Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’d like to thank RJ for hosting me today!
All commenters on this post will be entered into a draw to win a copy of an ebook from my backlist – winner’s choice. As I’ll be making the draw on Tuesday 11th (round about lunchtime, GMT) this will also include my upcoming release It’s All Geek to Me. 🙂
Behind the excerpt
I have to say, when RJ asked for the most romantic excerpt I could think of from one of my books, I thought it was going to be a difficult choice. I write about British men, you see, and they tend to be a bit understated with all the emotional stuff.
Then I remembered Muscling Through. For those who don’t know it, the story is an opposites-attract romance between Larry, a Cambridge University don from a privileged background; and Al, a big, muscular guy from the wrong side of the tracks, with a minimal education. The first time they meet, Larry’s terrified Al is about to mug him or worse—but Al just takes care of Larry instead, and they end up in a relationship.
In this excerpt, Larry’s just introduced Al to his family:
Excerpt – Muscling Through
Larry’s mum and dad went home straight after dinner, but his sister stayed so she could have a row with Larry. They did it in the kitchen, and I was in the living room, so I couldn’t hear much. They weren’t shouting like my mum and stepdad used to, but sometimes I heard bits. I heard a couple of words like “taking advantage” and “just using” and I worried she’d make Larry think he couldn’t trust me, but he argued back, so I guess he didn’t agree with her.
Then she said, “You can’t possibly love him,” and I didn’t want to hear no more, so I turned on the TV and watched some program. I don’t remember what it was about.
When they came out of the kitchen, Larry and his sister weren’t talking anymore. She had this sort of tight look on her face, and Larry looked all sad. After she left, I put my arms round him and just held him. I knew he’d tell me about it if he wanted to.
He sniffed. “I just wish they’d accept that we’re happy. You’re happy with me, aren’t you?”
I said “Yeah,” ’cause although I wasn’t feeling happy right then, most of the time he makes me happier than I’ve ever been in my life.
“I don’t see what the hell our living arrangements have to do with them,” Larry said.
“I could move out if it’d make it easier,” I said, but I didn’t want to. I just didn’t like seeing Larry sad.
“No! No, you’re staying here,” Larry said. I got that. He’s a grown man; he don’t want his family to push him around and run his life. Sometimes you got to make a stand on something, even when the thing itself isn’t that important. It’s like the difference between paintings and photos—it’s what you don’t see in the photo that matters.
But I kind of wished it was the photo that was real this time.
We went to bed, and I fucked him extra gentle, and afterward, he cuddled up and said, “You know why I’m with you, don’t you, Al?”
’Cause my head was still full of the paintings and the photos and which one was the truth, I didn’t really think before I answered. “You like the way I fuck you,” I said. I mean, I didn’t say it nasty or nothing; it just came out.
I knew I’d said something wrong straight away when he sat up in bed and looked at me like he did the night we met. “Is that what you really think?” he asked.
I didn’t say nothing, ’cause I was worried I’d make it worse.
“Al? Is that all it is for you? You just like the way we…fuck?” I was going to say, he said “fuck” like it’s a dirty word, but I guess it is, isn’t it? But he said it like that anyhow.
But the question was okay; I could answer that. “I like everything about you, Larry. I like the way you look and how you’re so clever, and I like it when we laugh together and watch TV together. I like going to art galleries with you and hearing you get all bitchy about some of the artists. I like watching you when you’re doing marking, ’cause you get these funny looks on your face. I like watching you sleep and hearing that snuffly noise you make. I like waking up with you at weekends and spending the day together, just doing stuff like walking round town and shopping and cooking and stuff.” I kind of ran out of breath after that.
For a moment, I thought he was going to cry. “Is there anything you don’t like about me?”
I had to think. “Well, it pisses me off a bit when you finish up the milk and don’t say nothing.”
Then he was laughing, but he still looked a bit weepy. “Al. Listen to me. I love you, okay?”
“Okay,” I said, and I put my arms around him and pulled him back down against me.
You can find more details about my books on my website: www.jlmerrow.com