Friday, July 15, 2016

Series Review: Plumber's Mate by JL Merrow

Series Review: Plumber's Mate by JL Merrow

Pressure Head – Book #1

Some secrets are better left hidden.
To most of the world, Tom Paretski is just a plumber with a cheeky attitude and a dodgy hip, souvenir of a schoolboy accident. The local police keep his number on file for a different reason—his sixth sense for finding hidden things.
When he’s called in to help locate the body of a missing woman up on Nomansland Common, he unexpectedly encounters someone who resurrects a host of complicated emotions. Phil Morrison, Tom’s old school crush, now a private investigator working the same case. And the former bully partly responsible for Tom’s injury.
The shocks keep coming. Phil is now openly gay, and shows unmistakable signs of interest. Tom’s attraction to the big, blond investigator hasn’t changed—in fact, he’s even more desirable all grown up. But is Phil’s interest genuine, or does he only want to use Tom’s talent?
As the pile of complicated evidence surrounding the woman’s murder grows higher, so does the heat between Tom and Phil. But opening himself to this degree exposes Tom’s heart in a way he’s not sure he’s ready for…while the murderer’s trigger finger is getting increasingly twitchy.
Product Warnings
Contains a flirtatious plumber with hidden talents, a cashmere-clad private investigator with hidden depths, and an English village chock full of colourful characters with plenty to hide.
Now out in ebook:  Samhain Publishing | Amazon
And in paperback Samhain | Amazon
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***

Plumber Tom Paretski is more than just your average Joe. Between his wicked sense of humor and a preternatural ability to discover  hidden things, he finds himself helping local police on occasion throughout various cases.  So when he's called in to assist in finding the body of a missing young woman he never thought he'd run into the guy who spearheaded the torment and bullying he faced as a teenager.  Not to mention learning the former bully is openly gay as well.

PI Phil Morrison, has mixed feelings about Tom. While he knew Tom had a crush on him in school, it only fanned the flames of Phil's resentment towards him. However, he has never completely forgiven himself for Tom's accident which has left him with a slight limp. Phil is surprised to see Tom at a crime scene, but learns quickly that Tom is assisting police with locating the victim’s body.

Deciding that maybe Tom could assist him in solving the case and getting suspicion away from an old mutual friend, Phil convinced Tom to team up with him. As the two work together to gather answers, they find it harder and harder to deny the attraction they feel towards one another.  Just  as things start to heat up, the clues start coming together and the men find themselves at a killer’s mercy.

Loved! Loved! Loved It!

I hate to say this but it's been quite a long time since I have truly loved a JL Merrow book this much.  I'm kicking myself that I hadn't read this book earlier. I'm glad though, that I now have the opportunity to read all 4 books in The Plumber's Mate series.

So what is it that I loved so much about this one?  Well, it's the combination of good writing, humorous banter, lovable characters and a bit of sleuthing. Not to mention a growing sexual tension that made the story go from a fun 4 Stars to a sexy 5 Stars!

I loved Tom. He's funny and snarky, sweet yet strong. He doesn't fit into the common stereotypes that a lot of characters in similar books seem to fall into.  From the very first page to the last he kept me laughing out loud.

While many readers probably weren't fond of Phil, I have to tell ya, I loved him. Maybe I'm crazy or something but for some reason I just felt a connection to the grumpy, closed off, sexy PI.  I know his actions as a teenager were horrible and there is no excuse for his behavior but if Tom could forgive him, well, so could I.

This is definitely a book I'd recommend, especially if you're a fan of mystery and slow burn romance. It's funny and engaging and full of British colloquialisms. I definitely can't wait for book 2!

5 Stars!

 *** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***

I fell in love with Tom as soon as I met him. I have a weakness for witty, sarcastic, self-deprecating characters with a great sense of humor, and Tom is just that and so much more. It was such a delight to follow his adventures and get into his head and see things from his unique POV. 

I have to admit that I didn't quite like Phil in this book, but it was fun to see him interact with Tom. They were so different from each other, almost complete opposites, both in looks and character, and yet, the attraction between the two of them was very palpable. I just adored most of their scenes together, even if I'd wanted to see more of Phil and his thoughts throughout the book.

