Played! (Shamwell Tales #2)
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: June 12, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 258
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Read book blurb here
According to Tristan's father, his fledgling acting career could be summed up as "I’ve read a few dusty old books and farted around on stage for a bit.” Tristan finds himself in Shamwell handling the estate of his beloved nannny / pseudo-Granny and ends up cast in the Shamwell Amateur Dramatics Society's production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is his final hurrah, his last gasp of freedom before he goes to New York to join the family firm.
Cast as Puck, Tristan soon finds himself anxiously seeking his perfect Bottom ... that is, Shakespeare's character Nick Bottom. Con Izzard, the deliciously tall, muscular, dsylexic handyman ("delightfully rough around the edges, with dark stubble on his chin and unruly jet-black hair") seems an odd choice, but Tristan offers to go all Professor Higgins and tutor Con on his lines (while jokingly betting his BFF Amanda fifty quid he could get Con into bed).
But after this great set-up, the story line falters, IMHO. Tristan is full of great lines and awful puns courtesy of The Bard of Avon while lusting after Con, and Con agonizes over learning his lines and fighting his attraction for this man who will soon be leaving Shamwell forever. This dynamic continues through about 80% of the plot, until Tristan and Con finally kiss and have sex, amidst comments about being circumcised, the OED, a quote from Measure for Measure, dyscalculia (?) and finally Tristan's "irredeemably, utterly stupid" mention of the bet.
There is a disjointed secondary plot regarding Con's long-dead father and following a bit of angst, the story doesn't so much end, as finally slouch its way to a conclusion of sorts. I didn't really get much chemistry between Tristan and Con and frankly the pace of the story bored me. 3 stars for Played!