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I made a ranty Facebook post about how I'd become disenchanted with the Father Brown TV series, not least for anachronistic language, and it turned into a thread about other detective series with mistakes. Which reminded me that I've long had the desire to write a story that is full of apparent 'errors', such as: people watching floodlit sport in the 1890's, an oarsman taking part in the boat race with his cap on modern style back-to-front, folk using words like punk or conspiracy theory in the Edwardian era, etc etc (I have a list). Then people would shout at me and I would - tah dah! - produce evidence to show that I'd got everything historically correct. And in re Deadly Code, Padme says: Mystery, romance, friendship, flirting, death, humor -- oh yeah, Miss Cochrane has done her readers proud with this addition to the Cambridge Fellows. Speaking of the author, one of my favorite things about a Charlie Cochrane story is her attention to detail, to the little points that may or may not actually affect the mystery...
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Spring appears to be rearing its very welcome head above the parapet of winter although I fear it may be a touch too early. Those daffodils that have appeared on a verge outside Romsey could well be in for a shock over the next few weeks. (As could the citizens of Hampshire, who get into a flummox over half an inch of the white stuff falling.) News The cover for the next Lindenshaw book, Old Sins, has been revealed at Love Bytes. You can hop over there and enter for a chance of winning the first Book in the Lindenshaw series, The Best Corpse for the Job. Nice cover, isn't it? Talking of Adam and Robin, I’m delighted to see that Two Feet Under, book 3 in the Lindenshaw series, was named one of the reviewer’s top choices of 2018 at The Novel Approach. “There’s a dead body. Of course there is a dead body! But who is she? Aaaand, this is where Charlie Cochrane excels.” Switching series, Lessons in Love and Lessons in Desire are still on offer on kindle. The excerpt today is from Don’t Kiss the Vicar, simply because I’ve just been filling in some interview questions for a guest blog and this story got mentioned. This scene takes place after Dan the vicar and Steve, the parishioner he fancies, have had an argument over a dog bite, of all things. Well, Dan was human. What a surprise. If they’d wanted a saint, they should have said so and he wouldn’t have taken the job. “Forgive us our sins”, right? Not forgive them. And they should be grateful. What was a bit of effing and blinding and losing your rag compared to touching up choirboys in the vestry? Maybe the PCC would have preferred a vicar like that, with a show wife and a holier-than-thou image, preaching hellfire and damnation from the pulpit while he scanned the Sunday school for his next victim. He bustled into the vicarage, thought about writing the sermon, ignored it, thought about the gin bottle, ignored that, thought about ringing Jimmy, damn nearly succumbed to that temptation then remembered he’d already bothered the bloke today and was likely to put him off their lunch date. Instead, he closed his study curtains, sat down, put his head in his hands and sighed. Dear God, it’s me, Dan. Up to my neck in it again. Sorry. Should do better. Can’t help it. He sat in silence, listening to his own breath and the distant cries of children playing. I know I should just grow a pair and get on with life. I know I should turn the other cheek and all the rest of it, but I don’t find it easy anymore. It had been a lot easier when he’d had Jimmy as wingman. In that last parish, he’d got a lot closer to living the life as defined by Christ’s teachings than before or since. I know I shouldn’t ask, but is there any chance of finding me somebody else to keep me on the straight and narrow? I seem to work better when I’m part of a pair. I know there are more important things to get to grips with, like children who’ll go to bed tonight hungry, but... The sudden, insistent ringing of the phone broke his intercessions. Normally Dan would have ignored it if he was at prayer. Using the 1471 service or responding to an answerphone message was always possible so nobody would go completely unanswered, especially if the need was urgent. But this time, with a whispered, “Sorry, got to go”, he reached over and picked up the handset. “Vicarage. Hallo?” “Vicar.” Steve’s well-modulated, surprisingly calm tones came down the line. “Sorry to bother you.” “That’s fine.” Dan waited, not inclined to make this easy in any way. “I wanted to say I’m sorry. For being such a clown about my hand.” “Oh. Right. Yes.” Tongue-getting-tied time again. He hadn’t expected quite such a gracious apology. “You were right. The hand’s a bloody mess.” “You should have it seen to. And tell them if your jabs aren’t up to date.” Tetanus. Dan had seen somebody die of it in his gap year. “Will do, matron.” “Less of your cheek.” Was he being flirted with? No, he couldn’t be that lucky. “Do you need somebody to run you down to casualty?” “It’s not dropping off! I’ve rung the surgery, and they reckon I just need to see the nurse. I can drive down there myself. But thanks for the offer,” Steve added belatedly, although not, it appeared, begrudgingly. “Anyway, if I do die of blood loss en route, at least I’ve squared my conscience beforehand. I was a pillock, and I hope you’ll forgive me.” “You were, and I do.” Dan toyed with offering to cook the bloke dinner, or at least get some fish and chips in, but decided that was a step too far. Steve was volatile and—so the doubting voices in Dan’s head kept hissing—was probably apologising for theological reasons rather than romantic ones. Life didn’t pan out like a gay romance e-book, not least because neither he nor Steve resembled the oiled, chiselled, six-pack bearing guys who always seemed to feature in them. “Hello? Are you still there?” “Sorry.” This habit of day dreaming was getting worse. “The line went a bit odd. I was trying to tell you to let me know if there’s anything I can do.” And finally – memories of last spring! Charlie
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Or to be precise, a best re-read amongst those Padme read in 2018. "Charlie Cochrane has a knack for not only setting the scene when it comes to WW1 era stories but also perfectly blending realism, fiction, not making the story into a school lesson, and doing it all while completely entertaining the reader. " promises_made_under_fire_final foir lj
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Old Sins is out in a month! Here's a smidge: “Mum was asking again,” Robin said when he’d finished the last bit of bacon. Great minds were clearly thinking alike again. “Asking about what?” Robin gently tapped Adam’s arm with the back of his hand. “Don’t pretend you don’t know. Have we set a date? Will she need her passport? Should she buy a winter hat or a spring one?” “What did you tell her?” “That what with the demands of school life and the unpredictable villains of Abbotston, it wasn’t easy to fix a weekend.” All of which was true, but wouldn’t have mollified Mrs. Bright one bit. “And what did she say in response?” Robin shrugged. “That she understood the predicament we were in, which I suspect was a lie because she then pointed out that other policemen and teachers manage to tie the knot.” That was also true, although their case was complicated by having feet in both camps. The real reason they were making no progress was the simple, prosaic one that they were struggling to sort out what type of do they wanted and who they’d invite. They’d both have preferred something small, discreet, classy, and a guest list limited to their mothers, an aunt or two, and Campbell. But was that going to cause ructions among family and friends? Should they invite their cousins, and how could they not include some of their friends and colleagues? And if they invited only one or two each, whose nose would be put out of joint that they’d not been included? More excerpts at the Rainbow Snippets group.
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Lessons in Love is on offer on Kindle at present as is Lessons in Desire - and Promises Made Under Fire is always a bargain!
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Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose got a mention in part 2 of Padme's list of books of the year. "This duo is so dynamic and fun to read that I will always 1-click this series." Also, my other pair of detecting lads are also talking to me. Tricky to choose an excerpt that doesn't give away a spoiler or two for Old Sins, but here goes... “What’s up?” Adam said, as Robin re-entered the lounge. “You look like you’ve lost a tenner and found five pence.” “Not quite. Not an ideal situation, though.” “That’s what Brits say when it’s the end of the world.” Robin grinned. “It’s not as bad as that. I have to go off on secondment, as of tomorrow. Hopefully it’ll be a short one, but you can’t tell with murder. Or with peritonitis.” Adam made the that’s gone right over my head gesture. “I’m sure that’s supposed to make sense but you’ve lost me. Secondment to where?” “Hartswood. It’s a town between Oxford and Birmingham, east of the M40. There was a murder there a week ago. Don’t know if you saw the story—bloke found dead in the loos at a rugby club.” “I was a bit pre-occupied last week, but yes, I did see the story on the BBC site. Why can’t the local police handle it? Test Valley or East Midlands or whoever covers the area?” “Bit of a long story. Can I go and change my shirt from where I was gardening and I’ll tell you over dinner?” “Might be an idea. You’re just a touch fragrant.”
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Fancy another Lindenshaw mystery? Adam, Robin and the star of the show - Campbell the dog - are back for another adventure in Old Sins which you can pre-order right now. Cover reveal coming soon, but here's a snippet:

“Are you awake?” a bleary voice sounded at Adam’s side.
“No. I’m fast asleep.”
“Pillock.” Robin turned, laying his right arm over Adam’s stomach. “Am I dreaming it or did you volunteer to cook breakfast today?”
“Yes. It’s my turn.” Which was why Adam had been lying in bed thinking, putting off the inevitable. “Although I can’t do so unless you let go of me.”
“Shame.” Robin kissed Adam’s shoulder. “I need to clone you so you can be cooking breakfast and romping about here with me at the same time.”
“If I were a woman, I’d accuse you of being a sexist pig. As it is, I’ll call you a lazy sod.” Adam threw off Robin’s arm, rolled him over, and slapped his backside. “Don’t lie here too long or I’ll give all your bacon to Campbell.”
“I’d fight him for it.”
They both got out of bed, Adam heading to the bathroom for a quick relieving visit before his partner got in there. On a work day, Robin showered and shaved speedily, but on occasions like this when he had the opportunity to take his leisure, he enjoyed lingering over his ablutions. And why not? He worked hard, so he should have the chance to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. As long as he didn’t linger too much and risk being presented with an incinerated sausage.
When Adam got down to the kitchen, Campbell greeted him with a rub against his legs, followed by a dash for the kitchen door. Lie-ins were great for the workers in the household, but not helpful for canine bladders. Opening that door took precedence over everything else first thing in the morning. Once that was done, Adam could get the kettle on, fish out the bacon—always best done while Campbell was otherwise occupied—put on some music, and potter about the kitchen content in the knowledge that the two creatures he loved best were happy. And long might that state of affairs continue.
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Always nice to make someone's 'Best of 2018' list, in this case Padme's Library, for Two Feet Under. Aklso good when two old pals start yakking at me again:

