A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian
Seducing the Sedgwicks #2
LGBTQ Historical Romance
Even with a slightly more serious tone A Gentleman Never Keeps Score is another great Cat Sebastian book full of wonderfully soft heroes and a deeply caring relationship. Sebastian’s writing always sucks me in at the beginning of a story and keeps me hooked until my heart is ready to burst with happiness. Hartley Sedgwick wasn’t born a gentleman so the sacrifices he’s made to bring respectability to himself and his brothers are weighing on his soul. As a teenager, Hartley made the decision to become involved with his Godfather in order to get financial support for his brothers. Though he didn’t originally feel like he was being taken advantage of, this early decision has had a long lasting effect on Hartley’s self-worth and his comfort with intimacy. This book was especially poignant because of the issues that were being addressed and I felt Sebastian handled them all really well, especially Hartley’s history.
Being outed as gay during this time period was very dangerous so Hartley is fortunate that the worst thing that happens is that he’s abandoned by everyone he knows. But that loneliness is compounded by Harley’s difficult sexual “hangups” that have made finding partners too hard for the minimal amount of satisfaction it brings. But even though Hartley can be grumpy and defeatist about his situation his true nature shines through in the way he treats his household staff and others he cares about. I absolutely loved the little family that Hartley ends up creating and how he learned that the illusion of being a gentleman means nothing if you don’t have anyone to share your life with.
This is where Sam come in — he shows Hartley that he’s worth that happiness and that even with some of his quirks and his issues he deserves love just like everyone else. But there are some hard circumstances between Sam and Hartley, mainly that they come from different social classes and since Sam is black he’s also treated differently than even a white man in his social standing would be treated. For a while there I wasn’t even sure how they were going to resolve some of these issues and find a long-term option for a relationship but I shouldn’t have doubted Sebastian because she always finds a way!
“I care about you more than I know how to manage,” Hartley finally said, looking up at Sam with wet eyes. “More than our circumstances will allow.”
Because of Hartley’s history there’s more of a slow burn between them but that doesn’t mean that these two don’t find ways to be together. In fact, I loved Hartley and Sam’s more unconventional sexual relationship because it showed that every couple can be different in what they enjoy. Hartley has a lot of particulars about what he needs in order to feel safe and comfortable and the way Sam meet those requests just squeezed my heart every time. Because of his large stature and his history as a ruthless boxer, people might assume that Sam would be rough and aggressive but instead he’s a gentle giant and I loved every part of it. Sam is pretty much the perfect hero: understanding of Hartley’s limitations, dedicated to his friends and family, and honorable to his core.
4 out of 5 stars
Tags: Bartender | Class Issues | Hurt/Comfort | Trauma/Abused
Main Character who has been sexually abused in the past (referenced, off page)
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.
Published by Avon Impulse on July 10, 2018
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