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Count the Shells

(Porthkennack #6)

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  109 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Michael Gray returned from World War One injured, but at least he returned. Others were not so fortunate, including his first and greatest love, Thomas Carter-Clemence, with whom Michael had parted bitterly before the conflict began.

Broch, the Carter-Clemence home in Porthkennack, was an integral part of pre-war holidays for the Grays, the two families drawn together in th
ebook, 246 pages
Published October 16th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
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3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  109 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Michael returns home from WWI intact, but not unscathed. He's haunted by his battlefield memories as well as the men he loved and lost because of the war. As he returns to his family's summer house in Porthkennack, the memory of Thomas Carter-Clemence, his first love, is front and center. And when he meets Harry Carter-Clemence, Thomas' younger brother, he is gobsmacked by how much he looks like his dead brother Thomas. There is an attraction but Michael wonders if he can get past his feelings f ...more
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've given this a B- at AAR, so that's 3.5 stars rounded up.

Count the Shells, by new-to-me author, Charlie Cochrane, is the sixth entry in Riptide Publishing’s  Porthkennack  series of standalone romances that are linked by virtue being set in and around the fictional Cornish town of the same name.  The series boasts a mixture of contemporary and historical stories, and this is the second historical (the first was Joanna Chambers’ excellent A Gathering Storm), set – I’m guessing, because it’s no
Chris, the Dalek King
Summers in Porthkennack were always something a bit special for Michael Gray. But after years away–and a bloody war fought in countries he had no real interest in remembering–Michael isn’t sure he can recapture the magic that for him always meant seaside, family, youth, and even more importantly, Thomas Carter-Clemence. Especially since Thomas died years ago, near the beginning of the war that would later be known as World War One. In fact, the war had a way of claiming many of Michael’s lovers. ...more
A post WWI era, summer holidays with the family, and a chance to face down the past and get on with the future were all tantalizing elements of a story told by an already favorite author. It was irresistible. I was delighted by the way the author could surround me with an authentic feel of the era and situation for her little cast of characters.

As the Porthkennack book six, Count the Shells only shares the locale with other books from the series so functions just fine as a standalone. In fact, t
Joyfully Jay
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sue
A Joyfully Jay review.

3.75 stars

Count the Shells was something of a mixed bag. The characters are fairly strong and the relationship between Michael and his nephew Richard is captivating. But melodrama and Michael’s rather judgmental nature nearly derail the story.

All of the characters in Count the Shells are well defined and vivid in their development. It’s easy to imagine them all and aside from Michael’s rushing into an affair with Harry, their actions seem realistic. Richard is somewhat wis
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
** 4.5 Stars **

I've always loved Charlie Cochrane's writing and I'm a big fan of the Cambridge Fellows Series. Count the Shells is different but no less enjoyable to read. It's very much a family drama. The author knows how to create a vivid sense of authenticity, a sense of time and place. I really liked the leisurely pace of the narrative and the very British dialogue. A great read!
Lisa The Novel Approach
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Going into a Charlie Cochrane historical novel expecting flash and bang is like going into a Merchant Ivory film expecting Quentin Tarantino. Cochrane’s voice lends itself so beautifully to a story such as Count the Shells, as she consistently captures and conveys the time in which her novels are set through little more than the genteel language and gentrified air of her characters. To look at this novel through a contemporary lens is to deprive oneself of slipping fully into a time gone by, and ...more
Sep 26, 2017 marked it as did-not-finished-dnf
Shelves: netgalley
Sadly, I decided to DNF this at 28%.

While I liked the writing and was intrigued by the story (and I think fans of this series will enjoy this instalment), there were one or two elements that didn't sit comfortable with me and made me not enjoy the story as much as I liked, hence my decision to DNF. I will put them as spoilers below.

(view spoiler)
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars- A love triangle that didn’t work for me

Count the Shells is a historical romance set in the fictional town of Porthkennack on the Cornish coast of England. The book takes place after World War I, with both heroes being veterans who are still dealing with the emotional and physical aftereffects of the war. Historical romance isn’t typically a preferred genre of mine, but I’ve quite enjoyed the Porthkennack contemporary romances and I like this author, so I decided to give it a try. Unfo
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mm-historical
This is Too much drama and angst....

