Heat Trap (Plumber’s Mate series) book 3 - JL Merrow

The wrong secret could flush their love down the drain

It’s been six months since plumber Tom Paretski was hit with a shocking revelation about his family. His lover, P.I. Phil Morrison, is pushing this as an ideal opportunity for Tom to try to develop his psychic talent for finding things. Tom would prefer to avoid the subject altogether, but just as he decides to bite the bullet, worse problems come crawling out of the woodwork.

Marianne, a young barmaid at the Devil’s Dyke pub, has an ex who won’t accept things are over between them. Grant Carey is ruthless in dealing with anyone who gets between him and Marianne, including an old friend of Tom and Phil. Their eagerness to step in and help only makes them targets of Grant’s wrath themselves.

With Tom’s uncertainty about Phil’s motives, Tom’s family doing their best to drive a wedge between them, and the revelation of an ugly incident in Phil’s past, suddenly Tom’s not sure whom he can trust.

The body in the Dyke’s cellar isn’t the only thing that stinks.

Warning: Contains British slang, a very un-British heat wave, and a plumber with a psychic gift who may not be as British as he thinks he is.

Available in ebook and paperback: Samhain | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | ARe

The Old Ball and Chain

Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’d like to thank RJ for welcoming me here as part of the Heat Trap blog tour. J

Today, I’d like to talk to you about an institution.

It’s not a spoiler to say there’s a wedding in Heat Trap. Cuddly campanologist Gary and his ex porn star lover Darren were already planning the wedding—not without a few hiccups—in Relief Valve.

As Church of England priests aren’t currently allowed to marry same sex couples, the place our happy couple chose to get hitched was the St Albans Register Office.

Looks lovely, doesn’t it? And the cannon in the forecourt adds a nicely phallic touch.

But if you’re British, and of a certain age—or if you just like watching old comedy shows—you may be experiencing a slight sense of déjà vu.

Because yes, you’ve seen this frontage before:

Every episode of the much-loved 1970s comedy series Porridge started with footage of the late, great Ronnie Barker getting banged up for five years in Slade Prison, aka St Albans Register Office.

Marriage is like prison but without the sex - Anon
Maybe it’s just my warped sense of humour, but I must admit it tickles me that so many happy couples queue up to get a life sentence in what was once the most famous fictional prison in the land (I think it’s now been overtaken by Azkaban, but as far as I know, you can’t yet get married there).

And it gets better. The Register Office actually was a prison in Victorian times—or rather, this particular building was the gatehouse and governor’s residence. There were 99 cells: 85 for men, and 14 for women, all single occupancy with “heating, hammock, window and toilet” - http://www.stalbanshistory.org/. There was also a schoolroom—and a treadmill for those on hard labour.

How many of those gathered to celebrate weddings, I wonder, spare a thought for the poor unfortunates (or, if you like, undeserving miscreants) who passed through that famous gateway before them?

If marriage isn't a prison, why do they call it wedlock? – Anon

I’ll leave the last word to Norman Stanley Fletcher, as played by Ronnie Barker (here, trying to weasel his way out of having to wear prison-issue boots in the first ever episode of Porridge, first broadcast 1974):

Doctor: Suffer from any illness?

Fletch: Bad feet.

Doctor: (annoyed) Suffer from any illness?

Fletch: (insistently) Bad feet!

Doctor: Paid a recent visit to a doctor or hospital?

Fletch: Only with my bad feet.

Doctor: Are you now or have you at any time been a practicing homosexual?

Fletch: What, with these feet? Who'd have me?


Free ebook from my backlist (including Heat Trap) to a randomly chosen commenter on this post. 
Giveaway question: what’s the best/worst/weirdest place you’ve ever heard of people getting married?

And there’s a grand prize of a signed paperback copy of book #2 in my Plumber’s Mate series, the EPIC award finalist Relief Valve, plus a pair of rainbow-coloured merino wool blend wrist-warmers, hand-knitted by the author, for one lucky commenter on the tour.

I’m happy to ship internationally, and the more blog posts you comment on, the more chances you get!

Please remember to leave an email addy in your comment so I can get in touch with you if you win.

I’ll be making the draws around teatime on Wednesday 1st April, GMT (no joke!)

Good luck! :D

About JL

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through was a 2013 EPIC Award finalist, and her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy. Her novel Relief Valve is a finalist in the 2015 EPIC Awards.

