What do you get when you cross 50s reporters + gay romance? A Masterpiece! I loved this book and you will too!
I’m normally not a fan of historical romance, especially regency era - just too sad. But Cat was able to flip the script and write a lovely romance between two mid-20s news reporters from different background and give them a HEA.
Nick Russo can’t stand the boss’s son Andy for many reasons - but also can’t look away. The two develop an unlikely friendship. Nick knows he’s gay, it’s the 50s so needs to keep it to himself. Falling for his friend is not something he should do.
The ANGST and PINING!! 😱 🥰
Can a HEA exist for two queer men in 50s NYC?
This is my first Cat Sebastian book, but won’t be my last. I liked that the story wasn’t overly complicated or too much of a history lesson - just focused on our MCs and their relationship. Sure they faced some period obstacles, but it wasn’t a sad history lesson - just a pure love story.
Alternative dad joke: What’s multicolored and read all over?! 🌈 📰
Answer: 𝙒𝙚 𝘾𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝘽𝙚 𝙎𝙤 𝙂𝙤𝙤𝙙 by Cat Sebastian (2023) ★★★★★ OUT NOW
Thanks to Avon, Harper Voyager, and NetGalley for a chance to early review this story in exchange for an honest review.
This is my 4th read by this author. The story is told in third person alternating following Nick and Andy in 1950s New York City in five parts. I enjoyed both characters immensely. Nick is a hungry reporter trying to keep up with his byline investigating police corruption and juggling his brother the cop, while Andy is the boss’s son with all the privilege that entails. Nick is realistic and responsible, possibly resigned to his life, while Andy is a bit of a scatterbrained mess. Andy often finds himself in situations that involve Nick rescuing him or taking care of him, however reluctantly.
While both characters have vastly differing backgrounds, there is a surprising relationship that grows between them as the book journeys through the treacherous times for a gay man looking for more than a fleeting encounter. This story really shines in its example of a gradual build of a relationship with friendship in the forefront. There’s both pining and heartbreak, but in the end love will out.
Thank you to Netgalley and Avon Books for a copy provided for an honest review.
I love Cat Sebastian's mid-1900s Cabot novella series, so I was super excited to try this full-length novel set in similar times. It's wonderful. It's not as frothy and happy-centered as the novellas, but that makes sense of a novel of its heft and length.
PG for the tiniest amount of spice
"He can believe that the future they have is worth more than his fear and he can do what it takes to make that future as safe and happy as possible."
We Could Be So Good.... was literally SO GOOD. This is honestly probably just flew up to the top spot of my favorite romance of the year. I loved this book so much and these characters were so incredibly special. I loved Andy and Nick but I also loved how they fell in love. This was truly the friends to lovers slow burn will-they-or-won't-they "KISS ALREADY!!!" of my dreams.
Set in the 1950s, Andy and Nick already feel the pressure of not being able to be together due to sodomy laws. And so it is a joy to watch these men (one of whom has to have a queer awakening first!) choose to love who they want to love and to build a life together despite the fear and reach their romance HEA.
This was truly a special book. I loved it. In my mind, these two got married in their late seventies when gay marriage was finally legalized. If you enjoyed Last Night at the Telegraph Club but want adults with a happy ending, this book is a must.
My goodness. "We Could Be So Good" felt so incredibly real. Heartwrenching and hopeful in a unique setting that gives so much life to the story. Wonderful.
Easily one of the best books I have read this year and one I am recommending to friends.
Thank you to NetGalley & the publisher for providing an eARC for review.
Thank you so much Cat Sebastian and NetGalley for this ARC!
Absolutely love this book! This was my first Cat Sebastian book and I must say I am hooked!! I need more of her books ASAP!!
The characters are so easy to love and the storyline was great!!
It was so hard to put down. Such a great easy read. Highly recommend!!
This was my first Cat Sebastian book and while I will give her another chance, I was thoroughly underwhelmed with this one.
