Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Cambridge Fellows Mysteries by Charlie Cochrane Part 4


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If the men of St. Bride’s College knew what Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith got up to behind closed doors, the scandal would rock early-20th-century Cambridge to its core. But the truth is, when they’re not busy teaching literature and mathematics, the most daring thing about them isn’t their love for each other—it’s their hobby of amateur sleuthing.

Because wherever Jonty and Orlando go, trouble seems to find them. Sunny, genial Jonty and prickly, taciturn Orlando may seem like opposites. But their balance serves them well as they sift through clues to crimes, and sort through their own emotions to grow closer. But at the end of the day, they always find the truth . . . and their way home together.

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Be sure and check the author's website for a complete chronological list of novels, novellas, free short stories in the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries Universe.

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Lessons for Survivors #9
Summary:
It's September 1919, and Orlando Coppersmith should be happy...

WWI is almost a year in the past, he's back at St. Bride's College in Cambridge, he has his lover and best friend Jonty Stewart back at his side, and-to top it all-he's about to be made Forsterian Professor of Applied Mathematics.

With his inaugural lecture to give and a plagiarism case to adjudicate on, Orlando's hands are full, so can he and Jonty afford to take on an investigative commission surrounding a suspected murder? Especially one which must be solved within a month so that a clergyman can claim what he says is his rightful inheritance? The answer looks like being a resounding "no" when the lecture proves almost impossible to write, the plagiarism case gets turned back on him and Jonty (spiced with a hint of blackmail), and the case surrounding Peter Biggar's death proves to have too many leads and too little evidence.

Orlando begins to doubt their ability to solve cases any more, and his mood isn't improved when there seems to be no way of outsmarting the blackmailer. Will this be the first failure for Coppersmith and Stewart? And how will they maintain their reputations - professional, private, and as amateur detectives?

Lessons for Suspicious Minds #10
Summary:
An invitation to stay at a friend of the Stewart family’s stately home can only mean one thing for Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith — a new case for the amateur sleuths. And with two apparently unrelated suicides, a double chase is on...

But things never run smoothly for the Cambridge fellows. In an era when their love dare not speak its name, the chance of discovery (and disgrace) is ever present—how do you explain yourself when a servant discovers you doing the midnight run along the corridor?

The chase stops being a game for Orlando when the case brings back memories of his father’s suicide and the search for the identity of his grandfather. And the solution presents them with one of the most difficult moral decisions they’ve had to make...

Lessons for Idle Tongues #11
Summary:
Cambridge, England, 1910. 

Amateur detectives Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith seem to have nothing more taxing on their plate than locating a missing wooden cat and solving the dilemma of seating thirteen for dinner. But one of the guests brings a conundrum: a young woman has been found dead, and her boyfriend is convinced she was murdered. The trouble is, nobody else agrees.

Investigation reveals that several young people in the local area have died in strange circumstances, and rumours abound of poisonings at the hands of Lord Toothill, a local mysterious recluse. Toothill's angry, gun-toting gamekeeper isn't doing anything to quell suspicions, either.

But even with a gun to his head, Jonty can tell there's more going on in this surprisingly treacherous village than meets the eye. And even Orlando's vaunted logic is stymied by the baffling inconsistencies they uncover. Together, the Cambridge Fellows must pick their way through gossip and misdirection to discover the truth.

Lessons for Sleeping Dogs #12
Summary:
Cambridge, 1921

When amateur sleuth Jonty Stewart comes home with a new case to investigate, his partner Orlando Coppersmith always feels his day has been made. Although, can there be anything to solve in the apparent mercy killing of a disabled man by a doctor who then kills himself, especially when everything takes place in a locked room?

But things are never straightforward where the Cambridge fellows are concerned, so when they discover that more than one person has a motive to kill the dead men—motives linked to another double death—their wits get stretched to the breaking point.

And when the case disinters long buried memories for Jonty, memories about a promise he made and hasn’t kept, their emotions get pulled apart as well. This time, Jonty and Orlando will have to separate fact from fiction—and truth from emotion—to get to the bottom of things.

Lessons for Survivors #9
Original Review August 2014:
Not quite a year out of the war and it looks like things are getting back to normal, or at least as normal as Jonty and Orlando are familiar with. Everything seems to come to their doorstep all at once, when doesn't it though? Just as Orlando is trying to write his lecture for his professorship, he's also on a committee that's overseeing a plagiarist case involving "the college next door" and the dreaded Owens that is still holding a grudge for not having solved the Woodville Ward case (Discovery #3) before Coppersmith and Stewart. But then a case comes for them to sink their teeth into, except there is a time limit, only one month. Seeing our beloved boys get back into the thick of things is amazing and fun. At the start, they seem to have lost a bit of their confidence in the deduction abilities, some due to the war and other due to still missing Jonty's parents, who were lost during the war to the influenza epidemic. Soon, they enlist the help of past friends and Jonty's sister, Lavinia and it seems that they just might be able to pull it off. Mixed with the usual humor we have come to know from the lovers and their unique way of looking at life, Lessons for Survivors is a great entry in this series.