I adored the secondary cast, Gary, Darren, Dave, they really added depth to the story and I will love seeing them again in the next books of the series. The mystery portion was well-thought and intriguing and it kept my interest from beginning to end. 

All in all, a very solid start to the series. Well-written and sassy, with very likable characters that I really want to read more of. Definitely recommendable!

Rating: 5 Stars!!! 

Relief Valve – Book #2

A sequel to Pressure Head, and book #2 of The Plumber's Mate series.
If you dig up the past, be prepared to get dirty.
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing since plumber Tom Paretski and P.I. Phil Morrison became connected at the heart, if not always at Tom’s dodgy hip. Neither of their families has been shy about voicing their disapproval, which hasn’t helped Tom’s uneasy relationship with his prickly older sister, Cherry.
But when Cherry is poisoned at her own engagement party, the horror of her near death has Tom’s head spinning with possible culprits. Is it her fiancé Gregory, a cathedral canon with an unfortunate manner and an alarming taste for taxidermy? Someone from her old writers’ circle, which she left after a row? Or could the attack be connected to her work as a barrister?
Phil is just as desperate to solve the case before someone ends up dead—and he fears it could be Tom. At least one of their suspects has a dark secret to hide, which makes Tom’s sixth sense for finding things like a target painted on his back…
Warning: Contains a strong, silent, macho PI; a cheeky, chirpy, cat-owning plumber; and a gag gift from beyond the grave that’ll put the cat firmly among the pigeons.
Available in ebook and paperback:
***A copy of this book was provided by the publisher to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review***

Tom Paretski Professional Plumber and Amateur Sleuth is back at it, only this time the case hits too close to home.  When his older sister Cherry calls Tom with news of Auntie Lol,who'd been a close family friend’s death, he has no clue how his life will take a crazy turn.  It’s been a long time since brother and sister have actually spent any time together and frankly, Cherry, a decade older than Tom, has never been particularly warm towards him. 

Newly engaged Cherry and her Reverend fiancé, Greg, invite Tom and Phil to their engagement party.  The party comes to an abrupt end, however, when Cherry suddenly collapses on the ground of an apparent poisoning. Now Tom and Phil have their hands full investigating who would possibly have a reason to attempt murdering Cherry.

The list of suspects seems to grow the more they look. Things only get worse when clues start to suggest that Cherry may not be the only one targeted.  Could any of this be connected to the death of Auntie Lol?

While I loved Tom and Phil, I have to say I was just a tad bit disappointed with Relief Valve. Don't get me wrong, this story was still very well written, funny and entertaining but it was just missing something. I'm not sure if it was the fact that we really didn't get as much as I would have liked from Tom and Phil together, as there were just way too many fade to black scenes, or if the mystery itself just didn't hold my attention. Whatever it was, I just didn't completely love it.

Do I still recommend Relief Valve? Yes, it is a continuing story of Tom and Phil and if you're like me you'll want more of these two. Will I continue reading the series? Absolutely!  I want more Tom, I want more Phil. I want more crazy antics of a Psychic Plumber Amateur Sleuth. I'm still a fan of the Plumber’s Mate.

4 Stars!

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***

In this new installment of Tom and Phil's misadventures we get to know Cherry, Tom's sister, and her fiancé Greg. The mystery revolves around someone poisoning Cherry (thankfully with non-deadly results) and Tom and Phil trying to find the culprit before they strike again. 

I am definitely loving how fast-paced and intriguing the plotline is in these books. The only things I wanted more of in this book was to see Tom in action with his 'power', but we had enough twists and turns to keep things interesting, for the most part, even if it wasn't quite up to par to the previous book, and I'd have loved to see more scenes with Tom and Phil together. 

Tom is still very much my favorite of the two, but Phil is definitely growing on me, now that we've learned more of what makes him be how he is. I love their chemistry, they are hot together and I just adore how worried Phil is when Tom's penchant to get into trouble arises. 

I loved catching up with Darren, Gary and Dave, they are truly great friends to both Phil and Tom, well, mostly Tom—at least the last two. 

