Monday, April 16, 2018

Kat's Review: It Takes Two to Tumble

Say hello to our newest reviewer, Kat! Kat's starting off by reviewing a historical M/M that she absolutely loved. It's definitely going onto my list.

Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on April 26th for a chance to win an ecopy of your own!

It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian
Publisher: Avon Impulse (December 12, 2017)
Series: Seducing the Sedgwicks, 1
Genre: Historical Romance -- M/M

Some of Ben Sedgwick’s favorite things:
✦ Helping his poor parishioners
✦ Baby animals
✦ Shamelessly flirting with the handsome Captain Phillip Dacre

After an unconventional upbringing, Ben is perfectly content with the quiet, predictable life of a country vicar, free of strife or turmoil. When he’s asked to look after an absent naval captain’s three wild children, he reluctantly agrees, but instantly falls for the hellions. And when their stern but gloriously handsome father arrives, Ben is tempted in ways that make him doubt everything.

Some of Phillip Dacre’s favorite things:
✦ His ship
✦ People doing precisely as they're told
✦ Touching the irresistible vicar at every opportunity

Phillip can’t wait to leave England’s shores and be back on his ship, away from the grief that haunts him. But his children have driven off a succession of governesses and tutors and he must set things right. The unexpected presence of the cheerful, adorable vicar sets his world on its head and now he can’t seem to live without Ben’s winning smiles or devastating kisses.

In the midst of runaway children, a plot to blackmail Ben’s family, and torturous nights of pleasure, Ben and Phillip must decide if a safe life is worth losing the one thing that makes them come alive.

Where to Buy*:
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Content Warning: Oblique mentions of childhood sexual abuse

Kat's Review:

Ben Sedgwick, the vicar of a small country parish, is not super pleased when he’s volunteered to become the latest caretaker/tutor for the three children of Captain Phillip Dacre. Phillip is a sea captain, who also owns one of the larger estates in the area, and his children are known in the community as unruly and unmanageable since their mother died two years earlier.

Phillip comes home to what he hopes to be a short visit and finds Ben at his house, minding his children in an altogether disagreeable way (which is to say, not like a disciplined naval ship captain). The two men do not get along in the beginning, mostly because Phillip is grouchy and still grieving the death of his last partner. As they spend more time around each other, and particularly as Phillip interacts with his children through Ben, they settle into a found family. 

There are plenty of sources of conflict in the story. First, while Phillip is certainly single and free, Ben is engaged to Alice Crawford, who has good standing in the community, and her own thoughts about the engagement. Ben is pretty angsty about jilting her, particularly because of a health complication she’s dealing with. Second, Phillip takes a while to move away from the idea that his children should be handled like his subordinates in the Navy. His children also need to warm up to their father, who has been absent for large chunks of their young life. Their behavior, and the motivation for it, brings another source of conflict. The major external conflict of the story involves the source of both Ben’s living and his brother Hartley’s inheritance at the death of Hartley’s godfather.

One of the things I liked most about Cat Sebastian’s portrayal of rural England during the Regency was the lack of shame the main characters felt and expressed around their sexuality. They were both rather matter-of-fact about their same-gender desires and made no apologies for them. Ben did struggle with his decision about his engagement to Alice, but it wasn’t because he was horrified at the prospect of being gay, but rather he didn’t want to hurt someone he cared about.

Sebastian also did an incredible job of character development. There are several minor characters in the story, and so many of them have their own arcs throughout the story. No one is an archetype or stereotype; everyone has their own desires and motivations. Also, the women are great characters in their own rights, which is appreciated in a genre that can often have cardboard depictions of women. She also included themes not often seen in historical gay romance, including the experience of grief for a former partner and disability. There are representations of three different types of disability, and Sebastian handles them with sensitivity.

So, for the most important stuff: the sex is great. There’s fantasies, masturbation, frotting, oral sex, and anal sex. It’s hot and graphic. It also has a nice level of mush to it, which is also a nice thing about this story: neither Ben nor Phillip are interested in representing traditional masculine ideals. As they become closer, they become freer with their verbal and physical affections, and their relationship also helps Phillip to become closer with his children (particularly in light of the shared issue that he and his son Jamie have), and helps Ben to reconnect with his father.

Overall, it is a sweet, sexy, and charming story. I am really looking forward to reading the second book in the series, A Gentleman Never Keeps Score, which features Hartley’s story and comes out July 15th, 2018.


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Kat bought this ebook.

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Thanks for the review, Kat! And welcome to the review team. :)

Have you read Cat Sebastian?


Until Next Time,

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