A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Counter Culture by JL Merrow


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A delightfully humorous, yet poignant, story about two young men who have a chance meeting late one night when one spots the other removing a coil from an old refrigerator someone has trashed. Odd? Bizarre? Robin Christopher (cruel parents picked that name!) is intrigued enough with Refrigerator Guy to learn more.

Refrigerator Guy turns out to be Archie Levine, an avid steampunker and new father. After the usual “misunderstanding” scenario, Robin learns Archie and the baby’s mother aren’t married and aren’t even in love, so all is clear. Except—Archie’s mother is heading a protest march against the store where Robin works as she and her fellow protestors assume the well-known store took advantage of local homeless persons in their holiday ad campaign. Unfortunately, Robin doesn’t tell Archie where he works; instead, saying he’s an accountant.

The story is long, complex, and full of JL Merrow’s unique style of humor, and of course, Robin’s lies are found out, he and Archie break up, and both are devastated. Will they find their way back to each other? You know it!

What I loved most is the author’s humor and the way the plight of the homeless was portrayed. Readers are subtly presented with the facts through meeting a few of the “rough sleepers” who have their own places in the doorways and alleys surrounding the area. The author doesn’t preach but readers are certainly given food for thought and a nudge toward increased awareness of the problems facing those who live on the street.

MM romance readers who love steampunk should certainly enjoy this story, as would those who simply enjoy a sweet romance between two engaging characters.

The cover by LC Chase features two men: one in steampunk attire, one in a 21st century T-shirt. They are looking at each other in apparent shock—mouths open in surprise. It’s fun, it’s colorful, and it’s spot-on for the story.

Sales Links:   

Riptide Publishing | Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo

Book Details:

ebook, 344 pages
Published November 4th 2019 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title Counter Culture
ISBN13 9781626499218
Edition Language English

A Chaos Moondrawn Review : The Story of Us By Logan Meredith


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This is told in the first person POV of Kyle, a 40-year-old construction worker and part-time student. This is meant to be a standard, realistic man meets man romance without cliches, except he falls in love a gay porn star, Lucas, better known to fans as Tommy. Kyle tells the story looking back on how they met, the way people tell something when others ask them at a dinner party, through the lens of entertainment and nostalgia that turns into first person flashbacks so the author can add in all the world-building details for the reader to picture. Their meet cute is almost ruined by a misunderstanding, but Lucas persists. Yet, the porn star issue throws Kyle for a loop and it doesn’t look like this thing is going to sprout wings.

With the 17 year age difference Kyle is worried that he’s at a different place in his life; he wants marriage, kids, pets, and a home that he’s built. This is Kyle’s POV, so the reader sees his journey to become more open minded, to overcome his doubts, learn to compromise better, and not to care so much about what other people think. Many times when I only have one point of view, I feel like I missed things or that I don’t know the other characters as well–not so here! These characters come alive and feel real. Kyle and Lucas suffer from the same insecurities many of us do. As Kyle and Lucas fall into a relationship, it’s in a bubble, so I was waiting for it to pop which the author acknowledges. This doesn’t feel cliched or full of tropes. It can be difficult to integrate two lives together with work, family, friends, schedules, belongings, hobbies, etc. This doesn’t have manufacturered crises, real life gives all of them plenty; much of the drama in our lives comes from family and friends and trying to navigate to find our own path.

Here’s the thing: porn is a job and actors are people. I have met plenty of people who chose porn as a career. I think this was mostly realistic, if romanticized and less jaded. I have gone to AEE (Adult Entertainment Expo) in Vegas, although I didn’t get to go to the AVN Award Show. At one point Kyle thinks he knows why Lucas does porn and thinks he can fix him. Thankfully he gets over himself, because he’s wrong. Lucas loves his career and he’s not ashamed of what he does for a living. The sex scenes between Kyle and Lucas are not just smoking hot, but intimate. Top, bottom, dominant, submissive, Daddy, vers–these are all just words but Lucas and Kyle make them real by roleplaying and having fun. That’s what trust is. The difference between the porn scenes and the real sex is very clear. The moment when Kyle is all in, is perfect: “I would love him like I’d learned to ride a bike—scared, but reckless, without pads or training wheels. If I crashed, my scars would tell our story.” I smiled so much, my face hurt. I don’t think I’ve read this author before, but I definitely will again. If you support choice and want a story where sex workers are positively depicted with heartwarming, real characters, give this a chance.

The cover art is by Cherith Vaughan and shows a romantic scene from one of their dates.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 233 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Pride Publishing

An Alisa Review: Studying the Teacher by Sarah Hadley Brook


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Without a supportive family when he was a teenager, Charlie’s Tourette syndrome and anxiety had become too overwhelming and he ended up dropping out of school. He always promised himself he’d earn his GED before he turned thirty, and now he’s running out of time.

