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Muscling Through [Kindle Edition]

J.L. Merrow
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 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.

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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:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,187 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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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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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6 of 7 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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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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for those who like when GOOD people win December 12, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Alan and Lawrence, eh? I AM SO IN LOVE IT DARN WELL HURTS.
This book is for anyone who likes GOOD people. Anyone who wants GOOD people to win. Win love, appreciation, and friendship because of WHO they are. I am left with so many good feelings after reading this book that I'm almost scatterbrained. Let's see if I can pull it together.

First of all, do not judge a book by its cover, nor a person by his looks. Alan would probably have scared the bejeezus out of me too, had I met him in a dark alley at night. More the power to Lawrence who took it upon himself to seek Al out and apologize.

I adored the language in this book. (As you see, I'm jumping from subject to subject here, this is what good writing does to my brain). It was so English it went beyond corny and traveled straight into Fab-Land. To see the world through Al's eyes was a treat. The goodness. The mighty goodness--there is simply not enough writing in the world about goodness like this one. Please write me more.

I loved the accent, it came through strong, and British, and good, and fun. (It made me remember when I was originally taught English and since then all those pesky little "u"s have had to be taken out all over my writing, when Chicago took over my life. I loved seeing them here, though, good memories). Also, the difference in class is so very obvious here, even in writing. Class, education, intelligence, all that goes out the window when two people are true to their own beings, and are LET TO BE true. How Larry and Al take the leap over all those obstacles is just plain beautiful. Al's direct, down-to-earth attitude has a lot to do with it, of course. ("'Are you a poof?' I asked. I didn't think he'd mind.")

Some highlights? Sure, I'm always up for that!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Al and Larry are for real
Sometimes, it's someone unexpected, an unexpected blessing, who helps us to realize our full potential, no matter how quiet that potential may be. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Spifette
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy read
4 fluffy happy stars

Wow, what a difference a second try can make. I started this book after I bought it (way back in October 2011), but just couldn’t get into it. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Jilrene
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book!
I LOVED this book. I had a grin on my face through the entire thing. The writing style is just perfect for me. I sank right into the story and didn't stop until I finished. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Liz
2.0 out of 5 stars Not happy at all.
I look at all of the 4 and 5 star reviews, heck, even the 3 stars, and I wonder, "Did I somehow end up with a version that had the good story taken out and replaced with a bad... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lora905
4.0 out of 5 stars good
just a simple lovely and touching love story... i like the characters that so far come out heck all of them actually. (even the not so nice ones too! Read more
Published 4 months ago by Nadia
5.0 out of 5 stars that was so good!
I knew from the first page when I burst out laughing at Al's thoughts that I was going to love this book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Adrienne
3.0 out of 5 stars Wanting More
This book left me wanting more. The story is good, plot isn't bad but you want more than what you get from it. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Eittocs
4.0 out of 5 stars So much fun, and a great narrative voice!
This was such a charming story.

Al Fletcher is a lug - a big guy who works hard and is well aware that he's none too bright. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Nathan Burgoine
4.0 out of 5 stars A charming, sweet, funny M/M romance....a heart warmer for sure!
Muscling Through is not the usual type of book I read as it focuses on a M/M gay relationship. Although I’ve read several ménage books (both MFM and MMF) it seemed very... Read more
Published 6 months ago by VICVIC13
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Outstanding Book
Beautifully written m/m romance with an excellent riff on British class snobbery. I love Merrow's books, and this is one of his best. I recommend it highly!
Published 6 months ago by David M. Douds
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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.

Find JL Merrow online at:

JL Merrow is one of the organisers of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet:

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