Cover Image: The Queer Principles of Kit Webb

The Queer Principles of Kit Webb

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In 1751, when one is a former highwayman - called Gladhand Jack with a bloody ballad written about him - with a fairly devastating leg injury, what does one do? Well, in Kit Webb's case, open a coffee house in London and grumpily serve up his haphazardly-spiced brew to any number of malcontents and radicals.

"All right, you lot. Somebody's been scribbling Tory nonsense in the privy walls." Every eye in the room was on Webb, as if he were a magnet. He wasn't even raising his voice above his usual scratchy growl. "You want to write Tory slogans, you do at it the coffeehouse across the way with the rest of the Tory scum. [...] Here, we serve Whigs and radicals."

When Lord Percy waltzes into Kit's - wigged, powdered, replete with gold braid and brass buttons and lavender stockings - Kit is intrigued, and unsettled when Percy at first does little more than stare (and occasionally wink) at him. But it turns out Percy wants to hire Kit to rob his father of a book, a very important book he keeps with him at all times.

The plot synopsis really grabbed my interest in selecting this book, but honestly, I could have done with quite a bit less ... umm, plotting. There are simply shed-loads of plot here - Kit's backstory, Percy's mother and her Machiavellian child rearing, Percy's horrid father, Percy's childhood friend Marian who is now married to Percy's father and has a small daughter, the blackmail scheme that starts all the plotting, and not to mention Betty and Robb in Kit's sphere. AND Marian seems to have an entirely separate existence as some sort of wall-scaling ninja, and I suspect there may be another book about Marian and her adventures.

Then .... there's the planning and training for the highway robbery, along with a slow burn growing between Percy and Kit, but loads more plot and intrigue and swordplay. I'm somewhat torn between this book - liking the essence of the story, but as I read on, getting rapidly weary of all the tangents. And finally, there is a sex scene, and a rather hurried rush to a short epilogue that leaves me with more questions. A deeply conflicted 3.5 stars, but I'm hurrying off to read more of Cat Sebastian's works to see if perhaps this particular book is an outlier.
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Thank you to NetGalley for this electronic ARC! The Queer Principles of Kit Webb is a snarky, mysterious, playful, and heartfelt book placed in (what seems to be) 1700s England. As the title implies, these two leading men find themselves attracted to one another at first sight despite their drastic differences. Percy is a pampered but sweet highborn man and Kit is a good-hearted, mysterious, and bored coffee shop owner with a thieving past that commoners sing about. I love historical romances and this romance trope. Each time Kit and Percy interact, he can't help but feel his grumpiness slip away. 

What makes this novel so different from many romance books is that it confronts capitalism through Kit's hatred of nobility. While stealing from nobles gave him a thrill, it was also something he did out of principle. This brought a lot more depth to the character and an overall message against those who hoard wealth. Naturally, privilege is also centered in more than one conversation between the lovers.

 Sebastian's writing was filled with clever and funny quips as well as thoughtful character building. All that seemed to be missing was the revelation of Percy's final plan. So as not to provide any spoilers, I'll just say that skipping over the resolution into an epilogue was frustrating. Percy mentioned how smart his plan was multiple times and then the reader is left to only imagine based on a few of his actions leading up to this deed. I would have given this book 5 stars if the plan was included.

Verdict:
The Queer Principles of Kit Webb is a wonderful addition to anyone's collection of queer historical romances! I highly recommend it to those who also enjoy stories of kindhearted criminals.
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I read quite a few reviews of this one before I started reading, and I had some doubts it would work for me.  I was wrong.  I think the opposites attract match up totally works, and I loved the chemistry between our principal characters.  A former highwayman and a fop (sorta) who team up to exact revenge against a man they both hate.  Both men have secret reasons for wanting revenge, and the author takes her time revealing their stories. The story is well paced, sexy and smart, and feels like a return to form for the author.  But.

The secondary characters aren't that well established, and the action scenes are too brief and too underwhelming?  After all that build-up, the last quarter of the book falls flat.  I loved the romance, didn't love the adventure.
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The Queer Principles of Kit Webb was somehow both what I expected and nothing like I expected. I typically love Cat Sebastian’s books, and I really did enjoy The Queer Principles of Kit Webb, but it had darker themes than I would expect based on my experience with her books in the past. 

This doesn’t mean that it isn’t still a sweet romance, but the main storyline is pretty serious - Percy is being blackmailed based on some information about his (pretty evil) father, and needs to retrieve a book that his father never lets out of his sight. Obviously the solution is to hold up his carriage, and Percy attempts to hire Kit, a former highwayman, to do that. But Kit was injured in his last job, over a year ago, and so decides instead of doing the job, he’ll teach Percy how to do the hold up himself. There’s a lot of sexy “learning to fight” scenes, and Percy hanging around in Kit’s coffee shop making eyes at Kit. 

Percy and Kit are delightful, and the first 75% or so of the book is them being very adorable together. One thing that I typically enjoy about Cat Sebastian books is that I feel like she keeps me guessing as to how the characters can end up together and it’s always very satisfying when the resolution comes about. The same held true with The Queer Principles - I wasn’t sure how exactly Percy and Kit would make it work, but the way that it ended up happening was so sweet. There are some plot threads that are left hanging, but I wonder if that is also a set-up for a sequel. 

I think my biggest complaint about The Queer Principles is that the secondary characters are clearly important, and as a reader, I kept trying to puzzle out the relationships but kept getting confused. I felt like I was supposed to be picking up on something, but just kind of felt like it was going over my head. (Honestly, it’s possible this is a me problem and everybody else who reads this book will be fine.) Eventually all is revealed, but I do think there are some very convenient relationships, because some things just work out perfectly. 

Percy is a bit of a spoiled aristocrat, not having known anything else in his life. But he grows up a lot during the course of the book. Kit is grumpy but just can’t maintain his grump in the face of Percy’s sheer ridiculousness. Kit’s history is entangled with Percy’s family in a very serious way, and the way that is resolved is well done. The love the two have for each other by the end is very clear, and their interactions are so tender and sweet and gave me warm fuzzies inside as I was reading. 

Overall, I just felt so good after reading The Queer Principles of Kit Webb. It is such a satisfying read. Though it is dark at times, I feel like those parts are handled well and I was very emotionally satisfied at the end. 

Content warnings: Before the events of the book, death of a child and wife, as well as death of a mother. During the events of the book, blackmail and gun violence.
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To be honest, I was not the biggest fan of the piece. I found the characters a bit underwhelming and lacking structure at times and the plot to be a bit fuzzy.
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I don’t quite know what it was, but I struggled a bit with this one. While I certainly enjoyed the latter half more than the first half, I found myself a bit...bored with the storyline at times. However, the second half was much more enjoyable and I’m glad I stuck with it!

Thanks to the publisher for sending me an e-ARC via NetGalley.
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This historical romance novel tells the story of Kit Webb, a former highwayman who is now the proprietor of a coffee house. One day he is approached by a gentleman Edward Percy Talbot asking him to help him rob someone close to him. Throughout the novel Kit and Percy realize that they are starting to have feelings for each other.

This was my first experience with a Cat Sebastian book, and the first time I read a historical romance that features an m/m pairing. Overall, it was a nice and cute story that didn't shy away from discussing difficult topics. I liked that there was disability rep, and that, despite being a romance, the main conflict did not include a third-act breakup as in many other romance novels. I thought the characters had pretty good chemistry, and I liked how there was talk about social disparities and how they are perpetuated by luxury. 

However, I did find the story to get a bit slow at times and struggled a bit to get into it. I also predicted the twist and thought that the story had some pacing issues towards the end tying things up a bit loosely. Nevertheless, I'd be interested in reading more from this author.

 "The Queer Principles of Kit Webb" came out June 8, 2021.
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This is one sweet, suspenseful, smoldering book.

