Review: Lessons in Seduction by Charlie Cochrane

This time, one touch could destroy everything…

The suspected murder of the king’s ex-mistress is Cambridge dons Orlando Coppersmith and Jonty Stewart’s most prestigious case yet. And the most challenging, since clues are as hard to come by as the killer’s possible motive.

At the hotel where the body was found, Orlando goes undercover as a professional dancing partner while Jonty checks in as a guest. It helps the investigation, but it also means limiting their communication to glances across the dance floor. It’s sheer agony.

A series of anonymous letters warns the sleuths they’ll be sorry if they don’t drop the investigation. When another murder follows, Jonty is convinced their involvement might have caused the victim’s death. Yet they can’t stop, for this second killing brings to light a wealth of hidden secrets.

For Orlando, the letters pose a more personal threat. He worries that someone will blow his cover and discover their own deepest secret… The intimate relationship he enjoys with Jonty could not only get them thrown out of Cambridge, but arrested for indecency.

Review by Leslie H. Nicoll

Lessons in Seduction is the sixth entry in the Cambridge Fellows series, and for me, it was the least satisfying, to date. That’s not to say it was a bad book—it wasn’t—and certainly fans of the series will want to add this to their collection. If you are new to the series, I would recommend starting with the first book, Lessons in Love and working your way through the prior five (Love, Desire, Discovery, Power and Temptation) before tackling this one. Although they can be read as standalones, I think there is enough character development between the lead protagonists, Jonathan Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith, that the series is more enjoyable read in order.

So, for this book. As noted above, a murder has occurred at the Regal Hotel. Jonty and Orlando, because of their growing renown as amateur sleuths, are asked to help with the investigation. Jonty’s father, Richard Stewart, also gets involved. Jonty and Richard are able to be themselves, but Orlando must go undercover as Oliver Carberry, posing as a dancing instructor and regular “fourth for bridge.”

Because Jonty and Orlando are forced to be apart for much of the story, the murder mystery takes center stage and that, for me, was one of the biggest problems of the book. One of the things that has really attracted me to this series is the interaction between Jonty and Orlando and because of their separation, much of that was absent. They few times they did manage to get together, they were so desperate for each other, they didn’t have as much of their usual funny banter. Jonty tried to poke fun at himself and their situation in one scene by pretending to be a caveman, but the humor felt forced and didn’t work—for me at least.

The murder investigation seemed overly complicated. Because they were at a hotel, there were dozens of guests who were all potential suspects and I’ll be honest, by about the halfway point, I had given up keeping them straight. Lady This and Sir That and ladies’ maids and sons and jilted lovers all paraded across the pages. Worse, this was a fairly cerebral investigation, in which clues were gathered during breakfast, lunch and dinner; while people were dancing; while people were playing golf; while people were playing cards; and once in a while, when folks took a stroll on the beach. After many repetitious scenes of characters chatting over tea, the entire narrative started to wear thin for me. Jonty and his father kept receiving notes warning them off the case, but I never really felt that their lives were truly in danger. If there could have been at least one late night chase across the golf course, or a few shots ringing out in the dark, it would have livened up things considerably.

That said, the writing is classic Cochrane, with funny little turns of phrase and wonderful descriptions of the various people, their clothes, and the locale. For her fans, this alone will be enough to draw them in and keep them reading and most likely ignore the problems I had with the story.

I think writing a series of books and keeping them fresh and interesting is a formidable challenge for any author. Cochrane set a very high standard for herself with the first five books, and I want to make it clear that this one, even though she’s fallen off the mark a little bit, in my opinion, is still very good. I am looking forward to seeing how she wraps this up in book seven, Lessons in Trust. I feel like the series is working itself to its natural conclusion and I look forward to reading the last installment.

Samhain Publishing Buy from All Romance Buy from Amazon (Kindle)

5 Responses

  1. Some good points in this review. It certainly is very cerebral, and there are lots of discussions of clues over afternoon tea. And Jonty and Orlando’s banter is mostly absent because they’re apart for much of the book. So the murder mystery takes centre stage much more than in previous books. But I liked that. I liked following the clues, and often missing the clues, and trying to second-guess Cochrane in order to identify the culprit before she did.
    For me, this is as good as the previous books, but I can see that because its character is rather different than its forebears it will disappoint some readers. If, like me, you’re a Cochrane fan, you HAVE TO READ THIS!

  2. Thanks for the review Leslie – very fair. This book has split reviewers – some find it less satisfying than the others, some think it’s the best so far. LOL

    If you want a chase, and a gun, you’ll be happy next time around.

    Charlie

  3. Thanks, Bruin and Charlie, for your comments. Charlie, thank you for saying it was fair. I struggled with this review. I enjoyed the book but didn’t have quite the same “ahhh…” feeling I have had at the end of the others. I tried to articulate that and what didn’t work for me. Bruin, I think you make a very good point that mystery fans may have a totally opposite reaction. And, who knows, Charlie, maybe this installment will bring you new readers: mystery fans who have never tried a m/m story! I think the book is definitely worth reading and I hope I made that clear.

    L

  4. hmmm, I should get this book :-)

  5. I was so disappointed in book 5, that I have mostly given up on the series (rewriting the characters’ history for the sake of a new story usually turns me off, but then I have always been a huge stickler for consistency in narratives).

    This review does nothing to convince me to give book 6 a chance, which is sad because the first 3 books in this series still stand amongst my 10 favorite m/m romances.

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