Hard Tail by JL Merrow
Publisher: Samhain Press
Length: Full Length (260 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cactus
Finding love can be a bumpy ride.
His job: downsized out of existence. His marriage: dead in the water. It doesn’t take a lot of arm twisting for Tim Knight to agree to get out of London and take over his injured brother’s mountain bike shop for a while. A few weeks in Southampton is a welcome break from the wreck his life has become, even though he feels like a fish out of water in this brave new world of outdoor sports and unfamiliar technical jargon.
The young man who falls—literally—through the door of the shop brings everything into sharp, unexpected focus. Tim barely accepts he’s even in the closet until his attraction to Matt Berridge pulls him close enough to touch the doorknob.
There’s only one problem with the loveable klutz: his bullying boyfriend. Tim is convinced Steve is the cause of the bruises that Matt blows off as part of his risky sport. But rising to the defense of the man he’s beginning to love means coming to terms with who he is—in public—in a battle not even his black belt prepared him to fight. Until now.
Sometimes you get the love you need, not the love you want. Tim has been burying his real sexuality all his life. He wanted to be “normal” so he married his best friend and tried to make the relationship works. When she leaves him, Tim goes home to help manage his brother’s bike store and decide what to do with his life. Enter Matt, literally. Matt trips his way into the bike store and eventually Tim’s heart. Tim can no longer deny the truth about himself, even if the life he realizes he needs is not the one he thought he wanted.
Hard Tail is a funny and adorable story from JL Merrow. It’s very British, from the setting to the writing to the characters. It’s interesting, partly because I always learn something about the area when reading, and also because the storyline keeps moving. The two men don’t get involved right away, which makes a nice change from the usual immediate sex of the genre. They take the time to become friends first, of a sort. One of the main characters is in the closet and the other is in a relationship for the majority of the story. Due to these circumstances the two main men are kept apart up until the very end. This makes the external issues and characterization much more important to hold interest and keep the plot moving.
Once the two men do get together there is plenty of sex to make up for lost time. Fast forwarding from sex to true love is a hallmark of the romance genre in general but there is so much time spent on why these two men can’t be together that when they finally did get together, it feels a bit too soon. I would think both men would need time to settle and explore their true feelings about such dramatic changes before jumping into a serious relationship. However I do recognize that this is often an issue that most readers can ignore or overlook so I don’t think the pace of this relationship will bother anyone, especially with solid writing to help smooth over any problems.
Overall Hard Tail is a humorous and entertaining story. It has some good details and a fresh, interesting setting with good characters. Some of the characters feel a bit too recognizable and stereotypical, but this is a minor qualm and not one that significantly detracts from the story. Instead fans of the author should particularly enjoy this one.