Lessons for Suspicious Minds #10
Original Review August 2014:
Suspcious Minds finds us back in 1909. It's nice to see the parental Stewarts back and sinking their teeth into Jonty and Orlando's investigations again. I think Papa Stewart is more eager to join in the hunt but Mama Stewart, once given an assignment is actually even more determined to assist her boys find the truth, even if it might reach a little too close to treasured loved ones. The mystery of suicide or not is intriguing and seeing how both Jonty and Orlando deal with the personal memories the subject conjures up is well written. I very much enjoyed the non-mystery related subplot of Jonty and Orlando having to deal with not being able to "do their duty" because of their location. Added some much appreciated humor when the investigation begins to way down both, our favorite couple and the reader's hearts.

Lessons for Idle Tongues #11
Original Review July  2015:
When I found out that there was going to be, not one but two, new entries in the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries this year I was so excited.  Within 36 hours of the arrival of Lessons for Idle Tongues on my Kindle, I reached the final page and can I just say that Charlie Cochrane did not disappoint.  Jonty and Orlando are faced with another intriguing mystery that may or may not be an actual mystery but that doesn't stop their investigation.  Now I'm even more hungry for Lessons for Sleeping Dogs and October is seeming way too far off.

As for the overall series, Cambridge Fellows is a great historical mystery with humor, romance, and characters that mesh together perfectly, even when they seem more enemy than friend.  I came across this series last summer when I was searching for historical fiction and even though there were 10 books to the series, I decided to give it a try.  Well, less than 30 days later I had finished all 10.  I will say that the publishers label them as standalones and I guess as far as the mysteries go, yes they do qualify as standalones but because of the growing relationships amongst the different characters, and not just Jonty and Orlando, I highly recommend reading them in order of the chronological timeline, which I included below after the excerpts before the author bio.

Lessons for Sleeping Dogs #12
Original Review November 2015:
When I heard there was going to be another Jonty and Orlando I was so excited and that excitement was justified.  Even after 15 years together they still manage to excite, intrigue, romance, and infuriate each other and the reader.  I will say that when I saw it was set after the war, there was a little sense of sadness knowing that Mr. and Mrs. Stewart would not be part of the story as they died of influenza during the war.  Well, I did indeed miss the senior Stewarts but Jonty's sister, Lavinia stepped in to her parent's shoes perfectly and loved every minute of it.  Throw in their good friend, Ariadne, who just happened to be the one to bring their recent case to the boys' door, and the amateur detectives are afoot in all their mystery-solving glory.  I know some series tend to be repetitive after a while but Cambridge Fellows has not reached that point yet and I hope to see more to come, I don't think I'll ever tire of Jonty and Orlando.

RATING:


Lessons for Survivors #9
Orlando was pleased they’d not brought the motor car. Sauntering along King’s Parade with Jonty at his side and not a cloud in the piercingly blue sky, he couldn’t shake off the feeling that the shades of Helena Stewart and Grandmother Coppersmith were walking alongside him as well. He wasn’t sure he believed in God or heaven, even though Jonty was enthusiastic about both, but the thought of the two formidable women who had so shaped his life for the better being in cahoots in some ethereal realm, bossing the angels and telling Gabriel off for going around without his vest on, made the day even brighter.

All he needed now were two things. The first was for the ordeal of the next few hours to be over swiftly and without incident. Please God, his dodgy Achilles tendon, which hadn’t given him any gyp this last five years, wouldn’t decide that today was the day it had its revenge for presumed maltreatment and gave out, sending him arse over tip in the face of the congregation. The second was for his guardian angels, if they did exist, to send him a nice juicy problem to solve. And if they couldn’t manage a murder (which didn’t seem like the sort of thing to be praying for), then some other mystery, maybe one that had evaded all solution for years on end and that he and Jonty alone could master.

“Are you thinking about violent crime of some sort?” The perky voice at his side cut into Orlando’s daydream of knives, victims’ backs, and convoluted inheritances.

“How did you know?” How did Jonty Stewart always seem to know what was going on in his brain? Did it read like ticker tape all over the Coppersmith fizzog?

“You’ve got that look in your eye. The one that only comes when it’s been too long between cases.” Jonty grinned, and Orlando had to admit he was right. Time was when he would have bitten anyone’s hand off at the chance of a nice, complicated crime to investigate. Maybe those times were returning at last.

Lessons for Suspicious Minds #10
“This island is a delightful spot.” Orlando couldn’t decide whether he preferred the lodge, the temple, or the pleasant grounds. That was like choosing between algebra, geometry, and calculus.

“It is that,” Jonty replied. “Do you know, there are two things which depress me about traditional depictions of heaven—no more sea and the equal light. Who would want a world in which there are no shadows to play on the grass or waves to play on the beach? I’ve always hoped that St. Peter, as a fisherman, would sort out the business of the ocean. Or else where will the whales disport themselves?”

“Will there be whales in heaven?”

“I sincerely hope so. Why would God create something so magnificent and then not make the most of it through eternity? I’ll be expecting glyptodonts too.”

Orlando didn’t answer. He’d tried to engage in sensible discussion on this sort of topic before, but he’d recently given up the exercise of pursuing whatever flight of fancy Jonty’s brain had gone on. There was no logic to his mental processes at times, nor was any logic expected in return. All that was required of the audience was to listen—or at least pretend to.

“I reckon we’ll have at least half an hour to disport ourselves here. Papa’s settled in that chair for a snooze and Mama, when she wakes, will force the gardener to talk to her about roses and peacocks and who knows what.” Jonty stretched again. “Bliss.” He turned over, leaning on his elbow. “Are you going to take advantage of the opportunity for a bit of shut-eye?”

“No, I’ve more important things to do.” Orlando sat hugging his knees. “I spent too much of my early life ignoring beauty and sticking my nose in books rather than looking around at the trees and the sky and the water. I want to take every opportunity now of drinking in the sublime.”

“You wonderful old softy. We’ll make a poet of you yet.” Jonty lay back again, arms behind head, staring up at the beech leaves. “Do you know, these are the best trees to hide from the rain under? Something about the arrangement of the leaves, designed to catch the most sunlight. It helps to keep out the rain as a wonderful side effect.”

“Where do you pick up all this stuff? Dr. Panesar been bending your ear again?” Maurice Panesar, fellow of St. Bride’s, possibly the most inventive brain in Cambridge. And with about as much practical common sense as a squid.

Lessons for Idle Tongues #11
Once dressed for dinner, he wandered along to annoy Jonty. Given their exertions of the afternoon, the chances were he’d be snatching forty winks, and would be nicely flustered at having to rush to get ready. Unfortunately for the purposes of either annoyance or mockery, Jonty seemed well ahead of schedule on the dressing front.

“Now, about tomorrow,” he said as Orlando walked into his bedroom. “Just behave yourself when we get to the ground.”

“Of course I will.”

“Good.” Jonty grinned. “I don’t want any naughty things going on behind the pavilion. Even if it’s one of those that backs onto woodland and allows any amount of sin to take place there.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Really? Didn’t many a lad from deepest, darkest Kent lose his virginity behind the school cricket pavilion? Or some other equally convenient location? Ah, got it this time.” Jonty smiled at the elegant knot he’d produced in his tie. “Perfect.”

“Is that true or are you making it up? And why can’t you have the same sort of black tie as everyone else?” Maybe when Jonty took it off tonight, Orlando could accidentally cut the offensive object into fifty-seven pieces.

Lessons for Sleeping Dogs #12
Jonty, recognising the signs, concentrated on his food. Orlando’s tetchiness could only mean one thing. “You need a case. To improve your mood.”

Orlando opened his mouth as if he was going to argue, then shut it again and laid down his fork. “You’re right. I have no idea how I filled my days before this all happened.” He swept his hand in a gesture that seemed to take in Jonty, their cottage, and the elegant piece of silverware on the mantelpiece. The long-necked jug, a gift from a grateful client, was symbolic of investigations.

Jonty held his tongue. He had no idea how Orlando could have survived back then, cocooned in his own little world.

“Maybe,” he said at last, “our guardian angels—the ones you refuse to believe in despite all the evidence that they’re working like billy-o—are even now trying to push a case in our direction. The devil makes work for idle hands, and they wouldn’t want us put into temptation, would they?”

Orlando broke into a grin. “You do talk rot.”

Jonty lifted his napkin to his mouth. “So, can you take the field for me? You’ve an excellent eye for a ball, and that fifty you put together back in May for the St. Bride’s Fellows XI was a poem. A sonnet in itself, iambic pentameter or not.”

The talk turned to sport, and the beef was enjoyed against a background of leg spin and off drives.


Saturday Series Spotlight
Part 1  /  Part 2  /  Part 3





Author Bio:
As Charlie Cochrane couldn't be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice - like managing a rugby team - she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries, but she's making an increasing number of forays into the modern day. She's even been known to write about gay werewolves - albeit highly respectable ones.

Her Cambridge Fellows series of Edwardian romantic mysteries were instrumental in seeing her named Speak Its Name Author of the Year 2009. She’s a member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and International Thriller Writers Inc.

