A warm love bytes welcome to author JL Merrow joining us here today to talk about the release of Spun , the 4rd book in her Shamwell Tales series.
Welcome JL 🙂
Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m delighted to be here today as part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of Spun!, the fourth of my contemporary MM romantic comedies in the Shamwell Tales series.
Gay Men Who Love Bears
Not all gay men, of course, like bears. But some gay men like them very much indeed. I’m not talking about large, hairy, ruggedly masculine men, however. I’m talking about that iconic cuddly toy, the teddy bear.
Teddy bears with queer companions have a long and illustrious pedigree. Lord Sebastian Flyte in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited had his Aloysius, who was in turn based on English poet laureate John Betjeman’s bear Archibald Ormsby-Gore, who accompanied him up to Oxford University in the 1920s. Aloysius and Sebastian were later parodied in the excellent 1980s comedy TV series Brass, which featured a gay Cambridge student, Morris Hardacre, and his bear Hesketh, with whom he had a somewhat complex and frequently violent love-hate relationship.
During the 1980s, the image of the teddy bear was used to evoke the more caring, affectionate side of masculinity, counteracting the image of the gay man interested solely in sex. Poignantly, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, teddy bears were carried in Gay Pride parades in memory of lost lovers. At a time when some men (both queer and straight) were beginning to explore new ideas of what masculinity really meant, the symbol of the teddy bear helped to convey to others like them that they were not alone in their desire for more love in their lives, rather than just sex.
The best known brand of teddy bear is, of course, the Steiff (button in ear) bear, the first to have moveable, poseable limbs. Founded in 1880 by wheelchair user Margarete Steiff, the company’s name is still a byword for quality children’s toys. The original drawings for Winnie the Pooh were based on a Steiff bear called Growler, and vintage Steiff bears have been sold at auction for over £100,000.
No prizes for guessing which brand of bear is the constant companion of David in Spun! As befits a Sherlock fan with an eye for a silver fox, David in Spun! has named his teddy bear Gregory, for DI Greg Lestrade—naturally, as played by Rupert Graves. (David couldn’t have called his bear Rupert, as that would have evoked an entirely different, and very unsexy, image: http://rupertbear.co.uk/index.html ). Gregory has a collection of outfits, some made by David himself, and appeared in Out! dressed as Xerxes from the Spartan movie 300 in “gold lamé shorts, sparkly black cape and more bling than you could shake your booty at.”
You have to wonder what Margarete Steiff would have thought of it… 😉
Readers: do you have a cuddly companion (or “familiar” as they are sometimes known)? Do you wish you had one? I’d love to hear about him/her/them!
With friends like these . . .
An ill-advised encounter at the office party leaves David Greenlake jobless and homeless in one heady weekend. But he quickly begs work from his ex-boss and takes a room in Shamwell with easygoing postman Rory Deamer. David doesn’t mean to flirt with the recently divorced Rory—just like he doesn’t consciously decide to breathe. After all, Rory’s far too nice for him. And far too straight.
Rory finds his new lodger surprisingly fun to be with, and what’s more, David is a hit with Rory’s troubled children. But while Rory’s world may have turned upside down in the last few years, there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s straight as a die. So he can’t be falling for David . . . can he?
Their friends and family think they know all the answers, and David’s office party hookup has his own plans for romance. Rory and David need to make up their minds and take a stand for what they really want—or their love could be over before it’s even begun.
About the Shamwell Tales
Welcome to Shamwell! A sleepy rural village in Hertfordshire, England, it’s the perfect place to move to for a little peace and quiet—or at least, you’d think so. But as a succession of newcomers to the village find, there’s more going on in these idyllic surroundings than cricket matches on the common and pints of ale in the local pubs.
As a place where everyone’s connected to everyone else, Shamwell’s rife with mishaps, mayhem, and misunderstandings—and the path of true love is no smoother than the ancient stone walls of the parish church.
Each contemporary romantic comedy in this series stands alone, but all feature a cast of characters drawn from Shamwell and its surroundings.
Check out the Shamwell Tales, available from Riptide Publishing!
About JL Merrow
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.
She writes (mostly) contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy, and several of her books have been EPIC Awards finalists, including Muscling Through, Relief Valve (the Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) and To Love a Traitor.
JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
Connect with JL:
To celebrate the release of Spun!, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 8, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!