This was a fantastic addition to the series, and more than enough to keep me wanting more. These books are so much fun and enjoyable to read! The characters are realistic and it's just a delight to see how they react in the different situations JL Merrow's puts them in. 

Rating: 4 Stars!!!

Heat Trap – Book #3 

The wrong secret could flush their love down the drain
It’s been six months since plumber Tom Paretski was hit with a shocking revelation about his family. His lover, P.I. Phil Morrison, is pushing this as an ideal opportunity for Tom to try to develop his psychic talent for finding things. Tom would prefer to avoid the subject altogether, but just as he decides to bite the bullet, worse problems come crawling out of the woodwork.
Marianne, a young barmaid at the Devil’s Dyke pub, has an ex who won’t accept things are over between them. Grant Carey is ruthless in dealing with anyone who gets between him and Marianne, including an old friend of Tom and Phil. Their eagerness to step in and help only makes them targets of Grant’s wrath themselves.
With Tom’s uncertainty about Phil’s motives, Tom’s family doing their best to drive a wedge between them, and the revelation of an ugly incident in Phil’s past, suddenly Tom’s not sure whom he can trust.
The body in the Dyke’s cellar isn’t the only thing that stinks.
Warning: Contains British slang, a very un-British heat wave, and a plumber with a psychic gift who may not be as British as he thinks he is.
Available in ebook and paperback from:
  Samhain |  Amazon | ARe
***A copy of this book was provided by the publisher to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review***

Six months ago, plumber Tom Paretski was shocked to discover that he was the product of his mother’s extramarital affair. Unable to confront his mother and upset his dad, he hasn't made any real headway in finding out who his biological father is. In the meantime, his boyfriend, P.I. Phil Morrison, suggests Tom start trying to hone his dowsing abilities.

Harry, local bar owner and friend, comes to Phil and Tom to help one of her employees, Marianne, who has an ex who is subtly terrorizing her. They find that the man, Grant Carey is a lot more formidable than they originally thought. A callous foe when provoked, the fact that Tom and Phil are looking into him has him feeling challenged and he strikes out against Tom causing Phil to lose his cool.  Tom is suddenly faced with unexpected information regarding Phil’s past, his family disapproval of his relationship and the fact that he isn't sure he can fully trust Phil.

Unfortunately, Heat Trap was my least favorite of the series. That's not to say it was bad, because honestly the writing was still very well done.  For fans of mysteries I'm sure this book is great. I like mysteries myself but I was hoping for a bit more romance than there was.

Tom and Phil are still fun and quirky, obviously in love but their relationship really takes a backseat in the story.  Again, a lot of fade to black, off page love scenes. Quite a bit of misunderstandings and over the top reactions.  The fun banter and bickering seemed more negative than before and that wasn't my favorite.  I've also grown increasingly frustrated with the fact that we are not privy to background on Phil and his late husband. We know they separated due to Mark’s infidelity and Mark died but that's all. It is such a huge elephant in the room throughout three different books and really it's become tiresome. Let's just get it all out into the open once and for all so it can be buried and everyone will be able move forward.

Certainly Heat Trap is a very entertaining read and fans of mystery and suspense definitely will be pleased.  The series is worth continuing because at the end of the day i am still very invested in Tom and Phil. However, as a romance junkie I crave the sexual tension and heat from the first book. I want to see a few more passionate and heartfelt scenes between the MC’s.

Recommend? Yes!

4 Stars!

 *** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***

Heat Trap is the third book in the Plumber's Mate series, while JL Merrow is fairly good at catching us up with the previous installments, it's better if you read the series in order. 

Tom is still reeling from a shocking discovery regarding his family, his parents are not all that happy he's dating Phil and Phil is pushing Tom to extend the reach of his talent. And if that isn't enough, they get involved in a new case involving one of the barmaids in Tom's favorite pub, one that has the potential to have deadly results. 

While this book was just about as enjoyable as the previous two, I have to admit I was a bit fed up with how overdramatic Tom appeared sometimes. Yes, all that ends well, is well, and Tom actually worked to make things better (which really went a long way on making me love him again), but there were a few times I just wanted to shake some sense into him. 

On a more positive note, I continue to grow to love Phil, especially after this book. *cuddles Phil* And I just adore seeing all the recurring cast from the other books. 

