Lessons for Survivors by Charlie Cochrane

Lessons for Survivors by Charlie CochraneLessons for Survivors by Charlie Cochrane

Series: #9 Cambridge Fellows
Genres: Historical Romance, M/M Romance
Published by Riptide on January 26, 2015
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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four-half-stars  

A murder mystery set in Post-WWI Britain that has the added boost of a strong, steady romance for the detecting team. It also has the status of being the ninth book in a much loved series that shows no signs of winding down or weakening even though the last one felt the pinnacle and grandest of grand finales of the series.

Ah, I was so excited to read this one in that lazy afternoon-get cozy way, to settle near my fire with a flavorful cuppa (in my case hot chocolate since I don’t like tea- gasp, I know) and some lovely homemade cookies all in anticipation of time spent with favorite fellows, Orlando Coppersmith and Jonty Stewart. Their witty dialogue, their discreet sweet passion, their sharp observant minds that love to tease out the puzzles, their life at a small Cambridge college and the characters and mysteries that flit through their lives.

I wasn’t sure what to expect after that stormy and deeply emotional eighth book that told the tale of their time in the war and the loss and need to heal that followed. It was both agonizingly dark and piercingly bright. I worried that this one would feel sadly flat after the other experience. Thankfully, it did not. They are older, rougher around the edges and all, but they are still the fellows I have come to appreciate and love through their stories.

For those who are just being introduced to this m/m historical mystery and romance series, it is one that needs to be read in order. It progresses through an actual historic time period, but it also introduces the main characters and tells their personal growth stories and their romance as they solve a mystery with each installment. It’s like the Holmes and Watson of the academic world of Cambridge (though don’t let Orlando know I said that since he loathes the comparison).

This story provided lots of fodder for a captivating read. There was the new academic achievement of Orlando making Professor of Applied Mathematics that has him stressing and worrying as only Orlando can do, there was the threat of unsavory blackmail from another college’s master if Orlando and the rest of a committee of professors do not let a fellow mathematics teacher from a rival college off the hook for plagiarism, and there is the confusing murder mystery that Orlando and Jonty have been called in to investigate and have to solve in a time frame that allows their client to receive his inheritance. It is a confusing twisty case where nobody and nothing is what it seems, but the two men revel in this challenge and the chance to get their lives back to normal if that is ever possible.

The story had a second generation feel to it with the older Stewarts and the old St. Bride’s college master gone during the war years and others with older faces yet the same engaging personalities and minds now stepping up to form part of their sleuthing circle. I am excited that the indomitable and spirited Mrs. Sheridan is on hand to help with their affairs around the college and it was fun to see Jonty’s sister take over as their source for researching the persons of interest in their cases.

These books have a certain tone and personality to the writing that I just love. They have a formal feel because the characters and plots are from the Edwardian era that is painted with such authenticity. However, that doesn’t mean it is so formal that it is stilted or cold. In past reviews, I don’t think I have ever mentioned the humor the author brings to these books, but it was very present in this one. Not that it was painted on thick, but just that it showed the steady progress of their recovery from the war and attempt to find their way back to happier times that now include a loss of innocence. When I speak of humor, it is a dry wit and that back and forth snappy dialogue that is recognizable in established couples. It was also seen in the quirky and sometimes silly goings on in the small community of their Cambridge college and the rivalry between colleges. Jonty says and does the most provoking things to rile Orlando and even other people. Orlando can get a bit starched up about things and that can be funny too.

As to their relationship, they have gone through so much in this series and this book finally gave them a breather in the sense that the issues in this plot were all external. They are like a middle-aged pair in a mature romance though the passion is still there. They are also like an excited newlywed couple after being apart for so many years during the war and having to adjust to the changes the war made on them both.

All in all, it was a smashing comeback-style success that has me eager for more Jonty and Orlando along with the rest loving and solving their mysteries.

My thanks to Riptide Publishing and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

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About Charlie Cochrane

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, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes, MLR, Riptide and Lethe.

Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • It’s weird how a book can feel like a series finale, and then… several more installments get published. I don’t mind it when the main plot arc gets resolved just so long as the author manages to replace it with something equally as interesting. I do believe that this might very well be one of the better M/M romances out there. Nice review!

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

    • Yes, exactly, Carmel! If I were to guess, I would think that the last one was meant to be the end and then she maybe had the thought to make this a sort of epilogue story if you will. The next one, which I’m told is the last, is to go back in time before the war, but that was only hearsay so I’m not sure.

      Oh and yes, this is a fantastic series. It’s one I recommend for those who like to ease their way into the genre and also like historical settings.

  • I’ve read a couple of books in this time period and because so much stuff happened at this time it’s easy for a story to have a lot happening in it.

    • That’s for sure, Mary! These can be slower b/c they’re in the insular university setting, but they also go all over to solve their cases and get caught up in exciting stuff too.