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Hard Tail

(Southampton Stories #2)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,306 ratings  ·  294 reviews
"Finding love can be a bumpy ride. "

His job: downsized out of existence. His marriage: on the rocks. It doesn t take a lot of arm twisting for Tim Knight to agree to get out of London and take over his injured brother s mountain bike shop for a while. A few weeks in Southampton is a welcome break from the wreck his life has become, even though he feels like a fish out of w
ebook, 248 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
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Showing 1-30
3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,306 ratings  ·  294 reviews

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Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: various-romance
Wonderful story with all the qualities I love in an m/m romance. When we meet Tim he is newly separated, lost his job and about to move to a small English town to take over his injured brother's bicycle shop. The only other employee is Matt, a lovable bike-repairer with a frightening secret. Gradually, small town life and Matt's charms set Tim on a new path, albeit with a few obstacles on the way.

Engaging characters, intelligent and funny dialogue, great sense of place, and a very satisfying slo
Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: m-m, contemporary
Tim Knight used to be an ordinary middle-class accountant for a Mill Hill, London firm. He had a wife, a BMW, a mortgage on his house, and his most daring activity consisted in winning a black belt in karate. His life may be a bit unexciting, but Tim is contented with keeping a low profile. He never caused his family any sorrow. Very unlikely his older brother Jay, who from his earliest years broke his bones on a regular basis and went on a self-discovery trip to Goa before opening a bike shop i ...more
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
*3.5 stars*

Fluffy, British cuteness alert!

What a nice easy read. This was just what I needed. A closeted, gangly gay-virgin with a crush on a bike-loving boy... sounds like heaven!

Though this story was for sure on the lighter side, there were some more serious plot points surrounding Matt's asshat boyfriend, Steve. I wanted to pull out my old field hockey stick and bang Steve in the nads, he was that big of a suckfest. Despite the Steve issue, this book managed to stay humorous, light, and fully
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
There's been a debate going on since last night between 3 and 4 Stars. Neither side is willing to give in, stubborn stars! I'm going to let them continue to battle it out and see who comes out on top.
Well, it seems after two days of getting nowhere, Wolverine became impatient and irritated and decided to take matters into his own paws. 3 Stars has been stomped on and flicked into the corner to keep 5 Stars company, they are now tending each others wounds. It wasn't pretty but 4 Stars w
Cole Riann
4.5 stars

Stunning Cover!!

I'm not up to a full review right now, but I really enjoyed this story that was smooth reading. The characters were great, the antagonist in all his glory didn't spin over the top into incredulity (unlike many books I've read lately, where somehow a skirmish always becomes a war and a feminine man is always the flamiest flaming queen ever seen). It's really a simple story about coming to terms with your sexuality and domestic abuse, but what makes it special are the char
Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
4,5 stars

Fabulous review from Feliz here.
There`s not much left to be said...

Loved this funny coming-out-late story with likeable MCs and a lively cast of secondary characters with two and four legs.
I especially liked that the funniness wasn`t overbearing and slapstick-y but left enough breathing space for more serious undertones.
The romance was a slow burner thanks to Tim`s indecisive sandbag-personality and that made me itchy to the point I went searching for a needle to speed things up but it
Julio Genao
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
Good-hearted, and very, very Anglo.

Lenore's review sums up my thoughts perfectly, especially as relates to the dodgy particulars of the MC's sexuality, and the timidity of the sex scenes.

I had my doubts about this one, no mistake. But before long artfully juxtaposed characters grew on me, even if the plot didn't, and by the end I found myself smirking and tut-tutting like an old lady.

This was my first Merrow book. Her ability to craft a credible and appealing narrative voice is really very spec
Ye gods and little fishes! This was so refreshing!

It's first person POV but I loved Tim's voice. It was funny and witty with the right amount of self-sarcasm. And so damn British. He had me literally at fist page; when he said Matt went "well-shaped arse over tit".

Matt was an OK character. A little thin on substance but OK. Adam though? What a show-stealer! I caught myself wanting to read more about him and less about Tim and Matt.
The remaining characters, Kate, Jay, Olivia (I liked her!), Tim
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it

Sometimes we need to completely step out of our comfortable surroundings and day to day routines to really see ourselves again. To see what we are missing in life.