Even if this book wasn't my favorite, it is still really good and I'm loving seeing the guys fall more in love with each other in every new installment, and watching their relationship unfold. 

Rating: 4 Stars!!!

Blow Down – Book #4

BlowDown72webDeath is what happens while you’re making other plans.
The last thing newly engaged plumber Tom Paretski needs is to stumble over another dead body. He’s got enough on his mind already as the reality of his impending marriage sinks in. Not only is his family situation complicated, his heroism at a pub fire made him a local celebrity. Now everyone and their uncle wants a piece of his psychic talents.
Hired to find a missing necklace, Tom and his fiancé, private investigator Phil Morrison, wind up trying to unmask a killer—and there’s no shortage of suspects, up to and including the local bishop himself.
As Tom and Phil try to uncover the truth, they find themselves pulled in all directions by the conflicting pressures of their families and their own desires. But the murderer they’re up against is a ruthless schemer who won’t hesitate to kill again. If Tom and Phil aren’t careful, their love—and all their plans for the future—could be blown down like a house of straw.
Warning: Contains a bishop of questionable Christian charity, a necklace of questionable taste, and a plumber of questionable nationality who may be running out of time.
Available to order:  Amazon | ARe
***A copy of this book was provided by the publisher to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review***

Well, if there's one thing Plumber Tom Paretski is good out it's finding trouble in the form of dead bodies. With his new found celebrity for his heroism at a pub fire, everyone seems to want to know more about his so-called psychic abilities, something he himself doesn't completely understand.

When a favor for his sister leads him to a waspish woman who intends to hire him to find a missing necklace, he has a feeling things aren't going to be very easy.  Of course, things become even more complicated when that same woman is found dead at a very public event by none other than Tom. Now it's up to Tom and his fiancé, private investigator Phil Morrison, to not only find that missing necklace but to also to discover a killer. If only there weren't so many suspects.

Of course this wouldn't truly be a Tom and Phil adventure if while uncovering  the truth, Tom didn't find himself in the crosshairs once again. 

So Blow Down was definitely better than I was expecting since I was a little let down by Heat Trap. It was nice to see more from Tom and Phil as their relationship was concerned. I was also happy to see them share more working scenes together as well.  The only thing that bothered me was the continuing avoidance of Phil’s past marriage. It is still in my opinion a wall between them and just when I think they're going to knock it down, they abruptly stop. ( Please JL Merrow, I beg of you, either let them have the long awaited conversation about Mark or stop bringing it up. )

Other than that, I loved it. I'm a huge fan of both Tom and Phil as I have been throughout the entire series. They are funny and snarky and have the ability to make me laugh out loud. The British-isms (not sure if that's a real word) are hilarious, at times making me think of a cross between Absolutely Fabulous and Castle.

Would I recommend Blow Down? Yes! If you're already a fan you have to read it.  I now can't wait to see these characters again, I'm looking forward to a very eventful wedding because I don't imagine Tom ever attending a wedding without something exciting happening.

5 Stars!
 *** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***

Tom and Phil are now engaged, and after his heroic rescue in Heat Trap, Tom's psychic talents are in high demand. After stumbling on to yet another dead body, they find themselves having to find the killer before the killer gets rid of Tom.

What a tangled web you weave, Ms. Merrow, and an absolutely brilliant one at that. Perhaps book 3 wasn't up to par with the rest of the series, but this one more than make up for it!

Creative, witty and very British, this series just keeps getting better and Tom and Phil are growing stronger as a couple, despite the need to address the big elephant in the room, the elusive Mark, of whom we really need to learn more. I love that while there's a lot going on in the book, with the suspense portion and all that it implies, the focus remains Tom and Phil. Blow Down showed us that while they still have to work on some issues, they are the real deal.

I particularly enjoyed the plotline in this book, even if it felt as we were pulled in several different directions. It was very exciting to see it all unravel in the end, even if now that I'm out of books to catch up with, I'm feeling a bit bereft. I really hope we get a new installment soon, I'll be waiting impatiently for it. Definitely recommendable!!!

Rating: 5 Stars!!!

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