Lessons in Seduction by Charlie Cochrane
This time, one touch could destroy everything…
Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, Book 6
The suspected murder of the king’s ex-mistress is Cambridge dons Orlando Coppersmith and Jonty Stewart’s most prestigious case yet. And the most challenging, since clues are as hard to come by as the killer’s possible motive.
At the hotel where the body was found, Orlando goes undercover as a professional dancing partner while Jonty checks in as a guest. It helps the investigation, but it also means limiting their communication to glances across the dance floor. It’s sheer agony.
A series of anonymous letters warns the sleuths they’ll be sorry if they don’t drop the investigation. When another murder follows, Jonty is convinced their involvement might have caused the victim’s death. Yet they can’t stop, for this second killing brings to light a wealth of hidden secrets.
For Orlando, the letters pose a more personal threat. He worries that someone will blow his cover and discover their own deepest secret… The intimate relationship he enjoys with Jonty could not only get them thrown out of Cambridge, but arrested for indecency.
I sometimes wonder if these books are being pushed out too fast. Seeing as they’re being released a few months apart, I worry this may be a case of too much of a good thing. I adore this series and the main characters but this particular offering felt weak with too many loose ends and took the focus away from the real strength of the series. The murder mystery that is depicted in each of the books here takes the vague form of a mistress’ death that some feel may be suspicious. Orlando and Jonty are called in to investigate but with Orlando going undercover. Thus the two men are apart for most of the story, independently investigating and coming together for quick, erotic interludes that while not graphic in any sense, are more detailed than ever before. The threat of their love being discovered never actually materializes though and is a non-issue.
Here the plot seems to follow the murder mystery a little too closely. The focus of the story is firmly on solving the question of the mysterious death and since the two men are apart, there is no further development of Orlando and Jonty’s relationship. Thus, unfortunately the problems and questions raised with the murder mystery overwhelm the book. The dead woman was supposedly the mistress of the Prince for several decades. However, she was also married with a son during her life. There are several questions raised during this such as why the woman was so upset about her husband possibly cheating if she was having a long standing affair herself. The story ties this issue up towards the later half as if the glaring error was only just remembered and a solution offered.
Unfortunately, this problematic piece of information bothered me almost the entire time while reading. I couldn’t figure out when the woman was the Prince’s mistress and it’s only later on in a very off hand bit of dialogue this information is offered. Similarly there are numerous small details and comments offered that seem to go nowhere and have no purpose except to confuse the detectives and keep the mystery alive. Since there is no indication which of these details is important or not, I was confused over a number of them and why certain ones were completely dropped while others explained. The various twists and turns of the woman’s life are confusing and without a lot of background information, which is meant to keep the murder mystery a question. However, since that is the focus of the book, the plot doesn’t come together until the near end when everything is wrapped up. There are a few clues offered but within a myriad of red herrings and confusing statements, the reader is trying to solve the mystery alongside the main characters.
On the one hand this keeps the mystery in the forefront, but I find my interest lies in Jonty and Orlando as they work together to find an answer. Their interaction, dialogue, and wit offer the most charm and humor within the series. So having the two apart so much keeps this aspect absent and the murder mystery didn’t compensate enough. Whenever the two men were together, they seemed focus on exploring their passion and often the scenes would peek into their bedroom more so than previous offerings. Thankfully the story doesn’t go too graphic – which would shock and surprise faithful readers no doubt – but did show more of Orlando’s passionate nature. This isn’t much of a risk since I doubt the series will ever get graphic but satisfies romance fans.
Thankfully the pace is kept moving and the various characters move in and out of scenes rather quickly. None are fully developed and most are kept as names with a few details to be moved about the plot, but that isn’t necessarily bad. Considering the large cast, too many characters given time would have proved unwieldy. The setting of the coast was a nice contrast to the usual books and gave more of a sense of the men being away from their routine. The small side story featuring Miss Peters gave a nice touch of romance, humor, and entertainment. Overall, this is another good offering but not on par with previous books in the series. I hope the next book gets back to the focus on the men and solving crimes together.
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