Book Reviews

One Under (A Porthkennack Novel) by JL Merrow at Riptide Publishing

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Erotic Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 09-April-2018

Book 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.


Book Review

“A ‘One Under’ is the term used by London Underground staff to describe the unfortunate situation of a person under a train. This situation arises for a number of reasons, some are deliberate acts but many arise accidentally.” ~ 'One Unders' ~District Dave

Mal, of 'One Under' by J. L. Merrow, has come back to Porthkennack to get away from London for a while to settle his nerves and regain his sanity after a horrible train accident occurs in which a man was killed. His best friend, Dev, suggests that he go because he knows there are people in the town who would watch out for him, especially Dev's foster sister, Tasha, who is a combination of nurturing and no-nonsense. Dev is in London with his husband, Kyle and can't go with him, but has promised to come down in a few days. Left to his own devices, Mal finds all kinds of trouble to get into.

While waiting for Dev and Kyle, Mal wanders into the local mariner's museum where he meets Jory, who seems more out of place than Mal does. Jory is obviously well educated, well spoken, and he seems to be out of Mal's league, but there's something about him that is irresistible. Despite his obvious privilege, Jory seems like a nice fellow, not condescending in the least.  Mal decides to take a rick and asks Jory to come to the pub and have a drink with him. Although Jory has second thoughts, he meets Mal at the pub, where he gets a cold response from Jago, the owner. It seems that Mal's 'companion' is part of a family the entire town resents. Mal discovers that Jory is not only married, but is the younger brother of Dev's mother, who rejected him. This makes Dev Jory's nephew. Mal becomes quite conflicted between thinking Jory is a nice guy and wondering why he, as a married man, would accept a date. Mal wonders if he should dislike Jory because his family rejected his best friend. Despite all these issues, Mal decides to give Jory a chance to explain.

When Mal next sees Jory, Jory explains that he did not know that he had a nephew because his older brother and sister sent him away to boarding school when he was seven, so he missed the whole episode; his siblings never told him about the baby. Also, Jory explains that he is married, but in name only and has never lived with his wife or the son their youthful indiscretion produced, but he has always supported them. Now that Jory knows about Dev, he's keen to meet him; he's appalled by the way the rest of his family has treated Dev. Mal is encouraged by Jory's eagerness to meet his nephew, but asks him to hold off on the reunion until he can prepare his best friend for it. Jory and Mal decide that, under the circumstances, they should remain friends, but the effort is  an utter failure after they become intimate. Mal tells Jory that he thinks it would be wise for them not to see each other for a while, leaving Jory feeling like an idiot.

This is an intense story with many sub plots, each one more complicated than the last. Mal’s unique manner of speech that includes a lot of British slang adds ambiance to the story. Sometimes it was difficult to understand what he meant without reading the lines a few times. Mal is basically a good guy, who, because of a recent tragedy, has twisted himself in knots. He wants to follow his feelings but doesn't trust himself enough to do so. Mal is so afraid of making another mistake that he is almost paralyzed. Jory comes from such a cold family, he often feels like he's so different no one will ever understand him. He has made more than a few mistakes himself, but when he meets Mal, something clicks; Jory wants to make things work with him, but Mal makes it almost impossible for him to hope for a happily ever after. Thanks, JL. Mal deserved his own story and happy ending. If you enjoy a story with angst, mystery, intrigue, hot, confused men, and love conquering all, you may enjoy this book.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Riptide Publishing for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 281 pages/73100 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 19-March-2018
Price $4.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback, $22.98 bundle
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