JL Merrow on To Love a Traitor ~ Blog Tour, Guest Blog, Local Giveaway

Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank JL Merrow for stopping by today.


Title: To Love a Traitor
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Samhain
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Genre: Gay Fiction, M/M Romance


Wounds of the heart take the longest to heal.

When solicitor’s clerk George Johnson moves into a rented London room in the winter of 1920, it’s with a secret goal: to find out if his fellow lodger, Matthew Connaught, is the wartime traitor who cost George’s adored older brother his life.
Yet as he gets to know Matthew—an irrepressibly cheerful ad man whose missing arm hasn’t dimmed his smile—George begins to lose sight of his mission.

As Matthew’s advances become ever harder to resist, George tries to convince himself his brother’s death was just the luck of the draw, and to forget he’s hiding a secret of his own. His true identity—and an act of conscience that shamed his family.

But as their mutual attraction grows, so does George’s desperation to know the truth about what happened that day in Ypres. If only to prove Matthew innocent—even if it means losing the man he’s come to love.

Warning: Contains larks in the snow, stiff upper lips, shadows of the Great War, and one man working undercover while another tries to lure him under the covers.

The Spunk of the SIS

“I salute your spunk, but I question your sanity,”

― Libba BrayThe Diviners

Top Secret with creditHi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m chuffed as a chuffed thing to be here as part of the To Love a Traitor blog tour. 😉

Today I’d like to talk about something much prized in days gone by: spunk.

In the First World War, spying as we know it today was still in its infancy. There was still something of an attitude that it wasn’t quite cricket, all this underhand stuff. Soldiers, if captured, were held prisoner; spies were shot, as if they weren’t all fighting for the same thing in the end.

Actual spies of the time were pretty much making it all up as they went along. Secrets were hidden in dead fish; information was passed via the arrangement of pastries in a shop window. Messages were knitted into sweaters sent to prisoners of war, in a cunning arrangement of dropped stitches that failed when the Germans refused to believe even a Brit could be quite that bad at knitting.

A vast variety of invisible inks was developed and refined as the war went on. Of course, anyone caught carrying invisible ink was liable to be for it. The solution? Well, a solution, actually. Of chemicals, that is, in which the spy could soak his or her socks before travelling. On arrival, soaking the socks in water would produce the needed ink.

An even more ingenious source of invisible ink the British secret service came up with was, unfortunately, only available to male spies. Yes, we really are talking about semen. Not only was it, ahem, readily available, it didn’t react to the usual chemicals used to detect invisible messages, such as iodine vapour. SIS head, the gloriously appropriately named Captain Sir Mansfield Cumming (the original “C” of James Bond fame), was apparently delighted with the idea, declaring “every man his own stylo”.

It wasn’t without its problems. Letters sent from our man in Copenhagen were found to have a rather distressing odour, caused by their writer storing his “ink” in a bottle. He had to be firmly reminded a fresh “operation” should be used for each letter.

Spying. Apparently not without its perks. And its wankers.


Do you have a favourite spy story of derring-do and dirty tricks? Is it SFW?

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Giveaway: I’m offering a free ebook from my backlist to a randomly chosen commenter on each blog post.

And there’s a grand prize of a signed paperback copy of To Love a Traitor for one lucky commenter on the tour. I’m happy to ship internationally, and the more blog posts you comment on, the more chances you get!

I’ll be making the draws around teatime on Monday 28th September, GMT. Good luck! 😀

About the Author

Waterhouse_a_mermaid-hiresJL 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 contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour.  Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy, and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards finalists.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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23 thoughts on “JL Merrow on To Love a Traitor ~ Blog Tour, Guest Blog, Local Giveaway

  1. OMG – I was laughing in the beginning about the use of the word “spunk” and then to find out the meaning at the end. LOL – great story. Talk about not letting stuff go to waste.

    I don’t have any spy stories of my own, but I am enjoying yours on the blog tour.


  2. Thanks for the interesting post! That is a spy story I’ve never heard before. I’m looking forward to reading To Love a Traitor.

  3. I’m afraid I don’t have a story quite as good as the one you posted. However, I do love the history of the code talkers, who used codes based on fairly obscure Native American languages that no one would be expected to know.

  4. I’m totally blanking all of a sudden, though I always thought it was cool that culinary legend Julia Child worked for the OSS back in the day. (She claims it was just clerical–yeah, right.) This week’s episode of DRUNK HISTORY was all about spies too, and was pretty entertaining (I hadn’t known about Virginia Hall, she sounded awesome)!

  5. LOL! Thanks for such a great post. I would never believe how… “creative” some spies could get… OMG! Still laughing… 😀
    As for favourite spies stories, what I like are classic spies movies like The Thirty-nine Steps”, or The Spy Who Came In from the Cold”, all quite SFO if I ever dared to watch a movie in my office….


  6. One does wonder how the discovery was made of the usefulness of this particular ‘ink’! As for favorite fictional spy stories, I like those of Joanna Bourne whose male/female historical romances feature both English and French spies during the Napoleonic war era.

    • LOL! I can’t help thinking public schoolboys were involved somewhere! 😉
      Haven’t read anything by Joanna Bourne, but I loved the Sharpe books & TV dramas set in the same era. 🙂

  7. I liked the quote although my mind went in other directions when I read it to what you were getting at by the end of the post, lol. I’ve read quite a few m/m spy stories that I really liked but the first one that popped up after reading the question was Shadow of the Templar series by M. Chandler (which is available in ebook format and I believe free online to read via the authors official site).

    • You know what, I’ve had Shadow of the Templar on my tbr list forever. Must look it out again. 🙂

      I just couldn’t resist using that quote – it’s fabulous, isn’t it? And so apposite. 😉

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