With only four months to go, he gathers his courage and enrolls in a night class for adults. He knows it isn’t going to be easy, but he certainly didn’t expect to fall for his teacher.

Owen Talbot is everything Charlie’s looking for, but he needs to focus on passing the test, not studying the teacher, no matter how much he wants the man. When Owen offers Charlie a personal tutoring session, he isn’t sure it’s a good idea but he takes the teacher up on the offer, anyway. Spending one-on-one time with his sexy teacher won’t be a problem, right?

I really enjoyed this story.  All Charlie really needed was someone to love him unconditionally and not judge him which is seems most have done for him.  Owen was perfect for him and wouldn’t let anyone hurt Charlie’s feelings and hurt his chances of completing his GED.

I liked how they connected so easily and the how laid back their time was together.  I know Charlie would start to over think things but I loved that Owen’s presence helped him to relax.  This was a perfect short sweet story and I didn’t feel like I needed more of the story in the end.

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is nice and works well for the story.

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 23,465 words

Published: September 28, 2019 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781646560899

Edition Language: English

In The Spotlight Tour and Giveaway:Counter Culture by JL Merrow.


Counter Culture by J.L. Merrow

Riptide Publishing
Published November 4th 2019

Cover Art: LC Chase

Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing | Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo


Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m delighted to be here today to celebrate the release of my new rom-com, Counter Culture, which features a clash of cultures between a socially conscious steampunk and a stressed-out department store retail worker.

About Counter Culture

Customer service has never been this personal.

Robin Christopher, beleaguered retail worker, isn’t having an easy November. His boss is raising stress levels planning a Black Friday to end all Black Fridays, his family doesn’t understand him, and his best friend thinks his new crush is a hallucination brought on by watching too many episodes of Doctor Who.

Archie Levine dresses in Victorian style and divides his time between caring for his young son and creating weird and wacky steampunk gadgets from bits of old junk—when he’s not looking after his mum and trying to keep on good terms with his ex. The last thing he’s got time for is a relationship, but the flustered young man he met while disembowelling a fridge is proving very tempting.

When his mum’s social conscience is roused by a local store with a cavalier attitude to the homeless, former rough sleeper Archie shares her anger. Little does he know that Robin works for that same store. When Archie finds out he’s sleeping with the enemy, things could cut up very rough indeed.

Available now from Riptide Publishing!



About JL Merrow

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. 

She writes (mostly) contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour.  Two of her novels have won Rainbow Awards for Romantic Comedy (Slam!, 2013 and Spun!, 2017) and several of her books have been EPIC Awards finalists, including Muscling Through, Relief Valve (the Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) and To Love a Traitor.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Crime Writers Association, Verulam Writers and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

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




To celebrate this release, one lucky person will win a $10 gift card to Riptide. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 9, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info! 

Blog Post and Giveaway for Taking Shield Series by Anna Butler


Penny Plain

I’m a bit of a nerd, really. I like knowing stuff. I like details and fun facts, and, well, I am a bit of a control freak. I have to have things sorted. Docketed. Filed away for future reference.

No, really. When it came to Taking Shield, I was looking up such wonderfully esoteric things as interferomatic dispersion, what actually happens if an airlock blows out in a vacuum, and sketching out on paper how the Gyrfalcon’s hangars and launch tubes work.

I love research.

Partly for its own sake, because it’s innately satisfying to learn how a naval flag office works or browse through the SF writing handbooks gawking at the inventive methods people have come up with (fictionally, I mean) to overcome Einstein’s pesky limitation that nothing can travel faster than light. But mostly I love it because it helps me visualise and describe the world I’m building, and because I think those worlds are stronger and more vivid from the details I’ve been able to add to them.

This isn’t about that old chestnut of ‘suspending the reader’s disbelief’. It’s quite the opposite: it’s about getting them to believe. There’s far more to being a writer than just sitting down to the keyboard and letting rip – you have to seed that urge to write with research. And then you have to look at all those lovely, juicy things you’ve learned and prune them away, despite the ache in your heart and the tears, to leave just the right amount to thread through your story to make it come alive. To make it tuppence coloured, rather than just penny plain.

The trick is to know what to put in (only just enough) and what to leave out (probably most if it, but I had fun researching). Feed through enough detail to give the created world completeness and coherence and make the narrative three dimensional and rich. Do it right and the little gems of knowledge inform the story, catching at the reader’s attention—hopefully subtly and naturally. It makes the world live. It’s all about balance: blend imagination with all that stuff so painstakingly collected together, and seed the details through the story so quietly and seamlessly the reader just sees the whole, complete world and never has to worry about things like the scaffolding holding it all up in the background.

For me, half the fun is sharing research with readers. I use glossaries, author’s notes, Pinterest, blog posts, website background notes… If I were a little less technologically challenged, I’d probably include animated slideshows and book trailers, too. But I am, so I don’t. The ways of sharing these fascinating world-building snippets have gone well beyond the old days when all a reader got was a fold-out map at the end of a book, if they were lucky.

