A MelanieM Review: Pack Up Your Troubles by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4. 75 stars out of 5

A collection of WWI stories from Charlie Cochrane.

THIS GROUND WHICH WAS SECURED AT GREAT EXPENSE
An officer thinks he finds love in the trenches, but is it really waiting for him on the home front?

HALLOWED GROUND
A doctor and an army chaplain spend the night in a foxhole and discover there’s hope even in the darkest situations

MUSIC IN THE MIDST OF DESOLATION
And an old soldier discovers that there are romantic problems to solve even after you’ve cashed in your chips.

If you have ever read any of Charlie Cochrane’s historical novels, you know not only of her intense interest in WWI but her incredible ability to bring it vividly to life. To take not only the years that encompass WWI but those that preceded it as well as the years afterward where the impact on the survivors who came in many forms, and those who remembered shaped the course of many nations and weave it memorably into her stories.

When it comes to WWI and the men who went to battle, whether they were officers or those on the front line, she takes us into their lives in the trenches.  We feel their fear, their hopes, the lives shattered in a split second and get that war is ugly, anonymous, and death has many faces.  We feel both the intimacy of the men and their yearning for home.

And their fear for it as well.

All of that makes THIS GROUND WHICH WAS SECURED AT GREAT EXPENSE my favorite story of the three. Five stars plus as it takes us directly into the battlefield as well as the mens live before and post war.  It’s grim, the men undergo live changing experiences, and loss.  The characters are people we hurt for, believe in, and finally feel relief and happiness there at the end.  It’s an amazing story and so well written you can almost hear the sounds of battle ringing in your ears.

Next up is my second  favorite, also because of the realism and ability of the author to open her character’s up and expose their vulnerabilities…to each other and her readers in such a way that’s touching and authentic given the circumstances.  Such a moving story.  Again 5 stars for HALLOWED GROUND.  The author got the inspiration from visiting a chapel and those details carry over into the story.

The stories go from the most grim and realistic working their way towards an almost supernatural story,  MUSIC IN THE MIDST OF DESOLATION, that’s hard to describe.  Here the author plays with the lines between the afterlife and the living and two soldiers from different eras with a mission to accomplish.  It’s lighter in tone with WWI still but for me, there were some missing elements as the end where we didn’t find out what happened to a character or two. So  the addition of this story with the other two just didn’t completely work for me.

Now I know from the author’s guest blog that the three stories titles all came from WWI poems.  If you’re interested, check out more of Charlie Cochrane’s guest post on the subject here.  I myself am a fan of Siegfried Sassoon, another WWI author and poet as well as Wilfred Owen who the author loves so much.

I highly recommend this remarkable collection as well as the other historical novels by Charlie Cochrane.  The author has a way of putting you next to these men, letting you feel their experiences, empathize with their conditions and lives that will leave an impact on you long after the book is over.

Cover art is  perfection with the use of poppies,a symbol of Remembrance from famous poem called ‘In Flanders Fields’.  against the white background.  Blood red.  Haunting indeed.

Sales Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published May 9th 2018 by Williams & Whiting
ASINB07CZKTX6G

Spotlight on Pack Up Your Troubles Series by Charlie Cochrane (special guest post)

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Pack Up Your Troubles

by

Charlie Cochrane

Published May 9th 2018 by Williams & Whiting

Available at Amazon | Goodreads

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host  Charlie Cochrane here today talking about her new collection of stories, Pack Up Your Troubles.  Welcome, Charlie!

♦︎

 

My interest in World War One – and more specifically, the service men and women whose lives and deaths were intertwined with the conflict – goes back to school days. The war poetry of Wilfred Owen was part of the syllabus for English secondary schools (it still is) and it really got to me. The power in the words was stunning and the sad, almost romantic story of a poet who died within weeks of the war ended was enthralling.  I’ll admit that I have almost no interest in the details of the action, which regiment fought where and when; it’s the people and their stories that continue to fascinate me.

That sense of the pity of war (and the ‘poetry in the pity’*) heavily influenced the first of the three stories in this anthology. I suspect This Ground which was Secured at Great Expense is one of the most sombre stories I’ve ever written, although I promise it has a happy ending. You could say that the story arc itself mirrors that of war – a sudden call to action, mistakes made and wrong strategies employed, times of inaction and false dawns, a move made at a venture that brings success. And – this is a really big confession – it’s the only story I’ve ever written that I planned out in advance and then wrote against that plan. (I’ll never do it again. Agony for a pantser like me.)

Hallowed Ground is much less intense in style, if no less serious in subject. It was inspired by the Museum of Army Chaplaincy just outside Amport. I have no idea why I hadn’t come across the place before, because it’s relatively local, to me but as soon as I found out about it I made an appointment to visit (you have to make an appointment because it’s on army land.) I spent a lovely hour there, having a private tour from the curator. Not long afterwards the words for Hallowed Ground just started to flow, as though my sub-conscious had been crafting the tale all the time. The story ends with the promise of a happy ending to come, even if that isn’t outworked in this tale: the two characters reappear as minor players in Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour.

The third story in Pack up Your Troubles is the joker in the pack. I’ve amalgamated my interest in the war poetry of one hundred years ago with my interest in modern war poetry (check out the work of Danny Martin) to create the two leading characters. So how can a WWI soldier and a modern one be thrown together? When they’ve both died in combat and are sent back to earth to be part of terrestrial special opps. It was fun to play with the boundaries between this life and the next, and even more so to explore the tension between obeying orders and being true to one’s heart. True love wins in the end, of course, but the path is a tricky one to tread.

Footnote:  my fascination with poetry appears in the three story titles. They’re all taken from WWI poems. The “pity” quote comes from Wilfred Owen himself.  “”My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.”

About Pack Up Your Troubles

Pack up Your Troubles features three stories of love – won, lost and regained – against a backdrop of war.

THIS GROUND WHICH WAS SECURED AT GREAT EXPENSE

An officer thinks he finds love in the trenches, but is it really waiting for him on the home front?

HALLOWED GROUND

A doctor and an army chaplain spend the night in a foxhole and discover there’s hope even in the darkest situations.

MUSIC IN THE MIDST OF DESOLATION

And an old soldier discovers that there are romantic problems to solve even after you’ve cashed in your chips.

Info:

http://williamsandwhiting.com/books/pack-up-your-troubles-by-charlie-cochrane/

About the Author

Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Endeavour and Bold Strokes, among others.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences with The Deadly Dames.

Biog and links:

Website: http://www.charliecochrane.co.uk

Blog http://charliecochrane.livejournal.com/ and https://charliecochrane.wordpress.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18

Twitter: https://twitter.com/charliecochrane

GR: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2727135.Charlie_Cochrane

A MelanieM Review: Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being handed a mystery to solve. But why would anybody murder a man with no enemies? And was it murder in the first place?

I’m always so thrilled to see another Jonty and Orlando mystery be released from Charlie Cochrane.  It means I get to go back and spend my time with those deeply in love Cambridge Fellows I have come to adore over a series of stories that span 20 years of their lives together in approximately Edwardian England.

While the earlier stories follow a rigid timeline, the later tales are more fluid so I never know where they might fall along the 20 some span of years so far.  Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose sees them in their later years, post WWI,  where the effects of that war is still raw, on them and England.  Both men still bear the scars of service, inside and out.  And as this story is to prove, they are far from the only ones.

There are so many things I admire about Charlie Cochrane’s writing and this series.  For one, its authentic, from the language down to the accoutrements of the people at every level of society you see within the stories.  And not once will it every feel anything but completely natural and easy (as opposed to a knowledge dump).  You become immersed in the times, first pre-war England and then all the horrors of  WWI, the very first war of devastating impact with chemical weaponry and  more.  We see it all through the eyes of Jonty and Orlando, Jonty’s family, and the extended “family” they have gathered together at St. Bride’s College, where they have taught all these years and met.

Then, there are the characters, no people, you have come to love over the series of stories.  Its not just Orland Coppersmith and Jonty Stewart, but everyone that Cochrane has created as foundation characters, including the Stewart family and the St. Bride’s College staff, from the head of the college right down to the men who take in the luggage and keep the grounds proper.  Not to forget the housekeeper at their cottage or the detectives they work with.  Nope, all real.  And when over the course of the years, some die, as the intrepid Mr. and Mrs Steward did, how I wept with loss.

So you can imagine, jumping into a new mystery is like coming home again.

Here Cochrane has come up with a doozy of a murder mystery. A man is hit by a car but his wife is convinced it was murder.  It kept me guessin with layers upon layers, surrounded with the poignancy of the survivors and the ever  deepening ramifications from WWI upon people and place.  Stepping up is Jonty’s sister and brother in law to help with the mysteries (yes, multiple) as well as the crew from St. Bride’s.

But the best?  Being gently swung back into the loving, long-established relationship of Jonty and Orlando.  It now has all the hallmarks of a couple who knows each other so well they answer for each other,  the adoration for each other, for each other’s intellects  to their aging bodies is cellular that it glows off the page.

How I love them and this series.  Its one of my heartstones of fiction and one I always recommend.  Now I have another story to add to my recommendations.  Love historical fiction and romance?  Pick up Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose by Charlie Cochrane.  I hope you are familiar with all of the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, of which this is but one.  Gather them all up and hold them close.  They are true gems!

Cover art: Alex Beecroft.  Love the cover.  Works perfectly for the story and its charming.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 104 pages
Published March 19th 2018 by The Right Chair Press
Original TitleLessons in Chasing the Wild Goose
ASINB0791HH4VB
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Cambridge Fellows

A MelanieM Review: Two Feet Under (Lindenshaw Mysteries #3) by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Things are looking up for Adam Matthews and Robin Bright—their relationship is blossoming, and they’ve both been promoted. But Robin’s a policeman, and that means murder is never far from the scene.

When a body turns up in a shallow grave at a Roman villa dig site—a body that repeatedly defies identification—Robin finds himself caught up in a world of petty rivalries and deadly threats. The case seems to want to drag Adam in, as well, and their home life takes a turn for the worse when an ex-colleague gets thrown out of his house and ends up outstaying his welcome at theirs.

While Robin has to prove his case against a manipulative and fiendishly clever killer, Adam is trying to find out which police officer is leaking information to the media. And both of them have to work out how to get their home to themselves again, which might need a higher intelligence than either a chief inspector or a deputy headteacher.

Adam has a new job at a new school, Robin’s working to combine  police officers from different locations into one group, and Robin’s former Sergeant is thrown out of his house and needs putting up.  Sounds like a perfect time for a murder or two!

How I love sinking back into Charlie Cochrane’s cozy mystery series, Lindenshaw Mysteries, now on it’s third book, Two Feet Under.  From the first story,The Best Corpse for the Job (Lindenshaw Mysteries, #1), we’ve watched Robin and Adam become a couple, establish a home  ( Jury of One (Lindenshaw Mysteries #2) , and now become happy in their relationship.  As they’ve grown more secure in themselves as partners and in their relationship, it’s been wonderful to watch their dynamics change, not only when at home but during the investigations as well.  Because once a body pops up, somehow all clues or a few unlikely leads will point towards Adam. Or someone he knows.  Or perhaps even something that Campbell has buried in the garden…you can never be sure how Campbell is involved.  But that Newfie will be important somehow!  Ah, the thrill of anticipation.

Here in Two Feet Under, the mysteries were wonderfully challenging!  It wasn’t just Adam, Robin, and his crew muttering to themselves as they tried to figure out whodunnit.   I too was at the crossroads a few times on this one.  How delicious!  Plus we also got the mole in the station, all the great side characters that ramble through the villages around and near Abbotson. We tumble through the local pubs, out into the streets, and across the wild hillsides in pursuit of killers and the truth.  It’s wonderful.

Or sometimes, we just deal with the fact we have an unwelcome guest we need to figure out how to boot out of our house.  There’s that too.  One whose been a staple character in the first two stories. Oh my.

All that, plus not forgetting the love and warmth of the relationship between Robin and Adam.  Charlie Cochrane pulls is all together famously!

Here’s a cozy to spend the night with.  Or day with.  Or both.  I read it right through because I had to know whodunnit.  I was completely satisfied with the ending.  Now I can’t wait for the next mystery to roll out and my next visit with Adam, Robin, and Campbell.

If you love mysteries and romance, a fan of cozies, don’t let this series or book pass you by! The writing is wonderful.  Charlie Cochrane has done it again!  I highly recommend them both.  They’ll charm you into forgetting that maybe you should be looking over your shoulder! Murder’s like that!

Cover art by L.C. Chase is so much fun.  You’ve got to have that wonderful Newfie, Campbell, on the cover, he’s in the middle of everything, so bloody smart!

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 294 pages
Published January 6th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
ASINB078VW89KR
Series Lindenshaw Mysteries #3

Charlie Cochrane on Inspiration and her story ‘Two Feet Under (Lindenshaw Mysteries #3)’ (guest post,tour, and Giveaway)

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Two Feet Under (Lindenshaw Mysteries #3) by Charlie Cochrane
Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here at Riptide Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Charlie Cochrane back again talking about her wonderful new mystery romance Two Feet Under.  Welcome, Charlie!

✒︎

Two Feet Under began life as a conversation in a car, when my eldest daughter and I got stuck in a traffic jam on the way to an author/reader event. It gained a criminal mastermind as a result of another conversation in the car with her younger sister. It got its background thanks to the popular television series “Time Team” and a setting care of the northern part of Hampshire. The plot came from the author’s twisted imagination, via a lot of checking. And at least one character is based on people I know. You have been warned.

About Two Feet Under

Things are looking up for Adam Matthews and Robin Bright—their relationship is blossoming, and they’ve both been promoted. But Robin’s a policeman, and that means murder is never far from the scene.

When a body turns up in a shallow grave at a Roman villa dig site—a body that repeatedly defies identification—Robin finds himself caught up in a world of petty rivalries and deadly threats. The case seems to want to drag Adam in, as well, and their home life takes a turn for the worse when an ex-colleague gets thrown out of his house and ends up outstaying his welcome at theirs.

While Robin has to prove his case against a manipulative and fiendishly clever killer, Adam is trying to find out which police officer is leaking information to the media. And both of them have to work out how to get their home to themselves again, which might need a higher intelligence than either a chief inspector or a deputy headteacher.

Available now from Riptide Publishing!

About the Lindenshaw Mysteries

Adam Matthews’s life changed when Inspector Robin Bright walked into his classroom to investigate a murder.

Now it seems like all the television series are right: the leafy villages of England do indeed conceal a hotbed of crime, murder, and intrigue. Lindenshaw is proving the point.

Detective work might be Robin’s job, but Adam somehow keeps getting involved—even though being a teacher is hardly the best training for solving crimes. Then again, Campbell, Adam’s irrepressible Newfoundland dog, seems to have a nose for figuring things out, so how hard can it be?

Check out the Lindenshaw Mysteries!

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

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.

Connect with Charlie:

Website:charliecochrane.co.uk/

Blog: charliecochrane.livejournal.com/

Twitter: @charliecochrane

Facebook: facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18

Goodreads: goodreads.com/goodreadscomcharlie_cochrane

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Two Feet Under, one lucky winner will receive a swag bag, including magnet, napkins, bookmark, pencils, hanging decoration, postcards, and a coaster! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 13, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

On the Cadge -Relaunched Lessons series blog tour with Charlie Cochrane

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On the Cadge -Relaunched Lessons Series

with Charlie Cochrane

 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Charlie Cochrane as she relaunches one of my favorite series, her Cambridge Fellows Mysteries (aka the Jonty and Orlando stories).  This author has always mixed historical accuracy with a wonderful way with her dialog and settings that kept the feel of her stories deeply settled within the era while never feeling like a dusty history lesson.  No she brings Edwardian, WWI, and posts WWI England alive as well as one of the most delightful (and long established) couples you will want to meet.

Here’s some more thoughts from the author herself….

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Charlie Cochrane

When did you start writing?

I’ve always had times I’ve scribbled down stories, most of them pretty naff. As a teenager I wrote what I guess would be called slashy fanfic these days and there are not adjectives sufficient to describe how truly awful it was. As I’ve matured, so has my ability with a tale. I hope.

From your books do you have one you like best?

That’s like picking a favourite child – an impossible task. However (and I hope my daughters don’t read this, because they always want to know, “Who’s the favourite?”) However, I’d have to confess that the Cambridge Fellows books will always have a special place in my heart as they were the first full length tales I had published and the two main characters are so easy to write.

Are you character or plot driven?

Character, all the time. My idea of a well developed, extensive plot plan would be “Two blokes, Cornwall” or something similar. I just write and see who comes along and where we get. It sometimes feels like watching (or listening to) a series on television or radio, and discovering the story as it goes along. The beauty of modern writing, word processing and the like, is that if I get down the line and the story changes, I can go back over and make things work very easily.

So, if any characters develop at a tangent, I tend to go with them and see what transpires. I only rein them in if they throw the story too far out of kilter. Sometimes they make the story far more interesting than it was going to be!

If you were in a tight corner and had to rely on one of your characters to save you, which would it be and why?

Ruddy Norah – I’m not sure I’d trust any of them! Certainly not Dr. Panesar, who’s a running secondary character in the Cambridge Fellows books. He’d be bound to make things worse by blowing us up or something. Ariadne Peters, from the same books, is a repository of common sense and Jonty Stewart would certainly  keep us all amused no matter how deep the clart we found ourselves  in. Perhaps I’d have to plump for Jonty’s father, who gives the impression of being capable of dealing with any problem, intellectual or moral. With Campbell, the Newfoundland dog from my contemporary mystery series, the Lindenshaw books, to provide the muscular back up.

If you had no constraints of time and a guarantee of publication, what book would you write?

Can I borrow other people’s characters to play with? I want to write a story where real and fictional characters living in the same area meet and work together to make the world a better place. Imagine the fun if Wilfred Owen and Brother Cadfael teamed up to solve mysteries. Imagine the deep philosophical conversations they’d have at the same time.

 What are your favourite books?

I’ll give you two.

The Charioteer. The writing is wonderful; Mary Renault has an economy of language that every author could learn from – she says more with a simple word like “quite” than most people could in a whole page. I re-read it all the way through at least once a year and dip in and out of it, reading a few pages or scenes, on an almost monthly basis. “Charlie, you’re a sad woman,” you cry, and I might have to agree with you, but it’s like listening to a favourite piece of music. You want to hear that again and again so why not read a particularly pleasing piece of prose as many times as you still find it pleasing?

Death at the President’s Lodging. Michael Innes is more loquacious than Renault, but he’s just as dab a hand at characterization. This murder mystery is also one of the most convoluted I’ve ever read, while being scrupulously fair to the reader. It’s also another annual re-read, especially for the joy of the occasionally (unintentionally?) slashy scene.

And now a confession – I have both of these books in audio version. Now I can top up my re-reads with the occasional “relisten”. I’m sure they inspire both the romantic and mystery elements of my writing.

Cambridge Fellows Series (13 books)

There are 13 primary works and 15 total works in the Cambridge Fellows Series

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.

The first book in the series: 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 hes 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. Brides. 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?

 Lessons in Desire (Book 2, Cambridge Fellows Mysteries)

Lessons in Desire is the second book in the gripping Cambridge Fellows series by Charlie Cochrane. Set in Edwardian England, it explores engrossing mysteries and heartfelt gay romances, all set in the historical walls of Cambridge University.”

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077B7S8F5

 

About the Author

 Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Lethe and Bold Strokes, among others.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences with The Deadly Dames.

Website: http://www.charliecochrane.co.uk

Blog: https://charliecochrane.wordpress.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18

Twitter: https://twitter.com/charliecochrane

GR: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2727135.Charlie_Cochrane

A MelanieM Review: Count the Shells (Porthkennack #6) by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

Michael Gray returned from World War One injured, but at least he returned. Others were not so fortunate, including his first and greatest love, Thomas Carter-Clemence, with whom Michael had parted bitterly before the conflict began.

Broch, the Carter-Clemence home in Porthkennack, was an integral part of pre-war holidays for the Grays, the two families drawn together in the wake of their sons’ friendship. Returning to the once-beloved Cornish coast for a break with his sister and her family, Michael has to find the courage to face old memories . . . and dare new relationships.

When Thomas’s brother Harry makes an unexpected appearance, Michael is surprised to find himself deeply attracted to Harry for his own sake. But as their relationship heats up, it unearths startling revelations and bitter truths. Michael must decide whether Harry is the answer to his prayers or the last straw to break an old soldier’s back.

 

In Count the Shells (Porthkennack #6), Charlie Cochrane once again brings her marvelous way of incorporating soft, sometimes unusual romances with her love of history.  The author never fails,  with her incredible ability , to bring this post WWI historical time frame accurately alive, right down to the songs and events of the era, and then add a poignant and lovely romance as well.

Here in the shadows of WWI, we are looking at a vastly different England.  It’s dealing with returned soldiers and the ramifications of war, as well as the memories of those that fell on the battlefields.  The wounds for most are still fresh as is the grief for those they buried.   Michael Grey is one dealing with both.  Injured but alive, he’s still mourning over the loss of the one man he considers his one true love, Thomas Carter-Clemence.  Parted on bad terms over a argument, Thomas joined up and then died on the battlefield,  their hoped for reconciliation never to be.

We meet up with Michael and his young nephew on a beach, counting shells in different languages.  For Michael, each shell represents a different lover he’s had.  Thomas is always the first, and the ones that follow?  Lost too.  It’s a sad refrain that his discerning nephew nevertheless asks him to repeat, and a sweet introduction to the times and characters.

Then the author sweeps us into the lives of the two families, the Greys, and their neighbors, the Carter-Clemences with the appearance of Harry, Thomas’ brother.  What starts off as a gentle reintroduction and re-acquaintance of the families as Harry and Michael establish a friendship becomes something quite unexpected when the author starts to deal out revelations that shake up the story just as WWI shook up England at the time.  The rest of the story becomes how to reassemble your vision of the things and people you know and move forward.  Again, it’s a very shattering yet familiar thing to have to deal with during that time period on a number of levels.

I thought the relationships here  were all very moving and the dynamics realistically laid out.  Doesn’t matter whether it’s between  brother and nephew, brother and sister,   sister and husband, brother and  brother in law and mostly brother  and brother of the man he loved.  Count the Shells brings  out life’s tapestry in all its interconnections,  lets us look at the power  when  one string is broken and then the ability to mend and make it whole.

I loved this story.  It’s thoughtful, moves perfectly for the plots and elements as laid out.  It allowed me to glimpse into post WWI England via the mind and heart of Charlie Cochrane and that’s a wonderful thing.  Yes, I highly recommend this story and author.

Cover art by L.C. Chase is perfect and in keeping with the character and setting.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 253 pages
Published October 16th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626496545
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesPorthkennack #6

In Our Historical Spotlight: Count the Shells by Charlie Cochrane (RIPTIDE TOUR and Giveaway)

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Count the Shells (Porthkennack #6) by Charlie Cochrane
Riptide Publishing
Cover Art by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Purchase it here at Riptide Publishing

 

Count the Shells is the story which completely astounded its author in the telling. I had no idea when I sat down to write it that the straightforward historical romance I’d envisaged would turn out to have a plot twist which transformed the story into possibly the best tale I’ve ever crafted.

About Count the Shells

Michael Gray returned from World War One injured, but at least he returned. Others were not so fortunate, including his first and greatest love, Thomas Carter-Clemence, with whom Michael had parted bitterly before the conflict began.

Broch, the Carter-Clemence home in Porthkennack, was an integral part of pre-war holidays for the Grays, the two families drawn together in the wake of their sons’ friendship. Returning to the once-beloved Cornish coast for a break with his sister and her family, Michael has to find the courage to face old memories . . . and dare new relationships.

When Thomas’s brother Harry makes an unexpected appearance, Michael is surprised to find himself deeply attracted to Harry for his own sake. But as their relationship heats up, it unearths startling revelations and bitter truths. Michael must decide whether Harry is the answer to his prayers or the last straw to break an old soldier’s back.

Available now from Riptide Publishing

About Porthkennack

Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur’s Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.

Check out Porthkennack! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/porthkennack

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

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.

Connect with Charlie:

Website:charliecochrane.co.uk/

Blog: charliecochrane.livejournal.com/

Twitter: @charliecochrane

Facebook profile page: facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18

Goodreads: goodreads.com/goodreadscomcharlie_cochrane

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Count the Shells, one lucky winner will receive a goodie bag from Charlie Cochrane, including postcards (new and vintage), a recipe book, bookmark, pencils, a fridge magnet and various other doodahs! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 21, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour: A Cambridge Fellows Mystery novella (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries) by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being given a mystery to solve. But what happens when you have to defend your greatest enemy on a charge of murder?

I’m a huge fan of Charlie Cochrane.  Her love of history and her ability to bring various eras to life vividly and memorably on the page can be seen no where better than her Cambridge Fellows Mysteries.  In this series, her remarkable characters Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith meet in St. Bride’s College, Cambridge, England, 1905.  That was their first story Lessons in Love.  From that start, we watch these two men grow, sometimes falter, mature, and continue to love each other through the years and history that follows.  The last book release was Lessons for Sleeping Dogs (Cambridge Fellows #12) and the year was 1921, setting Cambridge. Of course, they are at their beloved St. Bride’s College, a place that’s kept their secret and them safe all these years.

Their greatest enemy here? Well, that would be their neighboring college next to them…one so dastardly that the name is often never spoken.  Especially since its Head has been involved in several imbroglios and a nasty encounter with a beloved member of their small group of friends.  Now their are being asked to investigate whether one of their worst enemies could actually be innocent of murder?

What follows is a charming, complicated (it’s Jonty and Orlando of course) murder investigation.  It will touch on many past elements and stark realities about that era.  Soldiers in what we now call PTSD from the war being one of them,  Jonty’s past abuse as a child, and others are all threads included here. If you are unfamiliar with the series, they might slip by you without a much of a trace.  But if you are, they deepen much of the poignancy that flows here.  Jonty and Orlando have been together 20 years at this point, a lovely measure of time.  Yet still the fear of being caught out hangs over them and they are always cautious with themselves and their relationship.

The author bring’s us into Jonty and Orlando’s lives again gently, her conversations with them flows with the language and usage of words of the times yet it never feels forced or hard to read.  Indeed, its warm, welcoming, and easy.  After all these stories, it feels like  walking into the drawing room again and seeing old friends.  What a joy.   The story flew by all too quickly and it was another case closed before I knew it.

I hope Charlie Cochrane never closes the books on her Cambridge Fellows Mysteries.  I hope Jonty and Orlando never really get so old that they can’t go sleuthing together and that St. Bride’s will always be waiting for them when they return home.  Unfamiliar with the series?  Start today with Lessons in Love and work your way through.  There’s some real heartbreakers in the series but don’t worry.  The sun continues to shine on them both.  This is proof and a great story to boot.

Cover Illustration by Alex Beecroft is utterly charming and perfect for the story. Had no idea this talented author was an artist as well.

Buy links:    Amazon | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 82 pages
Expected publication: August 14th 2017 by The Right Chair Press
ASINB073Z3LL3K

Charlie Cochrane On Her Obsessions with Pre/Post 1900’s and ‘Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour’ (Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway)

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Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour:
A Cambridge Fellows Mystery novella (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries)
by Charlie Cochrane
Alex Beecroft  (Illustrator)

Buy links:    Amazon | Amazon UK  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Charlie Cochrane here today with her new Cambridge Fellows Mysteries story, Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour! Welcome back, Charlie! 

✒︎

 

Charlie Cochrane on Her Obsession with Pre and Post 1900’s

I’m obsessed with the era either side of 1900. To the extent that if I buy (or borrow from the library) any new books set in the era I have to smuggle them into the house in a plain brown wrapper or my daughters tell me off. I try to pretend they’re for research purposes (I write many of my stories in the Edwardian/WWI era) but that’s stretching the truth. It’s the characters who fascinate me.  Sassoon, Owen, Brooke, Graves, Gurney and the rest – I can lap up both their works and their life stories.

