Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
When Jez’s best friend Tel is hit by a car while riding his motorcycle, it not only lands Tel in the hospital but costs him his newest, unread comic book. So with Tel looking at a long stay in the hospital, Jez sets out to replace the comic and maybe buy a few more for his friend. Jez is out of his depths when it comes to all things geek, even more so when he enters that bastion of geekness itself, the Hidden Asteroid bookstore in London. To his amazement, the man behind the counter is stunning, tall, gorgeous with a wicked smile and Jez is smitten.
Rhys seems to be attracted to Jez too but Rhys thinks that Jez is buying the comics for himself and is a geek just like Rhys. What is a non geek to do? After heading back to the hospital, Jez hatches a plan to have Tel teach him how to be a geek so he can talk to Rhys. When it starts to work and Rhys asks Jez out, then the act must continue but for how long? Jez is crazy for Rhys but he’s not the geek he’s made out to be. It’s everyones guess if love will win out in It’s All Geek To Me.
I am still laughing over this funny short story from J.L. Merrow. What a terrific set up for a romance. Non geek falls for gorgeous geek in that hallowed hall of geeks, the comic bookstore and tries to figure out how to talk to someone so cool as to be out of his league. And of course he goes about it all wrong. Key the laugher because you know that the hilarity is sure to follow and in J.L. Merrow’s hands, it certainly does.
From dialog that snaps, complete with English slang and a compendium of comic book heroes (real and Merrow created), this story just dances right along, feeling real and completely down to earth. And her characters are absolutely endearing, starting with the insecure Jez. He has issues with his physique, seeing himself as pudgy and somewhat unattractive, especially along side the gorgeous Rhys. He is unflinchingly loyal as a friend, especially to his hound-dog best buddy Tel, a straight man on the prowl even when he has both legs in casts and is stuck in a hospital bed. It’s that loyalty and friendship that sends him to the Hidden Asteroid to begin with. Jez is funny, intelligent, observant and, of course, completely unaware of his own attractiveness. He is adorable and I loved him.
And Rhys with his black clothing, dark eyes and hair, coolness emitting from every pore, is every gay geek guy’s dream hunk. Who just so happens to be attracted to smart, blond and cute gay guys. Like Jez. It’s a mismatch made in heaven, or at least a comic bookstore. And as Jez tries to show Rhys just how much of a geek he is, it just gets increasingly funny and out of control.
Merrow has the relationship dance down proper as she puts the boys through their paces. And although it is set in London, there isn’t anyone who can’t connect with these two men as they struggle their way towards a lasting relationship. Of course, there were some things as a Yank I was unfamiliar with. I had to look up what exactly a vintage Norton Commando was. I will admit it, I thought it was a bicycle. Then there was the word “scrumpy”. Nope, have to use my trusty British Slang Dictionary to find out that was a “nasty drink”. For me, this is part of the joy of reading stories from authors outside the U.S, including Merrow. Here is a taste, including the word “scrumpy”:
It was all my mate Tel’s fault I was here. Well, to be fair, not so much his fault as the fault of the idiot in the BMW who’d slammed into his bike on the A10. Not only had the resulting pile-up trashed Tel’s legs and smashed his vintage Norton Commando, it’d claimed the life of his newest, unread comic book. Its virgin pages were now scattered to the four winds, or maybe lining the nests of all those crows that hang around dual carriageways like vultures waiting for roadkill.
So Tel had asked me, his best mate, to replace it.
I’d frowned at him, languishing in his hospital bed with scaffolding all round his legs like a beardy cyborg. That was going to put a serious crimp in his sex life, poor bastard. The scaffolding, I mean. Not the beard. I’ve never really seen the attraction of snogging a Brillo pad myself, but it never seemed to put the ladies off Tel. Dunno how he does it. Maybe it’s that West Country accent of his—he lures ’em in with his long, drawn-out Rs and the promise of scrumpy.
“What if I get the wrong thing?” I’d protested. “I mean, I don’t know one comic book from the other. You’re going to be a bit pissed off if I come back with The Beano.”
That last bit of course sent me off to google The Beano comic book too. Really, this story is just so much fun. And I could tell that the author had enormous fun writing it as well. Terrific plot, and delightful characters, comic book heroes and dialog based in the vernacular. What’s not to love? After reading this, I wanted to dash off to The Barbarian Bookstore, a more dusty, aged version of the Hidden Asteroid and revel in some geekness for myself. It’s All Geek To Me is a little gem from J.L. Merrow that keeps giving and giving. Consider this wonderful little story one of ScatteredThoughts Highly Recommended!
Cover art by LC Chase combines photography and comic book style graphics to create a cover that radiates joy! I loved it!
ebook, 51 pages
Published February 10th 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published February 8th 2014)
original titleIt’s All Geek to Me