I'm delighted to announce that the next book in the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries series will be available on July 13th.
In anticipation, here's a snippet from book 8, All Lessons Learned http://store.
I always asked readers to trust me when they read the blurb and excerpt, that there would be a happy ending. And, as Lessons for Survivors is set in 1919, there clearly was...
The Great War is over. Freed from a prisoner of war camp and back at St. Bride’s College, Orlando Coppersmith is discovering what those years have cost. All he holds dear—including his beloved Jonty Stewart, lost in combat.
A commission to investigate a young officer’s disappearance gives Orlando new direction…temporarily. The deceptively simple case becomes a maze of conflicting stories—is Daniel McNeil a deserter, or a hero?—taking Orlando into the world of the shell-shocked and broken. And his sense of Jonty’s absence becomes painfully acute. Especially when a brief spark of attraction for a Cambridge historian, instead of offering comfort, triggers overwhelming guilt.
As he hovers on the brink of despair, a chance encounter on the French seafront at Cabourg brings new hope and unexpected joy. But the crushing aftereffects of war could destroy his second chance, leaving him more lost and alone than ever…
The memorial garden, Jonty’s particular section, never saw another person’s touch, only Orlando’s. Not a weed appeared but it was hoed out—stones were picked up and discarded, slugs discouraged, cats positively shooed away. The blooms would be tended with infinite care as if they represented the body of his lover; white lilies for the tender skin, red roses for the blood that had been spilled in his country’s name. Jonty would have been so very proud.
Matthew produced a broad smile, suddenly looking more like the young man they’d met back in St. Aubin. “He’d have liked this, your Jonty. Life affirming nature rather than a cold piece of marble.”
“That’s what I thought.” Orlando looked carefully at the picture before he put it away to join the other one. There’d been times these last few weeks that he wasn’t sure he’d see that garden to maturity. Jonty had gone where he couldn’t and what was there left for him to do here? “He left me everything you know, in his will. I had no idea, until his solicitor told me, just how much it might represent, once it comes to it. The thing’s not gone through probate yet. The Stewarts left me a legacy too—books from the library, a set of crystal glasses I’d always admired, a portrait of Jonty as a boy.” Orlando suddenly stopped, aware both that he was rambling on and that Matthew looked uncomfortable. No, not uncomfortable—surprised at being made privy to such private matters. They’d never spoken so intimately before, not even with Jonty around to egg them on. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t burden you with my affairs.”
“There’s no need to apologise. Aren’t we old friends enough to be able to listen to one another?” Still, neither man was happy with wearing his heart on his sleeve except with the one he loved most.
Orlando nodded, genuinely grateful for the consideration. He had no one else to talk to now and there’d been the need of it so sorely these last months. Funny how he’d been able to hold all his feelings in the first twenty-seven years of his life, dealing with them by denial and damming them up. Once Jonty had unleashed the waters, shown him that sharing emotions wasn’t shameful or unmanly, there was to be no returning to the former state of affairs. He needed to let the hurt and confusion pour out and Matthew, poor soul, was going to have to mop it up.
“Did he make any strange bequests?” Matthew was speaking again, and Orlando had to focus his mind on the present. The lonely, achingly empty present. “I could imagine him willing huge sums on homes for crippled sailors or endowing scholarships for people with red hair.”
Orlando smiled. “I was the major beneficiary named, but he did have his jokes, even at the end. He kept threatening to leave some money to a home for bewildered bookmakers, as he said he’d supported so many during his lifetime they’d miss him when he’d gone.”
“I remember him telling Rex that and the idiot almost falling for it.”
“He’d told his solicitor too and the man spent ten minutes preaching against it, convinced he’d persuaded him otherwise.”
“So where did he leave the money?” Matthew waved away one of the waiters who’d come bearing more coffee.
“He’d made a generous contribution to Great Ormond Street hospital.” Orlando summoned the waiter back and ordered brandies for them both. “But that’s not the funny part. Do you know what the little bugger did? He left a specific bequest for a one-year zoology scholarship, looking into the mating habits of honey buzzards.”
“It’s the honest truth. He made such game of me about honey buzzards over the years. Every time he saw one—and there were a pair who seemed to appear over our cottage every summer—he would point them out. Say what handsome specimens they were.” Orlando grinned and, to his relief, Matthew grinned too. It had been so very long ago, when Orlando had been immature and silly and hadn’t read some obvious signs of attraction until too late. They were more mature now and the pain had receded far enough to let the laughter sweep in. The waiter returning with the brandies must have thought they’d been ordered for medicinal purposes, seeing the two men wheezing and gasping for breath like a pair of schoolboys.
“Only he could have got away with that. I hope you’ll allow me to have a copy on the finished paper when it gets written?” Matthew wiped his eyes.