Book Reviews

Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover (Most Popular Guy 1) by Robbie Michaels at Harmony Ink Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Young Adult / Romance
Reviewed by Jamie Deacon on 16-October-2012

Book Blurb

High school can be some of the best years of life—and some of the toughest. Mark Mitchell’s strategy for surviving is to emulate the mighty turtle: pull back inside his protective shell and keep a low profile to avoid trouble. And it works—nobody bothers him. Of course, nobody really knows him, either, even in a town so small it seems like everybody must know everyone else.


Mark certainly knows Bill Cromwell, whom he meets officially when his father volunteers him for manual labor at the school. Bill is his polar opposite: outgoing, gregarious, athletic. But when a massive snowstorm traps the two boys together for three days, Mark learns that being popular doesn’t mean you can’t be bullied or abused—or gay—and that bullying doesn’t stop at the school doors.


Mark isn’t naïve. He’s seen the news reports of gay teen suicides, and he’s determined not to become a statistic. But it’s not himself he’s worried about.



Young Adult Age Range: 14 to 18 years old


Book Review

What a perfect title for a novel exploring preconceptions, and the idea that not everyone is what they seem. Who would have guessed, for instance, that invisible Mark Miller would turn out to be such a force to be reckoned with? Certainly no one had any idea that Bill Cromwell, one of the most popular guys in the school, is actually broken inside. Yet, when these two very different boys are thrown together one Saturday morning whilst helping out at school, they forge an unexpected bond and unearth things about one another they never would have imagined.


Mark doesn’t have a problem with being gay. Actually, he’s proud of who he is and only wishes he could be open about his sexuality. Of course, it’s unlikely his fellow high school students would be quite so accepting. Rather than end up the victim of bullying, Mark chooses to keep his head down and stay out of trouble. It works. His classmates are barely aware he exists. Until, that is, he starts hanging around with Bill and finds himself attracting just the sort of unwelcome attention he has worked so hard to avoid.


On the surface, Bill is your typical jock: outgoing, self-confident, and drop-dead gorgeous. Few people know of his unhappy home life, spent with an abusive father and demoralized mother, starved of any kind of affection. Certainly no one has ever suspected he might be gay. In fact, Bill has concealed the truth about himself from the world for so long, he barely knows who he is anymore. So, when he meets Mark and is welcomed into the warmth and generosity of the Miller family, he is completely overwhelmed. Suddenly, he doesn’t feel so alone.


This is a poignant debut novel about courage and learning to live again after years of fear and abuse. First and foremost, however, it is a love story. Not a dramatic love story, perhaps. There are no tragic misunderstandings or bitter betrayals. Instead we have two boys, who, having spent their lives hiding who they really are, finally discover a soul mate in the other. If you’re looking for a sweet teen romance to warm your heart, I would recommend giving this book a go.



DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has purchased by the reviewer.

Additional Information

Format ebook, print and audio
Length Novel, 178 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 15-July-2012
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle, $19.95 audiobook
Buy Link