Jonty Stewart woke to find the morning sun streaming through a gap in the curtains yet the bed beside him empty of the usual occupant. It wasn’t unusual for Orlando Coppersmith to make the most of what promised to be a lovely day, taking himself downstairs in his dressing gown to sit with a coffee in his study and ponder over some abstruse sum or other. One full of squiggles and symbols, with many a neat crossing out and not a few arrows linking one bit of working to another. Jonty had seen such things in their gestational form and while Orlando’s hand was tidy and his neat to present things well applied even to rough drafts, the average set of equations resembled a trail some small sea creature might have left on the ocean bed.
Jonty leaped out of bed, stretched, twitched the curtains back to admire the blue sky, put on his own dressing gown and pottered down the stairs. Orlando was indeed in his study, although evidence of sums there was none. Instead, the man concerned was sitting is his chair, coffee untouched by the look of it, and brows knotted.
“Good morning Orlando. Lovely to see you.”
Orlando leaped in his seat, almost knocking over his cup. “Must you sneak up on people?”
“I did knock, albeit softly. You resemble some civil war era painting, entitled, When did you last see someone so consternated?
“I’ll consternate you.” Orlando picked up his cup, sipped from it, made a face, then pushed it away. “Nothing so vile as cold coffee.”
“Yes, there is. Cold tea. And you keeping secrets from me.”
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Something for everyone at Portsmouth this spring. Fancy tea with the Deadly Dames? What about the great detectives panel? Or any of the other wonderful things - tickets available here!
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Happy New Year! Here’s hoping that 2019 treats you well. My inspiration for this year is a bit of graffiti which has appeared under a bridge in Romsey – have courage and be kind. I don’t think you can do much better than that.

News

Rather slack on the news front, although it's lovely to have a bit of a quiet time after Christmas and before the madness of the next few months sets in. Very much looking forward to the Portsmouth Bookfest where you can have tea with the Deadly Dames (including yours truly) on February 22nd. I’ll also be on a panel about favourite detectives on the 7th of March.

Last time I promised a free story to newsletter subscribers. It’s the third instalment of my shifter story, in which the full moon doesn’t cause lycanthropy, but whatever the equivalent is for glyptodonts. You can find the first two parts, Shell Shocked and Gobsmacked, for download here although the third part won't be uploaded there for a couple of months. If you can't wait, sign up for my newsletter (from any page of my site) and I'll send you the link to it.

