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Caught! (The Shamwell Tales)

Caught! (The Shamwell Tales) [Kindle Edition]

JL Merrow
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

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

Shamwell Tales, Book 1

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 612 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (19 Aug 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00K1WUBG0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,730 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

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 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 contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through was a 2013 EPIC Award finalist, and her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy.

JL Merrow is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online at:, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it. Good fun to read 21 Aug 2014
By T ann
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There are longer reviews already here so I won't do another - I will just say that I loved it. Simple enough plot - posh public school man and down to earth rat catcher from a council estate meet. The great is because JL Merrow has excelled here with witty funny writing that has you chuckling away constantly. It's a simple joy to read for a light hearted spell in the depths of the English countryside.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bow ties and braces. 4 Sep 2014
By PaulW5
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It made me smile; it made me chuckle; it made me laugh out loud. The first person narrative allowed me to get right into the mind of the hapless Robert Emany, a slightly snobbish young fogey, who nonetheless has a kind heart and comes across as a good school teacher. The way he handles some of the difficult kids, and in particular the way he deals with the father who is concerned about his son's emerging sexuality, is spot on. I was just a little uneasy about the bi-sexuality of rat-catcher Sean. There has been much research in recent years into the genetic and in-utero drivers of male sexuality, as well as the development of reliable and objective ways of measuring male sexual orientation. One of the findings has been that men who self-identify as bi-sexual, for whatever reason, when objectively tested nearly always register a strong innate preference one way or the other. But this is a novel, a work of fiction, not a scientific paper. It is a well crafted entertaining read and has got me wondering if bow ties and braces could add an extra spice to my own bedroom activities.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Charming and Light-Hearted 14 Sep 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
JL Merrow is fast selling me on first person POV stories, which is no mean feat in my case. I think the key is that Merrow delivers very believable, rounded characters whose 'voices' ring true. Robert Emeny is certainly an unusual man, brought up 'posh' but knowing poverty, fastidious and slightly obsessive, fond of bow ties, and unfortunately carrying a heavy secret. He's come to the small town of Shamwell to teach and escape his past, but when he catches the eye of a local man, Sean, his plans to stay under the radar start to disappear.

This is a charming and very 'British' novel, a satisfying read curled up with a cup of tea. I'm taking it from the sub-title ('The Shamwell Tales') that this is a universe the author intends to re-visit, and I'd certainly be keen to read a follow-up.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars English humour and village life at its best! 21 Aug 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Robert aka Rob aka Mr. Emeny aka Mr. Enemy aka Emsy is the unlikely main character of this fantastically funny story by Jamie Merrow. Unlikely because although young he acts older, he is posh, unworldly, eccentric, and unsure and wears bow ties all the time. I kept thinking Matt Smith’s Dr Who. He’s a bit of a buffoon in fact and it did take a while for me to warm to him because of his many eccentricities. However, what I didn’t take into account was his beautiful heart and the hilarity that seems to follow him. He is now the very clever teacher at the local Shamwell primary school teaching 6 and 7 year olds.

The other main protagonist and love interest is Sean is a rat-catcher from the local council estate and stand in father for his sister’s two ginger twins, Wills and Harry. Just the names the author has given these two seven year olds should have warned me I would be snorting and laughing a lot. Sean is a lovely character, but I took a while to warm to him and I think it might have been snobbery on my part! I hate to admit it, but the fact he didn’t pronounce words correctly and lived on a council estate influenced me and shocked me. Luckily J.L. Merrow takes no prisoners in her battle to have you fall for her characters and fall I did.

For instance a seemingly innocent text exchange between Rose, his teacher friend, and Robert, which sums up their differences in such a funny way,

"Mission accomplished. Badgers @ 8 tonight.

Her reply was somewhat cryptic: TFIF. Jst rmmbr: YOLO.

I sent back: Translation, please?

Her response wasn’t much better. Lrn txtspk, FFS. DDAIWD.

I gave up.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adored it 19 Aug 2014
By CCDuke - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
4.5 Stars ~
"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."

I can honestly say that J.L. Merrow is an author I very much enjoy. I've read a number of her other works and they are funny and sweet and sometimes downright hysterical. I love British humor so that might have something to do with it. When I read the blurb for 'Caught!', I knew I had to read it. What could possibly be funnier than some of the antics which primary age children get up to? Then the disparity in the description of the main characters made me eager to see where the author would take me.