JL Merrow is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online at: www.jlmerrow.com, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jl.merrow


  1. Great post. It is good to have an image to match my idea of Gary and Darren's marriage. And it is quite ironic that it was a prison in a previous series (though not being British I haven't seen Porridge... Is there any chance to get it on the internet? It sounds interesting...). It makes me wonder where other weddings may take place... ;)


    1. Thanks! I'm not sure if Porridge is available to watch online but it's constantly repeated on British TV (not a lot of help if you're not currently residing in Britland, I realise) and is regarded as a comedy classic. There are certainly snippets available on YouTube. :)

    2. Britland? Typo - or best new name for it ;)

      Love the history of this place - who would have guessed? There's definitely some kind of karmic joke or sameness to going from physically to metaphorically shackled up people...

  2. Having not yet visiting England nor watched Porridge I had no idea this was an actual place. It's always fun to get details like this! aahickmanathotmaildotcom

    1. I wonder how many prison-themed weddings they've had there? ;)
      Thanks for commenting! :D

  3. Thanks for the great post! amaquilante(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. Loved learning more about the history of a setting in the book. Truthfully, I enjoy every setting in the book. When Tom mentions a place that he visits for plumbing, I try to look it up on Google Maps. ;) I also look up the meanings of unfamiliar words/phrases like "council estate."

    Waxapplelover (at) gmail (dot) com

    1. And now I'm feeling guilty because I make around half of the places up! They're always based on real places, but for various reasons (mother nature inconsiderately putting rivers in the wrong place, real-life cathedral deans being less than keen on shenanigans in their backyard, etc) many of the places where the juicier stuff happens are figments of my twisted imagination. If you want to visit St Leonard's cathedral, for example, you'll have to pop Oop North to Beverley (it's well worth a visit, and do take the roof tour - see my earlier post on the subject: http://sinfullysexybooks.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/relief-valve-plumbers-mate-2-by-jl.html).

      And yes, it's funny which phrases just don't translate. I don't know what the US has instead of council estates - trailer parks? Or are they even further downmarket?

  5. Interesting post about the prison, and the old show which I'm not familiar with, since it wasn't shown here in the USA. The weirdest would be is a bride and groom getting married as they were bungee jumping off a bridge. I guess it would be leap off in getting married.
    strive4bst(AT) yahoo(Dot) com

    1. Bungee jumping?! I'm thinking that wouldn't work well with the traditional meringue dress! Great image!
      Thanks for sharing. :)

  6. That's much lovelier than what I was picturing while reading about the wedding. I have a terrible time picturing locations, though. I usually google, like, house styles, etc so I can more easily set it up in my brain.

    1. Oops! allesonl at gmail dot com

    2. Yes, I'm not so hot at picturing stuff when I read. That's why a really well-done film adaptation can really add something to a book for me - I remember seeing the very first Harry Potter film and thinking OMG, so *that's* what the Great Hall looks like. :)

  7. Oh, 'Porridge', that was always fun. I don't think it ever clicked with me where they filmed it though. And I definitely didn't know anything else about the location.

    1. Ronnie Barker was a great comedy actor, wasn't he? And so bizarre to see a young David Jason made up to look old! ;)

  8. I guess there's an auto showroom about an hour away that has become popular for weddings (apparently, the place is huge, and people like being driven in). The thought of getting married in a prison does make me grin broadly!

    Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

  9. I recently watched Porridge via DVD and find it so fascinating that the prison featured is in fact the frontage for St Albans Register Office, which also had a history of being a prison. I do know that there were talks last year of remake, but I am not sure who they find to play Ronnie Barkers role as was such a good comedy actor with such good timing.

    Okay, interesting, strange, etc places to get married. A work colleague got married at Alton Towers (a theme park) and held their reception in the shark aquarium. A romantic place, I want to go to Venice, get married there and return to the UK via the Orient Express, stopping via Paris.

    I also get thrown by spelling or phrasing that I do not recognise, but since I have had an ebook reader I can click on the word/s and the search results normally come back with a explanation of its meaning.

    Thank you for the giveaway and love the mittens :) slholland22 at {hotmail} dot com

    1. Ooh, I hadn't heard they were talking of remaking Porridge! I'm not sure how I feel about that, actually. I think the original show still works well - it hasn't dated as much as some shows.

      Sharks are original, but your wedding idea sounds fantastic! I've always had a yen to travel on the Orient Express. Preferably dressed in 1920s style - I've always loved that era.

      And yes, don't you just love e-readers? I find it really annoying to read dead tree books these days. For a start, it's always embarrassing when you find yourself tapping the corner of the page and waiting for it to turn itself... ;)