Lessons in Love by Charlie Cochrane

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Lessons in Love by Charlie Cochrane

Blurb:

St. Bride’s College, Cambridge, England, 1905.

When Jonty Stewart takes up a teaching post at the college where he studied, the handsome and outgoing young man acts as a catalyst for change within the archaic institution. He also has a catalytic effect on Orlando Coppersmith.

Orlando is a brilliant, introverted mathematician with very little experience of life outside the college walls. He strikes up an alliance with the outgoing Jonty, and soon finds himself having feelings he’s never experienced before. Before long their friendship blossoms into more than either man had hoped and they enter into a clandestine relationship.

Their romance is complicated when a series of murders is discovered within St. Bride’s. All of the victims have one thing in common, a penchant for men. While acting as the eyes and ears for the police, a mixture of logic and luck leads them to a confrontation with the murderer—can they survive it?

 

Review:

It’s a rare delight to have a fully developed mystery blend with a mostly satisfying romantic entanglement within a historical setting – and all accomplished within a short 160 pages. The mystery of the murdered students was well done with just enough hints to keep the final resolution from being either overly simplistic or too clever. The book’s progression depended equally upon the characters and their slow growing romance as with the resolution to the ongoing murders.

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The cast were all well written, although almost too many as they moved quickly in and out of scenes and often easily confused with one another.

Jonty is a complex character that changes several times throughout the course of the book. From his initial disdain for the socially inept Orlando to their invaluable friendship and deepening passion for one another, Jonty seems to develop even more so than the slow awakening Coopersmith. He is clearly from a well loved family with exuberance and outward affection with a touch of charm and gregarious nature. He befriends the introverted Orlando and sees there is more depth to him beyond appearances and slowly falls in love with the other man, albeit mostly chastely and carefully. They spend quite a bit of time together as Jonty slowly draws the other man out of his shell with irreverent teasing and gentle passion creating a comfortable and likeable relationship benefiting both men.

Orlando is a repressed virgin and has no experience with either passion or love of another person, either male or female. He responds to the first person to take a genuine interest in him, who happens to be male, but his feelings are borne of a stronger, deeper connection to perhaps the sole other person he allows himself to connect with. He slowly emerges from his protective, introverted shell with Jonty’s teasing and support to develop his own interests beyond the college and math. His slow acceptance of physical passion to instigator is delightful to read and adds his own brand of charm to his personae. Orlando reacts almost too well to Jonty’s back and forth behavior in the later half and accepts the other man’s company whenever and however he can get it, lending a slight unequal air to the otherwise alluring partnership.

Both characters are complicated and three dimensional with genuine emotion in regards to their relationship and possible social ramifications. Although the story is not too long, the slow pace of the romance dragged in several areas as did the mystery in the second half of the book. Jonty’s character went from an irrepressible imp to dour and often contradictory. He would turn hot and cold towards his new lover, ignoring him for days and then deigning to make time for Orlando if he felt like it. This seemed to be a marked contradiction from his earlier almost relentless, but patient pursuit and although considering the confusion and mystery surrounding them, perhaps understandable. Yet the author never elucidates the reasoning for this see-sawing of emotion and action. This left me wondering at the unequal footing of the relationship in that Orlando feels much more deeply for Jonty than the reverse.

Within the historical setting, the prose was lovely and although it shies from being explicit by a lot it has a slightly humorous quality that keeps the writing from spiraling into purple madness. For example:

He’d always kept his investigations strictly north of the Equator but tonight he was going to risk the ceremony of crossing the line, in search of the rare undiscovered delights of Orlando’s southern hemisphere.

Taken by itself, this might be outrageous and prudish, but set in the charm of the historical setting, the writing creates another lovely element to the two characters which is fitting and appropriate. The author manages quite well to create an alluring background and two characters in which explicit erotica would have been jarring and out of place, instead her ease with prose and delightful bashfulness blends incredibly well.

This story will not be for everyone with it’s languid pace and mostly chaste romance of the heart, but the well-written characters, intriguing mystery, and fully developed setting will entice those wanting a sweet and lovely story.

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Captain’s Surrender by Alex Beecroft

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Captain’s Surrender by Alex Beecroft

Blurb:

Ambitious and handsome, Joshua Andrews had always valued his life too much to take unnecessary risks. Then he laid eyes on the elegant picture of perfection that is Peter Kenyon.

Soon to be promoted to captain, Peter Kenyon is the darling of the Bermuda garrison. With a string of successes behind him and a suitable bride lined up to share his future, Peter seems completely out of reach to Joshua.

But when the two men are thrown together to serve during a long voyage under a sadistic commander with a mutinous crew, they discover unexpected friendship. As the tension on board their vessel heats up, the closeness they feel for one another intensifies and both officers find themselves unable to rein in their passion.

Let yourself be transported back to a time when love between two men in the British Navy was punishable by death, and to a story about love, about honor, but most of all, about a Captain’s Surrender.


Really good historical with gay sailors, whats not to like?