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Counter Culture

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  168 ratings  ·  49 reviews
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 dres
ebook, 344 pages
Published November 4th 2019 by Riptide Publishing
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  168 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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I Liked it

My first book by this author and sure enough it will not be my last. It was sweet and just right for my teeth.

The story revolves around Robin and Archie two guys on the opposite sides of everything. Robin a guy who works at a store which he seems to hate and Archie a Victorian wearing steampunk obsessed guy. I liked the characters so much. They were well developed and so much fun to read about.

The writing was solid enough, the story flowed so well. The banter between the characters wa
Robin and Archie meet by chance in the street, while one came back from work worried about Black Friday, and the other determined to crumble an old refrigerator in search of steampunk pieces.

It is a romantic comedy with a social message could be said, against prejudices and preconceived ideas. The protagonists are from a very different environment, but they get to connect and discover that their interests are not so diverse after all. It had the grace to make me laugh a couple of times and that
1.5 rounded up

Frankly, I'm not entirely sure why I didn't DNF this one. Maybe because I generally enjoy this author and was hoping it would get better? It was way too fucking long, and the main characters don't even have a proper conversation until 40% into the book. The connection between them is lukewarm, and the book really felt like it was more about their random lives and *other* relationships than a romance. It was just really boring and honestly a massive disappointment.
Barb ~rede-2-read~
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 marrie
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a harder story for me and I hate it, because I have always loved J.L. Merrow’s books. I still do, don’t get me wrong. But this one just wasn’t really for me. Most of the characters needed the sticks pulled out of their rears and it just seemed a jumble for me. I felt for Archie and Robin, too, because they are caught up in being interested in each other but there are things going on behind the scenes that either no one knows anything about, or they know and it’s causing a rift.
When Robi
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
This one saldy wasn't for me. ...more
Joyfully Jay
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sammy
A Joyfully Jay review.

4 stars

J.L. Merrow has released a new novel, Counter Culture, and once again fans of this author will be able to immerse themselves in the humor and pathos this writer is known for creating. Poor Robin has never really had anyone in his corner—his parents are less than supportive and mostly condemning of just about everything he does, his best friend Azrah is negative and caustic on her best days, and his job has just announced he’s going to have to work a major sale the d
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So, okay, this book had its imperfections. It did take a long time until things really started to get going. It was very predictable in relationship progression and timing (less expected, but very very appreciated were the underlying topics of steampunk and homelessness). An epilogue or some such might have been nice (although the ending is fine as it is!).

So why the five stars? Because this was FUNNY. It made me laugh out loud several, delicious times and it's been a long time since a book has
Soda Pop
I love JL Merrow’s writing so it breaks me to have to say this, but I DNF'd this. Even though I liked the MCs, it was SO slow. I got to 62% and realized the characters barely knew each other and hadn't even been on an actual date yet. 2/3 of the book was gone before anything had even happened yet. Also, while the secondary characters did provide a little comedic flair, besides the MCs and Archie's mom, they were all kind of dicks to each other, which got old really fast considering nothing else ...more
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's been a while since I have read any new-to-me books. I just haven't been buying a lot of books lately...figures since it's 2020 right?

So, I was in the mood for something UKish and I have a few go-to authors when I want a contemporary British read. JL Merrow is one of those authors. I did really enjoy this story! Loved the characters, and as usual I was entertained until the very last paragraph.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
ARC courtesy of Netgalley

Another chuckle-filled m/m romance from British author Merrow, but one that simultaneously manages to convey deeper messages about homelessness, mental illness, and the many layers that lie behind the pleasant facades that people show the world. The "counter culture" of the title refers to many different things: the differences between working class and middle class cultures in a small British city that is definitely not London; the world of the college-educated vs. thos
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader.

Counter Culture is a new M/M humorous romance by JL Merrow. Released 4th Nov 2019 by Riptide, it's 244 pages and available in paperback format.

