Title: Played! (The Shamwell Tales: Book Two))
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 258 Pages
At a Glance:
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Posh boy Tristan Goldsmith has one last summer of freedom before he joins the family firm in New York—no more farting around on stage, as his father puts it. But the classically trained actor can’t resist when the Shamwell Amateur Dramatics Society begs him to take a leading role in their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As an added incentive, he’ll be giving private acting lessons to a gorgeous local handyman who’s been curiously resistant to Tristan’s advances.
As a late-diagnosed dyslexic still struggling with literacy, Con Izzard’s never dared to act before. With arrogant yet charming Tristan helping him with his lines, he finally has his chance to shine. But Con’s determined not to start a romance with a man he’s convinced only wants a casual fling.
Tristan’s never been one to back down from a challenge, especially when he realises his attraction to the tall, muscular handyman isn’t just physical. Just as he thinks he’s finally won Con’s heart—and given his own in return—disaster strikes with a slip of the tongue that shatters Con’s trust and sends him running for cover. This show may be over before the curtain’s even opened.
Note: This is a revised second edition, originally published elsewhere.
Review: Tristan has loved being on stage—acting is his passion. Unfortunately, his father doesn’t see it quite that way. He has called his son home to New York to begin taking part in family business, and Tristan has no choice but to obey. Before making the big move, however, he must settle the small estate he inherited from his Nanny Geary, who has left him a quaint little cottage in Shamwell. When a tiny frog interrupts Tristan’s cleaning, and leaves him practically hysterical, he calls on the local help to dispose of it.
Con is more of an all-around handy man than exterminator, and tries to make Tristan understand as such. They definitely get off on the wrong foot when Tristan condescendingly insults Con, who is rather sensitive to such slights. You see, poor Con is severely dyslexic and had to leave school prior to completing his education. Now with Tristan in the picture, Con must come to grips with the fact that he not only likes the insufferable man but that between Tristan leaving the country in just a few months, and Con’s obvious lowly estate, there can never be anything between them…or can there?
Welcome to Played!, the second novel in author JL Merrow’s Shamwell Tales. Like the first in the series, Caught, this story takes us back to the quirky little village of Shamwell, and delights us in introducing a few more folks who live there. It is the village that really shines in this book, and Con as well. He is a sensitive man who listens to books on tape, and tries desperately to better himself despite being so very overwhelmed by just about any mention of trying to extend his education and getting a better job. When he meets Tristan he is understandably smitten, but it’s Tristan’s sharp tongue that sets him back. Tristan is a snob, no two ways about it, and while he does want a roll in the hay with Con, he doesn’t see much of a future with him, especially since he will be leaving the country in a few short months to travel to be with his domineering father. When he blurts this fact out to Con, who is still recovering from his last breakup, Con determines to stay well away from the gorgeous actor, at all costs.
I wish I’d liked Tristan more. I tried, but between his tendency to over-dramatize just about everything, and his penchant for sticking his foot in his mouth on just about every encounter he has with the shyer, more sensitive Con, it was hard to find any sympathy for Tristan’s dilemma. I have to honestly admit I felt Con could have done better.
The real redeeming note to this story was most assuredly the minor plot bit which dealt with Con getting to know more about his Granddad through his time spent with an older gentleman named Alf. Those moments were really sweet and felt so very genuine, whereas the time spent with Tristan was more frustrating and shallow than anything else. I so wanted to see Tristan wrestle with his final decision in this book, and for him to really pour out his heart to Con, asking him to forgive all the pompous and mean spirited things he had said and done up to that point. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really happen, and we are left with a rather limp ending to this one, which left me rather ambivalent about the story as a whole.
You can buy Played! here: