JL Merrow - *Fall Hard* BlogHop & Author Giveaway

To shave, or not to shave; that is the question.

Today I’m going to be talking to you about facial hair. No, not of the unwanted feminine variety, you may be relieved to hear! I’m going to talk about what is arguably the manliest of accessories: the beard.

Why do men grow beards? There’s probably as many reasons as there are bearded men in the world: fashion; religious observance; covering a weak chin and/or acne scars; to name but a few. Some men are clean-shaven up until middle age, when a receding (or totally absent) hairline prompts them to grow a beard on their chin, presumably to prove there’s testosterone in the old devil yet. And then, of course, there’s always the old standby: couldn’t be arsed to shave.


If only Njal had had one of these
Beards have danced in and out of fashion for centuries. And likewise, have been used to express rebellion. In the 1920s, beards were seen as a fusty mark of the establishment, and clean-shaven youths would roam the streets shouting “beaver!” when they caught sight of a bearded man. Nowadays, when few who aspire to public office would dare abandon shaving, it’s the anti-establishment youth who sport facial hair.

I always knew that Viggo in Fall Hard would have a beard. He’s a rugged, outdoor type—and more than that, he’s a Viking, albeit a modern-day one. Can you imagine a Viking without a beard? Actually, if you’ve read Njal’s Saga, then yes, you can. (It’s also known as The Saga of Burnt Njal. And yes, the end is exactly as gruesome as it sounds…) While his contemporaries reveled in their hirsuteness, Njal was unable to grow a beard. In a culture in which slurs on a man’s masculinity were the worst kind of insult, this was a gift to his enemies. One of them made up a little ditty describing Njal as a beardless wonder who ought to try smearing dung on his chin to see if it would make something grow, and his sons as “dungbeardlings”. He didn’t get to laugh about it for very long, however. Njal’s sons went straight out and cut off his head for the insult.

Beards: they’re a more serious matter than you thought!


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Giveaway



 I’m offering a free signed paperback copy of Pressure Head (I’m happy to ship internationally) to a randomly chosen commenter on the tour, plus a $10 Amazon gift certificate!

I’ll be making the draw around teatime on Monday 30th September, GMT. Good luck! :D


Giveaway question: Readers, how do you prefer your men? Clean-shaven and soft as a baby’s bum, or hairier than the average bear? Or, of course, somewhere in between?






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Latest Book

 
Some memories are better off lost in the mist…

Eight months ago, British academic Paul Ansell lost his lover—and all the memories of their time together—in an accident at Iceland’s Gullfoss Falls. Returning to the misty island country to resume his study of the bloodthirsty Viking Egil Skallagrimsson is tough as he struggles to pull his life back together.

First, there’s his colleague, Mags, who treats him like glass, and summer student Alex, who peppers him with discomforting questions. Then there’s Icelandic jet-boat driver Viggo, a tattooed, modern-day Viking who won’t say much about how they know each other. Leaving Paul to wonder if their volcanic attraction is fuelled by a desire to make a fresh start, or desperation to forget the past.

As more fragments of his lost memories fall into place, Paul is unsure if he can trust himself, much less anyone around him. And he begins to suspect his accident was nothing of the kind.

Warning: Contains a modern-day Viking whose boat has V8 engines for oars, and a harsh land of hot springs and hotter passions that won’t forgive any false steps.
  
Buy Links
 
 SamhainAmazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


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About JL Merrow

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea.  She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance, and is frequently accused of humour. 

She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online at: www.jlmerrow.com


46 comments

  1. I'll admit that a few days stubble looks good on a man, but it feels like being kissed by sandpaper :( I've been told that a proper beard is much less scratchy but the look just doesn't appeal.
    So clean shaven for preference in reality, but as in fiction the stubble-burn isn't my problem I prefer that sexy unshaven look (just stubble though!). :)

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    1. Heh, good answer! I suspect I'd be with you on that one! ;)
      But I can confirm (having once dated a hairy biker type) that a full beard is much softer than stubble. :)

      Have to share this cute video on YouTube of a baby who definitely preferred her dad with a beard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_k0fnTiKEMc

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  2. I've never got past the 1 week scratchy stage 2 reach the allegedly softer full beard stage.
    And 2 make things more complex I can't shave too often as I have *sensitive skin* so I'm in a bit of a nomansland.
    On other men I don't have a strong preference- depends on the man I suppose. BF has a beard which suits him, but I do think it's ageing. It is the intimate *on the one hand but on the other hand* dilemma.
    Beards are much more fashionable in young guys now. In the late 90s no one under 50 had 1. Now the 20 something's are full of them.

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    1. Interesting that you think it's aging. I wonder if that's only up to a certain age, after which the fresh-faced look ceases to be an option anyway? As you say, there are more young men wearing them nowadays, which is nice to see. Maybe you should grit your teeth and persevere! ;)

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    2. Liamlivings.com for the above comment, forgot 2 include.

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    3. Oh, it's you, Liam! :D
      In that case, scratch what I said about persevering with the facial hair. You're too far lovely to hide your light under a bushel of beard! ;)

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  3. Can't help but think that shouting "beaver" while on the streets today would garner some rather interesting reactions...

    Anyways, I am a fan of the look of beard that is more of 'I couldn't bother to shave for a couple of days don't i look manly,' kind. But the feel of it drives me nuts. So to look at, yes. Feel, no. Clean shaven if there is going to be much up close and personal. Don't have much of opinion on full beards other than don't look you have been out in the wild for three month and have decided to become one with the fauna.

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    1. LOL! No, I wouldn't recommend shouting "beaver" on the street these days! ;) Ah, how words change their meaning...
      I generally prefer the neatly-trimmed look myself, if a beard is worn - but on the other hand, if a guy's going for the full hairy biker look then I think a bushy beard is all part of that. :)

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  4. It depends on the man. Some men look great with facial hair and others don't. Some look great with just the moustache or just a goatee. And some that would look good in facial hair may not keep the facial hair neatly trimmed. So it all depends. But I do lean toward the guys that have facial hair, especially the scruffy five o'clock shadow ;)

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    1. Moustaches are so unfashionable these days, aren't they? I must admit, I love "Movember" each year (http://uk.movember.com/about) - it's such fun to see friends' faces sprouting the ultimate late seventies/early eighties gay male accessory! :D
      And I can't resist sharing this link: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2009/11/01/the-manliest-mustaches-of-all-time/

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  5. I really like bearded men. It's not a must have, but they always catch my eye. My boyfriend shaves once a month, and it's lot of hair on an Italian man :)

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    1. Beards can be very eye-catching. A well-trimmed Van Dyke will always get my attention! ;)

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  6. I like the look of a 2 day scruff when the guy is dark haired (doesnt work so well for me with blondes) and a very neat goatee on a younger 'trendy' guy always looks good. But I have never gone out with a bearded man so I suppose that says something!

    Littlesuze at otmail dot com

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    1. Yes, when it comes to stubble, the darker the hair the better. I remember (many) years ago my brother, who is a strawberry blond, experimenting with growing facial hair - it was practically invisible on his freckled face!
      For some reason he didn't take kindly to my offer to lend him my mascara for it....;D

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  7. Aesthetically, I like the clean-shaven look in person, but in photos (and fiction) stubble looks good. As others have mentioned, though, it's rough. My husband has a full beard; it looks good on him and it's not as rough as stubble, but my feelings about it are divided.

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    1. Maybe you could persuade him to shave it off for charity, and see if you both prefer it that way? ;)

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  8. I'm definitely a clean-shaven gal, all the way. Even in fiction, I much prefer my man minus all the hair... and not just facial! Chests that can be referred to as "furry" are not my friend....

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    1. Chest hair is something we don't seem to see a lot of in m/m - certainly not in all those shirtless cover photos! Personally, I'm partial to both types. :)

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  9. I've noticed the older I get, the more I prefer facial and body hair. I'm definitely partial to facial scruff as long as it's manscaped properly.

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    1. Interesting - maybe your subconscious is seeking reassurance it's not cradle-snatching! ;)
      I do think older men wear facial hair better, as a rule. Or maybe it's just that they've had time to realise what suits them!

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  10. I'm not a huge fan of beards, although the guy in the top pic isn't bad. Google Duck Dynasty if you aren't familiar, that is TOO much. LOL Kind of ZZ-Top hillbilly. I prefer scruff. Make it look like you haven't shaved in a couple of days. That's sufficient for me. :-) The guy on your cover? That is nice.

    Oh and if you really can't grow a beard? Don't try. 15 groomed hair on your chin do not a man make. Just shave it off. I can only thank the powers that be that chinstrap beards seem to be going out of favour. I can't tell you the number of times I wanted to hold some young thing down and shave that sucker off. :-) (Someone has issues)

    As for body hair, I find that as winter approaches I find a nice furry man more appealing. I think it's some kind of hibernation thing. In summer, smooth seems more attractive, in winter, a fur blanket to keep you warm. Ha!