I wanted to DNF this several times... but ... yeah I wanted to know what more crazy secret would be the next to emerge!

The romance in this book is almost INEXISTENT. The characters , specially the MC is constanly speaking about his former lovers. CONSTANLY. So that's why I find funny this part:

"Or let her seduce him, which is a possibility. I didn't ask for details. " Harry's brow crinkled in distaste. "I don't want to know them, either." Michael sipped on hi
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
post WW1 story of a man returning to the family holiday home in Porthkennack with his sister and her family. Michael's childhood friend and former lover has died and there is a chance meeting with his younger brother, Harry. the pair have a fairly instant attraction but there are barriers of family, situation and period to any relationship. Add in some family secrets, a bit of danger and a couple of fairly precocious kids and you've a nice historical drama.

The author knows her period we
The story was quite soap opera-y: dubious parentage, affairs, and other Great Revelations. As it's been awhile since I've read something of this type I enjoyed it. I liked all of the characters, especially Michael's brother-in-law Eric who is just a good guy.

This Porthkennack novel was a bit lower on the scenery than the previous novels, a lot of beach wandering and Cornish slang but that's about it. I wanted some caves or smugglers or something.
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Hm. This book ultimately only gets two stars because of the evil bisexual trope. And that hooking up with your dead lover’s brother is a little weird. Other than that, it was fine, and really well-written.
I gave this 4 stars at Romantic Historical Reviews.

Count the Shells is the sixth standalone novel in the loosely linked Porthkennack series. The series – comprising a mixture of contemporary and historical romances – started off strongly, but I have to confess the last few novels haven’t quite lived up to their predecessors and sadly, Charlie Cochrane’s entry fares much the same. Set during an idyllic summer on the Cornish coast shortly after the end of the World War I, Count the Shells is a nos
This was such a disappointing miss for me. First of all, my least favorite trope in romancelandia is the love triangle between one character and two siblings (dead or alive). It just gives me the biggest "Ick" feeling, primarily because I can't imagine wanting a relationship with either of my siblings' partners or exes. So the trope has to be executed really, really well to overcome my squeamishness and make me root for the love story.

Unfortunately Count the Shells was not done well. I was look
Stevie Carroll
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Previously reviewed on The Good, The Bad, and The Unread:

The Porthkennack series has proved an utter delight so far with its mix of familiar and new-to-me authors, and the variety of characters we’ve got to meet in both contemporary and historical settings. For the latest story, Charlie Cochrane takes us back to a very familiar era for her regular readers: the years that directly followed the First World War; and, as is often the case, all the characters to whom we are introduced have been affec
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
So, this book is a romance novel, right? Not some kind of exploration of the possible interactions of a gay man post World War I with his family, and all the secrets and interactions that can come long with it, with a dash of romance on the side? Right? Because it absolutely did not feel like a romance.

Anyway, we have Michael and Harry, with Michael being our main character and Harry being his love interest. Only . . . Harry appears in disturbingly little of the the book. Most of the book is in
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: charlie-cochrane
Michael Gray returned home from the Great War injured but his first and dearest love Thomas did not. While vacationing with his sister and her family at Porthkennack where so many memories of Thomas reside, Michael comes across Harry, Thomas' younger brother. Will learning some unknown truths weaken or strengthen Michael and Harry's blossoming romance?

First, I just want to say I have never read any of Riptide's Porthkennack series', contemporary or historical, so I really can't say to how much a
Mari Cardenas ~ Bayou Book Junkie
3 Stars

Count The Shells is part of the Porthkennack series but can be read as a standalone.

Michael Gray is back in Porthkennack to spend his vacation there with his sister and her family after years away. He hasn't been there since he had a fall-out with his friend Thomas, who was his first love, who died during WWI.

While there, he meets Harry, Thomas' younger brother who looks just like Thomas. They start a relationship, but when Harry makes a startling revelation, Michael's world is turned
Anwen Ross
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I associate Charlie Cochrane with mysteries, but this was a regular historical gay romance. It seemed to start real slow, as if the author didn't know what to do if there wasn't a murder to start things off with a bang LOL. It dawdles through a lot of family scenes in the early chapters. You might be tempted to quit but the family stuff is relevant in the end. You'll be surprised! I was!

