One Under (Porthkennack #9)

Title: One Under (Porthkennack #9)
Author: J.L. Merrow
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: March 19, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 281
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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

A doctor of English Literature, Jory should be in a prestigious post at a top university. But a youthful indiscretion has led him to abandon academia to come back to his home town, Porthkennack, and the controlling family he’s never really felt a part of. He’s delighted to find a kindred spirit in the young Londoner.

But Jory’s family hurt Mal’s best friend deeply, and while Jory’s desperate to repair the damage, his own mistakes threaten to keep them apart. Meanwhile Mal’s 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.

A few things first … Having read almost all of the Porthkennack series, I find J.L. Merrow’s Porthkennack considerably darker than portrayed by other authors in this series. Merrow’s setting is a bleak, gray atmosphere with lots of rain, and more than its share of “Eeyoresque” characters. Also, it took me quite a while to get my footing in One Under. Characters from the first book are referenced here, and honestly, I didn’t remember them and there is little information in One Under to flesh out their backstory.

Mal’s best mate is Dev (whose story is told in Wake Up Call) and when Mal meets Jory Roscarrock, there is instant attraction, quickly followed by the realization that Jory is Dev’s uncle, and a member of the family that basically kicked Dev to the curb. The two men spend considerable time agonizing about their respective secrets and how any relationship between them would never work.

Mal is a tube driver with PTSD and is in Porthannock to recover from a suicide jumping in front of his train; Jory is married to Kirsty and they have a genius 12-year-old named Gawen.
The pace of the story felt very slow and around 80% through the book, Jory finally asks Mal: “I wish I knew where I stood with you.” This book was very nearly a DNF for me because of the constant tension and second-guessing about each and every word and action and although there are a few sex scenes, it is difficult to sense a strong sexual chemistry between the two.

One Under is just not my cuppa, and my rating is 3 stars, but I fully realize that other readers may enjoy this introspective story.

Porthkennack Series

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of One Under provided by Riptide Publishing, via NetGalley, in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas

I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend.

My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh … not in my wheelhouse, but I’m a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre.

Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more.

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