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VINE VOICEon 8 August 2014
Firstly I am a huge fan of the gay romance genre and have read a lot of them, having said that I just felt a bit meh about this novel. The blur really intrigued me as I love romances such in an academic setting and am a huge fan of historical romance, I wanted to love this book, I wanted to be swept away by Jonty and Orlando’s romance and I’ll be honest I wanted and maybe even needed a tiny bit of angst. I mean these men are living in the 1900’s homosexuality was hardly accepted back then and if that wasn’t enough pressure there was a murdered on the loose! Would it be too wrong to expect some emotional angst? Well apparently it was, reading this book felt like a slow summer walk, everything was dealt with in a calm and peaceful manner. Even the murderer apologised for killing people!
I’m not saying this is a bad book, the writing is good and the premise I loved it just wasn’t for me. I felt that the romance was glossed over without any real substance, both Jonty’s and Orlando’s backstories just appeared out of nowhere and just forget about intriguing secondary characters. I didn’t hate this book I just didn’t like it as I felt no emotional connections to the characters. Oh also if your wanting a book heavy with sex etc then I wouldn’t recommend you read this. On a minor plus note the murders were well done and I didn’t guess the killer so that was a bonus.
I would recommend this book to people who like sweet fluffy gay romances that have a mystery element, I unfortunately am just not one of those people.
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on 15 November 2013
Let me be clear from the outset, I fell under the spell of this book and in particular its two main characters within minutes of beginning to read it. I am about half way through the series now - cannot put them down - and have started to acquire the print copies as I want to cherish these books and return to them. True they are not the deepest of detective novels, not literary materpieces, deep psychological studies or detailed period reconstructions. What they ARE are well-written, nicely conceived, entertaining novels, nicely crafted, highly readable and with a charm and almost an innocence that I found appealing. Not everyone will respond to the books as I did, I am sure, but they are worth giving a go on kindle (inexpensively) and if you don't know them you might be in for a pleasant surprise.

The sex scenes are romantic and sexual (not entirely out of keeping with the pre-World War One (WW1)setting) so sdon't expect gay porn, erotica or strong language. Gay bodice-rippers these ain't!!

Jonty and Orlando are two delightful young Englishmen (Cambridge academics), who fall in love with each other in a period when such love was illegal. Thus while solving their mysteries the two lads must take care not to expose their own secret to the world.

The two main characters live because the author clearly loves them to bits. They develop consistently, there is a strain of humour that has had me laugh out loud more than once, and a delicate but unobtrusive sense of the pre-1914 period. The research and understanding of period is there but understated. The language, vocabulary (something I feel the author gives great weight to) and "cadence" of the books is appropriate and nicely done.

The underlying mysteries (I feel strongly that the real driver in these novels is the relationship between the two men) get better as the series continues. One book is somewhat similar to Jospehine Tey's "Daughter of Time", though disimmilar in plot and subject matter, in that the two lads delve into an historic murder. Others have a hint of danger, touch on royal scandals, or involve at least one of our heroes going "undercover". All have a pleasing style and wit.

My only quibbles relate to the sex scenes which reflect, I feel, the difference between a man and a woman writing about male love. There is a different sensibility at work and - I may be wrong - a different set of drivers. I am not for a moment suggesting that the books should be stronger, use dirty words or be more graphic (though i would not personally have objected to any of that). What I do believe, is that two men, even before 1914, would have had somewhat different thoughts and done somewhat different things (sexually), than do Jonty and Orlando. In that, I don't find the writing wholly convincing. But it is a tiny point which does not (for me)detract from the overall achievement of the series one iota.

These are charming, elegant (even slightly innocent) novels which draw you in. I adore them and have been entertained, amused and thrilled by them. I feel I know Jonty and orlando like real friends. While i recognise that these will not suit all tastes, I have not the faintest hesitation in recommending them highly to those who like M/M books, romance between men or a pleasing detective story with a difference.

My admiration and congraulations go to Charlie Cochrane.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2011
I found the book ok and it was quite well written and an interesting if not really believable story line. But it drew me in. I tried to like the chief characters but by the second book in series I had enough of them and just thought they were irritating.
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on 21 October 2013
This book had a very clear narrative which was both a murder-mystery and a romance. The two central protagonists were very rounded living in a period when the definition of man was clearly outlined as was who you could love. You come to care for Jonty and Orlando,young Cambridge professors despite their foibles. Some readers have suggested that the book was too slow but for me me both aspects of the tale were finely nuanced. Although I also enjoy more erotic m/m romances here it would have unbalanced the book.
Get me to book two!
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on 12 January 2015
Twee is not a word I would ues about a gay romance but this book is just that, The phrasing of the book often made me squirm - the writing was coy and lifeless. Tension there should have been but it was so pedestrian that they may have been eating buttered toast and asking for the marmalade to be passed. That was 'so the most exciting thing to happen' and that I almost swooned. There was nothing sensual about the contact the two men made and I was surprised that the razor was hard enough to make a cut let alone draw blood.
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