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(The Shamwell Tales #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,394 ratings  ·  256 reviews
A standalone Shamwell Tales story

Bow ties are cool . . . but secrets, not so much.

Behind Robert Emeny’s cheerfully eccentric exterior lies a young heart battered and bruised by his past. He’s taken a job in a village primary school to make a fresh start, and love isn’t part of his plans. But then he’s knocked for six—literally—by a chance encounter with the uncle o
Kindle Edition, Revised 2nd edition, 296 pages
Published June 4th 2017 by Riptide Publishing (first published August 19th 2014)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,394 ratings  ·  256 reviews

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Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
*2.5 stars*

I'm usually a big J.L. Merrow fan but this one was... well, boring.

I'm not an author, so at times it is hard for me to articulate what exactly I like or don't like about a story. When I think about this story, I think, "Fine... just fine...." and not much else. There was a decided lack of chemistry for me, some little bit that just never slotted together. And romance is all about the chemistry, right?

While I found the story to be pleasant, it was rife with miscommunication and secrets
Rosa, really
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of bow ties, small British towns and gingers.

And speaking of books: one of my biggest pet peeves is the Big Misunderstanding. You know, two dudes get together only for their love to be ruined by a tragic lack of communication at the 75% mark. (And it's always the 75% mark.) But never fear, dear readers, they'll remove their heads from their asses by the 90 - 95% mark and we'll all live happily ever after. Is there some writer's reference book that says the BM (heh) has to happen at 75%? Really, I'd like to know.

However, this book is by J.L
Vanessa North
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid, nice read from Merrow, who is one of my favorites. While this won't knock Muscling Through from its place of honor on my "Favorite Merrow" list, it was an enjoyable read which I could see myself re-reading.

The narrator, Robert Emeny, is a sort of uptight elementary school teacher who struck me as very likely on the autism spectrum. (he reminded me uncannily of my autistic son in multiple ways)

The love interest, Sean Grant, is a ginger (!) rat catcher whose trouble-making twin nephews ar
Mandy*reads obsessively*

“He looked dangerous and inviting, like a sleazy club on the bad side of town with a half-price drinks offer you know you’ll end up regretting in the morning.”

Robert, I love him, he wears bow ties, named his car and in typical JL Merrow fashion his inner thoughts are great and highly entertaining.

Sean, the pest control worker, motorcycle driving great brother and wonderful uncle and all around sexy hunk. He not only accepts Robert’s quirks, he finds them attractive, but he also feels like
Aug 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance-contemp
Charming read.

If you find the countryside and its diversions entertaining then there's a good chance you'll enjoy it. Two men, seemingly incongruent for each other, but really quite a good fit. One running and the other firmly rooted, they manage to make a go of it.

Robert's a bit of a sweetheart and burnt around the edges. Geeky and awkward, but earnest and well disposed. Hard not to feel some sympathy for him.

Sean is the blue collar in this mixed class relationship. Heart big enough to make yo
Jul 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What do you get when you cross a nerdy primary school teacher, a class of rambunctious 6 year olds, a rat catcher and an M/M romance? A completely entertaining, humorous and wonderful story in the unmistakable style that is JL Merrow.

Oh how I loved this book! What makes it for me is always the characters that JL Merrow portrays. How she does it is a mystery to me, but they are ALWAYS thoroughly entertaining, normal people with their quirks living in a real world. Here we have Rob Emeny. Yes I kn
Kaje Harper
Jul 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: light, m-m
J.L. Merrow writes some fun, quirky characters who are appealing and very British. Robert is shy, a little bumbling and clueless. He's been hurt somehow, and he's keeping to himself. But he's strong enough to be making a fresh start in his new job as a primary school teacher without compromising his own tastes or trying too hard to fit in.

