Pippa Reviews: Angel by JL Merrow

Title: Angel
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: JMS Books
Pages: 33
Characters: Don, Michael
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Gay BDSM Fantasy Erotic Romance
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

How do you know if you’re one of the damned?

As a child, Don wanted to become a priest. Now a grown man mostly at ease with being gay, he’s left the Catholic Church and has chosen instead to help people through his work as a parole officer.

His strong faith is shaken when his latest assignment turns out to be Michael, a young man Don hasn’t seen since he took Michael to church as a child — and saw his parish priest cast Michael out of the church as a demon.

Meeting him as an adult re-ignites the obsession Don had with the boy he couldn’t save. But can Michael be saved at all? Or is the strangely compelling demon with a taste for risky sex as damned as he believes himself to be?

Review:

I don’t know how to describe my feelings about Angel. It is skillfully crafted, I expect nothing less from JL Merrow, and the story intrigues me.

I found it hard to relate to either of the characters, but the emotions, the guilt, the bitterness, and the need, oozed from Don and Michael.

Is it odd to say I’m not sure I liked Angel, but it caught my imagination? I could see these two men as if their encounters were being played out in front of me.

That’s why it gets 4 kisses. Because it’s a damned (ha!) good story.

Recommended

Reviewed By: Pippa Wood

Click HERE to purchase Angel by JL Merrow

To Love a Traitor by JL Merrow


Title: To Love a Traitor
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages: 143
Characters: Matthew Connaught, Roger Cottingham
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Historical Romance
Kisses: 5


Blurb:

Wounds of the heart take the longest to heal.

When solicitor’s clerk George Johnson moves into a rented London room in the winter of 1920, it’s with a secret goal: to find out if his fellow lodger, Matthew Connaught, is the wartime traitor who cost George’s adored older brother his life.

Yet as he gets to know Matthew—an irrepressibly cheerful ad man whose missing arm hasn’t dimmed his smile—George begins to lose sight of his mission.

As Matthew’s advances become ever harder to resist, George tries to convince himself his brother’s death was just the luck of the draw, and to forget he’s hiding a secret of his own. His true identity—and an act of conscience that shamed his family.

But as their mutual attraction grows, so does George’s desperation to know the truth about what happened that day in Ypres. If only to prove Matthew innocent—even if it means losing the man he’s come to love.

This is a novel-length expansion of previously published novella.

Product Warnings

Contains larks in the snow, stiff upper lips, shadows of the Great War, and one man working undercover while another tries to lure him under the covers.

Review:

I love historical romances. In my opinion, there’s not enough stories set during this time frame within this genre. So, when I saw To Love a Traitor was not only a book set not long after World War I AND it was written by JL Merrow, well I knew I had to read and review it. I am so glad I did! Ms. Merrow not only captures the time-frame in this book, she also wrote a very beautiful and thought-provoking romance.

I absolutely loved these two heroes. The chemistry between them was addictive to read and I truly loved how they relationship evolved from a friendship into something very special.

George is determined to see who set up his brother’s wartime death. When he is given the task of finding out who the traitor is he can’t resist in finding out the truth. When he finds himself face to face with the man that is suspected of treason, George can’t believe how drawn to him and how likeable Matthew is. Soon, he is swept up into Matthew’s life and as George gets to know him, he finds it harder and harder to believe that he is the one who betrayed so many.

George is a determined man who truly wants to do what is right. He is driven to find out the truth behind his brother’s death, but he isn’t blinded by this. He follows his instincts and quickly begins to believe that Matthew could never betray anyone, and they continue to get to know each other, George become plagued with the guilt of his own deception against his friend.

Matthew is one of the sweetest, likeable men I’ve ever read. He’s got this bubbly and positive attitudes that I really loved. Even though he’s been through his own hell in life, he’s refused to allow it to bring him down. I loved his zest for life and I absolutely adored him and George together.

In many ways these two men made sense together. They are like two peas on a pod. They truly do respect one another and even thought George has an ulterior motive, I wanted them to somehow work through all of the mess of the past and find a way to be together.

I also like the suspense of who the traitor was. This book did keep me questioning who did it and I highly enjoyed finding out who the culprit was.

To Love a Traitor is a unique and truly lovely romance that will live in your heart long after you’ve finished the book. I loved every minute I spent reading it and look forward to reading more historical romances by JL Merrow in the future.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

BUY HERE

Played! by JL Merrow


Title: Played!
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages: 180
Characters: Tristan, Con
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance, Series
Kisses: 5



Blurb:

All the world’s a stage…but real-life lessons are hidden in the heart.