Kit Webb used to be a highwayman, but tragic circumstances have left him running a coffee shop. Feeling unfulfilled and melancholy, he feels stuck in a rut, until one day Lord Holland (Percy) enters his shop with a job offer. Percy wants to rob his father, the Duke, of a special book, to protect himself and a childhood friend. Refusing the job, Kit nevertheless agrees to train Percy so he can pull off the job himself. As the two men grow closer, the deadline for the robbery grows nearer, and everything they want from life may be pulled from their grasp.

Sebastian has a great writing style that really makes the characters come alive, and the chemistry between Kit and Percy is palpable from the start. I was really rooting for them, their romance, and the success of their plan. They are both complex characters who learn from each other and are able to grow and change together. There are a lot of interesting side characters as well who all have an important part to play.

There are some great humorous moments, and some really suspenseful ones as well. The story is fast paced and kept me consistently engaged and invested. This was a book I really enjoyed reading.
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I absolutely adored this! If you’re looking for a swoony and mesmerizing historical MM romance, look no further! Kit used to be a highwayman, but due to an injury he has a physical disability that forced him into “retirement” so that he now runs a coffee shop. Percy is an aristocrat who tries to convince Kit to come out of said retirement in order to help him steal a book from his own father for...reasons that are slowly revealed as the book progresses.

This had some fantastic tropes, such as class difference, grumpy-sunshine, hurt/comfort, and drunken confessions. It was sweet and swoony, and also made me chuckle a few times. The tension between Kit and Percy made me not want to put it down until I got to the end. I also listened along with the audiobook, and Joel Leslie did some fantastic narration. I definitely plan to explore more of Sebastian’s backlist, and immediately ordered a physical copy of this book to display on my shelves.

*A big thank you to Netgalley, Avon, and Harper Voyager for providing a free ecopy in exchange for an honest review*

I also posted reviews on Amazon and B&N but am unsure how to link a specific review so just linked the book's page on those sites.
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“Whatever they had between them, for all its confusion, was good, and it was theirs, and they should take it. Fuck anything that said otherwise.”

⭐️⭐️.5/5 stars!

This book was adorable! I definitely don’t usually go for historical romance, but this one seemed adorable and a dash goofy so I went for it!

Kit Webb doesn’t steal from people anymore. He runs a respectable tavern and keeps to himself. Until a handsome fancy stranger needs his help stealing from his very powerful father, who really deserves it. But teaching him the art of being a highwayman will require a close eye, a very close eye.

I honestly haven’t read many Cat Sebastian book even though there is a plethora. Like I said, not a big historical gal, but when the mood strike *shrugs*.

My favorite thing about the book was the dynamic, fun flirting, class differences, a pinch of revenge fantasy. It kept the book filled with drama.

I wish the plot had been the same level of interesting. Unfortunately, I couldn’t care much about the plot. It kept moving along, but it didn’t feel like it flowed with the rest of the book. Like the plot only existed so the characters could keep talking to each other. It didn’t interest me much. It’s very simple anyway.

Meet up

train for robbery

oh no- we’re fighting

just kidding

more planning for robbery

robbery

aftermath of robbery

The other part I didn’t love was the chemistry. There was plenty of witty banter and cute montages that I should have been falling head over heels. And I did mostly love the book, can’t complain. But it was missing the X factor. Just that bit of spark between them.

The book still manages to be entertaining for a bit and a perfectly okay read. If you like historical romance, you’ll most likely love it more than me!

TL;DR: A witty, charming historical romance with a fun premise and adorable moments. It was missing chemistry for me, but hopefully you’ll have better luck!

E-galley provided by Netgalley and Avon in exchange for an honest review. All quotations and opinions are based on an uncorrected proof.
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The Queer Principles of Kit Webb was a delight to read, it felt like a mix of so many of my favorite books and tropes. It tells the story of Edward Percy, son to the Duke of Clare, who hires a former highwayman turned coffeehouse owner, Kit Webb, to commit a crime against his father after learning he may lose his title and legitimacy. Kit is still grieving over the loss of his friend and literal partner-in-crime, and learning to live with his permanently injured leg. Percy is trying to cope with the fact that his life may be a lie and that he may lose everything he has known. The two of them come together in this book on a mission to carry out a heist, and maybe find love along the way.

