A.L. Lester


Border Magic: An Irregular Arrangement (2021)

Bradfield Trilogy: The Fog of War (2021), The Quid Pro Quo (2021)


Border Magic


An Irregular Arrangement (2021)

An Irregular ArrangementSet in England in 1920.

This is a short story set in the Border Magic world.

Tim and Flora are best friends who chose to get married to make things safer for Tim and his lover, Rupert.

Val is finally twenty one and ready to leave their family–until Flora finds them in a tree, picking apples for a widow’s children, and proposes that Val come home with her.

It’s a quick romance about how the four came to be together, starting with the meeting between Val and Flora and closing as London is evacuated for WWII.

It’s quite clear that although Rupert and Tim are the couple, Flora is an important part of both their lives, not just Tim, to whom she is married.

Flora pulled a face at him. “I was very polite,” she said. “But also, very clear.”

“Oh,” said Tim. “What do you mean, oh?”

There was a small, nervous pause. “Some people…can find you…quite intimidating when you’re being very clear,” Rupert finally said, carefully.

I also think it’s very sweet that Tim thought becoming a vicar would allow him to do good in the world.

It’s less of a short story, and more of a vignette into the lives of these four people.

Rating: 6.5/10


Bradfield Trilogy


The Fog of War (2021)

The Fog of WarSet in England in the summer of 1919.

Dr Sylvia Marks returned to the village where her father had been the local doctor, after the end of the war and her time as a surgeon at Royaumont, where she was later joined by Walter, a nurse she met at Royaumont, after his discharge.

They’d opened up Papa’s surgery in the front rooms of the big house again and she’d launched straight into being Young Dr Marks at the age of thirty-four, ministering to people who remembered her as a baby.

Lucy persuaded her parents to allow her to VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment), and eventually became friends with Sylvia. Bored, now she is back in England and once again living with her parents, she reaches out to Sylvia, looking to regain some of her independence.

She’d got over her fear of arduous work at the hospital. Not that she’d ever really had one, but spending a couple of years scrubbing floors and bedpans had changed her perception of appropriate occupation for young ladies of her station for good.

When Arthur Webber starts to decline, for no discernible reason, she assumes cancer, but when she sees something inexplicable, the starts to wonder if the disappearance of the woman she loved on the battlefield might be related to the magic that Arthur claims exists.

I really enjoyed this story. I love learning about bits of history when reading fiction–in this case, e Scottish Women’s Hospital at Royaumont.

I was bothered by one thing, however. Sylvia is (not unreasonably) worried that Anna ended up the same place as Marchant. But after their experiment, she suddenly stops worrying about it. Which honestly made no sense to me, considering one of the things they feared after the experiment.

But aside from that, I enjoyed it.

Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Rating: 7.5/10

The Quid Pro Quo (2021)

The Quid Pro QuoSet in England in 1920

Walter met Sylvia when they were both working at the same hospital at Royaumont.

They only got the worst cases here now… had done for a while, since the brass had worked out that the lady doctors had a better surgical survival rate.

Now they are living in the village where Sylvia grew up, Walter working as Sylvia’s nurse. But when a woman ends up dead in a pond–and no one quite sure how or why she died, an inspector is sent down to investigate.

Detective Simon Frost isn’t expecting to be sent to Bradfield to look into an unexpected death, but at least his has a driver to take some of the strain off his leg, which still gives him pain after all this time.

He sometimes wondered if there was anything still left in there. He should probably get it looked at. X-rayed, they called it, didn’t they?

Simon doesn’t expect to spend much time in Bradford, but someone accuses Dr Mark’s companion, Lucy, of killing the women found in the pond, and that brings him back–and puts him in closer proximity with Walter.

Walter is definitely on the ace spectrum–which perhaps made it easier for him to keep his secrets–but it doesn’t necessarily make things easier for him in any other way.

No, it was the person, for Walter, he’d discovered that a long time ago. It didn’t matter much what wrapping they came in, tall, short, breasts, cock, whatever. He fell for someone and then he wanted to bed them.

I thought this book was a bit better than the first, mostly because it didn’t have the strange inconsistency that bothered me about Sylvia in the first story. Another enjoyable story, and I look forward to the next book.

Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Rating: 8/10