Happily married, with a house full of daughters, Charlie tries to juggle writing with the rest of a busy life. She loves reading, theatre, good food and watching sport. Her ideal day would be a morning walking along a beach, an afternoon spent watching rugby and a church service in the evening.


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EMAIL:  cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com 



Lessons for Survivors #9

Lessons for Suspicious Minds #10

Lessons for Idle Tongues #11

Lessons for Sleeping Dogs #12

Series

Blog Tour: Out in the Offense by Lane Hayes

Title: Out in the Offense
Author: Lane Hayes
Series: Out in College #3
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: January 6, 2019
Summary:
Christian Rafferty is a talented quarterback with a big secret. He’s determined to make the most of his final season on the football field, and if possible, avoid any confrontations with his conservative parents about his future. It shouldn’t be difficult; he’s become adept at keeping his public and private lives separate. However, when a math class threatens to derail his plans to graduate on time, he realizes he may need outside help.

Rory Kirkland has a reputation for being a tough guy. He’s a former wrestler and recent college graduate who needs a real job. Until he finds one, tutoring is a decent temporary gig. Luckily, his brain is his biggest asset. Rory is a genius. He credits his sport for helping him deal with angst and rumors about his sexuality when he was younger, but he doesn’t care what others think anymore. He likes his new status as an out and proud bi man; and he recognizes something of himself in Christian. But Rory didn’t count on falling for him. When an unlikely friendship collides with intense attraction, both men begin to realize that coming out on offense just might be the surest path to love.


“You don’t want to hear about my game or the stupid college parties I went to, so let’s talk statistics.”I tapped the cover of the textbook meaningfully.

“We’ll get there. Did you win?”

“Yeah, it was a blowout.”

“Sorry, the acoustics in here are whack. Did you say you got a blowjob?”

I snickered, then sat back and twisted the straw in my to-go cup. “Unfortunately, no.”

Rory tsked. “Too bad, my friend.”

“Did you?”

“Yep. I want to brag and tell you it was amazing, but it wasn’t all that special. I was horny. He was willing.…You know the story.”

“Yeah, I think it’s called a short story with a happy ending,”I joked.

“Ha! Exactly. That’s what happens when you go lookin’ for love in da club. Everyone’s out for a quick fix. Sounds perfect until it’s over ten minutes later. Then you gotta deal with the uncomfortable ‘Did we really just do that?’aftermath. Not so fun. Enjoy college life while you can. This adult business sucks,”he huffed humorlessly. “And yeah, I took Spanish in school and my brother speaks it. I know enough to hold a short conversation. That’s about it. Why’d you ask?”

I frowned. “I don’t know.”

Rory gave me a patient look. “Talk to me, Christian. We covered Basic BS 101. You told me you won your game and went to a coupla boring parties. I told you I went to WeHo with some friends. Now I’m backtracking to your question about whether or not I speak Spanish ’cause I’m polite like that. Plus it was a weird one. Why’d you want to know?”

“Your tattoo,”I replied, gesturing at his wrist.

Rory turned his palms over for me to inspect. “They’re lines from a Pablo Neruda poem. This one says, ‘En mΓ­ todo ese fuego se repite’ and this says, ‘En mΓ­ nada se apaga ni se olvida.’The translation is, ‘In me all this fire is repeated’ and ‘In me nothing is extinguished or forgotten.’The poem is called ‘If You Forget Me,’and it’s poignant as fuck. If you don’t know it, look it up.”

“I will. That’s cool.”And “poignant as fuck,”as he so eloquently put it. “But what does it mean to you?”I asked.

“That goes a little beyond water-cooler talk, QB. We’ll save it for when and if we get to know each other well enough to tell secrets,”he said, winking to take the sting from his words.

I nodded in understanding but instead of pulling away, I absently reached out to touch the script. Then I looked into his eyes, and I could have sworn I saw the tiniest crack in his armor before an invisible shield fell into place. In that fraction of a second, a silent communication passed between us. He’d been through hard times and he’d emerged…possibly stronger than ever. I was curious for sure, but there was no way to politely ask his story, so I inclined my head and switched gears.

“Did you study poetry in college?”

“No.”Rory sat back and eyed me for a long moment before continuing. “Are you ready to tackle stats now?”

I slumped in my chair with a theatrical sigh and gave myself a mental high five when he chuckled at my antics. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

“I’ll go easy on you. I’ve got a feeling this is gonna hurt me more than it’ll hurt you,” he snarked.

I chuckled at the playful innuendo as I leaned forward, intent on giving him one hundred percent of my attention for as long as I could possibly stand it.



Author Bio:
Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.


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EMAIL: lanehayes@ymail.com



Out in the Offense #3

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