Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 216 Pages
At a Glance: There was a little section at about three-quarters of the way through where I felt like it was dragging a bit. These guys danced around each other for sooo long. But, for the most part, the burn was good, as was their chemistry all along.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: All the world’s a stage…but real-life lessons are hidden in the heart.
Though Tristan must join his family’s New York firm at summer’s end—no more farting around on stage, as his father so bluntly puts it—he can’t resist when Shamwell’s local amateur dramatics society begs him to take a role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The bonus: giving private acting lessons to a local handyman who’s been curiously resistant to Tristan’s advances. Not only is Con delicious, there’s fifty pounds riding on Tristan getting him in his bed.
A late-diagnosed dyslexic, Con’s never dared to act, convinced he’d never be able to learn his lines. But with Tristan’s help, he takes the chance. Trouble is, the last time Con fell for a guy, he ended up getting his heart broken. And with Tristan due to leave the country soon, Con is determined not to start anything that’s bound to finish badly.
Just as Tristan thinks he’s finally won Con’s heart—and given his own in return—disaster strikes. And the curtain may have fallen forever on their chance for happiness.
Warning: Contains a surfeit of Bottoms and asses, together with enough mangled quotations to have the Bard of Avon gyrating in his grave.
Review: All the world’s a stage…but real-life lessons are hidden in the heart. – J.L. Merrow
I realize it’s only the second book in the series, but I do so love some Shamwell Tales. With Played!, JL Merrow has given us another bit of light, sassy, English fun. The formula here is basically the same as that in Caught!, once again pairing a working class fellow with a somewhat upper-crust, more educated one, but it works. I enjoy that dynamic, especially when the working class guy blows stereotypes and expectations out of the water, as Sean did in the first book, and Con does fantastically in this one.
The characters in Played! are once again fun, quirky, and sweet. Tristan, a talented stage actor, is adorably fabulous. Wordy and pretentious, I can see that he would be off-putting to some, but I found him funny and charming as hell. Here are a couple of my favorite moments that describe Tristan’s character:
He beamed at the stranger and barely restrained himself from a ‘hel-looo gorgeous.’ “You must be Sean.” The man’s face twisted, and he rubbed the back of his neck, displaying some nicely honed triceps and a tuft of armpit hair. Tristan’s inner princess swooned dramatically.
Yes, that should do it: respectably covered, but with a hint of debauchery. And, nobody did debauchery like Tristan. He blew his reflection a saucy kiss and hurtled downstairs to open the door.
Con, the village handyman, is stoic and sexy and strong. And smart – even though he feels he isn’t. His friends recognize his talent for voices, and memorizing the material from all of the audiobooks he listens to, and encourage him to take a shot at a part in the local village production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Tristan offers to help coach him, which feels like both a blessing and a curse to Con, who is trying desperately to thwart Tristan’s flirtatious advances.
I loved that it felt like I was reading a play within a play throughout much of the book. The parallels between Con and Tristan and their A Midsummers Night’s Dream counterparts, Bottom and Puck, were fantastic. Very clever stuff. And I loved all of the Shakespeare, both within the ShamDrams production, and otherwise scattered throughout the story. At times it even felt like I was reading and Auntie Mame style romp. So fabulous.
There was a little section at about three-quarters of the way through where I felt like it was dragging a bit. These guys danced around each other for sooo long. But, for the most part, the burn was good, as was their chemistry all along, and when they finally got it together, it was fabulous! I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would definitely recommend it. I have a couple of guesses, but can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next from Shamwell!
You can buy Played! here: