Review: Relief Valve by J.L. Merrow

Posted February 6, 2018 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 20 Comments

Review: Relief Valve by J.L. Merrow
Relief Valve

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Series: The Plumber's Mate #2
Genres: M/M Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Riptide
Released on February 5, 2018
Pages: 341
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Get it at: add to goodreads

The Delight

The Delight: Some snark, some drama, attempted murder, and a hesitant romance reminded me why I enjoyed Pressure Head, the first book in The Plumber’s Mate series about not exactly ‘everyday joe’ Tom Paretsky the plumber and his broody PI boyfriend, Phil.


The events of Relief Valve happen shortly after the dramatic ending of Pressure Head and the relationship plot thread carries through with a new mystery to stir up Tom and Phil and have them back to detecting once again.  It’s probably not a great place to start in the series, but a reader could probably get by with just a moderate case of knowing they missed something.

Tom’s the main character and he’s a blend of fun and irritating in turn- yes, I have fun reading along.  Tom’s blue collar all the way and knows he’s an irritant to the family after a doctor and a lawyer for older siblings.  He likes working as a plumber and is good at it.  Kinda fun that the author gives several passing scenes of him out on his jobs.  He’s great with people and has a boyish charm that works on his clients and pretty much everyone.  He gets himself all wound up about things and tends to drama up everything, but he’s hilarious and lovable all the same.  He’s also just a wee bit psychic in that he has a gift.  He can find things and he can sense in what spirit of mind the person was in who hid them.  The police use him to help as a consultant and it was this gift that brought him and Phil together.

Yeah, Phil’s another interesting piece to the series.  He was once Tom’s bully and was indirectly responsible for Tom being in a bad accident in high school days.  Tom’s family knows this.  Phil doesn’t work hard to ingratiate himself and tends to drive Tom insane with insecurity and a little jealousy for Phil’s mysterious deceased spouse.  But the man has moved on, mostly, and embraces all that is Tom.

And, somewhere in the mix, Tom and Phil stumble upon another mystery to work.  Only this one hits very close to home.  Make that two mysteries with one taking up the most attention.  Someone poisoned Tom’s sister Cherry’s drink at her own engagement party and they soon ferret out there might be a few who had a motive.  Or was it Tom who was the intended victim since the other mystery involving an inheritance might be the motive?

I can’t understand why I didn’t continue on with this series after enjoying Pressure Head, but now with Riptide’s Re-releases of The Plumber’s Mate mysteries, I plan to keep going this time around.  I enjoy Tom, Phil, and the whole gang of colorful village characters and can’t wait to see what comes next.  This was a cozy mystery blended with spicy m/m romance and more than a smidge of comedy added in for flavor.  Definitely recommend!

My thanks to Riptide for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.


Romance Roundabout #34 LGBT
Literary Pickers #33 Tool Belt
New Release #7
Books N Tunes #4 Elvis Presley’s A Little Less Conversation A Little More Action Tune: 


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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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  • shootingstarsmag

    I reviewed this one yesterday! I’m so glad to see that you enjoyed it too. I love Tom and Phil – and Tom definitely makes me laugh quite often. I think this is a really fun series and I can’t wait for the third!


    • Oh cool! I’ll have to drop by and get your review thoughts, Lauren. Tom, oh man… he’s just something else. LOL Yes, definitely going forward with book three hopefully soon. 🙂

  • Can we talk for a second about the name of this series AND the fact that this cover model gets around? LOL

    Great review, Sophia. I’ve only read one book by this author, and it was a miss for me. But I want to try again.

    • Buahaha! Yep, its an original for sure. There are actually lists on GoodReads where folks track how man books share the same covers or cover models. I like this evolution of the covers for the series better than the first one.

      I’ve read a handful of her books and skipped a few others that didn’t look my thing. But I have enjoyed these first two books in this series so maybe try them. 🙂

  • I saw another good review about this one. It sounds like a fun series!

    • Definitely fun, Melliane! Hope you get the chance to try them.

  • Karen

    Another blogger reviewed this yesterday and I know I’ve read something by the author before but I’m not sure if it was this series.

    Karen @ For What It’s Worth

    • You must mean Lauren’s review. I enjoyed seeing that we both loved this one.

      Merrow has many books and series now. I’ve read a fun romcom set in a comic book shop, but that’s the only other one I’ve read besides this series. She has great humor in her stories. 🙂

  • The little paranormal element is cool and Tom sounds like fun.

    • Yes! I love his psychic ability to hone in on things and bodies that are hidden.
      And his snarky monologues and dialogues are great. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

  • I do like the sounds of two mysteries. Tom and Phil sound like a good team! Great review.

    • Yes! They have their moments and are such opposites which is the fun part of it.

  • I dont usually read M/M but I love how the MC is a plumber and there is a mystery XD

    • Yes, its nice to have an everyday guy working and also helping to solve mysteries. There’s definitely some m/m action going on, though. 😉

  • I don’t read M/M often, I need to try more of them. I did read one by Kate Meader a few books ago and loved it!!

    • Oh, I want to try both her firefighters and her hockey series, too. This series is something different as its mysteries, of course, but if you like those… go for it. 🙂

  • I don’t read M/M (I just can’t connect to the characters, don’t know why), but this sounds interesting and one I’d like to try out. I like the mystery in it. 🙂

    • If you like British mysteries like Midsomer (for the humor and the mystery), these have a similar tone to village life. The romance side is parts development, but definitely parts two guys who can’t keep their hands off each other. But no worries if its not your thing. 🙂

  • Lately I’ve been loving this genre so maybe one of these I’ll pick this one. Awesome review Sophia Rose 🙂

    • Glad to put it on your radar, Vanessa. 🙂 Hope you like this series when you get the chance.