Tag: Cat Sebastian

Review – The Queer Principles of Kit Webb

Posted September 8, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat SebastianThe Queer Principles of Kit Webb, Cat Sebastian

I pounced on this as soon as it came out, of course, and wasn’t disappointed. There’s a bit of a vibe of K.J. Charles’ Any Old Diamonds about the plot (except I guess it may also be reminding me of The Gentle Art of Fortune-Hunting, in some ways), and I’m totally here for that, any time. The relationship between the two leads is very different to that book, with far less power-play (and less cold-blooded criminality), but there’s an element of getting your own back that’s delicious.

Speaking of the relationship between the two leads, it’s a sweet one. It takes quite a long time to develop, though the seeds are obvious from the start in their strong physical attraction to one another. The best part, of course, is the slow development of trust between them, despite their disparate backgrounds, despite the harsh parts of their past.

There were a few twists and turns that I spotted coming, but nonetheless made shocked noises when they did happen, because oh! no! how dare! etc. So that was fun, and in general it was just everything I needed — if, in the end, the happy ever after felt rather easy to come by, I completely didn’t mind, because I was charmed by the characters. And in this plague year 2020-gone-2021, we can all do with some happy endings. I don’t want to talk too much about why I felt it was easy to come by, because that’s a spoiler, but suffice it to say that it’s very neat. It feels believable for the characters, but people usually find it harder to make wholesale changes like that!

Rating: 3/5

Tags: , , , , ,

Divider

WWW Wednesday

Posted June 10, 2021 by Nicky in General / 3 Comments

Oof, getting too warm to think in my little office in Yorkshire. Gah, summer is here again, apparently.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a lot all at once at the moment. This is normally something I’d feel weird and guilty about because I should be finishing books, right? But I’ve given up on that kind of guilting myself, and this is much closer to the joyful, voracious and random reading I did as a child — which is the kind of reading which made me really happy. So I’m sticking with it.

I’m still reading several of the books from last week; I’ve also picked up The Queer Principles of Kit Webb, by Cat Sebastian, because it sounded like exactly the ticket right now. I’ve also started in on the fifth Whyborne & Griffin book by Jordan L. Hawk, which promises to be the same quick-paced fun as the others — and I’m somewhat reassured that while Whyborne is never going to be a confident man, he has developed somewhat and learned to trust Griffin.

Cover of Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha LeeWhat have you recently finished reading?

I think the last thing I finished was Phoenix Extravagant, which was very different to Yoon Ha Lee’s series, starting with Ninefox Gambit, which is what really drew my attention to his work. I enjoyed Phoenix Extravagant, but it’s less complex/mind-bending to follow. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing or a good thing; it’s a different thing, and I’m still kind of letting it sit to see what I think when the dust has settled.

I also finished Plain Bad Heroines, which I found to be very lacking in payoff for all those pages of vaguely creepy promises.

What are you going to read next?

As ever, I don’t really know. I have a strong suspicion I’ll be picking up the third Lady Emily book by Tasha Alexander, and I’m quite in the mood to reread some old favourites too — which might be Marie Brennan, Ann Leckie, Becky Chambers, or Vivian Shaw…

We’ll see, as ever. Only time will tell, with my mood-reading and my moods!

What are you reading at the moment?

Tags: , , , , , ,

Divider

Review – Two Rogues Make a Right

Posted October 18, 2020 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat SebastianTwo Rogues Make A Right, Cat Sebastian

This was exactly what I needed to read last weekend, and I didn’t know it yet. It’s the third in a series, but it’s one of those loosely connected series which share some characters and details, but which don’t necessarily need to be read in order. I probably still would, because it helps to have had things that impact all the characters revealed in order, but I reckon it’d be a perfectly satisfying story either way. It follows Martin and Will, childhood friends who always had a spark of something more, but who have never acted on it. Martin is consumptive and ill, though, and Will practically kidnaps him to take him to the country and nurse him to health… and in that closeness, they finally start to explore that something more.

It’s very sweet, and though there’s a bit of angst in the middle and a couple of misunderstandings, it’s not infuriatingly so, most of the time. You can see where they’re each coming from, even though it’s totally stupid. And despite Martin’s abusive father and Will’s unhappy past in the Navy — not to mention the former’s consumption and the latter’s addiction — it stays reasonably light, focusing on the future they can make together if they’re brave enough. It’s not quite as light-feeling as the first book, but the progress isn’t as painful and hard-won as in the second book.

I ended up reading it almost all in one go, which I think is a recommendation all on its own. Also, hey! Tuberculosis!

(Disclaimer for those who don’t already know me: tuberculosis is exciting to me because it’s one of my research interests in my other life as an infectious diseases postgrad student.)

Rating: 4/5

Tags: , , , ,

Divider

Review – Hither, Page

Posted April 23, 2020 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Hither, Page by Cat SebastianHither, Page, Cat Sebastian

Things this novel is not:

  1. Solely a romance.
  2. Solely a mystery.

Leo Page is, in the simplest terms, a spy. He’s sent to a sleepy English village that could come right out of Agatha Christie’s novels, where he meets a young doctor with PTSD who (coincidentally, even though I half-expected this to become relevant) knows a little about who he is and what he does because he patched him up under secretive conditions during World War II. The story is both about solving the mystery, and also about unravelling who Leo wants to be.