You’ll find extra snippets of information on Taking Shield at my website. Do explore them to find out fascinating things such which dreadnought heads up the Ninth Flotilla, or how the chain of command of the Albion Defences work, what the medals for valour are and what colour uniform an Infantryman wears. I hope you enjoy reading it all as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas

Hate buying books in a series until the whole thing is done? Then check out the Rainbow Award-winning Taking Shield series, just released as an e-book boxed set. Not only do you get the entire series, there’s a very nice saving on the cost of the individual books! Anna’s dropped in today to tell us more.

About Taking Shield

Earth’s a dead planet, dark for thousands of years; lost for so long no one even knows where the solar system is. Her last known colony, Albion, has grown to be regional galactic power in its own right. But its drive to expand and found colonies of its own has threatened an alien race, the Maess, against whom Albion is now fighting a last-ditch battle for survival in a war that’s dragged on for generations.

Taking Shield charts the missions and adventures of Shield Captain Bennet, scion of a prominent military family. Bennet, also an analyst with the Military Strategy Unit, uncovers crucial data about the Maess to help with the war effort. Against the demands of his family’s ‘triple goddess’ of Duty, Honour and Service, is set Bennet’s relationships with lovers and family—his difficult relationship with his long term partner, Joss; his estrangement from his father, Caeden, the commander of Fleet’s First Flotilla; and Fleet Lieutenant Flynn, who, over the course of the series, develops into Bennet’s main love interest.

Over the Taking Shield arc, Bennet will see the extremes to which humanity’s enemies, and his own people, will go to win the war. Some days he isn’t able to tell friend from foe. Some days he doubts everything, including himself, as he strives to ensure Albion’s victory. And some days he isn’t sure, any longer, what victory looks like.

Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She lives with her husband in a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside. She’s supported there by the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo, who is assisted by the lovely Mavis, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several sizes larger than she is but no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.


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Cover Reveal for Unbreakable (a Heaven and Hell Club prequel) by Colette Davison






Book Title: Unbreakable (a Heaven and Hell Club prequel)

Author: Colette Davison

Publisher: Independently published

Cover Artist: Colette Davison

Release Date: November 14, 2019

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: Fake boyfriend

Themes: Self-belief, stronger together, faithfulness, friendship

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 65 000 words

It’s a prequel to Broken, but can be read as a standalone.

Add on Goodreads


Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link  |   Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 


From fake, to real, to unbreakable.


Mac’s life isn’t perfect, but he likes it the way it is: safe and predictable.

Mac works in a struggling pole dancing club at night, and a gym during the day. He’s tired and cash strapped, but content, until a confident twink walks into the club and turns his life upside down. It’s hard to resist when Russel asks him to be his fake boyfriend for one night, in return for double his normal take-home pay.

One date turns into more, as Mac helps Russel get an exclusive that will secure him the job he’s always wanted. But the rich playboy who holds Russel’s career in his hands isn’t going to give him the scoop so easily.

As Mac and Russel spend more time together, the lines between fake and real begin to get blurred, but can their relationship become strong enough to be unbreakable in the face of adversity?

 Unbreakable is a fake boyfriend MM romance, with a buff pole dancer who swears like a trooper, a twink who likes to take charge, some spanking, light bondage, and a happy ever after. It’s a prequel story to Broken, but can be read as a standalone romance.



“I’ve been invited to a very exclusive party on Saturday, but it’s couples only. And, horror of horrors, I can’t find a date.”

Mac laughed loudly. “So you thought you’d ask me?”

Russel shrugged in an attempt to appear nonplussed. “Why not? You’re sexy and we’d make a hot couple.” He flicked his gaze up and down Mac’s body. “You do have some nice clothes, don’t you?” When Mac’s eyes widened, he shook his head. “Never mind. I can take you shopping.”

Mac put his hands on his hips, shaking his head. “You can’t be serious?”

“Handsome, I’m deadly serious.”

“Let me get this straight: you want me—a total stranger—to be your date for some posh party?”

Russel nodded. “That about sums it up.” He wagged his finger. “Except you need to pretend to be my boyfriend. Like I said, it’s couples only.”

Mac stared at him, jaw slack and eyes wide.

“I’ll pay you.”

Mac jerked his chin up a little. “Huh.”

“Whatever you’d earn here on a Saturday night, I’ll double it.”

“You know I could just give you some bullshit figure, right?”

Russel nodded. “I’m aware.”

Mac scratched his chin. “You’re nuts and your time’s pretty much up.”

Russel took thirty pounds out of his pocket, stood, and put it in the money jar on Mac’s behalf. “Now I’ve got three more minutes.” He sat down again. “So, are you going to pretend to be my boyfriend on Saturday night, or are you going to make me beg?”

“You really are serious, aren’t you?”


Mac threw his hands up. “What the hell. Why not? It could be a laugh.”


About the Author 

Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.



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