Picture, if you will, dear reader, a young Vinnie Jones in an alley behind a pub taking a leak after a night of drinking with the lads. Such is the beginning of J.L. Morrow’s Muscling Through. A visual is provided if you need one. (Get your mind out of the gutter! Head shot only. And, no, not that kind of head! What did I say about the gutter? *Name Redacted*, I’m looking at you…) Larry, a university professor, has just had such an experience, and is understandably freaked out when Al, the Vinnie look-a-like approaches him.
Al is one of those gentle giants that is fearsome on the outside, and the world’s sweetest guy on the inside. Larry is concerned that Al means something untoward and keeps trying to give Al his wallet. Al is just concerned that Larry is in such a dangerous area alone by himself at night and decides to escort Larry home. Of course this freaks Larry out even more because now AL KNOWS WHERE HE LIVES. Al is even more concerned once they arrive at Larry’s home because now Larry is waving his kitchen knives about and could hurt himself while he’s so drunk. SO AL HIDES THE KNIVES IN THE HALL CLOSET SO Larry CAN’T HURT HIMSELF OR OTHERS. It’s the sweetest thing.
Since Larry has by this time forced his wallet on Al, Al wanders over to the next door neighbors’s house and leaves Larry’s wallet with them while asking that they at least go check on Larry until he has somewhat recovered his senses. Al gives them his name and tells them where he works in case there are any problems.
There are further meet cutes and several “what the hell are you doing with HIM?” vignettes, all of which are told from Al’s point of view. This actually leads me to one of my favorite points about this novella – it’s written entirely in Al’s vernacular except for speaking bits by Larry and his family. There’s plenty of smexytimes. It somehow makes it feel more authentic, more earnest. You won’t find a sweeter, more heartfelt romance.
In short, you should absolutely give this one a try.