Review: J.L. Merrow – Caught (The Shamwell Tales #1)

51-RxtS9hjL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Author: J.L. Merrow
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★☆ 


You can run from the past…but the past runs faster.

Behind Robert’s cheerfully eccentric exterior lies a young heart battered and bruised by his past. He’s taken a job teaching in a village primary school to make a fresh start, and love isn’t part of his plans. But he’s knocked for six—literally—by a chance encounter with the uncle of two of his pupils.

Sean works in pest control, rides a motorbike, and lives on a council estate. On the face of it, he shouldn’t have anything in common with Robert’s bow-tie, classic-car style and posh family background. Yet Robert is helpless to resist Sean’s roguish grin, and a rocky, excruciatingly embarrassing start doesn’t keep the sparks between them from flaring.

Despite Robert’s increasingly ludicrous attempts to keep his past where it belongs, his past hasn’t read the memo. And soon his secrets could be the very things that drive Sean away for good…

Warning: Contains the alarming misadventures of a pest control technician, a stepsister with a truly unfortunate name, and a young man who may have more bow ties than sense.


This story of Robert Emeny, mid-twenties, displaced elementary school teacher, finding his way in Shamwell, a little village—not the big city he’s been used to living in—was delightful to read. JL Merrow infuses each story with humor and most certainly did a wonderful job with this one. The best part of the humor is that it comes in little everyday ways, often is self-deprecating, but more often it’s simply the author’s perspective on making something ordinary outstanding with just a bit of wordsmithing. It always adds to my enjoyment of the story.

Mr. Emeny, often referred to by his young students (and their parents) as Mr. Enemy (No, that’s Em-in-ee!) moved to Shamwell after a former student informed the Headmaster at the private boy’s school he was teaching at that Robert had made advances to him during their private tutoring sessions. It wasn’t true, but Robert’s partner at the time, Crispin, didn’t seem to care and ditched him faster than he could run. Considering he was a gym teacher, that was pretty fast and far.

Now, nursing his wounds three months later, he’s pretty content to settle down, without a man, but with his friend and fellow teacher, Rose, as his pity-party companion. Until he sees tall, handsome Sean Grant and then all worries about being alone disappear and his dreams of being with the hot leather-jacketed man take over. Sean is the uncle of twin mischief-makers in his class and often picks them up from school since their mother, his sister, is undergoing treatment for cancer and their father is not in the picture.

After quite a bit of shy fumbling and mumbling, Robert and Sean get off to a good start, before Robert’s past comes back to haunt him, sending Sean away when he catches Robert in a lie. The author builds a wonderful cast of secondary characters, most notably some of the children who were not just precocious, but exhibited typical childish behaviors that erupted in hilarious ways. I especially loved Charlie, the young boy who loved to play dolls and dress in girl’s clothing, Desiree, the all-around tough girl who was Charlie’s champion, and the twins—two little towheads who fit the role perfectly. I also loved Robert’s family and friends, Sean’s family, and of course, the crass, but always supportive, Rose.

I’m looking forward to more in this series from this very creative and humorous author and I highly recommend this one to those who enjoy MM romance, particularly stories set in rural villages in England.


Riptide Publishing 

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