A MelanieM Review: One Under (Porthkennack #9) by J.L. Merrow

Rating: 4.25 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.

The Porthkennack universe is one that I deeply love.  A seaside small town in Cornwall, with a long history of smuggling and sea bourne carnage in its past, it’s behind the facade of the pleasant shops, pubs, and yes, even a museum or two, the stories here show that some haven’t entirely left that way of life behind.  With each new tale, some historic, most not, the town’s people, the culture of the place, the “society’, and the dynamics continue to unfold.  Aren’t’ we lucky!

In One Under by JL Merrow, the angst driven characters are Mal Thomas and Dr. Jory Roscarrock, each with elements in their past their are trying to recover from and move past.  For Mal, his are far more recent.  A man committed suicide in front of the underground train he was driving and it’s left him traumatized, unable even to get into a car.    For Jory, it’s his family and their past.  From a father who committed suicide, a mother’s death, to older siblings who seem to hate him and relationships that don’t work out, his issues too seem buried in his past.

I love these men, especially Mal.  What a wounded soul he is.  And Jory too, a solid, intellectual giant who is so clueless at times you wish you could shake him.  I thought the characterizations were terrific.  Mal as the traumatized train driver suffering from PTSD was easily a sympathetic figure.  His “dithering about” his relationship with Jory over it’s impact on his best friend honestly irritated most of the time.  You wished the communication was far better between these two men.  However, taken into consideration the mental and emotional state of Mal, I kept coming back to the idea that anyone who was suffering from PTSD as bad as he was and in the shaky emotional frame of mind, wasn’t going to be making the most rational of decisions.  So yes, perhaps, Merrow was (whether I liked it or not) right on target here too.

Same goes for Jory, his relationship with his frankly appalling older siblings and his willingness to remain static in parts of his life.  Odd but again  given his weird background, perhaps not.  It takes these two men coming together to get them moving forward again in both of their lives,  first separately and then finally as a couple.


Cover by: Garrett Leigh.  The covers by Garrett Leigh are amazing.  From the composition to the color tone, she captures the heart of the characters and the location.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 249 pages
Expected publication: March 19th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleOne Under
ISBN 1626496862 (ISBN13: 9781626496866)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Porthkennack #9

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.


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