Bats? Yes, thank you for asking.
You know how life sometimes just gets so complicated? How the easiest task seems to multiply in complexity until it resembles a scene from a screwball comedy? We underwent that a few years back and it was all due to relatives of Pipistrellus pipistrellus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipistrelle and Rhinolophus hipposideros http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_horseshoe_bat – I had to get Batman and Batwoman to come and tell me which. Are you sitting comfortably? This is a long story.
It bean when we had our boiler replaced and they had to do some pipework in our loft.
“Ere. Missus, you want to come and look at this,” said one of the gasmen (oh, don’t be smutty you lot!)
I leg it up to the loft and find a pile of droppings (oh, the glamorous life of the novelist!). My mind races – rats, mice, squirrels? – so I get on the phone to the local council who send round a nice man. He goes up to the loft and says, “You’ve got bats”.
In the greater scheme of things, this was good news. No nasty rodents, just adorable little bats, probably the same ones who flit through our garden on a summer evening. So, all I had to worry about was the shower of bat droppings which lands on your head when you open the trap to the loft, because you can’t get rid of the things. They’re, quite rightly, protected species.
Now, this is all fine and dandy, until you think you might have death watch beetle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_watch_beetle, and have to get another nice man (from Rentokil) to come and give your joists the once over. He finds no death watch, just common or garden wood-boring beetle (this is starting to resemble one of those David Attenborough wildlife programmes), which will need treating at some point. There’s one complication – yes, the bats. We need to have permission from English Nature to have anything done in the loft (like spray the wood-boring beetle or replace our insulation, which needs renewal).
So, weeks later (allowing time for somebody to ring me to say that somebody’s going to ring me and then them not managing to catch me) I had an appointment for two nice batpeople to come around and give me a certificate from their utility belts to say I can have work done. At this point it all became quite surreal; if the man and lady from English Nature resembled Adam West and Julie Newmar, I wouldn’t have been able to control myself.
They didn’t. They were two pensioners, who gave me said certificates, with some time restrictions, like having to have any work done when the bats were off somewhere for the winter (on a cruise to Tenerife?) And they were Long eared and Serotines, by the way.
Vicar Dan Miller is firmly in the closet in his new parish. Could the inhabitants of a sedate Hampshire village ever accept a gay priest? Trickier than that, how can he hide his attraction for one of his flock, Steve Dexter?
Encouraged by his ex-partner to seize the day, Dan determines to tell Steve how he feels, only to discover that Steve’s been getting poison pen letters and suspicion falls on his fellow parishioners. When compassion leads to passion, they have to conceal their budding relationship, but the arrival of more letters sends Dan scuttling back into the closet.
Can they run the letter writer to ground? More importantly, can they patch up their romance and will Steve ever get to kiss the vicar again?
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About the Author
As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.
She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, MLR, and Riptide.
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