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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

ONE UNDER by JL Merrow Blog Tour

Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m delighted to be here today as part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of One Under, the second of my contemporary MM romances in the multi-author Porthkennack series. One Under features a romance between two characters readers of my first Porthkennack book, Wake Up Call will have already met: Mal Thomas and Jory Roscarrock—although you’d be forgiven for not recalling Jory’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in Wake Up Call!

About One Under

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.

The Once and Future King
Both Jory and Mal in One Under are fans of Arthurian legend—Mal because his mum brought him up on the stories, and Jory because of his interest in literature.
There can be few people in the English-speaking world who haven’t heard of King Arthur and his knights of the round table. Various versions of the story have appeared countless times in popular media, ever since the days when popular media meant a bunch of people sitting round a fire, scratching at their flea bites and telling tall tales.
Arthur is supposed to have lived in the late 5th to early 6th century, perhaps as a Romano-British warrior chief, or maybe as a supernatural figure of Welsh folklore. Or it could be both. Who knows? Not Geoffrey of Monmouth, in all likelihood, but that didn’t stop him making it up as he went along in his History of the Kings of Britain in the 12th century. This was the book that made Arthur into a superstar and introduced (or perhaps merely repeated) many of the key elements of the story: the dodgy conception at Tintagel in Cornwall; Merlin; Guinevere; Excalibur to name but a few.
Dodgy conception? Well, let’s just say that historians argue hotly as to whether there’s a scrap of evidence linking Tintagel with Arthur, if indeed Arthur ever existed. And that, to Uther Pendragon, “consent” was a very loosely defined concept.*
Since Geoffrey’s literary endeavour, there have been many additions to the tales of King Arthur. He was popular with the French, who produced the Vulgate Cycle of stories, which brought us Lancelot, more adultery, incest, and the Holy Grail. European readers were fascinated with the contrast between (Christian) spiritual chivalry and the generally rather sordid lives of the characters in the tales. Arthur’s nephew Mordred? Also his son. Allegedly. And watch out for the Questing Beast.**
 It wasn’t until the 15th century that all the myths and legends were combined into a major work in English, Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. Apparently Malory wrote it to while away the hours in prison, where he was confined for various unsavoury crimes. These included rape of a married woman, although it’s worth noting that at the time, “rape” could equally mean that while she had consented to the affair, her husband had not. Apparently women’s rights had not moved on all that much in the millennium since Uther Pendragon’s time.
And in the 1930s, TH White used Malory’s work as the basis for The Once and Future King, which was then made into a film by Walt Disney, The Sword in the Stone (1963). Strangely, Disney included all the magical duels, pulling swords out of stone and the like, and entirely omitted to mention the sleeping-with-your-sister bit.
Disney also didn’t get to the end of Arthur’s story. According to legend, Arthur and his knights sleep buried under a hill, and he will one day return to rule a united Britain: the once and future king.
In One Under, Jory and Mal venture underground. They may not find a sleeping king, but there’s a good chance they’ll find something even more valuable.

*Technically, Igraine didn’t say no. But that was because Uther had, with Merlin’s help, magically disguised himself as her husband (having failed to convince either Igraine or her husband, Gorlois, that they should just let Uther sleep with her, whereupon Uther declared war on Gorlois). Whom he later killed. Uther then married Igraine, and according to good old Geoff, “they continued to live together with much affection for each other.” Yeah, right.
**A beast with a leopard’s body, a serpent’s head, a lion's hindquarters, and rabbit's feet. Watch your step if you see it: you’ve probably just committed incest. Oops.

Question: I have actually read Geoffrey of Monmouth’s book, but I’d have to say I found the musical Spamalot much more entertaining, not to mention less rapey. What’s your favourite retelling of the tales of King Arthur?

About JL Merrow

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through is a 2013 EPIC ebook Award finalist. She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Connect with JL:
      Twitter: @jlmerrow


To celebrate this release, one lucky winner will receive their choice of a book from JL’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 24, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.


Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents


  1. Good luck with the release!
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  2. Sounds good!
    jlshannon74 at

  3. It's been a great tour!


  4. What’s your favourite retelling of the tales of King Arthur? My favorite? Winter Knights by Harper Fox, it's amazing and I cried my eyes out.
    Her Arthur trilogy is fabulous as well. Congratulations on the new release. j dot stonewright at gmail dot com

    1. I love Harper Fox's writing, and Winter Knights is probably due for a re-read!

      And thank you! :)