A Gentleman Never Keeps Score

Any strength Sam had, he’d use for Hartley, not against him.

Cat Sebastian
It Takes Two to Tumble

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Once beloved by London’s fashionable elite, Hartley Sedgwick has become a recluse after a spate of salacious gossip exposed his most-private secrets. Rarely venturing from the house whose inheritance is a daily reminder of his downfall, he’s captivated by the exceedingly handsome man who seeks to rob him.

Since retiring from the boxing ring, Sam Fox has made his pub, The Bell, into a haven for those in his Free Black community. But when his best friend Kate implores him to find and destroy a scandalously revealing painting of her, he agrees. Sam would do anything to protect those he loves, even if it means stealing from a wealthy gentleman. But when he encounters Hartley, he soon finds himself wanting to steal more than just a painting from the lovely, lonely man—he wants to steal his heart.

Point of view:
3rd person. Alternating between Hartley & Sam’s perspectives.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This is book 2 in Cat Sebastian’s Seducing the Sedgwicks series. While this stands fairly well on its own – Hartley and a few relevant events are mentioned in book 1 (It Takes Two to Tumble), making these best enjoyed in order.

I loved this as much as the first but for completely different reasons. Set in the early 1800s, Sebastian explores a variety of difficult topics like racism, homophobia, and class systems. I just loved both Sam and Hartley as individual characters and as a couple. Hartley is struggling with having been “outed” then shunned by society for something he did when underage. Sam is well known and respected within the Black community, but is still targeted by general society and specifically a local inspector. An unlikely duo committed to righting some of the wrongs of Sir Humphrey Easterbrook.

I adored how Sam was able to uncover and soothe Hartley’s various PTS responses to touch, affection, and general interactions. Hartley’s love of his unconventional household staff was particularly heartwarming. Some drama and angst – but nothing needlessly protracted and it fit the story and characters well. These two were all. the. feels.

I’m excited for Will & Martin’s book, Two Rogues Make a Right.

Narration:
Joel Leslie is again perfection. Sebastian has so many unique characters and Leslie performs them with ease. Switching between genders, accents, and personalities seamlessly. It’s so easy to get lost in the story with his narration – I’d never consider reading them to myself.

Content Warnings (spoilers):
Sexual abuse & exploitation (past), several deaths (past), Hartley is dealing with PTS

About the author:
Cat Sebastian writes historical romance about LGBTQ+ people. She lives in a swampy part of the South but also on twitter.

You can connect with Cat Sebastian here:

About the narrator:
Joel Leslie is a UK transplant, growing up with American parents in a British commonwealth.  A classically trained actor with an MFA in theatre from USC, he is often cast for his unique ability to deliver native, authentic combinations of American and British sounds.  His great range and ability to bring characters to life with honesty, wit and versatility delights producers and listeners alike. 

You can connect with Joel Leslie here:

My Favorite Quotes

“Life in London was hard, harder still if you were poor, black, and out on the streets past ten at night.”

“He was safe everywhere but his mind.”

“Hartley set no store by charities and had heard Alf complain at length about rich ladies who tried to rescue happy whores from the streets and send them to church so they could learn to feel ashamed.”

“Any strength Sam had, he’d use for Hartley, not against him.”

“It was perhaps the strangest company Sam had broken bread amongst: a disgraced gentleman, his cockney manservant, an exceedingly pregnant and unmarried cook, and himself, a black pugilist turned barman. Conversation oughtn’t to have come easily but somehow it did.”

“Not everyone starts with a family who likes them, so some of us make our own.”

Published by rellimreads

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