This is a light romance with mismatched protagonists who are sweetly silly. The story arc is standard (misunderstandings and well meant lies threaten to tear the star crossed couple apart, complicated by loving and well meaning family and friends on both sides... can they find their way to happiness desp
Ulysses Dietz
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Counter Culture
By JL Merrow
Riptide Publishing, 2019
Four stars

Always lovely to read one of JL Merrow’s quintessentially English novels, and this one is particularly nice because, in addition to its romantic arc, it spends a good deal of subplot on the complex issues surrounding homelessness. Oh, and also steampunk. We learn quite a lot about steampunk.

Robin Christopher, despite his whimsical name, has survived a childhood that was oppressive, if not precisely neglectful or abusive. Newly independ
Oct 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley2019
This was a book that took me longer to finish than usual, but I can't say I didn't enjoy it.

Robin works for the department store the guy he's into seems to hate, to the point his mother is organizing a protest on one of their busiest days. Who wouldn't pretend he's a boring accountant when he finds the placards in their living-room? While Robin discovers Archie's hobby as a steampunk, the two fall in love and things only get more complicated.

I think we have two great main characters, other great
Kristel (hungryandhappy)
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia, netgalley, ebook
Thanks Netgalley for this arc!

This was so cute! The steampunk! The really nice Robin (full name Robin Christopher btw!), the adorable Archie (real name Mars!!). Archie's mum was such a fresh character and, while I thought I was going to hate Bridge (the ex and mum of Archie's baby), I came to like her a lot!

It was something like a slowburn romance with tons of little cute moments mixed with bits of serious stuff, like the homeless situation in the UK. I loved that Archie was unapologetically bis
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sweet holiday read with witty, fun characters. ;)

This is one of those books that keeps you smiling from the start. Both characters are a bit on the quirky side and I found myself falling in love with them both. To make this book even more appealing, the supporting characters are just as lovable and quirky as Archie and Robin. For the record, I’ve come to expect that from J.L. Merrow 😉

Silliness aside, Counter Culture was a real story full of love, devotion and even touched on some tough issues.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I remember, once upon a time, with my NetGalley stats way over the 80% feedback ratio, and the rest of my profile spot-fucking-on, and I would always get declined from this publisher's material. Now this is the second title I requested that I got approved for. *Insert Megan Parker "Interesting" image*

It was entertaining, given the circumstances. It helped me pass the time. I wasn't a fan of the drama, and that put a dent in my liking of the MCs. But overall, it wasn't that bad.

Sasha Ambroz
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance, so-gay, fiction, own
Romance about steampunk, lying and social justice. Robin Christopher is a retail worker with a hideous parents and streak of bad relationship behind his back. Archie Levine is a full-time museum worker and full-time steampunk(er) with moustache and all. They meet over the discarded fridge and the story goes on.
It is sooo difficult to write the review of the book you liked. For me it was perfect: the slow dance of love, the typical for J.L. Merrow humour, parents issue, friendship and Death Docto
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book was full of almost meetings, just about passing each other, seeing at the wrong time, slowly coming train wreck, for the whole time. It gave of feeling of constantly harking back to the start, when you knew that if they had just passed at that moment or just seen that act things would have been great. But of course instead they meet in a moment just a bit later when things are wrong, or embarrassing, or everything has gone to hell. Even once they do get together there is this looming d ...more
M. L. Valard
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
A solid 3.5 stars.

This book was a charming read in a lot of ways. It was mostly lighthearted and pleasant which is absolutely the ticket at the moment. I really liked almost all the characters, and there were rather a lot of them. They all felt individual and interesting and I appreciated that.