Confession time. It was the accent that got me. Haha…That ‘ole British charm swept me right off my feet! The language, country side, foods, and more yanked me right into this world from page one. Every lad, silly sod or bloke who was rubbish at this or that, went arse over tit, or had a bit of a barney with his mate brought a smile to
4.5 stars.

Great reviews from Sims and Feliz not much more I can add.....

Wolverine is the best feline character ever! Tim's personal bodyguard with claws ready at the most opportune moment what perfect timing, I was cheering Wolverine on to victory with that most brilliant and hilarious act it was pure gold! Wonderful, lovable lead characters in Tim and Matt who were both endearing and sweet I was desperate for them to admit their feelings for each other and get on with the loving. It has a slow
Gennie Gee
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I wasn’t sure what to expect of Hard Tail by J.L. Merrow, but as I like several other books by this author, I decided to give it a shot. I am very happy I did! As always with this English author, the main characters are lovable and quirky and the secondary characters are compelling and push the story forward.

This story is told from Tim’s point of view. For most of his life Tim’s been in the closet because it was just easier to be “normal” than make waves. Tim’s world collapses around him at t
Nikyta *Miss Forgetful*
This was a cute, funny read. I enjoyed it a lot.

Tim is the type of guy that is so deeply in the closet people think he's homophobic because he gets flustered and snappish over the simplest of words hinting at homosexuals. It's cute in a way. I enjoyed the struggle Tim went through after his life gets pretty much turned upside down and he starts to get uncontrollable feelings for a friend of his brother's. I loved, loved, loved how much of an adorable klutz Matt was. Every time Matt was in a sce
3.5 stars
Many have said their piece about this story, so I don't have a lot to add.

Written from Tim's perspective, it is his "journey" from a guy whose job just made redundant and a wife who left him for another man, to accepting his "gay" nature and finding love along the way. The romance is (very) slowly built, because Tim's love interest, Matt, is in a relationship when this story starts, and Tim still struggles to acknowledge his feeling for Matt. In fact, their first approach doesn't happe
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mm-romance
As usual with this author, I quickly fell in love with all characters, human as well as feline, and it was a pleasure to read. Not too light, but it did not get super-angsty. It was really a feel-good read that I will return to in times of need:-)
Occasionally I had the feeling that I missed reading some chapters, since things between (view spoiler)
3.5 Stars! J.L Merrow always makes me smile; her stories are fun, witty, credible and very British.

She is one of only a handful of author's I know that can get away the first person present tense POV, and that says a lot because I usually toss this format over my shoulder and run for the hills. Somehow she makes it work every time.

Tim Knight is the very English voice of the story and he’s a likable guy; he is middle class, passive, kind of vulnerable (?), witty and pretty chilled out really, e
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it

With a few exceptions I loved this story. It was cute and funny with just a hint of angst. The development of Matt and Tim’s relationship was slow which made it perfect. While the story is told with Tim’s POV it was Matt that had me enthralled, right from his first klutzy entrance into the bike shop I knew he would be the character I would end up loving the most. I figured out early on what the drama in his life was I couldn’t help but want to be there for him. I liked Tim’s character when he wa
Kaje Harper
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: m-m
4.5 stars. A very engaging story about a man whose marriage has come to an end and who finds he feels mostly relief. Then he encounters the bike-mechanic at his brother's shop, and realizes that he has found a reason to acknowledge his sexuality and maybe come out of his closet. The fact that the mechanic already has a boyfriend with whom he lives complicates the process.

I enjoyed following the narrator, Tim, as he describes his tentative journey towards the man he was meant to be, and Matt is a
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary, m-m, romance
The story centres around Tim, who, after his wife leaves him for another man, moves temporarily from London to Totton, a small town on the edge of the New Forest to look after his brother's bike shop whilst his brother is in hospital with a broken leg. The other worker in the shop is Matt, who assembles and mends bikes. Matt's a nice guy but awfully clumsy and Tim finds himself attracted to Matt. Unfortunately Matt's already taken and, besides, Tim isn't sure he's ready to tell everyone that he' ...more
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, m-m
I enjoyed this book. It was a sweet romance and I really like those. I've always enjoyed Merrow's voice, really natural and great characterizations.

I liked Tim's journey a lot and how he found his place full circle.