Robert is delightfully sweet, charming, posh, and, a little eccentric. He's got some quirks, that's for sure. Like counting the number of ducks at the river each time he passes it. Robert wears tweed and bow ties, and has a pair of shoes for each of his sporting events. Sean is the uncle of the "terrible twins", is a ginger, rides a motorcycle, wears leather, and has a rakish grin. Sean is a pest control technician. For someone like Robert, visions of dirty hands run rampant through his mind when he first learns this. Of course, as seems to be normal with Robert, his and Sean's first date-that-isn't-a-date, Robert screws up big time and miscommunication occurs.

It was impossible for me not to crush on Robert. He's just so cute, and sweet, and he can totally bumble around, and he knows pretty much every line from Doctor Who, and he's not got a lot of confidence. I mean, what's not to love? He's hiding a bit of his past, too, which is never a good thing, particularly when you're starting a relationship. Sean is bisexual which worries Robert just a little. Sean's sister, the twins' mother, is very sick with cancer so there's some definite family stressors happening. It should all be easy, but Robert and Sean's relationship is far from that. Not when Robert's past comes looking for him.

I absolutely adored this book. Besides the love story between Robert and Sean, it was really nice to see the way Robert got attached to his students and really became a member of this small village. He went there to run away and, instead, he found exactly what he needed. The secondary characters, namely Rose, Wills, Harry, Charlie, and Desiree, were fantastic and really added to the story. Robert and Sean are wonderful together and, overall, this is a gentle story with a little drama involving two delightful men. I can easily recommend this because it'll be a for sure reread for me.

NOTE: This book was provided by Samhain Publishing for the purpose of a review on Rainbow Book Reviews.
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings 3.5 19 Sep 2014
By Darcy Thornton - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I think the main reason for my mixed feelings is that I just wasn't 100% on board with Rob Emeny. He was fussy, maybe slightly OCD, and a bit haughty, but I could have lived with these traits if he wasn't always dithering about something, most especially about Sean. He had his charms, don't get me wrong- I loved his bow ties, his very precise accounting of time and anything numbers related, his quirks- but I didn't like that he seemed to create more 'situations' by not being more forthright about things than he should. I mean, even the first time Rose sets him up to meet Sean at the wine bar, he purposefully misreads her intention that Sean is for himself, assumes Rose is setting the meet for herself in a roundabout way, then messes that up, but rather than explain the misunderstanding to Sean, he dithers about it and Sean leaves. Whatever, I'm frustrated just recounting it. Having said this, though, Rob isn't all bad. He does redeem himself a bit by the end of the story, and he and Sean are cute together (when there isn't a misunderstanding to get through).

The other issue, for me, is that every conversation and thought seemed laden with quips and entendres (ie) in the beginning portions of the story. It took me a while to get into the rhythm of it. It's not that it's British either, as I'm an anglophile at heart and I fully appreciate British authors (Harper Fox anyone?). It just seemed like they (Rob and Rose in particular) never had a normal conversation. Rather than being clever, it was just annoying after a while. I both liked Rose, and was exasperated with her. At times, I asked myself, do people talk like this ALL THE TIME? I know, it's me, but I couldn't help the way I felt as I was reading.

I loved that neither MC had familial issues being gay; bi, in Sean's case. In fact they had full love and support on both sides. I loved the brief glimpse of Peter, Rob's step father, that we get, and how NOT a wicked one he is. Refreshing. I also liked the portrayal of Rob's students and some of their parents. The conversation between Rob & young Charlie's dad was sweet in its way, and not what you'd expect from his dad going by appearances. Destinee's mom was also colorful. These bits were good.

My sort of lackluster/mixed reaction to Rob is really one of personal preference. I'm just not crazy about ditherers, but he was multi-faceted enough to redeem himself to a degree by the end of the story.

Cute story w/ some minor annoyances for this reviewer ;)
5.0 out of 5 stars One can only hope that this is the beginning of a brilliant series. 1 Sep 2014
By Ulysses Dietz - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

By J.L. Merrow

Five stars

Oh, lord, I do hope this is the beginning of a great series. I am a particular fan of JL Merrow, and relish the very British richness of her settings, her language and her characters. Not every one of her books gets a prize, but this one is a real winner.

