Reviews for Already Published Books

REVIEW: Relief Valve by JL Merrow


37784421Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: February 5, 2018
Received From: NetGalley

If you dig up the past, be prepared for some dirt to stick.

The relationship between Tom Paretski, a cheeky plumber with a gift for finding hidden things, and PI Phil Morrison may only be a few weeks old, but already it’s under attack. Tom’s friends and family are convinced the former bully isn’t good enough for him, and they’re not shy about saying so.

Then Tom’s prickly older sister, Cherry, is poisoned at her own engagement party. Tom’s left reeling and not knowing who to suspect. Could it be her new fiancé, Gregory, a cathedral canon with an unfortunate manner and a taste for taxidermy? Or someone from her old writers’ circle, which she left after a row? Or could the attack be connected to her work as a barrister? Meanwhile, Tom’s honorary auntie’s left him a gag gift from beyond the grave that could be more significant than anyone knows.

Phil’s fighting against the clock to solve the case before somebody ends up dead. And with the poisoner hiding a dark secret, Phil’s terrified Tom could have been the target all along.

Publisher’s note: This is lightly edited reprint of a previously published novel.


GENDER: cisgender
SEXUALITY: homosexual


TROPES: class disparity, hurt/comfort
TAGS: adult, contemporary, paranormal, disabled character, romance, queer romance, queer character, existing relationship
WARNINGS: suicide, slurs, gendered slurs, ableism, misogyny, homomisia, attempted murder, poisoning, hospitalization, misgendering (immediately corrected), deadnaming, cheating mention


Though I continue to enjoy the humor found within this series, this book was a little bit harder for me to read that the first book was. This one didn’t quite grasp my attention in the same way and was a much slower read.

I did, however, enjoy the new family dynamic! It was interesting to see Tom interact with his family, as well as the brief scene with Phil’s brother. It made both characters seem a bit more dynamic and more interesting, which is especially helpful when it comes to Phil since we never get his point of view.

Speaking of, I found it difficult to stay involved in their relationship. Tom and Phil don’t seem to do too much other than have sex and investigate cases, and there’s not really a whole lot of insight into the emotional aspects of their feelings, so the “I love you”s exchanged within seemed a bit premature and unexpected at this point in the series.

All in all, though, I did enjoy the novel and will likely continue the series.



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. 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 is a 2013 EPIC ebook Award finalist. She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Connect with JL:


Riptide Publishing


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