One Under (Porthkennack #9) by J.L. Merrow

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.

I really like the stand alone books in the Porthkennack series, but I like the ones that have a strand of connection. In the case of One Under, it could certainly be read as a stand alone, but I loved the fact that it trailed back to where the series began with Wake Up Call, also written by J.L. Merrow.

Jory was kind of a black sheep of his family, but in a good way. He wasn’t perfect and didn’t see himself that way. His family expected a certain level of behavior to fit their status, but Jory never quite fit, despite his brother and sister’s best efforts to control not just him, but pretty much every aspect of his life. Because of Jory’s family, Mal was torn. He felt a real connection to Jory, but he fought it because of his loyalty to one of his best friends, Dev. Mal has some issues of his own that he’s trying to face and spending time with Jory really helps.

I loved spending time in Porthkennack with these two, along with previous characters. Watching them grow and help each other heal in a way that neither one of them expected was an added bonus. One Under was an excellent addition to this series.


Tribute Act (Porthkennack #8) by Joanna Chambers

Nathan Bridges hadn’t intended to settle down in his home town of Porthkennack—he just ended up staying after saving the family business from ruin. The truth is, Nathan can’t stop himself from stepping in when problems arise. He’s a fixer, the man everyone turns to. But even fixers can’t solve everything.
When Nathan’s sister needs an organ transplant, it’s his stepbrother, Mack, who the family turns to as Rosie’s only potential living donor. Nathan’s curiosity about the stepbrother he’s never met turns to shock when he realises that Mack is his latest—and hottest ever—one-night stand.
Nathan and Mack agree to forget their single night together, but that’s easier said than done. When Mack moves in to Nathan’s place to recuperate after surgery, it’s not just the sexual tension between them that keeps growing. Against all the odds, and despite Mack’s wariness of intimacy, the two men grow close enough that Nathan begins to wonder what it would take to mend the rift that’s kept Mack and his father estranged for over a decade . . . and whether Mack might consider staying with Nathan in Porthkennack for good.
Every time I pick up a new book in this series, I think I found my favorite. The thing his, at 9 books in, I really don’t think I can pick just one. They all add a new layer to life in the small town of Porthkennack. Even though they can all easily be read as a standalone, every once in a while readers get a glimpse of previous characters. What’s even more fun is that since the books in the series are written by several different authors, those glimpses add even more layers.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve read a couple of books that involved relationships between family members that aren’t exactly related. Tribute Act was the first. Under other circumstances, this might have bothered me, but Nathan and Mack grew up not even knowing each other. I guess what I’m getting at is, don’t let the familial relationship turn you away from this one. There was so much more to this story than that.
I loved these guys. Nathan and Mack didn’t just jump into a relationship. I liked the slow burn, even though they had a previous encounter before they knew their connection to each other, they didn’t jump into anything. They came from incredibly different backgrounds, which was kind of sad because Nathan had everything Mack didn’t, including the love and support of Mack’s father. (Just a side note, I really didn’t like the guy…) I loved Nathan’s mom though and his sister was great. What she was going through gave her a totally different perspective than most kids her age.
The next book in the Porthkennack series is One Under by J.L. Merrow, who was the author who began the series with Wake Up Call. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for the next set of characters.

Junkyard Heart (Porthkennack #7) by Garrett Leigh

Tired of the London rat race and the heartbreak that comes with it, photographer Jas Manning returns to Porthkennack, the Cornish seaside town where he spent every childhood summer on his father’s farm. Resigned to year-round rain, wind, and homemade jam, he’s sorely unprepared for the impact that artsy carpenter Kim Penrose has on his heart.
Kim’s free-loving reputation precedes him, and he’s as generous with his inked-up body as he is with his time. The sex is hot, the easy friendship even better, and Jas’s time with him building his family’s new farmhouse canteen is everything Jas was missing in his empty city life.
But Kim’s carefree existence isn’t as simple as it appears. He’s worked hard to vanquish his demons and build his dreams, but the devil on his shoulder is ruthless, and when it comes to call, their happy bubble bursts like it was never there at all. The canteen opening looms, but Kim is gone in more ways than one, and it’s down to Jas to shore up Kim’s soul and convince him that he deserves his place in Jas’s heart.

I’ve said it before and I’m sure it won’t be the last time… Garrett Leigh’s ‘super power’ as an #EvilAuthor is to break both her characters and readers and slowly put the pieces back together. I know that going into every one of her books but the depth of feeling and heartbreak seems to catch me off guard every single time.

Both Kim and Jas were broken in very different ways. Kim was fighting his personal demons and Jas was working on starting fresh and leaving his past back in London where it belonged. These two were so good together, when they were together. Kim didn’t think he was worthy of Jas and Jas wasn’t so sure he was worthy of Kim. They were quite the pair. Yet Jas saw beyond Kim’s past and wanted to help him realize his total worth. He wanted to prove to him that he was more than his demons and his past. He didn’t always go about it in the right way, but his heart was always in the right place.

