Facets of the Bench


Coming August 2nd, 2024

The War changed everything.

Annice grew up wanting to carve jet. Born and raised in Whitby, on the Yorkshire coast, she learned from her father and grandfather, drawing beauty out of ancient stones. But now she’s on her own, there are customs against women carving jet, and the stone’s fallen out of fashion. It’s 1927. People want to forget their grief, not wear it for all to see. For all those reasons and more, Annice is at a crossroads in her life.

Griffin has lived in Trellech, Albion’s magical city, all his life except for his service during the Great War. He’s loved the city nearly as long, years before he made a place for himself tending the magic of the courts as a solicitor and specialist. After the War, he came home willing to use whatever tools he needed - wheelchair, crutches, canes - to keep doing what he loved. But other people don’t think he’s still capable. Griffin’s been stuck in a professional limbo that hasn’t budged for years.

When the magic and the jet of one of the courtrooms starts failing, Griffin is the one who has to figure out how to fix it. On a trip to Whitby, it becomes obvious that he needs Annice’s help to keep the inheritance court working as it should. If he can convince her to be confident in her skills - and give Trellech a try - there’s a chance for the two of them to do much more together than they could on their own.

Facets of the Bench is about loving a place and sharing it with others, competence, and making the most of an opportunity. It features an ambulatory wheelchair user, a woman whose skills just need a little encouragement to blossom, and a city full of magic. Set in 1927, it’s a romance with a happily ever after ending.

Griffin is an ambulatory wheelchair user, dealing with bias and misunderstanding from others. Some of the plot focuses on how he answers those concerns. Annice has lost a number of family members in the last decade. Local customs limit some of her options for making a living. 

Want to learn more? Check out blog posts about Facets of the Bench.

The Magic of Four


In 1946, four second year students at Schola, the most elite of the magical schools of Albion, have challenges to face. Leo, Ros, Avigail, and Jasper need to make some key decisions about their lives.

First, they have to figure out what they want to do and be when they grow up. It's a hard choice to make at fourteen. Next, second year is when Schola’s secret societies pick new members, a decision that can change the course of a life. Third, there are all the ordinary challenges and joys of a school, ranging from dealing with other students to sports matches. And it's 1946, with all the lingering effects of the Second World War, dealing with the changes it's brought and the changes to come.

These four friends come from different backgrounds, sharing some skills but not others. None of them want what society assumes they do. It's a new world and they have some ideas of their own.

The Magic of Four is full of friendship, surprises, commitments, and a great deal of magic. It takes place in the magical community of Great Britain in the wake of the Second World War, from the perspective of young adults who have a good idea what their parents did during the war years and what that cost.

The last book in the Land Mysteries series, it includes a number of characters who have appeared in other Celia Lake books, but can be read in any order. Unlike most Celia Lake books, The Magic of Four is not a romance - they’re all fourteen.

Contains four teenagers who are more sensible than the average but don't always make the best choices. Includes examples of bullying, social challenges, class issues, and other complications of living and learning with other teenagers. The adults are dealing with the Second World War and the impact on their lives in various ways, including grieving. One of the characters (Avigail) is half Bengali, the others are white.

Want to learn more? Check out blog posts about The Magic of Four.

Perfect Accord


Nothing too horrible can happen in a fortnight.

Charlotte is worried. Her friend Victor - the man everyone expects she’ll marry - has fallen in with a new circle. Growing up in the family she has, Charlotte knows there’s something odd going on. The new friends are older, united in a passion for ancient legends, and there’s something just a bit too intense about all of them. When Charlotte and Victor are invited for a fortnight at a remote country house with the rest of the group, she goes along to keep him out of trouble.

It’s hard to get by as a working alchemist. Lewis hopes his arrangement with Morgen will let Lewis keep his brother in a much-needed potion and begin to build up his own business as an alchemical perfumer. He doesn’t mind being stuck in an isolated cottage on a rural estate while he does it.

But when Charlotte appears in his kitchen - an impossible idea - they have to figure out what’s going on at the main house and how to stop it without causing more problems. All they have to work with are the skills they already have and whatever is stocked in the alchemy lab.

Perfect Accord takes place in the magical community of Great Britain in 1923, as Charlotte is preparing for her older brother Gabe’s wedding. Third in the Mysterious Arts series, it can be read in any order. Join Charlotte and Lewis for a short tour through mangled Arthuriana, a long stint of forced proximity, and a sensual romance full of perfume, cooking, and time in bed.

While the heroine goes into a difficult situation aware of the risks, the background plot deals with manipulation and possible emotional coercion of people in a group (no details of the coercion are directly depicted.) Hero is dealing with significant pressure from different directions. 

Want to learn more? Check out blog posts about Perfect Accord.

Three Graces


In May of 1945, as the war in Europe is coming to an end, three women can turn their attention to an old and lingering problem. Lizzie never met her brother-in-law, Temple. He died in 1922, in what she and her husband now know was a desperate attempt to stop further damage to the land magic.

No one has been able to figure out what damaged Temple’s magic or why he’d insisted on such self-destructive choices. Lizzie hasn’t, her husband Geoffrey hasn’t, and neither have their friends who are experts in a dozen relevant fields.

Now, as the demands of the war begin to ease, Lizzie asks Alysoun and Thesan - their friends and allies - to help her solve the mystery. She hopes that Alysoun’s clear-sighted experience and Thesan’s ability to see hidden patterns will be enough of a help. Perhaps together they can finally find and make sense of long-hidden information and do their best to make sure this sort of tragedy never happens again.

Three Graces is a novella tackling the long-standing question of what happened to Temple Carillon and brought him to his death in 1922. It is full of intelligent friends supporting each other, the changes that come with the end of the war, and navigating a new world. It is best read in series sequence, as it draws on a number of situations during the Second World War and its impact on Albion and Albion's land magic.

Three Graces deals with some difficult topics around the death (at the hands of the Council) of Temple Carillon and his wife Delphina. The three protagonists are digging into decades-old secrets, and have to navigate carefully to avoid tipping their hands. At the same time, the end of the war in Europe means that a number of patterns and usual supports aren't available, and the three women have to navigate some new situations. However, there's no violence on the page, and discussions of the eventual outcome focus on character's feelings rather than descriptions of the details. Of note for representation: Alysoun lives with what we'd call fibromyalgia and routinely uses a cane, and Thesan is autistic. 

Want to learn more? Check out blog posts about Three Graces.

Illusion of a Boar


A World War 2 fantasy romance

In March of 1944, four magical specialists are brought together at a secret camp for an even more mysterious mission.

Hypatia and Cammie adopted each other as sisters twenty years ago, during their school years, after Cammie's mother married Hypatia's older brother. Cammie has been neck deep in signals work since the start of the Second World War, while Hypatia has used her gift for sympathetic magic and materia to support the war effort. All while keeping up the proper standards for ATS girls, of course.

Pulled from similar work in Scotland, Claudio knows the most about what's needed and about what resources might actually be available. That's a big problem, but he's far more worried about his chosen brother, Orion.

Orion's war had been comparatively simple until six months ago. After an injury invalided him out of active service using his magic to support the front lines in the Mediterranean, he came home to find betrayal. Now he's figuring out where to begin rebuilding any sense of himself and his place in the world.

None of them have enough information or access to resources for what they're being asked to do. And they're doing it in a camp that has no idea what to make of them and that has its own deep secrets.When the challenges keep coming, they have to figure out whether and how they can trust each other and whether their objective is even possible.

Illusion of a Boar takes on the run-up to D-Day inside the magical community of Albion, figuring out what magic could help turn the tides in their favour. It's about trust, choosing new paths, and just maybe taking a chance on love and romance. The fifth book in the Land Mysteries series, it can be read in any order.

At least 2 of the 4 point of view characters are neurodiverse. They're dealing with unusual situations, secrets in a time of war, and family and social assumptions. One character is dealing with a recent significant injury to his hand, as well as emotional betrayal about 5 months before the book begins). No actual descriptions of combat, but there are references to deaths in combat and the impact they have on various characters.

Want to learn more? Check out blog posts about Illusion of a Boar.