He has an interesting family and a kickass cat in Wolverine. I love, love, loved Matt. Sweet, klutzy, vegetarian Matt. How could he not fall for this guy?

If I could say anything it would be that I wish we could see more of them as a couple. There was sweet tension throughout the boo
Mar 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Candice by: Simsala
Shelves: contemporary, furball
While I thought that the story started out slow in the beginning, it seemed to pick up the pace later on for me. I found the characters in this story quirky in their own way, but with a uniqueness that made me enjoy them for the most part. Especially loved Wolverine and strangely look forward to wanting to read more about him. While I did find the story a bit predictable, it was still an enjoyable read.
Mandy*reads obsessively*
Enjoyable story that started off slow and stayed that way for a while. I was glad when it finally moved along a bit.
I liked the mother/Olivia turnaround, and Wolverine is the best!
Matt and Tim are nice guys and despite the storyline it wasn't too angsty or drama infested, thank goodness.
All in all I enjoyed this nicely flowing story.
Emma Sea
An enjoyable, if predictable, piece of fluff. Nothing like as good as Muscling Through or even Pricks and Pragmatism
This is a well written romance with quirky real characters that take a while to fall in love because you know real life.

I don't love coming out stories but this one works for me with a quirky hero and the slow burn. There are all kinds of twists and turns here and the bike shop setting is great.

There is an awesome cat and humor as well as the ache of living.

Good stuff!
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was a very funny one. It was a bit light on the story content (except the bit with Matt's boyfriend) and Jay but it was a fun to read.

It was a nice filler book in anticipation of two back to back Buddy Reads with my TPAM Group lovelies... :)
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mm-romance
Great page turner that had me staying up super late so I could finish it all in one sitting sleep be damned.

This book gets 5 stars not only for its entertaining story and characters but also for the great reference to the show "Sherlock" and the "purple shirt of sex." Really, if you want me to love your book just let me know that the main character resembles Sherlock in this hot outfit.

Told for 1st person POV, Tim's voice is witty, funny and adorably self-deprecating. You will love Matt from the
Another winner from J L Merrow.

Tim is such a wonderful character, both entertaining with a hint of vunerability. His thought process kept me chuckling out loud.

Matt was wonderfully insecure at times but totally adorable and as for Wolverine, he deserves every scrap of tuna LOL.

Definitely going on my favorites. A well rounded story with great characters, and humour.
I really liked the build up to the romance the author provided. My favorite character? Wolverine the cat. Just hilarious. It was the right amount of angst, drama and hilarity. I definitely recommend to anyone who's a fan of really good 'gay-for-you'
Interesting and humorous journey out of the closet.

It was the lovely cover and suggestive title that initially drew me to this story. Two very good bits of marketing. However, ‘Hard Tail’ turned out to be just an ok read for me. While some would call this a gently unfolding romance, it was too slow moving, especially in the first half which felt a bit like watching paint dry.

There were some funny moments and the British colloquialisms and bike talk added color:

“Oh, it was just bad luck. I was trying to do an Ollie over a park bench, and it went
Shirley Frances
Great characters and storyline. I enjoyed Tim's voice - he was funny, sarcastic, but with a great heart. Matt was adorable and my heart went to him immediately. I liked that they didn't get together right away and that after all his doubt Tim went ahead and came out mailny because he didn't want to hide his relationship with Matt.

The interactions between Tim and Matt were entertaining and helped me believe their relationship would be great once it started. I would have liked to know more about w
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JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contempora

Other books in the series

Southampton Stories (2 books)
  • Pricks and Pragmatism (Southampton Stories #1)
“I gave the wretched beast a look that said plainly I’ll deal with you later.
He flicked his tail at me, cat-speak for Do I look like I’m bothered?”
“Feeling inspired, I grabbed one of Jay’s cookbooks from the kitchen shelf and flicked through until I found a recipe for something I recognised. Lasagna. That was just pasta, and pasta was easy, right? Trying not to be put off by the list of ingredients longer than my small intestine, I scanned the instructions. Chop onions… I could do that. Brown mince…trickier but manageable. Probably. Make a roux in the usual way… I sighed, shut the book with a snap and went off to make dinner in my usual way: pierce film; bung in microwave; wait for bell.” 5 likes
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