The characters: The two leads, Percy and Kit were so lovable, even a lot of the side characters, such as Betty were wonderful as well. I think Percy may grate on some people just because of his somewhat haughty and posh attitude, a clear result of his upbringing and status, but I think the situation he has found himself in and how he acts brings him down to earth. Kit is a lovable grump who I just wanted to take care of, in ways, he gave me a sort of Kaz Brekker vibe, who pretends to be a cold-hard criminal on the outside, but deep down is super caring and attentive for those close to him, such as how Kit walks Betty home every night. I also just really liked how he was depicted with a physical disability because there is very little representation on that part generally, and for the most part I think it was done quite well, with it being brought up and mentioned how it does alter and impact Kit’s life and his abilities, but it is not the crux of his character and it is not some pitying thing, it is just a barrier that he has to deal with, if I can explain that properly. Granted, I do not have a physical disability, so take my opinion on the matter with a grain of salt, and listen to the opinions of those who have physical disabilities, but as far as I could tell, the representation seemed good and I was glad it was included. Speaking of representation, the one area in which the book was lacking was in racial and ethnic diversity; as far as I can remember, all the characters were white, or at least not mentioned to be anything other than white. There is the claim that this book was set in the 18th century, so it is somewhat realistic for the main cast to be white, but I think at this point authors can go out of bounds with such rigid ideas, and especially within certain settings of the book, having people of color would even make sense, or add to the complexity of the books overall theme.

The romance: As is my favorite trope, this romance falls into the enemies-to-lovers genre. Although I wouldn’t necessarily classify them as enemies, more just nuisances to one another, Percy and Kit’s romance arc does generally fall into this trope. I think it was pretty well done, as even from the start when they did not really get along you could see the clear physical attraction between them, and you could easily see how they may act upon it at some point, and the dislike of one another only builds some good tension rather than serious conflict. I also enjoyed how the romance in this book did not have any major conflicts, of course it wasn’t perfect, but overall, it was good and there was no unnecessary drama as our characters had bigger issues to deal with than miscommunication or insecurity. Additionally, on the point of the romance, I actually really liked how sexuality, especially at the time period was addressed by the two leads. Percy knows he’s gay, he’s never really tried to hide it, and he isn’t ashamed or conflicted by it (granted he has the protection of his status). Kit meanwhile, says he’s never been with a man before, but he also does not feel so conflicted or averse when he is first drawn to Percy, he just accepts it as normal, the same way it would be with a woman, and later on in the story he reinforces to Percy that their love is normal and should not be illegal or sinful or anything else. I think, as a queer reader, it is nice to have a story that could easily have brought about queer suffering and hiding but instead reject that, sometimes we just want nice stories and we don’t want our love to have to be some big thing, and I liked that.

The plot: Normally, I’m not a big plot person, but I did find this plot enticing. I was surprised by one twist, but then I was able to put together some parts of the end with good breadcrumbs and foreshadowing on the author’s part, it made it seem realistic. I’m all about a heist and some criminal activity so that being the main plot of the story was exciting. I also liked how this plot arcs into a theme of wealth and class divide and how the rich and powerful become that way at the suffering of others, I think it was a poignant and well done and needed discussion in the book that I wasn’t expecting from a fun 18th century queer heist story. I will admit, some parts of the very end of the book, which wrapped up the main plot, did confuse me, but I am being forgiving with that because I am not the best with plot heavy books and this book is an ARC. 

Overall, this story was a joy to read and one I could not put down. I’m so happy to have been able to read it early, and I think it’ll be a big success once it is officially release, I know I’ll definitely be recommending it.
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I’ve never read a Cat Sebastian that I didn’t love, and I enjoyed every single minute of Kit Webb.

Ms. Sebastian’s characters are always beautifully unique, and Kit and Percy are two of a kind. Fascinating backstories for each character are gradually revealed, and held my attention from the very first page.