Sean is self-confident, sweet, hot and a bit defensive about his job in pest control and his social status. He rides a motorcycle, likes kids, and is pretty p
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
J.L. Merrow just does it for me. This is very British, British which means I had to Google a bunch of terminology that I didn't understand and I loved it as I'm now adding quite a few new words into my vocab. :D

I enjoyed the story so much and all the characters (Titty, *snerk*) the contrasts between Rob and Sean worked really well for me. Although I had a lot of frustrations with Robert and some of his decisions to the point where I was ready to give up on him. He's lucky he had Rose there to gi
2.5. This went from WOOOO WOOOO to BOOO BOOOring to DNF.

Review maybe later.

3.5 stars

In Caught!, British elementary school teacher Robert Emeny is finding his way with a new start in a new school after a devastating betrayal at his previous teaching job.

This is a real slice-of-life look at how Robert fits into the new job working with much younger kids and living the small town life as an openly gay man. Well, it’s never clear if Robert is openly gay or whether it’s his fastidious manner and unique wardrobe styling that ‘outs’ him. He is adept at feeling like the ‘odd m
Sweet, sexy, and funny!

Robert was delightfully awkward. For all that blushing embarrassment, though, he had his moments of take charge confidence (on the piano bench, in bed) and that was a nice surprise. He knew what he wanted and had no problem demanding it when Sean insisted on teasing him.

Sean was such a sweetheart. And so sexy. I liked his reactions to Robert. And I really liked his kink for Robert's bow ties and suspenders (I mean "braces"!)

A lot of the humor in the story came from Rose, w
Bro. Like, 3.75 stars, maybe.

Sean sucks. I dunno. I just don't like him. He's boring. But I liked his line, "Fit is fit, innit?"
This was pretty funny. It's probably 90-100 pages too long. Rather boring bits. Some real funny bits. Merrow is hilarious. My favorite funny author, fo sho.

But, uh, yeah. Totes enjoyable. Rather funny. Beats normal misunderstanding conventions. Yet, Sean still is rather 'meh'. Also, I wanted to meet Crispin.

Aug 15, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
ETA: June 2017:
The other day I requested this book through NetGalley, having (for some unfathomable reason) forgotten I had read (and greatly disliked) this book last year. If you continue reading my review you will also wonder how I could have forgotten. I'm going to blame it on the cover, which is different for this new edition, though not nearly as attractive as the original cover. And now that I think about it, I really liked that old cover, which is about the only thing this book had going
4.0 Stars

Sweet & sexy! I really liked the small town/village setting but what stole the show here was the humor. I found myself giggling quite a bit while listening to this (and in public!) due to the mostly dry wit, but sometimes scathing observations. All the comparisons and comments about Robert's bow ties to/with many of the Doctors got a bit repetitive, but it's a solid joke and will probably appeal to Whovians. (Nine will always be my Doctor, so it wasn't as sentimental for me.) And OMG th
Chris, the Dalek King
Too tired to right a full review (plus I already reviewed the book here) so I'll just say ditto to everything I previously thought about the book, plus like two extra bonus stars for the great narration.

So I think that comes out to 6.5 stars?
I'm sure I'll be in the minority, but this one just didn't work for me. I've enjoyed a number of J.L. Merrow's books, but this was not a favorite for me.

Robert is a wonderful character and I really enjoyed him (and yes bow ties are cool), but I didn't feel a lot of chemistry between him and Sean and felt like there was more time focused on Robert and Rose's friendship than there was on Robert and Sean. There were a lot of misunderstandings between the two men and not a lot in the development of
Eli Easton
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love J.L.'s prose voice and this book was no exception. Very funny and cozy and cute. If you like humor in you romance, you must read her. Recommended. ...more
This was cute...

'Caught' was the first book in J. L. Merrow's 'Shamwell Tales' and I enjoyed listening to this on audio.

Robert's teaching at the village primary school trying to rebuild his life after losing his last teaching position and the man he thought was the love of his life. He's happy with teaching and not looking to replace the man who left him.

On the surface Sean doesn't seem to be anyone that would interest Robert and the only thing these two have in common is the fact that Se
Ije the Devourer of Books
I enjoyed this not as much as some of the other books by this author.

