Sex, Lies and Edelweiss

Title: Sex, Lies and Edelweiss
Author: J.L.Merrow
Cover artist: Trace Edward Zaber
Publisher: Amber Allure
Buy Link Buy Amazon Genre: Contemporary M/M romance
Length: Novella/62 pages
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: I enjoyed this sweet romance set at a resort, which turns into something more, but at the same time conflict based on a misunderstanding and the soap-opera-ish twist at the end lessened my enjoyment


On holiday in the Austrian Lakes, Simon Lavoisier, an attorney from Britain, tells himself he’s just looking for a little holiday fling to spice up his apple strudel. But he’s never been good at keeping things casual, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling for Matt, the handsome waiter at the Königshof Hotel with whom he’s been passionately dallying. Matt, on the other hand, has learned the hard way the dangers of getting in too deep.

When secrets and lies from both men’s pasts come to the fore, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether this fledgling romance will hit the peaks—or sink without trace beneath the icy waters of Lake Wolfgang…


I really liked several historical novellas by this writer (if any of you love historicals, I highly recommend Dulce et Decorum est by her) and I was intrigued when I saw that she did a contemporary. I do not know if she wrote any contemporaries before this one, but I definitely have not read any, so I grabbed it for review. The writing did not disappoint. The setting, while not exactly exotic, was unusual and fun; it is not too often the romance is being set in Austria, or more precisely at the resort in Austrian Alps.

As the blurb tells us, Simon is a British attorney and Matt is a waiter at the resort. The two are attracted to each other and while Matt’s boss expressly forbids employees starting anything with the customers, we learn that Matt has managed to avoid his boss’ scrutiny in the past. The attraction happens quickly, and while Matt tries to resist at first, I did not get the impression that he tried very hard.

On one hand I liked both of our heroes and thought their characters were drawn pretty well for such short novelette. I also found that they had an easy chemistry going on between them.

On another hand, by the end of the story I wanted to smack both characters over the head and more than once. You see, I thought the author wasted such potential for internal conflict which could have been based on Matt’s problems with trusting other men because of happenings in his past, but instead, she went for the easy and convenient — the “Big Misunderstanding.” I really dislike BMs. To me it really makes the character who is unable to formulate a question — the answer to which is obviously so important to him — look stupid. Technically this misunderstanding triggers Matt’s trust problems, but once the BM is removed, all is well in their world and they are back together. I could not help but wondering as a reader, what if there was no misunderstanding between them, but Matt would have had trust problems anyway? How would this have been handled? It felt like a missed opportunity.

Explaining the misunderstanding would be a huge plot reveal, but I thought that it is ridiculous that I counted at least three times where their conversation was based on the topic and they could have cleared everything up with one question and one answer in a two minute conversation — or even maybe even a thirty second one. Instead we follow multiple conversations which, while technically true, could be construed ambiguously and for seemingly no reason at all except to bring the characters to the plot point where they can happily break up for the sake of breaking up and then just as happily make up when the misunderstanding is cleared up.

Lastly, the ending for our heroes was very happy, but there was a revelation from Simon’s past that really made my mind flash back to my years of watching soap operas. And this is not a good thing.

If you do not have an aversion to the BM as source for conflict, you will enjoy this story a lot. Even with the BM, I liked the writing so much that I had more or less an enjoyable experience overall.

P.S. So since this review was written several weeks ago in light of more recent discussion on the site about what constitutes and what does not constitutes Big Misunderstanding I have started doubting myself and decided to reread this story to see whether the misunderstanding really was based on who the characters were rather than artificially creating  it and I still did not like the Misunderstanding.  Since writing this review I also have managed to read “Muscling through” by this writer that Wave reviewed recently and loved it a lot. This will be another contemporary story by her that I have read then 🙂


  • Great review Sirius! I love JL Merrow’s writing so I was going to give this one a try. I don’t mind the Big Misunderstanding (I see it all the time in m/f romances!) but I have to be in the mood for that sort of thing. So I will get the book and wait for the right mood before I read it. Thank you for the help! 😀

    • Thanks for commenting Leslie, I hope you will enjoy this one. I will definitely be loking forward to her next one.

  • Great review! Thank you very much! I had exactly the same problems with the story. If you want to read a really good contemporary story by this author, I’d recommend Pricks and Pragmatism or Muscling Through which is one of my favorites among this year’s books (Wave gave it 5 stars).

    • Thanks for commenting Enny. Yep, I have read “Muscling through” after Wave’s review and loved it very much. You know, it is funny, I looked at Pricks and Pragmatism after reading your comment and realized that I have read it as well, but completely forgot about it. I think I liked it, but I definitely need to reread it to be sure.

      As to this one, yep, I wanted to reach through my Kindle and shake Matt, was shaking my head an chanting “Just ASK him already”. I tried to see it as the inability to communicate situation and could not do it. Matt had no problem discussing the topic of the misunderstanding after all. The only problem he seemed to have is having trouble formulating a question which could have effectively end the angsting very fast.

      And how likely it is that Simon would *always* speak about the topic of misunderstanding in such ambigious manner? Surely one is bound to mention the truth at least once if nothing else because it is simpler? I liked the guys, do not get me wrong, but I was annoyed at the way they communicated all the same, because it felt so artificial to me.

  • The word Edelweiß caught my eye and look at that it’s set in my home country.
    As I liked some of her other work and don’t mind a BM, I’m buying. 🙂

    • Hi Deni, if you do not mind misunderstandings, I think you will like this one. Guys have an easy going chemistry and writing is enjoyable in my opinion. Please consider coming back and letting us know what you thought after you are done with the story. I am especially curious whether you will find settings recognizable.

  • I like JL’s work so will check this one out, the BM is not an issue for me and I find it amusing so many people get upset it…maybe it depends on the author……
    I’ll have to check out “Dulce et Decorum est” also!

    • Hi Rdafan, I like her work too and for that reason I chose this story to review. Unfortunately it did not work out for me as well as I hoped, but I will definitely continue reading her stories. I hope you wil enjoy this one. I am pretty sure I have read another historical short by her (about sports in Cambridge I think?) but I cannot remember the title.

  • I am just not in the mood for a big misunderstanding book, well I never am if it comes to that. So I think I’ll stick on Muscling Through which was an outstanding read.

    Thanks Sirius, for once you have saved me some money! 🙂

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