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REVIEW: “Making it Pay” by J.L Merrow



Sometimes you can’t see the silver lining for the clouds.

Abandoned as a baby and now working as a rent boy, Daniel finds it hard to let people get close to him. But nightclub bouncer Rob has a kind face and he’s helped Daniel out once already, so when he catches Daniel on a bad night, Daniel accepts his offer of money and goes home with him.

Even though it breaks his heart.

Letting Rob pay him for sex may have wrecked their friendship just when Daniel needs all the friends he can get. But there are more reasons why he hasn’t seen Rob since that night — and one in particular that makes building a relationship seem almost too much to hope for.


Well, oops. I couldn’t find the number of pages for this story, but having just read Merrow’s short rentboy story Raising The Rent, I anticipated this one to be of similar length. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Making it Pay is actually only approximately 10 pages short (the actual story minus the bio etc.). It’s therefore way too short to be reviewed for Boys in our Books. But honestly, I feel bad for looking a given horse — or in this particular case: a Shetland pony — in the mouth, so I’ll make an exception this time.

So let’s start by saying that I’m not someone who avoids short stories. In the hands of a crafy author, every word can add atmosphere and meaning and even the shortest stories can pack a punch. But I also need to be realistic here, few people will be rocked off their socks by a 10 pages short formula story about a poor and troubled rentboy and his knight in shining armor, a client. As always, there’s Merrow’s signature writing to enjoy, the lovely Britishness, the easily flowing dialogue… But there’s no room for character development. Neither is there space to establish something that resembles a believable connection between the MCs. And worse, I completely managed to miss that ‘ thing’ the rentboy (and narrator) of Making It Pay struggled with most. So when the bomb got dropped suddenly, I had to browse back to pick up on the clues.

This is just me pondering….I just noticed that it’s on Amazon for 3 (!) dollars… And a version of this short story first appeared in the Dreamspinner Sindustry anthology, under the title ‘Sunshine’. Making It Pay is apparently around 10% longer than the previously published version. Oh-kay…I don’t understand why a 10 pages story would be published individually instead of including it in another book as a bonus, or perhaps offering it for free on the author’s website to boost traffic or create buzz for an upcoming release.

Oh well, recommended for hardcore Pretty Woman/Cinderfella and Merrow fans. It won’t leave much of an impression, but it’ll be a pleasant enough 5 minutes.



23501809Title: Making It Pay
Author: J.L. Merrow
Publisher: JMS Books
Pages: 10/11
Release Date: November 16th 2014
Purchase Links: Amazon

11 comments on “REVIEW: “Making it Pay” by J.L Merrow

  1. llesarlorraine
    November 24, 2014

    Way, way to expensive and I thought 2.5 was very generous.


    • katinka
      November 25, 2014

      Agreed. I reviewed it sympathetically because I usually enjoy Merrow’s works. The story is, besides unsatisfyingly short, not very special and the pages/price comparison is insane.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. kveta
    November 25, 2014

    Thanks so much for the review! Looks like I’m not so hardcore fan after all :) Way too expensive for such schort story… On German Amazon price is 2.68 Euros (for 17 pages). But cover is nice.


    • katinka
      November 25, 2014

      You’re welcome! I checked the Dutch Amazon because I could not believe my eyes either when I discovered the price for so few pages: 2,47 Euros. Not much better.

      Liked by 1 person

    • katinka
      November 25, 2014

      BTW, the story itself is not 17 pages, but shorter.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. helenajust
    November 25, 2014

    I’ve just read this and enjoyed it very much. I’m surprised at the low rating. It seems to be mainly because it was such a short story. I think that you should assess the writing and the story in the context of its being a short story, rather than against some yardstick of how long a story should be. I would certainly rate it at 4, on that basis. The characters are portrayed well, their interactions are genuine and the dialogue is excellent, and there are enough hints to the twist without its being obvious.


    • katinka
      November 25, 2014

      I’m glad that you got so much out of this story and it was a win for you. However, I wish you would refrain from telling me how I should enjoy and review the books I read. No two people will ever have the same opinions on a book, or anything for that matter, and I think that’s what makes discussing books interesting. My reasons for rating the story lower are in my review and the size of this story is only one small aspect of it.

      Happy reading!


      • Lo Lo
        November 25, 2014

        Great review, and thanks for the heads up on the length vs cost.

        You know I love a good Merrow but I find myself rather disappointed that it wasn’t really worth it. It would have to be something short of spectacular for it to justify that amount for less than 17 pages…

        Which is why I love reading your reviews… because you tend to hit the nail on the head. 8-) (well, except HtTyDiFD) :p


      • helenajust
        November 26, 2014

        It’s just that so many people only look at the star rating and don’t read the detail if it’s too low for them.


  4. Marlobo
    December 6, 2014

    That horse alluson.. LOL


    • Marlobo
      December 6, 2014

      * allusion (Grr, I want edit my comments, do you hear me, WordPress guys?


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This entry was posted on November 24, 2014 by in Contemporary, Reviewer: Katinka and tagged , , , .

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