Review: One Under (A Porthkennack Novel)

Author: JL Merrow

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Rating: 4.5 stars

Buy Links: Riptide & Amazon

Type: Novel

Provided by Publisher 


Blurb:  London Underground worker Mal Thomas is staying in Porthkennack to recover from a traumatic experience. Getting more bad news from home is the last straw—until big, blond museum curator Jory Roscarrock steps up to offer some comfort.

As a doctor of English literature, Jory should be in a prestigious post at a top university. But a youthful indiscretion led him to abandon academia to come back to his hometown, Porthkennack, and the controlling family he’s never really felt a part of. He’s delighted to find a kindred spirit in Mal.

But Jory’s family hurt Mal’s best friend deeply, and while Jory is desperate to repair the damage, his own mistakes threaten to keep him and Mal apart. Meanwhile, Mal is torn between his feelings for Jory and his duty to his friend—and his fears that a failed relationship could be more than his shattered confidence can take. Jory must convince Mal it’s worth risking everything for their love.


Review:  Book nine in the wonderful Porthkennack series is actually directly related to book one in the series, being penned by the same author. While the two books share a connection, they can definitely be read and enjoyed as standalones. This story features Mal, the best friend of Dev from book one, who has come to the Cornwall village of Porthkennack in the hope of recovering from a work incident that has left him traumatized.

Tube driver and Londoner Mal is feeling a bit lost and unsure of his future as he takes up a room at the pub where Dev’s sister, Tasha, has found a home. Once he meets Jory Roscarrock at the town’s museum, things begin to look up. Jory and Mal immediately have a genuine connection that goes deeper than the physical. Watching them meet and then slowly get to know one another was a delight to experience, and a welcome change for me, as a reader, that the two were interested in more than sex from each other. In fact, at the beginning of their friendship, neither was sure of the other’s sexuality. Mal was having his issues dealing with the trauma that had occurred in London. Jory was dealing with moving back to his hometown of Porthkennack, and facing judgement from his older siblilngs. Both were dealing with the reality of exactly why Jory’s lineage was going to make things bumpy in regards to pursuing any kind of relationship. These realities made the tentativeness, slow burn, and even the misunderstandings between these two feel brutally real.

The story did stall for me a bit at about the two thirds mark when I wondered if anything would be resolved. Such as Mal dealing more head on with his post-traumatic issues, perhaps Jory taking charge of his family issues. I had become invested in both Mal and Jory, felt their attraction blooming to love, but got a bit frustrated with some of the self-imposed obstacles that got in their way to each other and to their individual healing. Ah yes, but life is generally messy isn’t it, there are always obstacles, and people don’t always behave rationally. I suppose wanting to smack a character and simultaneously hug them are signs of being fully immersed in a story!

JL Merrow is a marvelous storyteller. She doesn’t require lots of action to engage the reader; rather, she hits them in the gut and the heart. Her use of witty dialogue and British vernacular absolutely bring her characters to three-dimensional reality. I’ve read several books in this series by all of the authors involved, and I feel as if I’ve actually visited the village and am friends with her variety of quirky, lovable inhabitants. It’s a vivid world made even more so by JL Merrow’s voice.

The story of Jory and Mal, while having some dark undertones, is a wonderful romance and a great tale of overcoming some of the darker sides of life. All with the help of good friends by one’s side. I’m not sure how many more books are planned in this series, but I’d love to see how Jory’s family situation ends up playing out down the road.

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