Thursday, December 31, 2015

ARC Review: Out! by J.L. Merrow

Out! (Shamwell Tales, #3)Blurb:

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.

My rating:

This book, 3rd in the Shamwell Tales series, can be read as a standalone, and no prior knowledge of the previous books is required.

It's a comedy of errors, false starts, and false assumptions between somewhat stuffy ex-accountant/tax advisor Mark (39), who's recently moved to Shamwell with his teenage daughter, and Patrick (25), who works for the local charity SHARE. They first meet over a pint or five, when Mark joins the Spartans, the local club of men from 25 to 45.

Patrick isn't sure Mark is gay, Mark is sure he is, but doesn't want to be out because he's afraid of how his teenage daughter will react. There's also an ex-wife who's portrayed as a bit of a hag, understandably so, because after years of marriage, Mark came out to her and they divorced. Rounding out the cast of characters are Mark's ex-PA David, who's a wee bit on the flamboyant side and hopes to have a chance with Mark, Patricks's mum, and Fen/Florence, who's Mark's daughter.

The book is really well-written, engaging, with a nicely flowing plotline. The author does a fantastic job describing the challenges Mark faces when dealing with a mostly grumpy teenage girl who's been plucked from her normal life to suddenly live with dear old dad, lusting after Patrick but afraid to make a move, fending off David's advances with somewhat hilarious results, preparing for the Spartan induction ceremony, participating in a fundraiser run and failing, and the repeated misunderstandings, false assumptions, and interruptions that are plaguing his relationship with Patrick.

I also commend the author for including Lex, a character of undetermined gender, who is accurately referred to as "they", and who's a good friend to Patrick, and then Fen as well. They're not one to mince words, fiercely loyal, and get a sweet love story of their own.

This book has some subplots, too, but they all work out nicely, and the author really brings it all together in the end. Loved the Brit speak in this too - nice to spend some time in the Old Country, haha. Well done, dear author, well done!

A fabulous book, no doubt. I must now go get the others in this series. And y'all need to get reading this when it comes out. Absolutely worth it!

** I was given a free ARC of this book by the author's assistant. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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