With friends like these . . .
An ill-advised encounter at the office party leaves David Greenlake jobless and homeless in one heady weekend. But he quickly begs work from his ex-boss and takes a room in Shamwell with easygoing postman Rory Deamer. David doesn’t mean to flirt with the recently divorced Rory—just like he doesn’t consciously decide to breathe. After all, Rory’s far too nice for him. And far too straight.
Rory finds his new lodger surprisingly fun to be with, and what’s more, David is a hit with Rory’s troubled children. But while Rory’s world may have turned upside down in the last few years, there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s straight as a die. So he can’t be falling for David . . . can he?
Their friends and family think they know all the answers, and David’s office party hookup has his own plans for romance. Rory and David need to make up their minds and take a stand for what they really want—or their love could be over before it’s even begun.
Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m delighted to be here today as part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of Spun!, the fourth of my contemporary MM romantic comedies in the Shamwell Tales series.
Bringing the Funny
I never set out to write humour. Whether or not I’ve nevertheless achieved it is up to the individual reader’s judgement, but all I wanted to do at the outset was have fun with my writing. It wasn’t until I started to see a common thread in reviews (“Merrow’s trademark humour”; “JL Merrow brings the funny” etc) that I realised that hey, other people were having fun with it too. Which, obviously, leads to fun squared, and a very happy author. 🙂
I grew up reading all sorts of funny books. The late, great, Sir Terry Pratchett is, of course, my idol—there is nothing he didn’t know about comic timing*—and another early influence was Douglas Adams.
I discovered The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the library at an early age and proceeded to annoy my poor mother mightily by reading out choice lines whenever she was trying to get on with something else. Who could forget the classic, “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way as bricks don’t”, a line that on one level, tells you nothing at all, but on another, is a fantastically evocative bit of description?
It’s probably not surprising that both Pratchett and Adams were British, as of course was another great influence of mine, PG Wodehouse. Not that I don’t appreciate the humour of other countries, but there’s just something about the dry, erudite and/or absurd wit of my fellow islanders that speaks to my dyed-in-the-wool British soul.
Wodehouse is best known these days for the Jeeves and Wooster books, which spawned the delightful TV series starring an exquisitely young Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (okay, I may possibly be showing my age here). He also wrote an immense number of other books, many of them romances featuring plucky young ladies, empty-headed sons of the aristocracy, irascible older relatives, and pigs. (Although the latter generally didn’t feature in the romance bit). All of them sparkled with his gentle, literary humour:
“Freddie experienced the sort of abysmal soul-sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoy’s Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day’s work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city’s reservoir, he turns to the cupboards, only to find the vodka bottle empty.” ― P.G. Wodehouse, The Best of Wodehouse: An Anthology
For me, letting an idea run away with me, or playing with words a bit, is half the fun of writing. Both Wodehouse and Pratchett were masters at taking an idea and running with it all the way to absurdity and back.
“If complete and utter chaos was lightning, then he’d be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting ‘All gods are bastards!” Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic
I also loved Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole books, starting with The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾. Adrian is an adorably unreliable narrator. Much of the comedy comes from his confident (and hilariously mistaken) pronouncements about everything from politics to his parents’ tangled love lives.
“I have never seen a dead body or a female nipple. This is what comes from living in a cul de sac.” – Sue Townsend, The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole.
Terry Pratchett has said that writing is the most fun anyone can have by themselves. I’d tend to agree, but I’d add that probably the best thing about writing is connecting with readers. Laughter (this is the science bit) is a social mechanism that reinforces bonding within a group, so there’s something very special about sharing a joke with a reader.
I hope you’ll enjoy the humour in Spun!—and if you do, I’d love to hear from you! And if you’ve got an all-time favourite funny book, why not share it/a quote in the comments?
*or, indeed, most other aspects of comedy. Sir Perry, I kiss your rod**.
**This is by no means as rude as it sounds.
Okay, I will say this quickly to get it out of the way…I have never read a JL Merrow book before (I know, right?) and I am feeling like such a (as the author may put it) “silly git” for it. How have I never read anything by this author?
I decided to do this one on a whim. Merely because I was interested in seeing what the fuss was in this series being re-released and additional work added, as well. I still haven’t read Books 1-3, although I will endeavour to correct that as soon as possible. But wow, this was a lot of fun!
The reader, if not from the UK, needs to be willing to enjoy all the local dialect, and just hope you can get it all in context. There is a ton of that dialect, but it isn’t difficult to suss out most of the meanings, and if you have your UK dictionary downloaded into your kindle, you are golden!
There was so many fun aspects of this book. It was lighthearted, not angsty in the least, although I have to say I was anxious for these two men to get themselves together as a couple! A very slow burn this was, but with small children in the picture, and tons of exes hanging around, it was bound to happen.
David was such a doll! He had such a sweet temperament, and throwing out all his French endearments, as well as seeing his devotion to Gregory made him a character I wanted to know, in person. I wanted to meet David, and hang out with him, whether it was watching “the telly” or trying to cook dinner with him. His love of spending time with Rory’s children was wonderful to read. He truly adored those kids, before he even realized he was in love with their father.
Meanwhile Rory, what a gentle man. He really just wanted everyone to be happy, himself last. He never wanted to make waves, never to fight too hard. Yet he loved, it was so obvious how much he loved those around him, David included. He loved his time with his children, and cherished that time, and those kids as precious, even if he had to cancel time with someone else for them. He was meant to be a father, and a caregiver.
David and Rory together seemed to hit the perfect team. David, being more “worldly”, could easily have looked down on his new postman landlord, for his time with his bigoted mate, or his manner of speech, yet he never did. He always respected Rory. Rory was no different, always showing tremendous respect for David. They worked together on everything, and it showed their joy in spending time together, and with the kids.
What I enjoyed the most though was the enjoyment they found in each other. Cracking little flirting jokes, spending time learning to cook (and burn things) together, finding their way into a comfortable loving place.
I enjoyed JL Merrow’s writing, the subtle English humor, and venturing into learning what family can look like for two men who didn’t realize they were looking for a family in each other. Looking at JL Merrow’s backlist, I believe I could be spending a lot of time catching up with everything happening across the aisle. And I’ll enjoy every minute of it.
4 pieces of eye candy
About the Shamwell Tales
Welcome to Shamwell! A sleepy rural village in Hertfordshire, England, it’s the perfect place to move to for a little peace and quiet—or at least, you’d think so. But as a succession of newcomers to the village find, there’s more going on in these idyllic surroundings than cricket matches on the common and pints of ale in the local pubs.
As a place where everyone’s connected to everyone else, Shamwell’s rife with mishaps, mayhem, and misunderstandings—and the path of true love is no smoother than the ancient stone walls of the parish church.
Each contemporary romantic comedy in this series stands alone, but all feature a cast of characters drawn from Shamwell and its surroundings.
Check out the Shamwell Tales, available from Riptide Publishing!
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.
She writes (mostly) contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy, and several of her books have been EPIC Awards finalists, including Muscling Through, Relief Valve (the Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) and To Love a Traitor.
JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
Connect with JL:
To celebrate the release of Spun!, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 8, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!