Review: Out (Shamwell Tales #3) by JL Merrow

When the costs are added up, will love land in the black?

Mark Nugent has spent his life in the closet—at least, the small part of it he hasn’t spent in the office. Divorced when he could no longer deny his sexuality, he’s sworn off his workaholic ways and moved to Shamwell with his headstrong teen daughter to give her a stable home environment.

His resolve to put his love life on hold is severely tested when he joins a local organization and meets a lively yet intense young man who tempts him closer to the closet threshold.

Patrick Owen is an out-and-proud charity worker with strong principles—and a newly discovered weakness for an older man. One snag: Mark is adamant he’s not coming out to his daughter, and Patrick will be damned if he’s going to start a relationship with a lie.

Between Mark’s old-fashioned attitudes and a camp, flirtatious ex-colleague who wants Mark for himself, Patrick wonders if they’ll ever be on the same romantic page. And when Mark’s former career as a tax advisor clashes with Patrick’s social conscience, it could be the one stumbling block they can’t get past.

Product Warnings: Contains historically inaccurate Spartan costumes, mangled movie quotes, dubious mathematical logic and a three-legged pub crawl.

JL Merrow is one of my most read authors, she's a go to read for me. Of the three Shamwell Tales books, this one has been my favourite. Like the other books, this is set in the fictional English village of Shamwell and has a very English vibe to it. I like that about it.

Divorced, workaholic, single parent Mark is settling into life in the village. He's learning how to deal with his strong-willed teenager at the same time as he's learning to find himself. Actually, learning is a good way to describe this book; it's all about learning and growing. Learning to be, learning to accept other points of view, learning to stand up for your beliefs, learning when to compromise and when not to.

Which makes it sound very goody-goody and boring... but it isn't. It's hilariously funny at times and subtly funny at others. Patrick and Mark are so different in just about every way (and kudos to JL Merrow for managing to write characters that are so different without resorting to the bear/twink formula. Not that I've anything against said combo, but I do like to read something different from tome to time), yet they work. I mean, not without some work, it doesn't all slip into place with no effort, but it's not overly ridiculously difficult. The (please forgive me for using this word) journey they had, from first meet to relationship, was tricky, but it felt real and not unnecessarily angsty.

I have to mention Fern, Mark's teenaged daughter. I liked her a lot. Feisty and rebellious and opinionated with a heart of gold and a strong sense of right and wrong. She's smashing, one of my favourite characters.

A fun, easy read with humour and joy. recommended - and it's released today, lucky ducks!

For more information see Goodreads.
A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

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