Check out more books with neurodiverse characters (depending how you count, 2 or 3 of the 4 POV characters here are neurodiverse).

Four Walls and a Heart


In 1884, Gil wakes in the Temple of Healing with a life changing injury. Nothing in his life is ever going to be the same. He now has to figure out where he'll live and what he'll do. All his choices are all miserable in their own way.

Magni becomes curious when his old friend’s name comes up several times. After discovering Gil’s return to Albion and his injuries, Magni is more than willing to visit, remembering how Gil was the spark of wit in gatherings while they were both apprentices. But of course, Gil would never be interested in him as anything other than a friend in a time of need.

When Magni has to leave town for a few weeks due to a complex case, he rents a house at the Brighton seashore. He even welcomes Gil's company, as Gil regains strength before another needed surgery.

Neither of them expected the minor mystery of the house across the street and a fortnight in close quarters to change both their lives.

Four Walls and a Heart is a m/m novella of 40,000 words exploring Gil and Magni's romance in the summer of 1884. Set in the magical community of Great Britain, it is full of books, architecture, seaside amusements, and navigating living with a new disability.

M/M friends to lovers romance, while one of the protagonists is dealing with amputation of his lower leg. Contains some homophobia from minor characters (unpleasant disapproval, not violence, from a family member). Also contains some references to the uneven path of healing. Other protagonist is a member of Albion's Guard, responsible for public safety and law enforcement considerations (his duties are referenced, but not the focus of the plot).

Want to know more? Check out the blog posts about Four Walls and a Heart.

Explore more books dealing with the Guard and Penelopes:
(Gil and Magni are significant secondary characters in Pastiche.)

Shoemaker’s Wife


1920 should have been a wonderful summer.

The Great War is over, and Clara's husband Owen has finally come home. All he wants is to set up as a shoemaker and enjoy a peaceful marriage.

Nothing about Owen's return is easy.

There's not enough money for Owen to start up his own business. Worse, he's having trouble finding work, like many other returning soldiers, and everything's getting more expensive. Clara's worried about running her aunt's apothecary shop while her aunt is away. Things at home are awkward and uncomfortable. Neither of them knows how to turn a wartime romance into a proper marriage.

When a lucky break gets him a new job backstage in a magical theatre, Owen is hopeful that his life - and Clara's - are beginning to turn around. Unfortunately, the new job brings new worries, and one of Clara's customers is taking a more personal interest in her than she's comfortable with. There might be a way to solve all their troubles, if they can just remember why they fell in love in the first place, and learn to trust each other.

Shoemaker's Wife is a romance about falling in love for a second time and learning how to have a happy marriage. Join Clara and Owen for shoemaking, a winter pantomime, the challenges of rebuilding a life after war, and all the ways kindness makes a difference. The second novel in the Mysterious Arts series about the magical community of Great Britain, it can be read in any order.

Heroine is the focus of unwanted attention from a secondary character (though it does not progress beyond conversation). Hero dealing with the aftermath of the war and returning to 'ordinary' life. Learning to talk about active consent as opposed to assumed or passive consent.

Want to learn more? Check out blog posts about Shoemaker's Wife.

Explore books focusing on crafters and crafting: 

Bound for Perdition


New magic brings new challenges.

Charged with creating a magical journal that would allow rapid communication during the Great War, Lynet has worked with a papermaker to overcome the technical challenges.

But brilliant magical innovation isn't enough.

When she returns from a leave after the death of her father, Lynet is told they have to make more journals, cheaper and faster. The last thing she needs is a set of unskilled hands assigned to help her at this impossible task, and she's dubious that a man will be more of a help than a hinderance given her ongoing problems with most of the men of the research department.

Reggie is recently invalided out of the Army but has no relevant skills other than being a magically trained Schola man. When he's assigned to help Lynet, he's not sure how much use he'll be. He’s soon swept up in Lynet’s ambitious project and fascinated by her skills and knowledge.

Together, Reggie and Lynet must figure out how to get the magical materials they need for the project and move forward despite unexpected obstacles. Their mission is quickly complicated by odd goings on with other research in the department, something that might change the War itself!