The writing was sort of clumsy. It didn’t work for me. This is one of the few times where I think a book could be greatly improved by having the POVs in first person. I think it’s partially the style of writing but also the fact of it being in third person present tense which makes the characters feel so distant. Nick and Andy came off super flat to me. I couldn’t connect with them. There were a lot of side characters and they barely did anything. They were just sort of there. I know what the author was trying to do - big queer found family - but to me, it didn’t feel like she wanted to actually put effort in getting the readers there emotionally to make us care about these characters.
So given that, why was this book so long? Almost nothing happened. The plot was a bunch of half formed ideas that went nowhere. I do enjoy stories that are purely about the relationship of the characters, and if I hadn’t thought Nick and Andy were unbearably boring, I could have waved the useless “plot” parts of the book off.
Anyway, I will give Cat Sebastian another shot, mostly because I already have 2 of her other books on my kindle, but I will know to go in with adjusted expectations.
Thanks to netgalley and Avon for an e-arc of this book!
This book was fantastic! I loved every minute of it! I absolutely loved this book! The friends to lovers / forbidden love type vibe🤌🏻 It was a bit of a slow burn but the pining was so good omg Nick & Andy are adorable together! I love them so much! I definitely need to read more books by this author now!
Affectionate and immersive, having read M/M romance from Cat Sebastian prior (The Lawrence Browne Affair is a personal fav), We Could Be So Good is a welcoming switch of time and place (1950s New York City), yet still retains her expertise at crafting characters and building scenes one can't help but fall head over heels for—a must pick up for romance readers looking for a love story set during a less depicted time in the genre.
We Could Be So Good has a slow build (the story didn't fully clicked for me until around the 20% mark), which is partly due to its setting: being neither contemporary nor the Regency period, Cat Sebastian took her time to really visualize the late 50s America. Despite its gradual start, I come to appreciate all the historical factoids throughout, such as the general sentiment on homosexuals at the time, as well as the incorporation of one of the earliest novels featuring same-sex romance. The well-researched presentation makes the world feels lived-in, and not just a superficial window dressing.
When it comes to the romance, it is absolutely top-notch; one can't help but falls deeply for these flawed, yet lovable characters. Nothing overly revolutionary, but the sexual tension, banter, and desire are assembled with such sleek precision, one can't really ask for more. One thing I may add, however, as someone who typically prefer a plot-driven story, We Could Be So Good feels a little padded out in some spots—especially noticeable when catching flu is turned into a multi-chapter story arc (laugh). I wish there's a little bit more involving drama regarding the newspaper publishing, as well as being a reporter during that period (the elements are present, but are definitely on the peripheral).
We Could Be So Good is another strong effort from Cat Sebastian, definitely prompts me to return to her backlist and pick up more of her books (I'm eyeing the Page & Sommers series).
Really enjoyed this historical romance set during a time not often seen in the genre. Cat Sebastian is a master of queer romance and this one is no exception. Highly recommend for fans of historical romance and the New York setting was incredibly well done and fun to read as well.
How does Cat Sebastian do it?? I tabbed this book so much. I considered posting my favorite quotes but honestly there were too many of them to do that.
There was gay pining/gay angst/gay panic. There was hurt/comfort. There was grumpy sunshine. There was forbidden love. There was a mangy stray cat. There were walls built and walls coming down. There were forehead kisses.
There was not, to my surprise, steam. This book is not exactly fade-to-black (thank goodness, because there is a lot of post-coital cuteness), but undetailed in what exactly is happening, not graphic in the least. How do I love a book without steam this much?
On a serious note, I think a lot about our queer elders, about the people since the beginning of time who have fought and suffered in the hopes of being able to exist in the ways that I often take for granted now. It hit especially hard with Nick, because of all the ways I have been embraced for who I am both in my family and at my workplace. This book made me sad again for all of them and the lives I wish they could have had. I hope, in some universe, Andy and Nick are happy and safe and together. (Though that last part is definitely happening. This is not a couple I think will break up after the epilogue. They will be old and gray on a fire escape, drinking their coffee. Not taking questions about that ever, thank you.)