'Slam' and 'Muscling Through' will always be first class reads for me and although 'Caught' is good, it didn't amuse me or hold my attention as much as the other two books.

Having said this I liked the characters, especially Mr Robert Emeny who I thought was delightful. I especially enjoyed his best friend and hang out buddy Rose and of course his love interest Sean.

I enjoy 'opposites attract' stories and this was a good one w
Usually I rave about Merrow, but not on this one. There were two things that brought my rating down -and both of them are part of what I call the "I have no more patience for this list."

Merrow has enough talent that if she is going to use a misunderstanding as a plot device, then she could make it damn funny. Instead we got the usual quick-to-judge misunderstanding, followed by immaturity and stubbornness which made me frustrated, but what the hell -I already was frustrated by having what I cal
Sep 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mm-romance
Hm, even though well written, I found myself not caring very much about Robert and his secret. I kind of liked Sean, but I could not feel any real chemistry between them, and just really thought they got together since they were at the same place at the same time...
Honestly, I would rather have read about (view spoiler)
Marte - Thunderella
New book from J.L Merrow?!
(Expected publication: August 19th 2014)
If you're a fan of JL Merrow's quirky / funny characters, I think you'll rather enjoy this first book in The Shamwell Tales series.

Robert Emeny is a primary school teacher … pronounced “Mr. Enemy” by the students at St. Saviour’s School, but he is pretty much beloved by his 2E charges. He attended a very posh college and favors the sartorial splendor of a bow tie and braces. His car is a lovely Nissan Figaro named "Portia." Robert has been scarred in matters of the heart and has sworn off men f
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read with a smile on my face the whole time. It's a clever thing to create a character as consistent as Robert. His quirky nature, his unfailing gentlemanly behaviour, and his sometimes-in-the-gutter thoughts (only about Sean though) are portrayed in the most affectionate of ways.

Sean is a hero in his own quiet way. Merrow does down-to-earth blue collar types to perfection. His support of Debs and Wills and Harry (ha!) brought a lump to my throat.

I loved this lively and quick-witted sweet romanc
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bmbr-reads
Reviewed previously at Boy Meets Boy Reviews.

I'm as big JL Merrow fan, in fact she is - apparently - my most read MM author. As much as I enjoy her short stories though, it is the longer ones I really love. (FYI, The Plumbers Mate series is my favourite!) Caught was no exception to this rule. For me it had all the ingredients for a great little romance novel. Village setting - tick. Loveable characters - tick. Cute romance - tick. Enjoyable read - tick. It really was exactly the kind of book I w
I do love J L Merrow's style of writing not to mention her humour. Having a English setting is just icing on the cake for me.

This story is a delightful, light hearted tale about two guys falling in love despite their rather different backgrounds. It is full of laughter and wonderful characters, especially certain members of 2E. There is a slight mystery surrounding Rob and his former employment, and a little drama to keep things interesting, but mostly this is a sweet and funny guy meets guy sto
Mike Oaks
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
It takes a Village

Fun story dealing with class prejudice, a nasty secretary, a do-good neighbor and adorable 7 year-old kids.

The story is a bit wordy at times, but doesn’t stray too far away from forward momentum. Light on sex scenes makes it an unmistakably proper read. 4.0 for the fearsome four.
John The Cosmic Wanderer
3.8. There were things I really did not care here like Robert's friend, Rose, she was just all over the story! I Love the romance, it was subtle and very natural. Looking forward to book 2 ☺ ...more
A nice read with some humor mixed in. In the middle it dragged a bit and I was quite frustrated with Robert being always scared and fearful. He should have trusted Sean and told him about these accusations in his past.
Rose, one of the supporting characters, was great!

3.5 stars

I listened to the audio, excellently narrated by Mark Steadman.

Jun 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq
Book Reaction:
Rating: 3.5 Stars - that place between like and love
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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 contempor

Other books in the series

The Shamwell Tales (4 books)
  • Played! (The Shamwell Tales, #2)
  • Out! (The Shamwell Tales, #3)
  • Spun! (The Shamwell Tales, #4)

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