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Muscling Through [Kindle Edition]

J.L. Merrow
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The bigger they come, the harder they fall... in love.

Cambridge art professor Larry Morton takes one, alcohol-glazed look at the huge, tattooed man looming in a dark alley, and assumes he’s done for. Moments later he finds himself disarmed—literally and figuratively. And, the next morning, he can’t rest until he offers an apology to the man who turned out to be more gentle than giant.

Larry's intrigued to find there's more to Al Fletcher than meets the eye; he possesses a natural artistic talent that shines through untutored technique. Unfortunately, no one else seems to see the sensitive soul beneath Al’s imposing, scarred, undeniably sexy exterior. Least of all Larry's class-conscious family, who would like nothing better than to split up this mismatched pair.

Is it physical? Oh, yes, it’s deliciously physical, and so much more—which makes Larry’s next task so daunting. Not just convincing his colleagues, friends and family that their relationship is more than skin deep. It’s convincing Al. 

Contains comic misunderstandings, misuse of art materials, and unexpected poignancy.

Editorial Reviews


This is such an amazing book... It is touching, sweet and made me cry and smile at the same time. I cannot recommend it enough! - Serena Yates, QMO
The romance was well paced, imaginative, incredibly funny, hot, and so heartfelt and sensitive in the way that Larry and Al dealt with their own insecurities I marvelled at the author's skill in writing such well crafted characters...I can't express how much I adored it.
 - 5 stars from Jessewave

I adore every single thing about this book and hope everyone else does too. It's so heart warming, genuine, funny, romantic, sexy, caring, sensitive, witty...easily one of my favorite books of the year - 5 cherries from Whipped Cream Reviews 

It's engaging, interesting, and heartwarming. Sometimes it's tinged with sadness but more so with the kind of emotion that tugs at your heart strings. I simply adore Al and love his relationship with Larry... Overall there are so many things to recommend this story I can't recommend it enough. 5 stars from Kassa

I really enjoyed the book. I loved, as I always do, the utter Englishness of your voice.... a really sweet love story that asked some deep questions without seeming to do so - recommended read from Dear Author
an absolutely lovely romance. Tender moments, great dialogue, and sensual encounters, as well as a solid plotline make Muscling Through a treasure to read - Joyfully Reviewed

Product Details

  • File Size: 233 KB
  • Print Length: 87 pages
  • Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (July 19, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,357 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So dang sweet July 27, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved both this novelette and Pricks and Pragmatism by the same author. They are both told in first person, in a distinctively, working-class, British voice (different characters, the books are unrelated) which is sometimes brilliantly funny. This novelette is about a big, sweet, gruff-looking guy, maybe not the brightest bulb, but such a good soul. He falls in love with a Cambridge Art History Professor, and the story takes it from there. Both characters are good people and very likeable, as are the colorful side characters and at times very funny. Definitely, worth the read. I loved it, so I kind of wish it was longer, but it pacts a punch, so I don't know what else really needed to be said. Regardless, it left me with a big smile.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By Chicano
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
an amazing love story. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and nothing trumps love. Larry meets Big Al in an alley where Al is taking a piss.... Larry thinks Al is a mugger and is scared as Larry is a diminutive Cambridge Don. Larry and Al fall in to an unusual partnership that amazes everyone but Larry. Some folks eyes open to find that love, talent, and character take many beautiful forms and others remain blinded by stupidity.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than I expected July 21, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've just read "Muscling Through" by J.L. Merrow, based upon the recommendation of a couple of people on a book forum, whose opinion I trust.

This was a very quick read, since it is a novella rather than a full-length novel. But it was also a surprisingly satisfying one, for its length!

(Yikes, I just re-read that last sentence, which could certainly be taken to mean something that was TOTALLY not intended!)

I wasn't sure I was comfortable with Al's voice as he began telling the story, when he came across as being a bit slow on the uptake. (Which of course is totally hypocritical of me, since I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer myself.) But in no time at all, I grew to like this character; he's a real sweetheart, and it was refreshing to hear someone express himself so very directly.