Now, this was recommended to me by friends who know two things about me: (1) I almost only wear bow ties, every day, to work (for over 30 years); (2) I have an obsession with gingers. Lots of red hair in my family, and my only regret in life is that I don't have it myself.

But these were only the excuses to read this book.

There are two things Merrow brings to this book that run rather deeper than the gentle, sweet romance at its core. First, there is a fascinating thread dealing with class. Americans don't truly understand class any more. After 300 some years we've finally lost sight of what actual class is, and have confused it with race and money and celebrity. Class consciousness, is, of course, not entirely a good thing, because it divides and excludes.

That’s one point made in “Caught!” The private-school-educated Robert Emeny, with his elegant accent and bow ties, is from a different world than Sean Grant, the rough-and-tumble ginger rat-catcher with his motorcycle and leather jacket. But, with Merrow’s deft management, we begin to see that true intelligence can be far more attractive than a “good” family, and there are many ways to be a gentle man. Notions of class in the UK have softened a great deal since the days of Jane Austen, but they’ve not disappeared entirely. Merrow makes good use of contemporary nuances of class in the same kind of setting that Jane Austen grappled with the same issues two centuries ago.

The other thoughtful thread woven through the text is that of bisexuality—something that generally gets treated in a purely romantic way in most books. Interestingly, Sean Grant is not the only bisexual man in “Caught!” Robert’s uncertainty about having a relationship with a bisexual is echoed with almost comic timing in his prep-school classmate Malcolm Fordham, a onetime friend-with-benefits who has gone on to get married and sire a child. Once again, without being remotely ham-fisted, Merrow opens our minds a bit to let some fresh air in, while having her characters cope with things that many of us don’t think about.

As in all of Merrow’s best books, “Caught!” is full of humor, from smiles to quiet giggles to laugh-out-loud moments. Robert Emeny (whose name is a running joke throughout) is a classic British fusspot. But while he might be finicky and slightly OCD, he’s also sexy and smart, and can laugh at his own foibles. His best teacher friend, Rose, is a warm and familiar character, acting as a sounding board for Robert’s anxieties. She manages to be both wise and vulnerable, needing Robert’s generous heart as much as he needs hers.

As a final comment, I’d simply like to point out that Robert Emeny is very good with children. He has run away from a posh secondary school (the reason for which is part of the plot) to teach little ones at a church-affiliated village school. Nothing much is ever made of it, directly, but as a parent, I was watching carefully. Not once does he make a false step with either his seven-year-old charges or their motley crew of parents. This is an extremely important point, but one which Merrow allows us to absorb on our own. I’d only like to call attention to the scene between Robert and the factory-worker father of one of his pupils, a sensitive little boy he calls Young Charlie. It is one of the sweetest, most touching scenes I’ve read in a long time. It could be the start of a whole spinoff novel.

And, with that in mind, I have to say I hope Ms. Merrow will produce the next of the Shamwell novels post haste.

There are two things Merrow brings to this book that run rather deeper than the gentle, sweet romance at its core. First, there is a fascinating thread dealing with class. Americans don't truly understand class any more. After 300 some years we've finally lost sight of what actual class is, and have confused it with race and money and celebrity. Class, is, of course, not entirely a good thing, because it divides and excludes
4.0 out of 5 stars Merrow, Queen of MM British Humor 29 Aug 2014
By Rosa, really - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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 bottoms 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. Merrow, not only the author of many enjoyable novels but the author of the book that made me an MM reader, "Muscling Through." Her writing style and very British humor means I can forgive just about anything. (Isn't that nice of me?)

It also helps that she sets up the BM -- okay, I can no longer call it that -- she sets up the Big Misunderstanding so convincingly. MC Robert has a bad break-up and a secret in his past that I don't blame him for not wanting to share. His love interest, Sean (a motorcycle riding GINGER), also has trust issues. You can see their blow-up coming from 800 miles away (or from 0 - 74%) but it feels natural when it happens.