The Shamwell Tales, Book 2

Though Tristan must join his family’s New York firm at summer’s end—no more farting around on stage, as his father so bluntly puts it—he can’t resist when Shamwell’s local amateur dramatics society begs him to take a role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The bonus: giving private acting lessons to a local handyman who’s been curiously resistant to Tristan’s advances. Not only is Con delicious, there’s fifty pounds riding on Tristan getting him in his bed.

A late-diagnosed dyslexic, Con’s never dared to act, convinced he’d never be able to learn his lines. But with Tristan’s help, he takes the chance. Trouble is, the last time Con fell for a guy, he ended up getting his heart broken. And with Tristan due to leave the country soon, Con is determined not to start anything that’s bound to finish badly.

Just as Tristan thinks he’s finally won Con’s heart—and given his own in return—disaster strikes. And the curtain may have fallen forever on their chance for happiness.

Product Warnings
Contains a surfeit of Bottoms and asses, together with enough mangled quotations to have the Bard of Avon gyrating in his grave.

Review:

JL Merrow has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I love the range of emotions I go through as I read her books and adore her witty sense of humor that really stands out in her stories.

What I loved about this story was the strong relationship between Con and Tristan. At first, you would think a working-class man and a actor wouldn’t have much in common. Watching them meet, work through misunderstandings, become friends and fall in love was truly a joy to watch. These men had a true emotional bond and a kinship they shared between them that sizzled off of the written page.

I also enjoyed the personal growth they both experience during the length of the novel. In particular, it was great to see Con really come into a more confident man. He’s already a nice and solid guy, but when he meets Tristan and grows into someone who becomes more self-assured and proud of his accomplishments. Even the cocky Tristan learns a lot from Con. I enjoyed watching him become a more understanding and patient man and adored the ways he showed his love and admiration for Con.

The story itself has a perfect balance between light and serious moments. There is an easy flow to it that makes it a quick and highly enjoyable read. Ms. Merrow is a master at being able to take command of her characters and sweep her readers into their intriguing, well-thought out lives. I love this series and can’t wait to read the next book. It will be interesting to see what she comes up with next and I’m anxious to know more about the characters in her Shamwell Tales series.

Played is the second book in the Shamwell Tales series. Although it could be easily read as a stand-alone book, I highly recommend reading these books in series order. You’ll easily adore all of these characters and will love the story they have to tell.

The Shamwell Tales series in book order are:

Caught!
Played!

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Buy HERE

Raising the Rent by JL Merrow


Title: Raising the Rent
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages: 77
Characters: Nathan, Stephen
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Kisses: 4.5



Blurb:

Rent boy rule number one: Never fall in love with a customer.

Life as a rent boy is not a long-term career goal for Nathan, who’s determined to get an education. But when he turns up for his first day at college he’s horrified to find his English teacher is one of his regular customers: Stephen, the one Nathan dubbed The Voice for his educated, honeyed tones.

Stephen’s just as shocked to see Nathan sitting in his class, not to mention terrified he’s about to be exposed as having paid for sex with a student—which would mean public humiliation and maybe the loss of his job. Yet it’s clear Nathan is only interested in getting his A Levels, not in blackmail. And Stephen realizes there’s more to the nineteen-year-old than meets the eye.

Nathan still has to earn a living, though, and when a customer turns ugly, he finds himself homeless and unable to work. Stephen steps in to help, and Nathan starts to think they could have a future together—if Stephen’s guilt and lack of trust don’t end their back-to-front romance before it starts.

Product Warnings

Contains unfashionable haircuts, unreasonably long words, and a May-December romance between a not-so-streetwise rent boy and an erudite English teacher.

Review:

May/December Romance…Check. A story about a Rent Boy with a heart of gold…Check. A story written by JL Merrow…double check.

As you can see, reading and reviewing this book was a little bit of a no-brainer for me. As soon as I read the blurb, I knew I had to check it out and I’m happy to say, Raising the Rent gave me a couple of hours of sheer, romantic entertainment.

Nathan is an 18 year old young man who has a goal in life. He wants to continue his higher education, but to do it, Nathan has to survive by selling his body on the streets. Nathan has been on his own for a whilem so he knows what it’s like to be without. His roommate is also a rent boy, and although they are friendly toward one another, Nathan really doesn’t have any true friends or anyone that he can rely on.

Nathan hates being a rent boy, but it keeps a roof over his head and food in his belly. Lately, Nathan has one customer in particular that he’s come to look forward to seeing. He’s an older man with a gentle smile that begins to haunts Nathan in his dreams. Every week it gets harder and harder for Nathan to not look forward and fantasize about his customer, so when Nathan attends his first day of English class and his professor is his favorite fantasy come to life, Nathan doesn’t know if he is horrified or thrilled to be around the professor.

