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Jonathan `Jonty' Stewart is a breath a fresh air to the serene faculty of St. Bride's College in Cambridge England. His outgoing attitude is the total opposite of his colleague Orlando Coppersmith, who is such an introvert, that he barely ventures outside of the walls of the school. Jonty's and Orlando's friendship was a surprise to the both of them and soon the relationship turned to romance, a romance that was very taboo in 1905 England.
Their new romance was further complicated by a rash of murders of students on campus. The victims were young men who had homosexual relations. Not knowing who is responsible for the murders, will Jonty's and Orlando's relationship be their death sentence?
Lessons in Love is a really good romance with the bonus of a well-written mystery. The romance between Jonty and Orlando reminded me of a classic favorite Maurice, written by E.M. Forster. Jonty, aptly named for his jaunty outgoing attitude and happy disposition, was what Orlando needed to end his self-imposed loneliness. The passionate connection between them was strong and I couldn't wait for them to have uninterrupted time together. These two make a sexy mystery solving dual and I'm excited that there is more to come from them. Lessons in Love is a fantastic story and lovers of classic English literature and mysteries will find plenty to love about this book and the series.
Ley Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed
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This one really transcends my expectation. I thought I have more or less round up the year with my Top M/M romance but this delightful love story set in the early 1900s when gay love is forbidden, has made its way to my top few. The plot is tightly paced with a well thought out murder crime/mystery for our guys to solve. I never guessed the murderer and when it was revealed, it was shocking and sad, but the whole mystery does tie up nicely.
However what I love about this book are the 2 extremely well developed and likable characters, Dr. Jonathan Stewart (Jonty) and Dr. Orlando Copperfield and their evolving romance. They are complete opposites yet could not be more right for each other. Jonty is rich, an extrovert, with a smile that lit up a room while Orlando is an introvert, a mathematician geek living in his little enclosed university world. This is the type of pairing I have a weakness for :). The writer has done a wonderful job developing their characters and romance. And I like the gradual revelation about their pasts as the story progresses, including each man's ghosts, which enrich the characters even more. There are numerous sweet and tender moments in their developing love story which gets me all warm and fuzzy, including their terms of endearment for each other. As for the sex it is not the usual explict M/M erotism but Jonty's gentle teaching and coaxing of the inexperienced Orlando into sex is romantic and tender and no less sensual.
So glad there is more on these 2 endearing characters with "Lessons in Desire" due in Feb '09. If you love M/M romance mystery with the romance and characters taking precedence, do not miss this. Bravo Charlie Cochrane!
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Warning: This review might contain what some people consider SPOILERS.
Disclaimers: * I have read only about 30 m/m romances, so I'm not an expert yet on the genre as a whole. * I prefer romances that are more about feelings than sex. If a book has lots of lust-filled, dispassionate sex, I'm not impressed. If the sex is a manifestation of love, bring it on.
Pros: - Sweet romance. Nothing spectacular--it didn't make me particularly warm and fuzzy inside--but solid. - One delightfully naive character who managed never to annoy me. As a result of his extreme naivete, the sex scenes (especially the first one or two) have a tentative feel about them that struck me as accurate, even according to modern times. - Quite British-sounding dialog. - Accurate descriptions of the city of Cambridge, as I know it, anyway, without being overbearing.
Cons: - Very subdued sex scenes. This is not necessarily a problem; it's just not what I was expecting after having read a number of other books in this genre. The characters' nudity is hardly even mentioned. This is about lessons in LOVE, of course, not sex, but I found myself wondering how Cochrane would manage in Volume 2 of this series, Lessons in Desire, if she persists with the vague style of this first volume. - A slight plot with little mystery. True, the book is primarily about romance, but I'd like a novel describing a series of murders to be a bit more suspenseful. The climax seemed rushed, and I must admit to having figured out (or at least guessed) the murderer's identity about 2 chapters in.
Overall comments: A light, fluffy read. Good for those readers who want romance and a bit of mystery but squirm at graphic sexual descriptions. Not for you if you're looking for erotica (or even substantial erotic romance) or for an involved plot that keeps you guessing until the end.
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Charlie Cochrane's LESSONS IN LOVE is a lovely Edwardian mixture of romance and murder mystery. Set in 1906 at Cambridge University, two fellows (a term we Americans are unfamiliar with, but refers to a former student of the University who is now on staff, generally in a teaching position) meet and slowly fall in love. Jonathan (Jonty) is a high-spirited, jocular English teacher who sets his sights on warming up the reticent, brooding mathematician, Orlando. No sooner does Jonty break the ice, than a murder occurs at the college. As the murdered boy is one of Orlando's students, he and Jonty get involved and aid the police in the investigation.
Most of the story's charm lies in the romance, which is allowed to take its sweet time to come to fruition. Both men are acutely aware of the dangers and in Orlando's case he needs the "lessons in love" that Jonty tenderly provides to assuage his guilt over what he doesn't understand.
Cochrane does a good job weaving the romance and mystery together in a way that felt comfortable and the nail-biting conclusion to the mystery had me hooked clear through to the climax. The writing style is so beautifully simple and straightforward that it is effortless to read. I should also mention that I was pleasantly surprised to find that the sex in the book is romanticized and not explicit - Linden Bay, shame on you for lying about the heat rating!
I heartily recommend this breezy historical romance and look forward to spending more time with the adorable Cambridge Fellows in the next installment: LESSONS IN DESIRE.