Even if it wasn't convincing, Merrow makes up for it with some really cute characters. Did I mention the motorcycle-riding, ginger-haired Sean whose eyes crinkle in the corners when he smiles? So hot. Even better is Robert, who's rather formal and feels naked without a bow tie. On their first date he decides to live dangerously and wear a regular tie.

"Now, how to tie it? A full Windsor would clearly be too ostentatious. A four in hand, though safe, might imply a lack of care. A half Windsor? That just screamed boring. Ah! I had it. The Prince Albert. Debonair, yet with a touch of individuality. Perfect."

I have no idea what any of those knots would look like, or even if you call them knots, but Robert is freakin' adorable.

There's also Rose, Robert's BFF and fellow teacher. She encourages him to eat endless take-aways, large amounts of sweets and swill cheap wine. Three things that should be a requirement for all BFFs. The last one especially.

Rose: "Come on, cheer up. Christmas is coming."
Robert: "I'm not five, Rose."
"Exactly. You're an adult. And what's Christmas when you're an adult?" She looked at me expectantly.
"Do elucidate," I said in my driest tones.
"Nah, I've been trying to give that up. Christmas, you numpty, is the world's best excuse to spend most of the time pissed off your face." She beamed.
Well, there was that, I supposed.

Not entirely sure why this book is called "Caught!" however. But I love the cover, it captures Robert perfectly. I do wonder what Shamwell Tales #2 will be like. This book does have a (spoiler alert) happy ending (is that really a spoiler? It's a romance novel) but there may be a few strings that could be tied up -- though not enough for a whole new novel. So I'd think the next book would be about an entirely different couple. Either way I'm looking forward to another light, funny read from J.L. Merrow.
4.0 out of 5 stars Robert, Get a Grip! 25 Aug 2014
By Bo - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There is a certain kind of gay Brit who drives readers up the wall with his insecurities and pessimisms,, and JL Merrow has introduced us to another one in Robert Emeny (or, as every child in his second grade class calls him, Mr. Enemy). A bow-tie clad, almost adorable but somewhat socially inept character, Robert seems to have a grip on how to handle rowdy children but not men who are attracted to him. In this case it's the tall, strong, "ginger" Sean, a member of the Council Estate class (as opposed to Robert's slightly more elevated "educated" class), who is the uncle of two delightfully mischievous twins in Robert's class.

Both characters are totally incongruous--Robert is a bit of a nerd as well as a fastidious dresser, but he is also a fervent jogger, yet simply can't seem to get the ordinary things done, e.g., he has absolutely no idea how to cook and is therefore a take-out junkie. Sean is a "pest-control technician" (we call them exterminators in the U.S.) who gets around by motorcycle, is an open bi-sexual, but also is a real and honest caregiver--he is helping to raise his twin nephews while also nurturing his sister, who was left with them by a creep and who is also a cancer victim., Robert should be stalking Sean, but throughout the book it is Sean who continually pushes to start, re-start, end, or save the relationship.

Robert is hiding a big secret, which is the reason he moved from a high school where he was a very popular teacher to a small village to take the job in elementary. His complete lack of honesty about how to have dealt with his secret, which we suspect but are not fully exposed to until near the end, will make you want to reach into the pages and wring his neck (around which Sean, ironically, loves to see bow ties).

In addition, Robert has developed sort of a best-friend relationship with Rose, another teacher in the school, who has romantic troubles of her own but becomes Robert's tutor in love and is the one who is constantly pushing him toward Sean. She is the catalyst here, and I found her a bit much to take most of the time, but she serves her purpose, and we must remember that catalysts sink to the bottom of the test tube.

There are a bunch of other characters in here who help develop the overall plot that leads to the exposure of Robert's secret and how that secret can be dealt with. Some of them are annoying as hell (his former schoolmate Fordy, for example) and some of them just complete hoots--the twins, William and Harry (yes, that's their names), and their classmates Charlie, a whiner, and Desiree, a little witch.

But there are also too many sub plots and too long getting-to-the-point chapters--this book needs a strong copy editor. Still, I plowed through it because like many of the other couples in other JL Merrow books, Robert and Sean were total physical and social opposites (although both of these guys are at least the same height or thereabouts), and I wanted to see them together in the end. But you won't get any spoiler from me on that score--it's a good mystery throughout.
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