Now, I also had my doubts as to whether these two people---who, intellectually speaking, are operating on completely different levels---could have a successful long-term relationship. But by the end of the story the reader is rooting for the two fellows wholeheartedly, and totally believes that they will make a go of it. Is such a relationship possible in real life? Hmmmm, I'm still not sure---I think it rather unlikely---but nevertheless you'll believe it can be true as you read this story.

This tale also had a lot more sex in it than the romances I usually read. Wait, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Heh. But hey, it worked---though the question is how to classify it. Does it veer a bit toward erotica, or is it still simply a romance?

Oh, I should add that I loved how this story began. It was very funny---I've re-read the first chapter four or five times already.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it too! August 13, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
This romance between a savant and a college professor is engaging, sweet and fun. I love Al's voice and I thought the writer did a great job with his thoughts. Both characters are endearing. So is Al's mother who took it all in stride. Almost a simple love story but different because how often do we get to enter into the simple but endearing mind of a savant with his fears and love.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome character September 16, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Al is an awesome character, a British workingclass guy who is not very educated or even a great thinker but who has a street smart kind of awareness. He is very okay with being gay and being an artist (tho he has to do labor for a living). He and a young art professor meet through a very funny extended misunderstanding, and edge their cautious way into a relationship because they are obviously very attracted to each other even if they are from totally different worlds. I like how the prof never looks down on Al but they have a balance where each needs the other. the prof's family disapproves, of course. Al's loud comical family is fine with it. Can the brawny guy and the brainy guy make it work? This is one of those very few m/m fiction that I actually think would have been better shorter than longer because their story feels complete just past the halfway point, tho it is still fun reading about what they do from there. I will look for more by this author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it August 12, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This story is honest, endearing and captivating. The story is told from perspective of the main character, Alan. Alan is not that intelligent but he is loving, caring and totally devoted to his partner, James a college professor.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay read October 13, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was just an okay read for me. It was kind of sweet but in a gay Forrest Gump kind of way. I think if the author had made the main character and narrator just a little less clueless I could have gotten into the book more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, not stupid November 4, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really like J.L. Merrow. This is a stand alone that is really great. I found the big lug to be simple, not stupid. It was interesting to be in his head and to imagine what the inner monologue sounded like.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What's not to like?
The best way that I can describe this book without being too verbose is this way; if you love Forest Gump you will love this book. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Chrissy A.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
If there's one thing I want more of to read, it's books like this. Sexy, heartfelt, funny at times, sad at times, and I feel like I fell in love with both Larry and Al. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Shel Hollingsworth
5.0 out of 5 stars sweet and makes you think
I initially was put off by the narrator of this story, but as it progressed, I thought he was wonderful. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars <3 Al and Larry <3
I loved this short little story... Al is so sweet and the way he and Larry meet is so cute lol
Although Al isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, Larry see's him for his good... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jennifer Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet
It is a sweet story. All reminds me of my son who is autistic. The way his mind works is simple he cares for Larry's happiness and the rest is just not worth his time. Read more
Published 4 months ago by star
5.0 out of 5 stars Gotta love a gentle giant....
I really liked the main character, he was a gentle giant. He was simple, not stupid as other reviews indicate. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Liza
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining
I liked the main character's narration. It felt real and was entertaining. haha
Published 6 months ago by Manga Cruiser
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of those warm and happy all over stories.
I normally read paranormal or scifi books for the drama and action. I like escape, away from the world and reading about creatures, magic or space travel is about as far away as... Read more
Published 6 months ago by HisBabes
5.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet
This is a good representation of a rather unlikely situation where opposites attract. Well written with a witty turn of phrase, and well paced. Read more
Published 8 months ago by MourningandCelebration
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written and fun
I really do not want to give this book three stars, but it will have to do as I can't decide between one or five. I'll get back to that dilemma below. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Miannie
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More About the Author

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, 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.

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

Find JL Merrow online at:, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at

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