While it was a little long in parts and honestly generally plotless, it felt like a slice of life, watching this pair navigate their connection and settle gently into their life together. I loved it so much. It’s a warm hug with a little grief for all the ways queer people have had to adjust their hopes for their future.
This was SO good, one of Sebastian's best yet in my opinion. She deftly navigates challenging subject and setting to build a story that is so filled with sweetness and vulnerability. is it a rosy look at the time? sure. but it's also a great reminder that there have always been good people, and people finding love and joy in the teeth of adversity.
I started reading this and immediately thought of that camp movie Down with Love, a present day romcom taking place in the fifties. We Could be so Good held all the charm of that movie for it to be fun, sweet, and romantic. But it also held the harsh realities of that era, giving the book more depth and substance. It’s a romcom that kept all of it’s charm while dealing with internal homophobia, external homophobia, and adding a layer of all cops are bastards, an impressive feat, and a really sweet story.
Thanks to Harper Collins and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book.
We Could Be So Good is my third read by Cat Sebastian after greatly enjoying the first two novels of the London Highwaymen series. The story is set in 1950s New York where Nick Russo works as a reporter for a newspaper, the Chronicle. In the archive file room, he meets the son of the newspaper owner, Andy Fleming and they are slightly smitten. The prologue introducing the two characters was very well-done and helps me to connect more to the characters. As the two characters spend time together, they being to learn about the other and how their backgrounds may be different, yet they do have similarities.
The two characters have their own internal struggles as they go through life, so it was nice to see the two of them interact and open-up to each other. There is a mix of modern-ness with the historical setting, especially with the inclusion of police corruption. The plot itself is a little lighter compared to other novels as there is not a lot of plots to move the story forward. The main journey is the two characters bonding over writing a story involving the corruption. While this not make the plot “exciting” with lots of action, it does give a lot of time to bond with the characters. Both Andy and Nick are enjoyable, so this type of storytelling worked out well. Overall, this was a great read and I continue to love Sebastian’s writing. I look forward to reading her next novel in the future.
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Avon, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**
This book is just… wow! I loved it so much! I loved every single word of it! It’s funny and heartbroken and hopeful and devastating! It’s all of this and a lot more!
This is absolutely the perfect book, I’m so obsessed! I just want to reread and then reread and then reread again! Love it love it love it!
THANK YOU NETGALLEY AND AVON FOR THE ARC!
In short, this book was so, so good. See what I did there? :) It was even better than I expected, and I anticipated enjoying it a lot because I've loved some of Sebastian's other books. The 1950's isn't really a time period I think of when I think about queer romance, likely because much of the media from then was incredibly sanitized to idealize the nuclear family. This book did a great job of showing what it would be like for queer people to live and fall in love in that type of societal environment where they are largely invisible and actively erased. It was both nerve-wracking and heartbreaking to walk the tight rope with these characters of carving out a life for themselves amidst their fear of persecution.
The story of this book was pretty simple. It was mostly just about following these two men as they become friends, build intimacy, and figure out they are madly in love with one another. There's also a couple side plots related to investigating police corruption and one of the men becoming ready to accept his role as the head of the newspaper. However, they play relatively minor, albeit important, parts in the story. The focus is truly on the relationship and the characters, and I just ate it up. I found the entire journey to be an emotional one, and I was happy that there wasn't a disastrous third act breakup, only a slight hiccup that made sense given the progression of the relationship up to that point.