It went in for tell rather than show, e.g. we are told Michael and his former great love Thomas broke up a few
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is lovely. It's well written and engaging and full of twists and turns. Cochrane is so good at conveying a time period and the tone of the writing and the whole atmosphere just seem very post-World War One. This is not really a romance, so if you're expecting grand declarations of love and lots of sex and a sappy HEA, you will be disappointed. It's more of an intimate family drama with a low-key romance as a secondary plot. Mostly the story is about Michael getting his bearings again and ma ...more
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book. It seemed relatively low-key at the start, in a way I like. Then came revelation after revelation about Michael's first love, who had died in the Great War (World War I). There ended up being revelations all around eventually, and some of the other characters took them more gracefully than Michael did.

As another reviewer notes, there were a lot of names to keep track of, but I was all right remembering who was who. The "little Wilfred" I thought must be a reference to Wilfred
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gblt, m-m-fiction
Michael has returned from WWI injured and having lost his first and only love Thomas. He was never able to apologize to Thomas for the fight that separated them before the war took Thomas. Michael chooses to go visit his sister and her family at the family vacation home, and deal with the painful memories that will surface. He doesn't expect to see a ghost from the past in the form of Harry, Thomas's brother, or to start to feel attracted to Harry.

As they start to navigate a relationship, secre
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A well crafted tale of the immediate post war years, when class and position and proper behaviour were all still in place but changes had been wrought by the war.
Seen through the innocent eyes of the children, Michael’s great friendship with childhood pal Thomas is gradually stripped away to reveal the less idealised truth.
Eric is a trooper. Richard and George, children of the time. Caroline, well only she knows exactly how it all happened but is still accepting of Michael and Harry.
Harry and Mi
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

For the full review, visit:

From that review: " In Count the Shells (Porthkennack #6), Charlie Cochrane once again brings her marvelous way of incorporating soft, sometimes unusual romances with her love of history.  The author never fails,  with her incredible ability , to bring this post WWI historical time frame accurately alive, right down to the songs and events of the era, and then add a poignant and
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult, romance, historical
Not a bad book, but it had a hard time holding my interest. There wasn't much going on other than the main character thinking a lot. He spent more time thinking about his past lovers than he did about his current one, which made it a bit of a letdown as far as being a romance. Some of the interactions between characters were charming, so it had some potential, but it needed some sort of external conflict, or a more captivating internal one.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After Wartime

This novel is the story of love before, during and after the war. It is vaguely reminiscent of The Charioteer by Mary Renault except with a different ending. I was deeply disturbed from parts of it, particularly with Michael’s falling out with his sister. The drama is unfolded in a very skillful way. Excellent character development.
Helen M. Whitchurch
M/M historical romance

Well done story of family problems, closeness and a new romance soon after WWI or as they would have called it the Great War. The great really being the number of casualties and the horrors extent. Like the bubonic plague it did result in a less stratified society.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was delightful! I've not read Charlie Cochrane before this, but I'm glad I tried this one out. Michael has had such a rough row to hoe and he gets a terrible shock when he finds out the lover he's been mourning for years was not what he thought he was. How can he get passed this hurdle and pull himself together?

The book is well written and heart lifting. Just a joy to read.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
This series has been hit or miss (mostly miss) for me, and this book didn't really break the mold. The atmosphere of it was really lovely, especially at the beginning, and I really liked some of the themes about war and trauma. However, I didn't enjoy the angst and drama that appeared in the middle, and I really didn't appreciate the duplicitous bisexual trope.
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Because Charlie Cochrane couldn't be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, series, and the contemporary Best Corpse for the Job. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Samhain, Riptide and Bold Strokes, among others.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People a

Other books in the series

Porthkennack (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Wake Up Call (Porthkennack, #1)
  • A Gathering Storm (Porthkennack, #2)
  • Broke Deep (Porthkennack, #3)
  • House of Cards (Porthkennack, #4)
  • Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack, #5)
  • Junkyard Heart (Porthkennack, #7)
  • Tribute Act (Porthkennack, #8)
  • One Under (Porthkennack, #9)
  • Contraband Hearts  (Porthkennack, #10)
  • Love at First Hate (Porthkennack, #11)