Double-Review: Pressure Head and Relief Valve by J.L. Merrow
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.
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 fiance 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…
Add on Goodreads 1 & 2
Buy at Amazon DE 1 & 2 / Amazon US 1 & 2
*I received copies of these books from Signal Boost Promotions in return of honest reviews*
Tom is good at finding things. This can be anything from a leak (which comes in handy in his job as plumber), the hidden porn collection or a dead body. The latter is something he’s occasionally hired to find by the local police. And it’s also how he meets Phil again. These two have a bit of a history together because Phil used to bully Tom back when they were still in school.
So.. I sometimes really love mystery stories but they have to be well done, keep me entertained and in the best case have me guessing until the end of the story about who the bad guy or girl is and why they killed whoever they killed. And Pressure Head really did this. I had my suspicions about the murderer, but I wasn’t sure until it was revealed. And I really enjoyed that.
I LOVE Tom. Like I instantly liked him from the first sentence of this book. He such a sweet guy who always believes in the best of people. Which can get him in trouble sometimes. But it’s also such a lovely character trait to have.
With Phil on the other hand I had a bit of a problem at first because he really thought apologizing for bullying him would make everything he did alright again. And well, it doesn’t. Especially as it seems like he didn’t even understand the extent of what he did. It took me a long time to warm up to him because I know what Tom felt like. And despite believing Phil about how he felt like growing up and realizing he’s gay, it doesn’t excuse what he did. Nothing excuses bullying.
But well in the end he won me over somehow. Still not sure how he did it. Probably happened when Tom was the first time at his apartment. I think that’s when he finally seemed human and like he had changed.
I loved the slow build of the relationship between Tom and Phil. The back and forth and the wait for them to finally do something about their attraction. And considering their past together anything else wouldn’t have worked. They both needed to get to know each other first and learn how to trust. J.L. Merrow wrote that beautifully and believable. I wished we had more of these two together but Pressure Head is primarily a mystery. And the slow burn is done so well.
My favourite thing about this story though is the britishness. I LOVE stories set in the UK. And if they’re written in british english and not american english then I love them even more. There’s an overload of british terms and expressions in these stories. So many that I had to look up quite a few of them because I didn’t know them yet. And they brought the story and the setting to live.
Pressure Head is a fantastic start for this series.
I didn’t think it could get any better than Pressure Head.. but yes, yes it can. Relief Valve is proof of that. Everything Pressure Head had that I loved was put into Relief Valve and to make it more interesting Tom’s family was thrown into the mix. And I really liked to meet his sister.
Also this one was more personal than the first one because this time it’s Cherry, Tom’s sister, who is the victim.
And there’s a second mystery going on in this book, which I think will play an even bigger part in the third book. At first I thought that it might be a bit much to have two mysteries going on at the same time, but they just make the whole story more intense and kept me even more interested (if that’s even possible) than in the first book.
Tom has a lot going on in this book with worrying about who wants his sister dead, the status of his relationship with Phil and the inheritance he made.
J.L. Merrow wove those different strands of mystery perfectly together and the end result is an amazing and thrilling story that’s so rich in detail and little hints to who the perpetrator is. Looking back at it I could have figured out who attempted to murder Cherry, but there were so many people I really wasn’t sure about. Like her fiance for example. He’s an interesting character to say the least.
What I absolutely loved about this story is that we got a bit more about Tom’s and Phil’s relationship. I enjoyed the awkwardness of them both dancing around the “L” word they both clearly want to say. But then weren’t sure about the feelings of the other one.
I would have liked to get to know more about Phil though. He was a mystery in Pressure Head and we didn’t get to know him a lot better in Relief Valve. Especially when it comes to his past and his husband. I hope we’ll get more on that in the next book. Other than that I absolutely enjoyed this one.
J.L. Merrow really knows how to write a good mystery plot with a bit of romance thrown in and to top it off putting in an interesting backstory of the protagonists. Love both of these books and I’m looking forward to read the other two books in this series soon. Definitely recommended!
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Review Tag: Part of a series gay romance J.L. Merrow Pressure Head Relief Valve
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