Bound For Perdition is the first book in the Mysterious Arts series. A cosy historical fantasy romance set in 1917 in the magical city of Albion, Britain’s magical community, it is a great entry to Celia Lake’s Albion books. Bound for Perdition is full of bookbinding, coming to grips with injury, navigating class differences, and making a new future in a rapidly changing world.

The heroine's father dies just before the start of the book, from an extended illness. During the book, she is dealing with her grief, isolation, and some frustration. The hero has injuries he considers somewhat shameful/ignoble. Contains people acting from privilege and class without regard for others, and one very manipulative woman out for her own goals. Heroine is autistic, and the hero has had experiences in the war that have changed how he thinks and reacts to the world.

Want to learn more? Check out blog posts about Bound for Perdition.

More about the Carillon family:
(My authorial wiki has additional information about characters, connections, and places.)

Upon A Summer’s Day


On the Summer Solstice of 1940, Gabe made a solemn oath. Two parts of it were easy enough, he was already doing them. The third part has haunted his every choice since.

When he is asked a question that August, Gabe knows he must answer yes. His answer will change him, his family, and everything around him. There is no other way through but keeping his word and dealing with the consequences.

No one said he had to do it the way anyone else expects.

Upon A Summer's Day is a novel that takes place in the autumn and winter of 1940 as World War II moves into a second year with the start of the Blitz. Join Gabe, his wife, his family, and their allies in unweaving a tangle of ancient magics, turning assumptions on their heads, and refusing to follow destructive traditions.

The fourth book in the Land Mysteries series, Upon A Summer's Day directly follows the events of Old As The Hills, and is best read in sequence.

Direct sequel to Old As The Hills, and best read after it. ADHD central character, dealing with social and professional implications for his London-born Bengali wife. Takes place during the second half of 1940, during the Blitz, and includes the immediate aftermath of the bombing of Coventry (no explicit details). Involves varying levels of Albion's politics.

Want to learn more? Check out blog posts about Upon A Summer's Day.

Old As The Hills


What would you risk so others could live?

It is the early months of WWII and Rathna already has an idea of how bad it might get. If she can make the final connections she needs to create a new portal in a matter of weeks rather than years, she might just be able to get a few more people out of Germany's ever expanding grasp. But she's also been asked to take on a new apprentice. Rathna has no idea whether he'll be willing to help, if she can trust him, or if he can trust her enough to do what needs to be done.

Her husband Gabe has a challenge that will use every single one of his skills and then some. He's been charged by the Council to coordinate magical responses to the war, not only in Albion itself, but among the many esoteric and occult groups of Great Britain. His own apprentice is brilliant, in a different way than Gabe, but this project will ask everything of them both.

Together, Gabe and Rathna have built their lives to bend their passions, talents, and magics to making things better for the world around them, including their three growing children. Now their war work is going to separate them, certainly for months, possibly for much longer. As they tangle with ancient magics, seeking new ways forward, there are more unanswerable questions, tremendous risks, and a few glimmers of hope.

Old As The Hills follows Gabe and Rathna's adventures from the autumn of 1939 through the summer of 1940, a time of desperate plans to save lives and hold back invasion. It is full of ancient fae magic, the power of place, urgent witchcraft rituals, and unexpected encounters. The Land Mysteries series explores the Second World War in the magical community of Albion and is best read in order.

You can find Gabe and Rathna's romance in The Fossil Door, set in 1922 in Scotland.

Deals with the first year of World War 2, and the plot explicitly includes the invasions of multiple countries during that time, the evacuation of Dunkirk, and other events of the period. (Though not in graphic or close-up detail.) Death of a secondary character with ongoing appearances in the Albion books, due to the war, and some reference to grief. The plot also deals with the esoteric groups active at the time and with witchcraft.

Established couple, married with three children, who are separated during much of the book due to their different tasks. Hero has ADHD (very much on display in some spots), while the heroine deals with assumptions (and some bigotry) because of her Bengali background and brown skin. Some nastiness from minor characters, including the presentation of white feathers for cowardice to a secondary character.

Want to learn more? Check out blog posts about Old As The Hills.

By Celia

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Upon A Summer's Day

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