I usually enjoy J.L. Merrow's books. I find her style refreshing, and her Briticisms are right up my alley. But, after reading Slam!, I feel she's reached a plateau and things are about to take a turn toward failure. Merrow's writing is rapidly becoming stale and at the same time too apparent, making her stories dull and more or less predictable.
So. J.L. Merrow's formula. Let's see what we have here, in no particular order:
Apart from the above, in Slam!, Jude (the hero) also kept saying "ew" and pouting, kept finding things "lush," and kept going all warm and gooey or tingly or whipped-creamy inside, to name a few of his habits.
So, I got it. Jude was a young, loud, flamboyant kind of person. And it would have been okay if his love interest, David, wasn't the exact opposite. He was older, restrained, unflashy. And exactly because of that, and because of the fatherly way he reacted to Jude's dramatic mannerisms, he came across as much older than he really was, which was a bit disturbing, even though it was alluded in the book that Jude always went for much older men. The plot didn't help much in this respect, either, because David kept having to protect Jude from dangerous situations and take him to the A&E. Much like a father would do with his son.
I won't comment on Jude's mother, her age and the role it played in the story. I'm willing to let it pass, since she was an undereducated woman with self-esteem issues trying to rebuild her life with a new man. I can't say the same about Keisha, Jude's best friend, though. Too many times her side story felt redundant. Unless the author plans to do an f/f sequel featuring her, I fail to see why she needed to take up so much space in the book.
The salacious limericks didn't bother me, but that side of the story (the slams, the open mics, etc.) felt a bit desultory; it didn't mesh well with the rest of the plot.
Ms Merrow isn't very well-known for her fascinating and intriguing plots (it's usually her characters that captivate the reader) but here she gave up altogether. The story could be summed up as follows: Jude and David meet, they go out on a few dates, they have sex, they spend some time apart and then they get back together. The End.
I'm giving this 2.5 stars (rounded up to three) because I two-starred Wight Mischief and I may have not enjoyed Slam much, but it wasn't nearly as frustrating a reading experience as Wight Mischief.