One Under is already the ninth book in the Porthkennack-series and the second by the author in the series. The book is loosely connected to the author’s first book in the series, but can be read as a standalone. The story follows Dev’s best friend Mal who’s come to Porthkennack to recover from a traumatic experience. In that regard, this book has a morbid title.
Mal is moping a bit, because he doesn’t know what to do with himself. That is, until he meets Jory at a local museum. Their first meeting is both cute and awkward. Cute and awkward pretty much describes Mal and Jory for a lot of the book. Their story and the romance between these men – who are very different from each other – is a slow burn. They move slowly together, both for different reasons, but there is an undeniable attraction between the two that is hard to ignore. I very much liked how their story was written. The fact that Mal is recovering from a traumatic experience and is lacking a bit in self-confidence, was subtle but there. Jory is moving his life around and moving back to Porthkennack full time. He’s trying to find his place again in the town and with his family.
I thought the story was well written. It’s a bit slow at times, but that fits in with the slow burn romance. The story is instilled with the usual JL Merrow-traits: ordinary characters that are not as ordinary as you may think. the dialect and slang and the utter Britishness of it all.
The setting of the story is perfect. With every story you read, you know a little more about the town and its history and the characters in it. Even after reading this installment, I feel there is a lot more to Porthkennack.
My only real complain about One Under is the lack of action in the story. The focus is mostly on Jory and Mal getting together, but because that moved slowly, I felt the story moved a little slow. Reading it, I felt like there should have been more elements to infuse the story with a little action. The trauma Mal suffered fitis moved to the background and even though there is conflict with Jory and his family, there is no real resolve. This is fine, because not every conflict can be solved, but there could have been a little bit more of it in the story.
Overall, I liked One Under a lot. The characters, the setting and the romance. I’m curious to see if there will be more stories by this author in the Porthkennack-verse.