I loved both Robin and Archie immensely for different reasons. This book managed to make me fall for a guy with a mustache and I really don't usually like those. (Still if you're willing to pair it with a
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
MM romance between two opposites in a small English city. There's an awful lot of slang. Even though I lived there a couple years, I still had to look some up or guess at it.
Robin and Archie are attracted to each other. They randomly run into or just miss each other the first third of the book before they have a chance for a proper conversation, which was engineered by Archie's meddling mom. There's a deception (isn't there always in fictional romances?) on Robin's part due to an animosity. The
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gblt, m-m-fiction
Robin is stressed, his family makes life hard, his boss is planning a Black Friday to end all Black Fridays. Archie dresses like he is from the Victorian era. When Robin sees Archie for the first time, he is intrigued by the guy taking apart a fridge. While Archie is attracted to Robin, he doesn't feel he has the time for relationship, with caring for his son, dealing with ex and building steampunk gadgets. Archie's mom drags him into her newest social injustice, a store that has a cavalier atti ...more
I wish I could say I loved this meet cute contemporary romance, but I did not. There’s a four star book trying to get out, but the pacing was way way off. First off, they meet cute, then they meet cute again, then they meet cute again. Seriously, the book is a third done before they stop meeting cute and start spending time together. Then the second they get involved the Big Misunderstanding upends everything. So the story was slow slow slow, then too fast.

The couple were very cute in addition
Jan 23, 2021 rated it liked it
This book is very funny in the best British way, but the romance aspect falls short. The two MCs barely exchange a word until almost halfway through the book (although they have several awkward meet-cutes and do a lot of pining), then they have a few days together, but are quickly separated when lying and misunderstanding come between them. Both MCs are likeable, and Archie's involvement in the steampunk culture is fascinating, but I'm here for books that explore two people building a relationsh ...more
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was a sweet book and I liked how the plot was developed. The only problem was how the main characters were on a date for the third time and they kissed for the first time wich was cute... and then they started having sex. So far, everything has been great and I really liked the slow-burning romance, but after the sex scene, everything started to go downhill for me. And even when they have quarrel (because it's obviously not a romance novel if the main characters don't quarrel before the end) ...more
Kristy Johnston
I’m finding myself skimming too much of this book and it’s just not holding my interest. Also, I think something is lost in translation. I understand the UK not having Black Friday since it’s the day after the US Thanksgiving holiday but do they not line up the evening before or days before concert/show tickets go on sale or popular book releases and sleep outside on the sidewalk in sleeping bags? I’m confused about the media coverage/ad campaign being considered insensitive to homeless people. ...more
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable read

This was a fun read. I loved reading two awkward, non-alpha guys stumble their way into love. The misunderstandings & miscommunications felt natural for them — not plot contrivances. Their gentle chemistry, and compassion for each other really drew me in.

I also appreciated the diversity of characters. It showed how welcoming the Steampunk community can be that so many different types of people were happily welcomed.

There were a number of fabulous secondary characters who we
Jenn (not Lily)
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hilarious with a dash of slapstick, in the Preston Sturgis vein, all perfectly timed exits out one door and simultaneous entrances through another. Gently poked fun in the best way. I did figure out the identity of the plague doctor pretty early on (it was sort of obvious), and I had a sneaking suspicion of who Lyddie's family was, but neither one ruined the book for me. However, both models on the cover are wrong -- that Robin is not blond in any way, and Archie's mustache is decidedly unwaxed. ...more
Sep 06, 2020 rated it liked it
A great read, interesting, fun characters. I’ve been very harsh with the rating. It’s possibly more to do with me going slightly loopy under lockdown that made me a little impatient with this book. I enjoyed it less than other books by this author, but I couldn’t really tell you why. It’s all about the characters and I love books like that, the characters are well drawn, have lives and families around them, they’re likeable but flawed. Good to learn a little about steampunk, something I’ve been ...more
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Always a great read from JL Merrow.
Archie and the steampunk world is wonderfully described.
Robin, Heath and Azrah did kind of annoy me at times, not listening to Robin and stitching him up.
The dalliance between Archie and Robin was good, but it was always going to go horribly wrong!
I was expecting more from the protest and the the Willoughby end of things.
But a great slice of life and I wanted to see Robin get more into the steampunk!
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The Backlot Gay B...: Counter Culture by JL Merrow 1 10 Mar 15, 2020 06:40AM  

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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 contempor

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