Rating: 3.5 out of 5 I liked it but wouldn’t read it again.
Lessons In Love is the first in the Cambridge Fellows series and my first introduction to Orlando Coppersmith and Jonty Stewart, fellows at St. Bridge’s College, Cambridge. Set in Edwardian England, civility and restraint are the rules of the day and even the hint of homosexuality can bring incarceration or the gallows.
Dr. Orlando Coppersmith is repressed and aloof, consumed by mathematics. Dr. Jonathan (Jonty) Stewart teaches English and Literature in a manner that welcomes interaction with both peer and student alike. Opposites clash when Jonty mistakenly claims Dr. Coppersmith’s chair at High Table and is set to right by that gentleman. But repression can conceal innocence and a friendly manner can hide a traumatic past as both gentlemen get to know each other better and begin the course of their relationship.
Meanwhile, a murderer stalks the halls and lawns of St. Bride’s, killing young men with a predilection for homosexuality. With that threat hanging over their new found feelings for each other, Jonty and Orlando set off to help the local Constabulary to solve the mystery and catch the murderer.
I often felt as I was reading this story that I was gazing at a story as a tintype. The language used, the sights evoked, all seemed to be filtered through a sepia colored light. Like gazing through the window at a antiques shop, I felt that there was always a barrier between me and the characters. I liked them, enjoyed them even but never quite felt their pain or insecurities.
Some of the real delights of this book are discovering Edwardian sweets with such wonderful names as Bulleyes, Liquorice Allsorts and Mint Lumps. Or going on in search of the meaning of Rugby terms so I would a better understanding of the positions each man played on the team. Charlie Cochrane’s descriptions of Cambridge 1902 were so very real that I felt like freshening up the fire to keep away the cold in the rooms myself as I read.
I did find the innocence of the young versus the arrogance of position and power strong images throughout the book (in the Edwardian age) and as it plays out in our society today. I am also hoping to find that as I continue through the series that my detachment from the characters begins to diminish the more I become acquainted with them. At any rate, onward I go to the 2nd in the series and the furthering of Jonty and Orlando’s relationship.
I also found the cover didn’t look as though it went with the story. The men look too modern for 1905 Cambridge, England and doesn’t seem to belong to the story inside.
Blurb from Linden Bay Press: 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?