Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a just-released M/M romance form JL Merrow. OUT! is a contemporary romance that features a mature divorced man getting his new life started, with a hot young boyfriend. Oh, and his daughter’s there to take him down a peg, or three.
About the book:
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.
This is the third book in a series but can be fully enjoyed as a standalone.
Mark is a 39 y/o closeted gay man, who is recently divorced from his wife and assumed custody of their 14 y/o daughter Fen. His ex-wife is the only one he’s told of his sexuality, and he thinks he’s been canny enough that no one will suspect. He’s given up his lucrative career as a tax advisor (one of those blokes who tells the uberwealthy where to hide their money from the taxman) and moved out of London into Shamwell, a countryside village that is the location of all books in this series.
Mark hasn’t had regular contact with Fen in a long time. Even when he lived with her, he was basically a workaholic and hardly saw her. He has fond memories of her being a doting child and immediately thinks he can quell her spate of rebelliousness–that which got her expelled from her school–by installing her in a private school in Shamwell. Oh, poor deluded father. Fen has no trouble giving dear old absentee dad the raw side of her tongue. Or, well, the silent-but-haughty treatment. Don’t get the wrong idea about Fen, she’s aces.
Patrick is a 25 y/o aid worker who is well-out as bisexual, and still gets along mighty well with the locals in a men’s social group, the Spartans Society. He meets Mark when Mark shows up for the club, and begins going out with the group. Patrick’s drawn to Mark, but Mark puts him off. He doesn’t want to tip Fen off about his sexuality. (Oh, poor deluded father!!) Funny thing, Fen KNOWS all about Daddy Dearest, even if he doesn’t wish it so.
I adored how addled Mark was regarding being a parent. I guess I thought he had it coming to him, on account of being a bit pompous and overconfident and still endearingly oblivious. He felt like he was so slick, and so savvy and this 14 y/o girl thwarted him, and befuddled him, and figured him out and played him, by turns. In truth, Patrick owes that girl a life-debt, as she was the one who not only addressed her father’s closet full of skeletons, she pushed her father to find a new partner. Fen, for herself, wants a stable family. And she doesn’t care if she has two dads in her home. At all. Turns out two of the people she most bonds to in the book are Mark’s flamboyant gay former-assistant, and Lex the genderfluid assistant to Patrick.
There’s some issue issues between Patrick and Mark regarding Mark’s former job as a tax (cheat’s) advisor. This has to do with social services in England, and the lack of them when people don’t pay their taxes. It was a very minor part of the story. I liked it for my own self, mostly because I’m rather sanctimonious about people paying their “fair share”, but I doubt that’s the case for every reader. That said, its a SMALL part of the narrative and the one part that Patrick’s mother–a bit of “tarty” lady who disapproves of her son’s choice in partner–actually tries to smooth over.
There isn’t too much heat here. There were a few frustrating interrupted trysts and false-starts (for the characters and myself) Every time Mark and Patrick seem to get things rolling there’s an interruption–for the first two-thirds of the book. That said, I liked the book a lot. It’s funny and smart and I loved that Fen was so great a kid. That girl has a right head on her shoulders. I did really like Patrick, and I liked how Mark had to really grow up, and become the adult he’d rather been playing at his whole life.
About the Author:
She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through was a 2013 EPIC Award finalist, and her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy. Her novel Relief Valve is a finalist in the 2015 EPIC Awards.
JL Merrow is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!