Out (Shamwell Tales Book 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.


Mark is a single father who has recently taken his teen-aged daughter and moved from the busy city of London to live in the country in order to “be there for her” in a more meaningful way. One way he tries to ensure that is to remain in the closet.

He joins a local social club for men 25-45 in order to be part of the community and meets Patrick. Patrick is 25 and out and proud. Though Mark hasn’t ever had a relationship (or sex with) a man, he knows he’s gay and he’s immensely attracted to Patrick.

Patrick knows Mark is attracted to him and though he’s not usually attracted to someone so much older than him, he can’t help but be charmed by the social ineptitude that is Mark.

The two dance around each other for a long, long, long time and then – ironically with the blessing of Mark’s daughter, finally begin a relationship.


I love JL Merrow and count many of her books (ie Muscling Through) as my all time favorites. This one is very dry, full of humor, light on steam and very British.

Though I usually love the British slang and usually have no issues with it, I had a hard time keeping up with it this time.

I also had a hard time getting invested in Mark and Patrick as a couple. They don’t really even get involved until most of the way through the book and though it is cute and sweet, I can’t really say they’ll be there together forever. At best it’s a HFN for these guys.

The writing is excellent and Mark’s self-discovery is probably the most important and well-done aspect of this story, but it didn’t set my heart a-flutter.

So… for me… it was … fun. Nice. But not great.

I liked it, but I didn’t love it. If you’re in the mood to laugh and smile and watch a man discover himself – this is your book. If you want firey romance and heat and burning declarations of love – not so much.

3 of 5 stars

Copy Generously Provided by NetGalley for Honest Review

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