Stephen is appalled that his secret rent boy is in his class. There is something sweet, sexy and sad about the young man he’s come to reluctantly care for. When Stephen and Nathan swear to keep their affiliation secret from others, Stephen begins to relax and see the younger man for who the sweet, goal oriented and nice guy, Nathan really is.

When Nathan is attacked, Stephen becomes his savior. As the two men begin to form a true friendship between them, they cannot forget the passionate attraction they have for each other. Will they be able to work through their past, so they can have a future together?

I really enjoyed this story. I thought the chemistry between the two men was very strong and highly addictive to read. I liked how they’re relationship evolved from a business one to a very loving, personal one. It was easy for me to root for this couple and hope they somehow find the happy ending they deserve together…and I wasn’t disappointed. I do wish the story had been longer. I would have liked to see them really work to make their relationship work and see how they deal with their age differences and so on, but for a novella, I thought Ms. Merrow did a good job at still making it a pretty well-rounded story.

Ms. Merrow writes with a humor and a quick wit that is both entertaining and addictive to read. Raising the Rent is a sexy, heartwarming read from start to finish. It’s an easy book to recommend and I’m looking forward to reading more books by Ms. Merrow in the future.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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JL Merrow is here for her Relief Valve Blog Tour! Enter to win a copy of her Award Winning book SLAM!

British Lawyers 101 – the Inns and Outs of the British legal profession

Hi, I’m JL Merrow. Thanks for having me here as part of the Relief Valve blog tour.
Today, I’d like to talk about the British legal profession.

Giveaway: I’m offering a free signed paperback copy of 2013 Rainbow Award winning romantic comedy Slam! (I’m happy to ship internationally) to a randomly chosen commenter on the tour, plus a $10 Amazon gift certificate!
I’ll be making the draw around teatime on Monday 7th April, GMT. Good luck! 😀

As I understand it, and feel free to correct me, in the US, all lawyers are created equal; a one-stop shop for all your justice needs. Not so in Britain: here the breed is divided into two distinct sub-species with very different roles:

Barrister

Soliciting
















Wait, no, that’s not right.

Ah, yes. I meant to put in this picture: Working as a Solicitor

Solicitors are usually the first point of contact for your average Brit in need of legal advice. They are found in firms, which are located in ordinary office buildings.
They tend to provide all the services required by the average law-abiding person: wills, house conveyances, that sort of thing. They wear the sort of outfits that would be perfectly unremarkable on the man or woman on the (city) street.

If, however, you’ve been a naughty boy/girl and got on the wrong side of the law, or alternatively something’s got your goat and you have a yen to sue someone, you’ll probably find yourself in need of a barrister to argue your case in court. The chances are it’ll be your solicitor who finds one for you. Barristers congregate in Chambers, which are usually located in rather posher than average office buildings. They wear the sort of outfits which would be perfectly unremarkable on the man—and only the man—on the 17th Century street. Yep, even the women wear ’em. That means wigs and all in the criminal courts, although the wearing of these has been abolished in civil and family courts.

Tom’s sister Cherry in Relief Valve is a barrister, and to be honest Tom doesn’t have much of a clue what she does, making the somewhat sexist assumption (bad Tom!) that she handles divorces and “family stuff”. Interestingly, a 2011 survey by the Bar Standards Board found that female barristers were still outnumbered almost 2 to 1 by male barristers, whereas the gender split is close to 50:50 when it comes to solicitors.

Are the outfits to blame? Let’s face it, horsehair wigs aren’t a good look on anyone, but it could be argued that women get the worst of it, wearing a hairpiece designed for a man.

Then again, some of us have always suspected that men are (a) the more argumentative sex and (b) fonder of the sound of their own voices! 😉

Question: do you see the outdated outfits worn by British lawyers in court as part of a proud old tradition that should be maintained? Or do you think the Bar should embrace the 21st century, sartorially speaking? Or, well, at least the 20th?

***

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 is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy.
She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
Find JL Merrow online at: http://www.jlmerrow.com, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jl.merrow

***
Relief ValveIf you dig up the past, be prepared to get dirty
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing since plumber Tom Paretski and P.I. Phil Morrison became connected at the heart, if not always at Tom’s dodgy hip. Neither of their families has been shy about voicing their disapproval, which hasn’t helped Tom’s uneasy relationship with his prickly older sister, Cherry.

But when Cherry is poisoned at her own engagement party, the horror of her near death has Tom’s head spinning with possible culprits. Is it her fiancé Gregory, a cathedral canon with an unfortunate manner and an alarming taste for taxidermy? Someone from her old writers’ circle, which she left after a row? Or could the attack be connected to her work as a barrister?