Excerpt:

Anyway, to return to my muttons, as Hercule Poirot doesn’t quite say, it was December 3rd and Jonny couldn’t go to evensong, because the moon was rising late afternoon and even if it was black as your grandfather’s moustache out there I don’t suppose he could have lurked in the churchyard listening to the choir belting out “Oh come, Oh come Emmanuel” because he’d have hurried some of the old dears’ progress towards the pearly gates if they’d seen him.
As a result he was in a right mood. No Advent carols, no candles, no Advent wreath; I suggested he go to the morning service but it’s not the same, apparently. “Not the same numinous sense of wonder.” Whatever that is. Then I thought he might listen to the service on the radio, because Radio 3 or 4 must put on that sort of stuff, probably from King’s college Cambridge. That idea went down like a lead balloon, too. Jonny used all sorts of words I bet he’d never use in church. In a final effort to cheer him up, I put forward the idea of taking him up onto the old airfield before he shifted.
We’d discovered this little part of West Wales when we’d been out on a scenic drive one day—there’s not a lot there and the only people who seem to use it are the model aircraft buffs. The views are spectacular, but more importantly it’s got flat stretches which are wheelchair accessible, which isn’t typical of your average hill top with a sea view. We decided to have a gander up there of an evening—don’t ask what we got up to in my car in the pitch black cos I ain’t telling—and had the place entirely to ourselves.
Which made me think it might be a great place to come on a full moon night so that himself could indulge his giant armadillo side to its full extent. It would take a bit of planning, because I couldn’t just abandon him there and return to pick him up when he’d changed back, but the logistical side of things is just my cup of tea. Sleeping bag, thermos, snacks—I’d just have to park up, let events take their course, then take him home and let him sleep it off. There’d be risks, of course, although not to him so long as he didn’t go haring down a hole and getting stuck. Somebody might spot my car and report me, although what crime I’d be guilty of I can’t imagine, although my previous run in with the law had left me wary. Somebody might see Jonny, of course, but even if they believed their eyes and went calling 999, no doubt the police would put it down to the caller’s over indulgence in Brains. By which I mean the beer, not what Hercule Poirot would call “the little grey cells”.
Anyway, it took me a while to get my act together on this idea, what with the moon sometimes rising before the sun’s set and all that mallarky, but December 3rd seemed to be the date, what with overcoming Jonny’s disappointment about Advent carols, etc. It would be the perfect time of year, too, for giving the plan a try. All those Christmas parties going on and people ending up off their faces, nobody would believe they’d seen a giant armadillo rolling over the old airfield.
When I suggested it, this strange expression came over his face, so I thought I’d cocked up well and truly. I was about to apologise and tell him to forget I ever made the suggestion, when he got all teary. He said he was blown away at the idea, especially because it would involve a lot of sacrifice from me—night on a bare mountain, or at least on a draughty airfield—and because it would let him have the sort of freedom he so rarely gets.
He gave me a great big snog and would have given me a lot more, favours in advance of his treat to come, but a bloody man from DPD rang the doorbell and we had to sign for a parcel.

And finally – my highlight of 2018. The arctic!

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Charlie

2018?

Jan. 3rd, 2019 08:14 pm
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Everyone seems to be doing the 'year in review' thing, so here's mine: Did our first cruise. Crossed the Arctic circle. Saw a killer whale off Norway. Saw the Northern lights twice. Walked an alpaca on the IOW. Went on a sleeper train. Saw a killer whale off Nairn! Discovered that whisky is drinkable if taken with a bit of fudge. Saw Brigadier Nils Olaf. Visited Sarries' home ground for the first time, then saw them win the Premiership title at Twickenham. Visited Imber. Went to the opening of the new Chemical Engineering site at Cambridge. Had a night at Thornbury Castle. Saw lots of sport and listened to lots of music. Laughed a great deal. Did quite a bit of adulting. Published several books. Had other books republished. Enjoyed UK Meet. Met up with old pals. Made new ones. Rarely disgraced myself. img_0633IMG_0417IMG_5943
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Here's a smidgeon of Second Helpings, a bittersweet story (with a happy ending) of taking your chances when you can. “Stuart! Thank God you’re here,” his father said as he opened the door and almost dragged his son through it. “Got a crisis.” Stuart’s heart sank. He wasn’t prepared to deal with any sorts of crises. “First batch of Yorkshire puddings sank. Like a U-boat had torpedoed them.” “Is that all?” Stuart replied, relieved. “All? All! It’s a national calamity.” Dad flung open the kitchen door. “Look at them.” “Blimey.” Stuart poked one of the sad little flattened rounds, then ran his finger along the tin. “Is this new?” “Yes. I decided the old one was too disgusting.” “Don’t tell me you threw the thing out? You can’t make Yorkshires except in a grotty old tin.” Dad threw up his hands, sending a flurry of flour into the air. “How was I supposed to know? It’s here somewhere.” Loads more excerpts at the Rainbow Snippets group. Old kitchen table rural cottage morning
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On my Christmas list I had a couple of CDs - Mack and Mabel and Pictures at an Exhibition - that Mr C duly purchased and stuck under the tree, but he included another one with it. Sam Sweeney's The Unfinished Violin. You may have come across the story of the fiddle which, although old, looked new because it had only been completed nearly a century after it first began to be made by a soldier who died in WWI and left it unfinished. Sam Sweeney's album features him with this remarkable instrument, mainly playing tunes that date from the Great War. Such incredibly beautiful and poignant music. b_W1sicmVzaXplIiw1MDBdLFsibWF4Il0sWyJ3ZSJdXQ== (Picture from Sam's website.)
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We survived Christmas and all its frivolity, from Carol Services at the golf club through the amazing lights at Beaulieu to the 70s themed murder mystery lunch we hosted for the family (pictures of all these things on Facebook or on Instagram). I did the prayers at the midnight service, thinking - in my innocence - that the girls all sleeping round at my eldest daughters' would mean a later start on Christmas day. Some hope. Instead they were messaging us at 6am to see if we wanted to open our stockings! That set the tone for an excellent Christmas Day, though, full of fun and laughter and a smashing Christmas quiz. I now have stocked up on all my cards, wrap, tags, cracker and pud for 2019 so roll on next time! IMG_0728
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I hope this latest bit of Charlie’s musings finds you well and looking forward to the Christmas holidays. I know it isn’t always the most wonderful time of the year for some folk, so I’ll simply wish you the very best compliments of the season and hope you will all find some bits of merriness and brightness over the next few days. News It’s a busy time of the year everywhere, including in Charlie-land. I’ve been blogging about top Christmas tips at the BSB blog and about Christmas traditions at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. I’ll be at Vicki Locey’s party tonight if only virtually, as it’s way past my bedtime. I’ll be offering a book from my backlist to one commenter. Then it’s another online part at RJ Scott’s group tomorrow! (8 pm our time, which is 3pm EST.) Do drop in and have a chinwag. Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code got a lovely 4.5 star review at Gay Book reviews. This is another installment in what has proven to be very funny and interesting mystery series. In the next newsletter I’ll be including a free story to download – a post Christmas present/New Year treat. It’s the third instalment in my occasional series about everyday were-glyptodonts and has a seasonal theme. This will be a newsletter subscriber exclusive for the next few months, before I put it on the free stories page of my website. Of course, I always put up a free story in Advent and this year is no exception. Cruising was inspired by our first experience of taking to the high seas on a floating equivalent of Harrods. Excerpt: When Mrs. Freya Braithwaite broke her leg a fortnight before she was due to go on a cruise to Alta, she didn’t burst into a fit of tears, nor did she get straight on the phone to her travel insurance company. Instead, she eyeballed her son from her hospital bed, saying, “Sam, I’m not fartarsing about trying to get my money back. I’ve rung Tracey at the travel agents and she’ll arrange for the ticket to be transferred into your name. You need a break, so don’t argue.” Sam had learned never to argue with his mother, especially when she was right. He did need a break, given what had happened the last few months. Chris-the-slimy-git had upped and left, taking with him as much as he was able to, and trying to screw over Sam for anything else he could potentially get his paws on. Which was why Sam was back living at home again, while the sale of his ex-love nest went through. “You can take your laptop and work on the ship, you know. They’ve got internet these days, not signal flags and carrier pigeons.” Mrs. B shook her head at him. “I’ve rung your Aunty Rita, too. She’s coming to look after me while you’re away.” Bugger. That was both reasonable excuses countered before Sam had the chance to use them. Still, given that he worked for himself and from home, and that he had a project which would benefit from his being able to dedicate time to it, if there was decent internet access he’d be fine. He could hide away in his cabin and watch the fjords go by, only emerging for meals and if they were showing a decent film. From what his mum had said the ship would be like a smaller, floating version of the Celtic Manor Resort. Only without the golf clubs. The thought of Celtic Manor triggered another thought about Chris-the-slimy-git, and a memorable weekend they’d spent there when they’d still been in love and all over each other. Now they were simply all over. Sam looked at his mum, who was wearing the no-nonsense face she’d always worn when he was a child and had been told to do something but was contemplating kicking over the traces. “Okay. I’ll go.” And he went. Download the story here. And finally – last evening we went on the Christmas lights trail at Beaulieu. Wow. That's all I can say.
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My tips for a great Christmas? Am sharing them at the BSB blog today. (yes, there is a typo in the last paragraph - because I'm a drip and managed to erase a line - see my comment for the full fig.) IMG_0728
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I try not to wear slash goggles when I read literature from an earlier age, because it's too easy to see what isn't there. However, in Bats in the Belfry written by ECR Lorac in 1937, there have been some intriguing bits.

A witness talks about a suspect's affairs with women. "No, I don't know a thing about it--beyond assumptions. I took care not to. I've other ideas on the subject of pleasure--if you like to use the term. Chacun a son gout." Hm. What's all that about?

Later, Inspector Macdonald interviews a glamorous actress who is trying all the tricks...Macdonald, of all men the least susceptible to a charm like Sybilla's. Now, why was that? Especially suspicious when he jumps a miles at being asked if he's married. He stiffly replies, "No madam, I am not." No wonder I'm looking for more clues...
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unnamed

So delighted to be hiding behind the Advent calendar door today. My offering's heavily influenced by our trip into the Arctic circle earlier this year...

You can find all the other offerings from this year (so far) at the Rainbow Advent Calendar facebook group or via the master list. I'm not promoting a particular charity this year but I'd ask everyone just to have courage and be kind, this season and in the year ahead.

Cruising

When Mrs. Freya Braithwaite broke her leg a fortnight before she was due to go on a cruise to Alta, she didn’t burst into a fit of tears, nor did she get straight on the phone to her travel insurance company. Instead, she eyeballed her son from her hospital bed, saying, “Sam, I’m not fartarsing about trying to get my money back. I’ve rung Tracey at the travel agents and she’ll arrange for the ticket to be transferred into your name. You need a break, so don’t argue.”

Sam had learned never to argue with his mother, especially when she was right. He did need a break, given what had happened the last few months. Chris-the-slimy-git had upped and left, taking with him as much as he was able to, and trying to screw over Sam for anything else he could potentially get his paws on. Which was why Sam was back living at home again, while the sale of his ex-love nest went through.

“You can take your laptop and work on the ship, you know. They’ve got internet these days, not signal flags and carrier pigeons.” Mrs. B shook her head at him. “I’ve rung your Aunty Rita, too. She’s coming to look after me while you’re away.”

Bugger. That was both reasonable excuses countered before Sam had the chance to use them.

Cruising
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A marvellous journey done in companionable conversation, affectionate glances, witty phrases (with the occasional snark thrown in), hewn through years of partnership and love that the author has crafted so carefully and genuinely.
Read the full review at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

LessonsDCblue
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The Cambridge Fellows Mysteries have just been republished and Lessons in Temptation is the fifth in the series. It is a skilful blend of detection and love story, with excellent period detail and some fascinating insights into life during the Edwardian era. It explores the joys of Jonty and Orlando’s love but also the dangers and dilemmas of maintaining a relationship that could lead to disgrace, dismissal and a term in prison doing hard labour. Above all the Cambridge Fellows books possess two engaging protagonists, whom it is impossible not to like. It is a very enjoyable read.

Read more at the Promoting Crime site.

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