cover image The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes

The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes

Cat Sebastian. Avon, $15.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-302625-4

Sebastian’s Georgian England–set sequel to The Queer Principals of Kit Webb shines with a pair of intoxicatingly audacious leads who so successfully blend good nature with criminal intention that readers will root for the success of every bad idea, including their unlikely romance. Lovable thief Rob “Gladhand Jack” Brooks is displeased to learn from his brothel-owning mother that he is the legitimate heir of the Duke of Clare, a role he has no interest in. Rob’s attempt to blackmail the current Duke’s unhappy new wife, Marian Hayes, with this information yields no money, but it leads the pair to a charming correspondence. Marian sets out to rob the Duke’s coach for her own reasons—but after things go awry and she unintentionally shoots the Duke near-fatally, she compels Rob to join her on her flight from London, leading to lots of wittily acerbic verbal sparring and, of course, love. It’s a rare m/f pairing from Sebastian, but with two bisexual leads, cross-dressing, and frank discussions of the pleasures of non-penetrative sex, this refreshing romance brings wonderfully queer sensibilities to bear. Sebastian’s clever mix of Gilbert and Sullivan–esque plot, Robin Hood morality, and contemporary gender dynamics make a stunningly successful combination. Agent: Diedre Knight, Knight Agency. (June)