Pretty much all of the books in the Porthkennack series can be read as standalone, but I have to admit, I’ve enjoyed the past couple even more because they loosely tie into previous books and characters. Jas’ family was great. The interactions between Jas and Kim’s friends were easy and seamless. I loved the support and sense of family that they provided for Kim. Junkyard Heart was a perfect addition to the Porthkennack series and another beautiful heartbreak from this talented author.

Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack #5) by Alex Beecroft

After a massive anxiety attack, Sam Atkins left his high-powered job in the City and committed himself to life on the road in a small van. Six months in, he’s running out of savings and coming to the conclusion that he might have to go home to his emotionally abusive family.
Needing time to think, he takes a walk through a copse by the Cornish roadside, only to stumble upon the body of a ritualistically killed sheep. As he’s trying to work out what the symbols around the animal mean, the sheep’s owner, Jennifer, and her nephew, Ruan Gwynn, come upon him.
Ruan is a kind-hearted young man with a large supportive clan, and since he and Sam feel almost instant attraction, he doesn’t want to believe Sam is a sheep-killing cultist. In fact, the moment he lays eyes on Sam’s miserable solitary life, he wants to rescue the man. But as the killings escalate, he and Sam need to stop whoever is actually to blame before they can concentrate on saving each other.

Porthkennack gets more interesting with each new book…. I’m obviously really enjoying this series, although I still haven’t picked up the historical titles. For now I’m sticking with the contemporary offerings and Foxglove Copse is one of my favorites.

Sam was a mess, but a lovable one. He was slightly broken and the farther he stayed away from his family, the better off he was. Ruan was the exact opposite. He was strong and sure of himself and he had love all the love and support from his family he could ask for, and sometimes even more. I loved his family connection almost as much as I loathed Sam’s.

There was a lot going on in Foxglove Copse beside the budding romance between Sam and Ruan. A little bit of mystery and danger thrown into the mix, which really kept the pages turning. There was something pretty scary going on in the normally quiet village.

Each book in this series is written by a different author and they can all be read as a stand alone, but there is a thread of connection. That thread’s even stronger in Foxglove Copse and I really liked the unexpected connection. I have to admit that those historical books in the Porthkennack series getting more and more tempting.  Odds are I’ll probably cave eventually. The next book in the series is Count the Shells, an historical offering by Charlie Cochrane. 

House of Cards (Porthkennack #4) by Garrett Leigh

Calum Hardy’s life has unravelled. Reeling from the betrayal of a man he once loved, he boards a train heading south, with no real idea where he’s going except a world away from London.
Brix Lusmoore can hardly believe his eyes when he spots one of his oldest friends outside Truro station. He hasn’t seen Calum since he fled the capital himself four years ago, harbouring a life-changing secret. But despite the years of silence, their old bond remains, warm and true—and layered with simmering heat they’ve never forgotten.
Calum takes refuge with Brix and a job at his Porthkennack tattoo shop. Bit by bit, he rebuilds his life, but both men carry the ghosts of the past, and it will take more than a rekindled friendship and the magic of the Cornish coast to chase them away.

I’ve mentioned before that Garrett Leigh has a talent for taken broken characters and putting them back together – but not before tearing them apart at least one more time. House of Cards, wasn’t quite that bad this time, but she did manage to break my heart regardless.

House of Cards began with Calum escaping a bad relationship with nothing but the clothes on his back. He had no idea where he was headed, but anywhere had to be better than London. Luckily he ended up in the perfect spot… for both him and Brix.

I loved these two together. Brix may have come to Calum’s rescue and offered him a chance to both rekindle an old friendship and a chance to start over, but Calum basically offered him the same. They gave each other exactly what they needed.

For a lot of reasons, this is hands down my favorite book in this series so far. From the main characters to the supporting characters, I fell in love with them all. This group of Porthkennack residents gave readers a whole different view of life there. Which brings up the fact that you don’t have to read all the books in the series to enjoy each one individually. I’m still not recommending skipping any of them… even though I’ve skipped the historical books in the series, for now at least. That’s just another do as I say, not as I do moment and since I haven’t used that excuse for a while, I feel totally justified. 😉

Broke Deep (Porthkennack #3) by Charlie Cochrane

Morgan Capell’s life is falling apart by small degrees—his father’s dead, his boyfriend dumped him, and his mother’s in the grip of dementia. His state of mind isn’t helped by his all-too-real recurring nightmare of the wreck of the Troilus, a two hundred year old ship he’s been dreaming about since his teenage years.
The story of the Troilus is interwoven with the Capell family history. When amateur historian Dominic Watson inveigles himself into seeing the ship’s timbers which make up part of Morgan’s home, they form a tentative but prickly friendship that keeps threatening to spark into something more romantic.
Unexpectedly, Dominic discovers that one of the Troilus’s midshipman was rescued but subsequently might have been murdered, and persuades Morgan to help him establish the truth. But the more they dig, the more vivid Morgan’s nightmares become, until he’s convinced he’s showing the first signs of dementia. It takes as much patience as Dominic possesses—and a fortuitous discovery in a loft—to bring light out of the darkness.

