Title: Wild Bells: The Shade on a Fine Day & The Angel in the Window
Author: Charlie Cochrane
Length: 110 Pages
Category: Historical Romance
At a Glance: Fans of Charlie Cochrane should be elated by Wild Bells, I know I was, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to her long-time readers or to the first time reader of the author’s work.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: The Shade on a Fine Day:
Curate William Church may set the hearts of the parish’s young ladies aflame, but he doesn’t want their affection or presents, no matter how much they want to give them to him. He has his sights set elsewhere, for a love he’s not allowed to indulge. One night, eight for dinner at the Canon’s table means the potential arrival of a ghost. But what message will the spirit bring and which of the young men around the table is it for?
The Angel in the Window:
Two officers, one ship, one common enemy.
Alexander Porterfield may be one of the rising stars of the British navy, but his relationship with his first lieutenant, Tom Anderson, makes him vulnerable. To blackmail, to anxieties about exposure—and to losing Tom, either in battle or to another ship. When danger comes more from the English than the French, where should a man turn?
Review: Charlie Cochrane’s historical fiction is the chicken soup for my soul. From her characters, to the time periods in which her stories are set, to the situations in which her men find themselves, there’s always such a lovely and familiar emotional complexity to their tales. She gifts each story with just enough historical context without burdening the narrative pace, and her characters are rich with personalities that fit the eras in which they live. The sense of social propriety and the command of language are superb—these are not men who boast and bluster or are given to exaggerations of their feelings; rather, they are particular friends who maintain an appropriate sense of decorum while falling in love during a time when it was not only illegal but could also be deadly to do so.
The two novellas included in Wild Bells—The Shade on a Fine Day and The Angel in the Window (both titles are exquisite)—share the common theme of men who are expected to conform to the social norms of the time—to find a suitable young woman, marry and go on to further their family lineage; something many gay and bisexual men did, obviously, as a means of protecting themselves from speculation and suspicion. Where the stories diverge are in the occupations of their protagonists—the clergy and the royal navy—service to God and service to king and country, neither of which allowed for any deviation from the status quo.
The Shade on a Fine Day takes on a paranormal twist (shade = ghost) for William Church, which adds an unexpected but entirely welcome bit of enchantment to the lesson William learns about his beliefs and his understanding of his sexuality in relationship to those beliefs. There was such a feeling of elation to this story once the pragmatic and wise specter helped William understand and accept his path, and I loved the sweetness of the romance he finds.
The Angel in the Window is a friends-to-lovers story, equally as romantic and every bit as lovely. The Articles of War, one of which dictates the sin of sodomy is punishable by death, prevents Alexander Porterfield and Tom Anderson from declaring themselves lovers, but their near constant proximity to each other, and their disinterest in settling down in marriage, breeds a danger of its own in the form of threats and the exposing of the true nature of their relationship. Their connection to each other is evident in every interaction, made stronger by the endurance of the love that’s grown over the years. The romance in this story has an added layer of tension to it, not only in the threat of them being exposed but also separated, and the resolution to the conflict was dramatic and perfect.
Fans of Charlie Cochrane should be elated by Wild Bells, I know I was, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to her long-time readers or to the first time reader of the author’s work..
You can buy Wild Bells here:
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