Phil is just as desperate to solve the case before someone ends up dead—and he fears it could be Tom. At least one of their suspects has a dark secret to hide, which makes Tom’s sixth sense for finding things like a target painted on his back…

Warning: Contains a strong, silent, macho PI; a cheeky, chirpy, cat-owning plumber; and a gag gift from beyond the grave that’ll put the cat firmly among the pigeons.

Now available in ebook: Samhain Publishing | Amazon.com |Amazon.co.uk

It’s All Geek to Me by JL Merrow


Title: It’s All Geek to Me
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages: 57
Characters: Jez, Rhys
POV: 1st
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance, Humor
Kisses: 5


Blurb:

Jez is on a mission of mercy: to replace a tragically deceased comic book for his injured best mate, Tel. Venturing into the Hidden Asteroid bookstore in London—the temple of geekdom itself—Jez is bowled over by the guy behind the counter.

Rhys is the poster boy for hot geeks: tall, gorgeous, and totally cool. Jez is desperate to impress him, so he bluffs his way through comic book jargon . . . and then dashes back to the hospital to beg Tel to teach him how to speak Geek.

Tel’s happy to oblige, and Jez is over the moon when Rhys asks him out. He’s even more thrilled when they discover a shared love of rugby, something he won’t have to fake for Rhys. The question is, how long can Jez keep up the deception, and what will happen when Rhys realizes he’s going out with a Fake Geek Guy?

Review:

I’ve read several of JL Merrow’s books and I’ve loved them all. Ms. Merrow has a way of writing humor mixed in with a lot of romance and it keeps me coming back for more every time!

The blurb does a great job at describing the story, so I won’t rehash a lot of it. Instead, I thought I’d talk about why I liked this book and why I’d recommend it.

All of the characters in this book bring something interesting to the story. Not only are they likeable people, they seem to live and breathe off of the written page. Also, the attraction between Jez and Rhys was a very strong one. I liked how Jez really tried to like and understand the lure of comic books to impress Rhys. I also appreciated that even though he does try to enjoy them, he just doesn’t get it and decides he need to come clean with Rhys, so their budding relationship can move forward positively.

Since the book is told through Jez’s eyes, he’s an easy character to love. He seems to be a real stand-up guy when it comes to being there for his friends. I liked the chemistry between him and his best friend, Tel, and loved how, even though he felt awkward and a little out of his league with Rhys, he was determined to get to know him. Jez doesn’t always take himself seriously and because of it, he doesn’t realize what an attractive and good person he really is.

Ms. Merrow has a wicked sense of humor that really shows in her work. Her stories are very British, but also very funny. As an American, I really enjoy the different slang and the English culture that really resonates off of the pages. Because of this, there were some moments when I found myself laughing out loud at some of the actions Jez either say or goes through. All in all this is a very sweet, sexy and lighthearted story that is very easy to recommend.

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Hands together for: JL Merrow

welcome

 

 

Thank you for taking some down time and spending it with us. Let’s start this off with a beverage. We have coffee, tea, some sort of juice (I think it’s been in here a few weeks) and soda. What would you like?

Coffee for me, please. None of that nasty tea stuff (and yes, I do realize I’m calling my very Britishness into question here!) Can’t stand it.

coffee

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m British; born and bred on the Isle of Wight and therefore able to proudly call myself a Caulkhead. I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and an avid writer for the last few years. Well, it beats getting a proper job! 😉

When you received news that your manuscript had been accepted what were the first words that fell from your mouth?

These days, with the contract often being signed before I actually deliver the goods, it’s usually just a sigh of relief! 😉

What forces brought you over to the MM Genre and what made you want to write it?

Dark, dark forces…*g*  Online friends, actually.  Like many of us in the genre, I started out as a fanfic writer. Then I found out some of my friends were writing original gay fiction and getting published—and picked their brains mercilessly on how to do it. (We’re still friends, so they can’t have minded too much!)

Would you care for some cookies? We have chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal with or without raisins and a package of mystery ones. We have cake too. Your choice.

Mmm, chocolate chip, please. Unless the cake is cheesecake? *hopes*

6294101-traditional-plate-of-home-made-cookies-and-cake

Waaaaaiiit a minute. Cookies? Does this mean I’ve come over to the Dark Side? 😉    

Yes, yes it does. LOL! How many hours a day do you spending writing?

