it wasn’t exactly a song designed for stripping, I was of the firm belief that you could take your clothes off to any piece of music with the right attitude.”

And this is why I love Riley.

Note: A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Riley sounds like my kindred soul. LOL I'm adding this book to my mega TBR pile (if I haven't already) based on this review. Amazeballs!

    1. OMG you would so LOVE Riley. I'm keeping Stan though :D

  2. They both sound like great characters! Will totally have to put this one on my radar. =D