“One Under” by JL Merrow is a book about complex connections and loyalty, and it both entertained and frustrated me. I loved the zingers provided by Jago with his deadpan delivery, the affection and concern displayed by Tash even though she gets annoyed, and even the connection between the main characters. I think that the painful pasts haunting multiple characters wore me down, especially since so much was still unresolved by the end of the story.
I was fascinated by the very different lifestyle portrayed as I have never been to England, and the atmosphere and attitudes were deftly evoked, but I found myself increasingly annoyed at the ongoing raw wounds that were bemoaned but not being addressed. I suppose it’s a tribute to the author’s skill that I formed enough of a connection with these folks that I wanted to lock them in a room so they would all TALK to each other, instead of practice avoidance behavior that only exacerbated the pain. Then there were the convoluted connections that complicated things, including young Gawen, who was undoubtedly loved by both parents despite their unconventional relationship, contrasted with Devan, who wasn’t. Add to that, the hot and cold behavior displayed by Mal, who can sometimes be great fun and other times be quite a jerk, is somewhat but not totally excused by his past experiences.
Theoretically, this can be read as a stand-alone story, but there are threads trailing off from either end. I suspect it would help to have read the first book in this enjoyable series to best appreciate “One Under” and I definitely hope there will be a sequel that helps resolve some of the pain that permeates this tale. It was chilling to learn what the title referred to but I am glad I had the chance to meet these characters and hope to see them again.
Part of the ‘Porthkennack Contemporary’ series, this contemporary adult m/m romance centers around the connection that forms between Jory and Mal, each of whom has a horrific tragedy in his past. Their relationship seems destined to crash and burn, particularly when it turns out that they are on opposite sides of a singularly painful ostracism that pits Jory’s controlling siblings against Mal’s best friend, but stubbornness and persistence can pay off occasionally.
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.