Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
(The Most Popular Guy in the School #1)


Robbie Michaels


Harmony Ink Press

Release Date

July 15th, 2012



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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.



Book Cover

  • Meh


  • Eagerly awaited after I put it down for a few hours


  • The main characters' names are Mark and Bill and not something more pretentious or common of gay romances
  • The opening scene with the cheerleader all over Bill and him not paying her any attention was funny
  • I enjoyed Mark's narration of the story
  • It feels like the story is from a time before cell phones, but it turns out it isn't
  • Mark's parents are great people, especially his undercover warrior mom*
  • The way Bill double-talked homophobic Joey was amazing, and he's a really gifted speaker**
  • That Bill paid the social justice forward through that speech***
  • After Mark talks about his attack on the news and the reporter mentions that many men don't like the idea of changing or showering with a gay guy, he responds with****
  • Their landlady, Moira, was awesome
  • I LOVED the Isabella mystery
  • There was no 'big misunderstanding'

Character Depth

  • Chest deep

Mood Upon Completion

  • Happy
  • Proud^^


  • Very few/no typos

Sex Scenes

  • Scene-free


  • We not-so-slowly gain more insight into Bill's home life - the apathy of his mother and abusiveness of his father; just seemed rather abrupt
  • That his mom didn't stay at the shelter and just disappeared, completely abandoning Bill

Emotional Depth

  • Moderately emotional^

Content Warnings

  • Abuse (emotional/physical, major, two, past and present)

*That they found out about the abuse and actually got together a mob and the cops to help them come over to Bill’s house and do something about it is unfortunately rare, yet still wonderful. In reality, too many just ignore it or don’t want to get involved. I think the author says that this book is loosely based on his life, and although I hope the abuse wasn’t real, I also hope there really are people like this out there somewhere.


**Bill said something about those who call people gay tend to be gay themselves, so is that’s what going on Joey? You’re trying to tell me you’re gay? HA! The way he keeps fucking with Joey is worth an extra star on its own right there. Doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going. Poor Joey. Plus he talks about how if someone from your sex is checking you out, you should feel extra attractive instead of repulsed because it’s a compliment – and I agree!


***He talks about what happens after an assault:

You did this when you heard a joke about a fat person and didn’t object. You did this when someone called another person a fag and you didn’t object. You did this when you listened to a friend talk about ‘bitches and hos’ and you didn’t object. When you let hate happen without objecting, it’s just as if you did it yourself.

I was clapping extra hard – go Bill!



“I’ve changed clothes and showered with these guys for years. I’ve seen everything they’ve got, or in some cases don’t have, and let me tell you, by and large it’s nothing to write home about. I don’t think any of them are going to be attacked in the shower by marauding bands of homosexuals out to terrorize young straight guys. I’ve never heard any reports of it in all my years at the school.
“If somebody wants to look at my naked ass, I say have at it! It’s a good one, don’t you think?” I asked, turning slightly and pulling up my jacket and tightening my pants to show it off to its fullest advantage.
“We can’t put that on the air, Mark.”


^I felt the need to note that I was having a bout of PMS, so the book may not be as emotional for you as it was for me


^^Bill very easily could have gone down the other, more angsty path, but he turned out great

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