I have just finished Lessons in Desire, the second in the Cambridge Fellows series and I am beginning to see the reasons for the good reviews. Unlike the first book which left me detached and uninvolved in the characters, Lessons in Desire delighted me and gave me a better understanding of Drs. Coppersmith and Stewart as well as the times they lived in.
It is 1906 and classes at St. Brides College have been adjourned for the holidays. Jonty Stewart has persuaded his love and colleague to go on vacation with him to Jersey, a journey Orlando views with trepidation. Once the fellows reach the shores of Jersey, the book really began to engage me. As Jonty introduces Orlando to the joys of the seashore, from swimming to hunting crabs in the tidal pools, you experience these precious first times with him. Charlie Cochrane’s descriptions of the shore and its delights are lyrical. She clearly loves the sea and has spent much time there in much the same pursuits as Jonty and Orlando. Orlando’s repressed and restricted childhood leaves him unprepared for the childish games and day trips Jonty has prepared for them to do.
This is such a wonderful look into a gentler, slower time. I loved riding with them on the bicycles, or catching shrimp and bedeviling the hermit crabs in their favorite cove. I laughed at their descriptions of the bathing costumes and Orlando’s embarrassment in disrobing outside of his room (even though he would be merely taking off the clothes on top of the bathing outfit). As Orlando slowly opens himself up to fully experiencing being on holiday with Jonty, more of his past is revealed.
Of course, a murder occurs at the inn they are staying at and, much like Agatha Christie, you are introduced to all the suspects during Orlando and Jonty’s stay. From the kind older couple to the young honeymooners, all the staple characters of an English murder mystery are here. But unlike a Agatha Christie novel, the murderer is easy to spot and the crime not really much of a mystery. That was my only real disappointment in this book. I wished that the murder mystery was as high in quality as the descriptions of Jonty and Orlando on holiday. But I love the fact that this is a typical cosie but a m/m cosie, a lovely addition to the genre.
If you are looking for hot, descriptive sex, then you will find the title misleading and the book disappointing. Here Jonty wishes Orlando to open himself to exploring new horizons of all types, not just including physical love. The lovemaking is gentle and usually under wraps as it were, left more to the readers imagination than visually realistic in terms. I thought this was very much in keeping with the tone and flavor of the story and feel that anything else would have been inappropriate.
I look forward to the next installment in the series, Lessons in Discovery and another visit with Jonty and Orlando.
Rating: 4 stars
Note: I really like the cover of this book. It evokes the time period beautifully unlike the new modern cover for the first novel which was jarring.
With the recent series of college murders behind him, Cambridge Fellow Jonty Stewart is in desperate need of a break. A holiday on the beautiful Channel Island of Jersey seems ideal, if only he can persuade Orlando Coppersmith to leave the security of the college and come with him. Orlando is a quiet man who prefers academic life to venturing out into the world. Within the confines of their rooms at the university, it’s easy to hide the fact that he and Jonty are far more than friends. But the desire to spend more time alone with the man he loves is an impossible lure to resist. When a brutal murder occurs at the hotel where they’re staying, the two young men are once more drawn into the investigation. The race to catch the killer gets complicated by the victim’s son, Ainslie, a man who seems to find Orlando too attractive to resist. Can Stewart and Coppersmith keep Ainslie at bay, keep their affair clandestine, and solve the crime?
Available from: LindenBay Publishers, All Romance, Amazon, Fictionwise.