Exciting and romantic, funny and creative, The Principles of Kit Webb is a satisfying hurt/comfort, opposites attract romance.
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Cat Sebastian is so GOOD. This book is a real slow burn, but has a medium pace, and you will absolutely fall in love with grumpy Kit, who is figuring out how to reconcile an injured leg with his past as an active highwayman, and Percy, a bratty, vain, sassy aristocrat who wants to rob and then blackmail his father. This book is thoughtful and romantic and so so worthy of Sebastian's trade debut. Do not miss, and go back and read her entire backlist, while you're at it.
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I love Cat Sebastian. They have such a fun writing style the lends itself to romance. I love that they tend to write about LGBTQ characters in history, because I think it's easy to forget that romantic stories between men (in the case of this novel) existed long before the burgeoning gay rights movement.

Needless to say, this is another hit for me. Kit and Percy are great main characters. They both have very different personalities and backgrounds that they overcome in the course of planning a heist. A lot of fun back-and-forth takes place between them. The background characters were good, but not the focus of the novel.
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I really tried my best. I read the whole book even though I was not into it. I was confused for a while. I did not know where this book was going or what was going on. I just could not stay focused whatsoever. I need more details or directions. I did not get it until halfway to the end. What a disappointing feeling. I was really excited to read this book. It's historically romance with LGBTQIA representation book. At least, I tried.
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This book was an absolute delight. With retired highwaymen, a heist, fake (and real) fisticuffs, as well as family secrets, what more could you possibly want? It felt true to her previous work, but was more rom-com in tone. Percy and Kit were excellent foils to each other and I loved watching their relationship grow.
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The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian
Length: 352 Pages
Genres: Historical Romance (Gay)
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

"Percy realized he had it all wrong when he told Kit that honor is just spite dressed up; spite was honor when it was the only weapon you had against someone more powerful."

A special thanks to NetGalley and Avon and Harper Voyager for an ARC of this book!


Kit Webb, also known as highwayman Gladhand Jack, has been forced to give up a life of crime due to an injury on his last job, and now whiles away the hours working in his own coffee house. It's a good life, respectable and...boring. Enter the mysterious Edward Percy, a 18th-century Fop to the nth degree, complete with powder and a heart-shaped patch on his upper lip. Kit is fascinated by him -- he is beautiful, rich, and everything Kit hates. And shockingly, he knows just who Kit is, or rather, who he tried to leave behind. Percy wants Kit to do one last job: rob his father. Little does either man know, how much their histories intertwine, and how much they'll grow to care about one another.

I was thrilled to be approved for an ARC of this! I previously read Hither, Page by Sebastian (eagerly awaiting the sequel!) and loved it, so I had high hopes, especially since it is set in 1750s England, a time period that is sorely underutilized. I've also always had a fascination with legends surrounding highwaymen, so it was all around win for me. I adored both Kit and Percy, and loved their enemies to friends to lovers storyline. A perfect read for a day of relaxation, The Queer Principles of Kit Webb will leave you smiling ear to ear.
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I really wanted to love this...but I didn't. It was ok. It was just kind of drawn out with endless pages of narrative repeating what we already knew. And the things we WANTED to know took forever to find out. And the big reveal was not only not a surprise at all, it was completely anti climatic. 

Kit was just a surly guy who owned a coffee house that seemed to be doing well. He was the typical gruff on the outside, but really he is a teddy bear. But he works so hard to be gruff and surly that it overtakes him.

Percy makes himself out to be a flighty Lord with no real worries. When in fact, he is smart and shrewd and worries quite a bit.

Yes, Kit and Percy together were fun, the way they played off each other. But still, it just wasn't enough for me.

Without spoilers, one character is kind of left out in the wind. Don't know exactly what happened to them, where they are, etc. And since I highly doubt there will be a sequel, there is no closure with that person.
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I'm not usually one for regency romances, but this was excellent! It had so much heart and intrigue. I absolutely fell for Kit and Perry and their escapades!
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I've been able to write harsh reviews before. It should be a doddle to write a happy one, right?

Wrong...when I'm happy, where I expected to be and really almost was, ecstatic.

First and foremost, however, let me assure anyone who likes historical fiction featuring men who get it on with other men that this is a very satisfying example of the genre. Despite the W-bomb dropped at the 17% mark. (At least it was just the one.)

I was utterly delighted by the odd-couple pairing of the future Duke with the highwayman. I was even glad that the couple took a goodly time getting down to business...I'm sure the rational side of an author of M/M romantic novels knows the inflection point of first sexual contact between men is likely to be the source of a sizable, um, payoff for their readers. Knowing it's, erm, coming and being teased to wait for it can be a lot of fun!

Until the magic moment slips by...and it becomes a Thursday-night delight.

I was 95% there by the time the deed got done, and was fairly resigned to the men having an old-fashioned "the fire flickered and died" fade-to-black coupling. That's not really Author Sebastian's métier, but people are allowed to change and try different things. Going over half the story without the act of consummation was almost too long. It was risky to use alternating PoVs in the story, given the lateness of the sex, because it really risked disinvesting the reader in the when-will-they. There was no question that they wouldn't, of course, but waiting so long to give us the reward when we weren't able to follow one character's perspective on the cost of delay resulted in a certain distancing and detachment...we had no sense of why the particular choice that was made in the final analysis was made. It felt as surprising to me as it must've felt to the men themselves. And yet we dwelt on it not at all!
Webb frequented neither church nor tavern nor anywhere even remotely interesting. Percy had become momentarily intrigued when he realized how often Webb went to the baths, but the man seemed to spend his time there actually bathing, so Percy resumed being unimpressed.
–and–
Kit was usually very good at controlling this sort of urge. Hopping into bed with attractive strangers had never appealed to him very much anyway. It always seemed like a lot of hassle {anachronism; coinage not attested until 1945} and risk for pleasure that never quite lived up to one's expectations. And that was with women; with men things were even more complicated because a heaping great dose of danger was thrown into the bargain.

And yet this monadnock of reticence chooses the loss of virginity that most men quail before! This didn't square with what I'd been told, nor was I privy to anything in the cross-talk of the book that would let me think anything other than, "do what now? where'd that even come from?!"

There are Author Sebastian's trademark delightful aperçus, of course, like this delicious pair:
“I used to think that revenge was about defending one’s honor, but it turns out that honor is just spite dressed up for Sunday.”
–and–
Percy realized he had had it all wrong when he told Kit that honor is just spite dressed up; spite was honor when it was the only weapon you had against someone more powerful.

Thesis, meet antithesis...and both are equally true. Inarguably so. Doesn't something in you resound with the truth in each of these?

Then came a serious issue I felt really didn't get anything like the time it needed to build up to: the return of the wanderer, and the foreshadowing of the real stakes in what I feel sure now is going to be a series. I can't really say more, and was encouraged to say even less (ie, nothing at all) but there's a reason I want to tell you that you're going to need to brace yourself.

In life, as we live it, there are no unmixed emotions, no purely experienced peak moments. We drag the past with us and chuck it up as a screen to avoid looking into the nothingness of the unlived future. The present is almost never enough to really distract us from the blank wall we can choose what to project onto, but more often choose to see in all its void-of-glory through a ragged curtain of life as it was.

When that happens in fiction, it's of necessity a surprise. What stakes there are, however, are utterly and totally on the line for the author. One false step, one gesture misplaced or misused, and the trust between reader and author can crumble. It almost did for me when the past came to haunt the future.

If this is the first time you're reading one of Author Sebastian's books, put it down and pick up The Turners series or the Seducing the Sedgwicks series here and here. They lack this authorial high-wire act, and building your trust in Author Sebastian's landings being solid, if not precisely the one you're expecting, is necessary not to experience disorientation.

The fact that this will be a series is worth noting as well, since there are people whose actions and inactions we need to know more about before they make full sense. And there are some actions that are, to put it mildly, aren't easy to gloss over...and I don't mean the one many will blench at.

So take this as a solid encouragement to pick up and savor the book for existing fans, with the note to set aside some established patterns; and a shove in the direction of the previous reads by Author Sebastian for new readers. For here be pleasures you should definitely not deny yourself or remain without. We need happy distractions from ugly reality...what better way than to see love conquering the many barriers folk decide to allow there to be in its free and complete exercise.
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