I felt that James (the doctor) is rather less developed than Leo; we see his PTSD and his eagerness to love and be loved, yes, but we don’t really see him finding any peace with the PTSD or settling into himself as he could be. There’s plenty of room for that in sequels, though! What we do see is Leo’s development as he slowly becomes sure that, actually, he’s done with being a spy and directly or indirectly dealing death. It takes him time to realise that and time to decide that a life with James is worth a try.

In terms of the romance between the two, there’s a happy-for-now at the end of the book, but it’s something I could see being shaken by future books — they’re not secure in one another yet.

The mystery… eh, I was less interested in that, I’ll admit. It’s weird reading a book with such modern sensibilities and then also reading an Agatha Christie mystery, really. On that level, this fell down a bit for me, not helped by the fact that (as was traditional for Golden Age crime fiction) the victims were both unlikeable.  The character of Wendy causes a certain amount of mystification, and I found her a little too much; a little too clever, a little too omnipresent, a little too obvious.

That’s really a small quibble, though it doesn’t sound it: I was here for James and Leo. Their sexual connection doesn’t boil off the page, but there are several lovely moments of intimacy which I rather prefer.

Rating: 4/5

Tags: , , , , ,

Divider

Review – A Gentleman Never Keeps Score

Posted March 29, 2020 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat SebastianA Gentleman Never Keeps Score, Cat Sebastian

After It Takes Two To Tumble, this book follows the fortunes of one of Ben’s brothers, Hartley. As a teenager, he slept with a much older man, his godfather, to help provide for his brothers — school fees, rank, etc. On that man’s death, he inherited his house and a good deal of money, but now the whispers have gone out about why exactly he was the beneficiary… and, of course, he’s socially ruined. Into his life comes Sam Fox, publican and former boxer, who is kind and careful and handsome, and whom Hartley wants despite all the damage done by the exploitative sex he had as a teen.

On the one hand, it’s a delight how slowly and carefully the sex is explored in this book, how well Sam takes care of Hartley. At the same time, it’s harrowing; Hartley’s fears and self-disgust and inability to let himself find happiness are all over everything, making it a rather more serious book (at least to my mind). It’s not that it lacks sweetness, because it certainly doesn’t, but there’s a certain amount of bitter to it as well that — despite grief and worry — weren’t present in the previous book. There’s no on-screen rape or graphic discussion of it, but it colours everything; those who may find this triggering may want to avoid this.

It does have a lovely found family, much as the previous book does, and Hartley opens out into a lovely character as he loses some of his snootiness and challenges some of his own assumptions. Sam is lovely from start to finish — human, and not always able to be perfectly patient and perfectly understanding, but he strives to be better all the time. There are some fun side characters as well, particularly Sadie and Kate.

Overall, I enjoyed it a lot and it broke through a funk during which I wasn’t reading much at all. It’s a little darker in tone, but it does have a happy ending, and I ended up enjoying it a lot.

Rating: 4/5

Tags: , , ,

Divider

Review – It Takes Two To Tumble

Posted March 27, 2020 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of It Takes Two To Tumble by Cat SebastianIt Takes Two To Tumble, Cat Sebastian

Looking around for something cute and easy to read with Lisa (Wife Book Club!), this was my first pick because it was described as “like Sound of Music, but with fewer children and less singing”, and that sounded entertaining. And so it is: Ben is the vicar, and people in the village ask him to deal with the unruly kids of a sea-captain. The kids’ mother has died, and the captain is away on his ship, and the kids are running wild. Ben rather likes kids, and doing things for everyone in the village, so he ends up agreeing.

Said sea-captain, Phillip, comes home and is… less than pleased. However, once he gets out of the mindset of expecting everything to run like a ship — partly at Ben’s prompting — he loosens up and becomes rather more fun, and of course, he develops an attraction to Ben. Ben is engaged to a convalescent girl, Alice, with whom he grew up, and throughout the book he struggles with what’s right, realising that he’s falling in love Phillip and what he feels for his childhood friend is nothing like it. Don’t worry, though: the story avoids demonising Alice, and her sweetness and strength are still important for Ben even when they put an end to their engagement.

There’s also a plotline involving dyslexia: Phillip and one of his children are both dyslexic, and the ways that holds them both back are explored carefully. Jamie’s a wizard with numbers, but traditional learning just won’t work for him. There’s no magical breakthrough moment or anything trite and insulting like that: instead, they plan to play to Jamie’s strengths with the right sort of tutor, and… Well, I won’t say more; that would be a spoiler!

It’s all really sweet, and Ben’s adorable. Phillip is a bit meh for me (which is to say, his determination to be an ass at first annoys me), but Ben carries it.

Rating: 4/5

Tags: , , ,

Divider