Review: Relief Valve by J.L. Merrow

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

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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

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If you dig up the past, be prepared for some dirt to stick.

The relationship between Tom Paretski, a cheeky plumber with a gift for finding hidden things, and PI Phil Morrison may only be a few weeks old, but already it’s under attack. Tom’s friends and family are convinced the former bully isn’t good enough for him, and they’re not shy about saying so.

Then Tom’s prickly older sister, Cherry, is poisoned at her own engagement party. Tom’s left reeling and not knowing who to suspect. Could it be her new fiancé, Gregory, a cathedral canon with an unfortunate manner and a taste for taxidermy? Or someone from her old writers’ circle, which she left after a row? Or could the attack be connected to her work as a barrister? Meanwhile, Tom’s honorary auntie’s left him a gag gift from beyond the grave that could be more significant than anyone knows.

Phil’s fighting against the clock to solve the case before somebody ends up dead. And with the poisoner hiding a dark secret, Phil’s terrified Tom could have been the target all along.

Publisher's note: This is lightly edited reprint of a previously published novel.

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.


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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.