I’ve read the first book (Wake Up Call), Broke Deep and the fourth book (House of Cards) in the Porthkennack series. I skipped the second book because it’s historical. I don’t hate historical, but the genre isn’t one of my favorites, so I skipped A Gathering Storm. I may go back to the historical offerings in the series later, we’ll see…

I almost grudgingly have to admit that out of the three books in this series I’ve read so far, Broke Deep is my least favorite. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like Broke Deep, because I did. I also really like Charlie Cochrane’s writing. I guess it had to do more with the fact that I didn’t relate to Morgan and Dominic as easy as I did with the rest of the characters that have been introduced in the other books. Just a personal thing, so don’t let that deter you. To be honest, it may have just been the fact that I wanted more to their story. It felt like there was still a little bit of mystery left at the end – both for the characters and the actual ‘mystery.’ *sigh*

Even though Morgan and Dominic weren’t my favorite Porthkennack couple, I still enjoyed my time spent with them. Even though they hadn’t known each other long, there was an easiness about them when they were together. I also enjoyed the silly banter that masked a nervousness on both sides. That nervousness came from Dominic’s willingness to be there for Morgan and Morgan’s unwillingness to allow Dominic to go through the pain of losing him bit by bit, like he did with his mother.

Each book in this series adds another layer to the community of Porthkennack, yet none of them are really connected by anything other than the actual location. There’s also a hint of ‘magic’ centered around the town. Nothing blatant or even really alluded to other than the feeling that’s created by a place bathed in local lure and kept alive by the generations of locals who’ve lived there for centuries. Given Morgan’s vivid dreams of a historic shipwreck, I was kind of hoping for some ‘real’ ghosts in Broke Deep, but they only seemed to inhabit his dreams. Again, just me… I’m a sucker for a good ghost story. 😉

House of Cards by Garrett Leigh is next in the Porthkennack series and I’ll be reviewing it shortly, so stay tuned! 

Wake Up Call (Porthkennack #1) by J.L. Merrow

South London mechanic Devan Thompson has gone to Porthkennack to track down someone he’s been waiting all his life to know. But Dev’s distracted from his quest by Kyle, a broodingly handsome local of only a few months, who’s already got a reputation as an alcoholic because of his strange behaviour—including a habit of collapsing in the street.
Kyle Anthony fled to Porthkennack to escape from the ruins of his life. Still raging against his diagnosis of narcolepsy—a condition that’s cost him his job as a barrister, his lover, and all chance of normality—the last thing he wants is another relationship that’s doomed to fail. But Dev’s easy-going acceptance and adaptability, not to mention his good looks, have Kyle breaking all his self-imposed rules.
When disaster strikes Dev’s adored little sister, Kyle steps up to the plate, and Dev sees a side of his lover he wasn’t prepared for: competent, professional—and way out of Dev’s league. With one man determined that they don’t have a future, and the other fearing it, life after Porthkennack is starting to look bleak for both of them.

Oh, the ‘British’ is strong with this one. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s worth mentioning, mainly because the dialect takes a little getting used to – at least it did for me.

I like learning about new locations, even if they’re totally fictional. I also like getting to know characters dealing with things that I know little or nothing about. Of course I’d heard of narcolepsy, but I’ve never met or read about a character who dealt with it. Kyle was dealing with his diagnosis the only way he knew how, by shutting himself off from everyone. Not exactly healthy, but in his mind he had lost everything important to him. His former partner didn’t do anything to sway that opinion.

I have to admit, that Devan was my favorite between the two characters. Kyle eventually grew on me, but I liked Devan from the very beginning. The supporting characters were pretty great too, once readers got to know them better. Porthkennack may have been a tourist town, but some local residents weren’t exactly welcoming.

As much as I liked the story and the characters, except for the ones that I didn’t like at all (there were quite a few that were really easy to dislike) there were a few things about Wake Up Call that drove me nuts. One, maybe even two, misunderstanding are acceptable. Between Kyle and Devan though, it seemed like every other situation put them in another moment of doubt. There were times that I wanted to drag back the one (because both of them were guilty) that ran off in a huff and make them really listen to the other. This happened from the time they met and even though I understood, it was still a little annoying.

This is the first book in a series that promises to be interesting. It includes both contemporary and historical books, which is a unique approach. Each book is also written by a different author, so readers will be provided with a variety of perspectives. The next book in the Porthkennack series is A Gathering Storm by Joanna Chambers, which is historical. I haven’t decided if I’m going to pick that one up or not, but the next contemporary, Broke Deep by Charlie Cochrane is already on my TBR list. 😉