The characters in this book were so awkwardly clueless that I wanted to smash their faces together for the first half to make them understand they were in love. lol. Nick was a loner who kept everyone at arms length because he was afraid of them finding out he was gay. He had a bad history with the police despite his brother being an officer (hello family dysfunction!) and was terrified of being found out and arrested. Andy was so horribly out of his depth at adulting, while also having pretty serious abandonment issues. Nick saw how much of a mess Andy was and basically decided to adopt him. They became inseparable friends and the rest was history. Andy slowly had a bi awakening, which was a treat to read, and the two of them worked to figure out their feelings and how to have a relationship despite their emotional baggage and society's roadblocks. So much of this story was about facing fear and carving out a space to feel safe despite facing persecution. The characters also spent a lot of time tackling their internalized homophobia telling them that they couldn't and shouldn't have the life they wanted with each other. It was all very heartfelt, and the writing of the dialogue had the perfect level of cheesiness.
The only aspect that left me slightly wanting a bit more was the world-building, specifically the newspaper office. It was basically all vibes and no substance. Don't get me wrong. The vibes were really cool, and I loved the setting. The characters just didn't really spend any time doing actual reporting or newspaper work. It felt like all their work happened off the page, which will likely be fine for a lot of people given how well the writer sucks you in with the central relationship. I would have loved to actually have more scenes of the two men actively doing their jobs together, though. They had great chemistry, and I'd have loved to see it applied to some investigatory work more often.
All in all, this was a wonderful queer historical romance with brilliant characterization and a cool setting. The journey in this one was largely character-driven, and I found it both thought-provoking and emotionally compelling. Therefore, I rate this book 4.75 out of 5 stars.
✨ Review ✨ We Could Be So Good by Cat Sebastian
Read this if you like:
⭕️ great banter
⭕️ m/m friends to lovers
⭕️ 1950s NYC
⭕️ journalists at work
I loved this book so much -- I could barely put it down. I loved the friendship between the two main characters and the ways that they navigated their friends, families, and workplace in NYC.
Nick Russo, a child of Italian immigrant families, and Andy Fleming, a wealthy child of the owner of a newspaper, come together in the newsroom. Nick takes Andy, who's honestly a bumbling mess that keeps losing his keys, gets his tie caught in a file cabinet, etc. etc., under his wing. The two develop a strong friendship, but neither can deny the attraction they have for each other.
This super smartly tackles the climate of 1950s NYC where queerness was no longer invisible but it still carried with it many dangers. Sebastian does such a great job of building up this world where Nick and Andy struggle with some of these fears -- of identity, visibility, and openness to friends and family. Her historical research was stellar, and it felt like George Chauncey's Gay New York coming to life!
It was a really lovely friends to lovers story with strong found family dynamics. I loved the banter between the two and just the sweetness they cultivated. I adored this book and can't wait to read more books by this author!
Genre: m/m historical romance
Setting: 1950s NYC
Reminds me of: George Chauncey's Gay New York, the Mob Queens podcast
Pub Date: out now!
Thanks to Avon and #netgalley for an advanced e-copy of this book!
Excellent, excellent, excellent! A wonderful queer historical romance set in 1950s New York. The relationship between Andy and Nick is the core of this novel, and they are so clearly meant for one another. Run, don’t walk, to get your copy.
Nick Russo works at the city desk of a New York City newspaper. He comes from a big Italian family in Brooklyn and has worked hard to make it out of his neighborhood. Nick largely keeps to himself at work; being a gay man in the late 1950s isn’t easy and Nick knows if anyone finds out, it could mean big trouble for him. So he keeps his sexuality on the down low and tries not to draw too much attention.
All of that changes, however, when Nick meets Andy Fleming. Andy’s father owns the newspaper and he is working the city desk to learn the ropes. However, poor Andy is a mess. The first day they meet, Andy has managed to get his tie stuck in a drawer and can’t get out. It is quickly clear that Andy needs a lot of looking after, and Nick can’t help but befriend him. The two men are total opposites. Andy is rich and grew up in an elite world. He is sweet as can be, but definitely can’t take care of himself. Nick is independent by necessity, growing up with no one to really rely on but himself. Nick and Andy become best friends and are practically inseparable.