Honestly? I have no idea. It varies greatly from day to day, and even if I’m sitting at my computer, that doesn’t mean I’m actually getting stuff written! Then again, there’s a lot more to this writing business than just getting words on the page, what with edits, promo, stalking the Amazon ranking… *g*

Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?

A bit of both, really. I often find a bit of gentle editing is a good way to ease into the day’s writing, but if I’m on a roll I‘ll just keep going.

When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?

I’m a dedicated pantser. I was about 60k into the latest mystery before I was able to proudly announce to my local writers’ group that I knew whodunnit! I’m comforted by the fact that apparently Agatha Christie’s method was somewhat similar. 😉

Of your characters do you have a favorite and why?

I love all my boys and girls, but I must admit a particular soft spot for Al from Muscling Through. Of all my characters, he was probably the most challenging—and the most fun—to write. Then again, I’m very fond of Tim from Hard Tail, too. That book is quite personal to me, and it was great to be able to work with my brother on the technical side.

Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?

I do suffer from writers’ block from time to time, and the only way I’ve found to get round it is by stopping writing for a bit. I know some authors say you should write your way through it, but that’s never worked for me. I need to get away from the keyboard and let the creative batteries recharge themselves.

Do you have a particular spot in your house that you call your comfy zone? (The place where you write.)

I think “the messy zone” probably describes it rather more accurately! My writing “cave” tends to accumulate clutter in the form of reference material (hey, you can’t do everything online); files of contracts and tax stuff; author copies of print books; unused swag; and print-outs of bits of stories. Oh, and my fan, which sits on the desk next to me and is absolutely indispensible in the summer.

When you’re in the mindset to write, do you put a sign up that warns others not to disturb you while at work?

I would, if I thought there was any realistic chance of it being heeded!

How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?

My sense of humour? Rather British, I suspect. Who makes me laugh? Terry Pratchett, without a doubt. His books are a masterclass in comedy writing. And as for TV, ooh, lots of things, really. Blackadder, repeats of The Two Ronnies, Mock the Week…

What are you working on now?FallHard72web

I’ve just finished the second draft of the sequel to Pressure Head, provisionally titled Relief Valve, which is due out next March. I’ve really enjoyed writing Tom and Phil again, and I’m planning to write at least one more book in the Plumber’s Mate series.  I realised this quite near to the end of Relief Valve which, without giving too much away, kind of demands another book! It’s by no means a cliff-hanger, but it does leave you wanting to know more. Well, it left me and my crit partners wanting to know more, at any rate! And I think this may be the secret to writing a series; if the writer ever reaches the point where she’s discovered everything about her characters, it’s probably time to stop.

Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive – both in your work and out of it?

It’s actually something I increasingly have to remind myself to do!  While it’s sometimes tempting to stay snug in the writer’s cave, no one can get inspired in a vacuum. Lately I’ve been challenging myself to say “yes” to things I might otherwise have declined, like public speaking or white-water rafting. It’s amazing how much less daunting things are if you just view the experience, good or bad, as material for a future novel!

What kind of books do you like to read outside of the MM Genre?

I like old-fashioned mysteries, such as Dorothy L Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey books and the Sherlock Holmes stories. I used to read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, particularly urban fantasy (and I must admit to a fangirly squee on finding myself recently in an anthology with Carrie Vaughn, author of the Kitty Norville werewolf series). I’ve always loved classic authors such as Jane Austen, Ann Radcliffe, Fanny Burney, and Thomas Hardy—many of whose books I read at university (while I was supposed to be revising physics). And Pratchett, of course. I worship at the comic feet of Sir Terry. Basically, I like reading stuff that’s fun. J

Pick one: Scientist, Astronaut, Retail, or Horse Trainer-

Scientist. Brains are sexy. Also tasty, but only if you’re a zombie. I have eaten brains, but as I am not, in fact, a zombie I did not enjoy the experience. >(

Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?

I’m a member of the UK Meet organizing team, I’m in a choir (one of those friendly ones where you don’t, actually, have to be able to sing very well) and I’ve just started learning to knit.

Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?

Lots and lots of scarves (see above re knitting).IMG_5570scarves

Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?

My website and blog is at www.jlmerrow.com – please drop by and leave me a comment! I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jl.merrow and Twitter at https://twitter.com/jlmerrow

It was a pleasure having you here with us today. Please come by and let us know how you’re doing from time to time. OH! And before you leave, can I get your help here in the kitchen? Thanks!!

Thanks so much for having me here—it’s been great! The cheese cake was delicious. And I’d love to help in the kitchen, honestly, but I’m afraid I have some urgent, um, editing to do. Lots and lots of editing.  *walks away swiftly*

*looks over shoulder and breaks into a run*

Tsk. You are missing out on the dishes. dishes