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    1. LOL! I've seen adverts for Duck Dynasty, and I'd have to agree with you there! ;D
      And also on the chinstraps - they just seem so pointlessly fiddly to maintain. Your theory on winter/summer furriness makes perfect sense, too. After all, animals grow thick winter coats - why not men? ;)

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  11. Well, I really like the guy on the Fall Hard cover. It’s exactly how I like a beard ;)
    And no moustaches for me…. Nope.
    goingtoreadnow at gmail.com

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  12. I am generally disappointed with all the male sculpturing popular today. In many cases when looking at a bare chested male, if I note that he has a shaved chest, I pay little attention. There is an exception. Is the treasure trail gone? If it is there and he is naturally chest hair free, I am all in. I appreciate hairy legs. Now that I have commented on my important preferences, I shall go into detail. I prefer a clean shaven face. When that face gets a little stubble once in a while that could be a plus for variety. Sparse chest hair with a patch between the pecs is hot. A thin trail to the navel and then thicker below the navel is my ideal. Back hair is not good. Non shaved pubes, ass and associated areas are a must. It is just wrong. Was this TMI?

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    1. Oh, yes, the treasure trail/happy trail... I have to confess that's a weakness of mine.

      And you've obviously given this question a great deal of thought! Thanks for sharing - nope, not TMI at all! :D

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  13. Since I have very sensitive skin (a dermatologist even asked me how a brunette could have such reactive skin), I can't kiss a man with a beard without beardburn so bad it looks like a rash. I like looking at goatees, but I'll never kiss one. Men going bald with beards look like losers to me, and I have a hard time taking them seriously.

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    1. Oh, poor you! Buying cosmetics must be a nightmare too. :(

      I do feel sorry for men who go bald - they get so much stick for something they can't help. Apparently scientists have debunked the myth that men who go bald have higher testosterone levels, so they can't even claim higher virility these days! But trying to compensate for it only makes it worse - combover, anyone? ;)

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  14. I'm not really a fan of a full beard. I like a clean shaven look or just a bit of five o'clock shadow, but it really does depend on the man, I think. For instance, the guy on the Fall Hard cover looks good! :-)

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    1. Yes, some guys can wear a beard, but others really shouldn't try.
      Glad you like the look of Viggo! ;D

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  15. Clean-shaven, always. Hate face fungus. Hate stubble even worse than grown beards and moustaches (I wouldn't have thought that was possible until the half-grown look became popular.

    Sorry Viggo!!

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    1. Let me guess, Helena - as a child you had a traumatic experience on a visit to Father Christmas? ;)

      Viggo accepts that he can't please everyone!

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  16. I have the same preference as the first poster, pointycat. I think stubble looks super hot but not for spending any significant time rubbing against my own skin. I prefer men nicely shaven, smooth like a baby's bum.
    Thanks for sharing and the giveaway!
    taina1959 at yahoo dot com

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    1. I think part of the appeal of the cleanshaven look is that you know the guy's put in a bit of effort! :)
      But yes, scratchiness is never good. ;)

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  17. i do like some stubble and/or a wee bit of a beard and i do like SOME chest hair but thats it

    parisfan_ca@yahoo.com

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    1. I think I know where you're coming from. Manly, but not a total caveman! ;D
      Thanks for sharing!

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  18. I like the look of a few day's growth - but for someone I am going to be close to in real life - it feels terrible and can cause skin burn. (I know cuz my hubbie gets lazy with the shaving sometimes). So, clean shaven preferred. I also like the look of a short, nicely-trimmed beard. But some of the odd scraggly things I see around lately - no thank you!

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    1. It all comes down to making a bit of an effort, doesn't it? Thanks for sharing! :)

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  19. Thanks for the interesting post about beards. I prefer clean shaven men but I also consider their age. Thanks for giveaway.

    schan26(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. You're welcome! Thanks for commenting. :)

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  20. It has actually changed as I have gotten older. My husband is quite hairy, as far as men go (he would so be a bear >.<), but he alternates from clean shaven and having a beard with everything which way in between. I honestly could not tell you what I prefer, other than him any which way I can get him ;)

    Kassandra
    sionedkla@gmail.com

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    1. I rather like the idea of a bloke ringing the changes every now and again. Stops you getting bored! ;)

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  21. I prefer clean shaven, but if he looked as good as your Fall Hard cover model, then I would say whatever he wanted. ;)

    strive4bst(AT) yahoo(Dot) com

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  22. As a hockey fan, I think about this all the time during the Stanley Cup playoffs (since the playoff beard, where players grow out their facial hair until they either get eliminated from contention or win the championship, is a standard). There's always some guy who always looks unexpectedly sexy with a beard, but also some young rookie who suddenly looks like there's fuzzy moss growing from his chin. So, it depends on the guy! Usually, I like clean-shaven or light scruff...

    vitajex(At)aol(dot)com

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    1. I love the idea of the playoff beard! But yes, it must be hard on the younger and more follically challenged players. :D

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