Okay, you might say, that’s all very well setting a context for your writing but how does the romantic element work in?  The simple answer is that Siegfried Sassoon was gay, Wilfred Owen was gay, Rupert Brooke and Robert Graves had experienced homosexual encounters/longings, Vera Brittain’s brother Edward might have sacrificed himself in the line as he was under suspicion of sexual relations with his soldiers…the list goes on. Scratch the surface of almost any of the WWI poets and you find some connection (personal or through friends) to what would have been, at the time, a deliberately hidden world of gay men.

It’s a strange era, with a bit of a dichotomous feel. On the one hand the disgrace of Oscar Wilde would still have been sharp in the nation’s memory but Robert Ross, Wilde’s lover and staunch supporter, still had a sort of coterie in London where several of these poets congregated. (Owen, whose one extant letter to Sassoon suggests he was in love with him, got drawn into this network after meeting Sassoon at Craiglockhart.)

Inevitably, given the illegal status of homosexual relationships, cover ups were ripe. Edward Brittain’s commanding officer kept the story of his impending enquiry secret until he was attacked in print by Vera Brittain. Sassoon’s autobiographical novels skirt around his sexuality and he destroyed some of Owen’s letters to him for which the poet’s brother Harold was grateful. Harold did much (through both his own biography of his brother and destroying much of Wilfred’s correspondence) to sanitise the poet’s image; I wonder what he thought about Wilfred’s poem on the subject of rent boys, “Who is the God of Canongate”?

Because of the secrecy gay men had to live under, mysteries remain, some of which we may never be able to solve. Did Edward Brittain deliberately choose death in combat over disgrace? Was Wilfred Owen seduced by Charles Scott Moncrieff? Was the death by drowning of Michael Llewelyn Davies part of a suicide pact? How can we understand the lives of gay men at a century’s remove? Read the most up to date biographies, clearly, especially those which rely on first hand sources. (Dominic Hibberd’s “Wilfred Owen a new biography” is one of my brown paper wrapped books.)  Access correspondence from the time, and look at the changing drafts of the poems. Read the finished poems themselves, with the gift of hindsight. Maybe you’ll end up like me, so inspired by the tales you’ve heard that you’ll want to write about the era.

Title: Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour (m/m mystery)

Blurb:

Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being given a mystery to solve. But what happens when you have to defend your greatest enemy on a charge of murder?

Excerpt:

Cambridge 1922 

“Owens? Owens?” Orlando Coppersmith’s voice sounded louder, and clearer, from his chair in the Senior Common Room at St Bride’s than it had ever sounded before. And with good cause.

“Steady on, old man. We’re in enough of a state of shock without you making sufficient noise to wake the dead.” Jonty Stewart smiled at his friend’s uncharacteristic outburst. Although friendship would hardly be the most accurate way to describe their relationship. Even the description “lovers, companions, colleagues and partners in solving crime” didn’t quite cover the depth of the bond they’d build up in nigh on twenty years. If their hair bore the odd silver thread, their ardour hadn’t cooled.

“Wake the dead or, harder still, wake some of the dons,” Dr. Panesar agreed, mischievously.

“Good point, Dr. P.” Jonty sniggered. “Some of them give the impression they’ve been asleep since 1913.”

A quick glance around the oak panelled room supported his assertion. St. Bride’s may have been one of the most forward looking of the Cambridge colleges, embracing the fact the year was 1922 rather than pretending it was still 1622, but some aspects of the university, including crusty old dons, seemed to be an immutable fixture.

“In which case,” Orlando pointed out, “we’d have ten years of history to explain to them, much of it unpleasant, let alone this latest scandal. St. Bride’s men being asked to defend Owens. What is the world coming to?”

About the Author

Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Lethe and Bold Strokes, among others.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences with The Deadly Dames.

www.charliecochrane.co.uk

Giveaway

Comment below for the chance to win an audio copy of Lessons in Love. One winner to be drawn from total comments from all blog tour stops.