When the guys end up becoming temporary roommates, things take a turn in their relationship. While Andy has always liked women, there is a part of him that knows he is attracted to men as well. It has always been easier just to ignore that part of himself; he wants to get married and settle down and the only way to do that is with a woman. But living with Nick forces Andy to face his feelings, as his attraction to Nick flares. For his part, Nick has been in love with Andy from practically the first minute, but he never thought Andy was someone he could have. As the men open up about their feelings, they settle into a happy domesticity. But there is only so long that people will believe they are just friends living together, especially as Nick finds himself on the police radar for some stories he is writing for the paper. Eventually, Andy will need to move out or people will suspect the truth. But Andy and Nick have fallen hard for each other and both dream of the life they could have together, if only they can take the chance.
We Could Be So Good is a lovely, deeply character-driven historical and I just found myself really swept up in the story. Nick and Andy make such a fun, opposites attract couple. There is a definite grumpy/sunshine vibe here, as Nick has let his need for self reliance and secrecy keep him separated from most people, and Andy is sort of this sweet, golden retriever of a guy (if golden retrievers kept losing their keys). Nick is from a poorer, immigrant neighborhood and he fought to make it out and get his job at the paper. He is scrappy and strong and knows how to get things done. When Nick meets Andy, he can’t help but take care of him, almost despite himself, because Andy is a mess. He is wealthy and never had to really be responsible for things. He is also sort of flighty and oblivious and I found him adorable. Somehow, these men form an unlikely friendship and this incredibly intense bond. For the first part of the book, we are following them as friends, even as we see that Nick has secret feelings for Andy. Then, as Andy begins to realize his own attraction, we see a relationship bloom between them. As I said, this is an intensely character-driven story and things focus directly on the developing relationship between these two men. The style really hones in on Nick and Andy and I found it really interesting and rewarding to feel so immersed in these characters.
While the men move fairly easily from friends to lovers, the anvil hanging over them all the time is the fear of discovery. The book takes place in the late 1950s, a time when being gay was illegal and could get you thrown in jail, or worse. Nick has learned to keep his hookups quick and discreet, but he lives in constant fear of being found out for being gay. It is something Andy has not really had to force himself to think about; since he is also attracted to women, he has been able to just pass himself off as straight. When Andy starts considering his feelings for Nick, suddenly he also has to confront the fact that he can no longer be open about his feelings publicly. There are some really intense moments where this all hits home, like when someone comes to their apartment and they have to quickly hide all signs that they share a bedroom. What I really loved here is seeing these guys first come to terms with their feelings and what it means for them, and then start taking some small steps toward defiance, toward wanting to be themselves without fear. This is still a time when being out is dangerous, but the men manage to live a little more on their own terms. As always with her historical stories, Sebastian gives this book a great sense of time and place. I loved the little details that flesh out the story and Sebastian builds life in the 1950s so nicely into the book.
Overall, I found this one just so enjoyable to read. I loved Andy and Nick together and I really liked the way the writing just made me feel so immersed in their story. The way the focus builds on these characters left me feeling like I really had a window into their lives and who they are as people. I just loved the book and can highly recommend it.
What a cute and soft story!! Seeing Nick and Andy fight for their HEA was so heartwarming. This is a friends to roommates to lovers story and their is so much YEARNING and pining and staring which I loved so much. Nothing like a good forced proximity to make people confront their feelings.
Cat Sebastian has a way with words and I was smiling so much at the dialogues and their internal thoughts. I highlighted quite a bit and was feeling all the feelings.
My only complaint and the reason this is not five stars is it slowed down a bit plot wise and I had a hard time finishing it because it got a bit slow. I was enjoying what was happening, but it just started dragging a bit. The end wrapped everything up well, but I could've used bit more plot in the middle section.