A NEW NOVEL IN THE SEDUCING THE SEDGWICKS SERIES BY CAT SEBASTIAN.
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.
About the Book
A Gentleman Never Keeps Scoreby Cat Sebastian
SeriesA Seducing the Sedgwicks Novel
Publication DateJuly 10, 2018
Purchase Your Copy Today!Amazon | Avon Romance | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iBooks
Now that he had this stranger in his library, Hartley was having misgivings about the soundness of his plan.
First, this man was significantly larger than anyone needed to be. The Hepplewhite chair hardly contained him. Hartley had good reasons for not feeling particularly at ease around large men, but this man didn’t seem threatening. He sat in that chair as if it were a church pew, his hat politely on his lap. Hartley started to lower himself into the matching chair beside his guest, but then thought better of it and perched on the edge of a table, enjoying a false but comforting sense of height.
Second, it was unwise to trust strangers with his secrets. But Hartley had no secrets anymore; he had nothing to lose. It occurred to him for the first time that he could perhaps take advantage of his situation. He might as well behave fearlessly, if it meant getting a bit of his own back.
He was aware that Will would say he ought to put his grievances to rest, that making peace with the wrongs that had been done him was the only way forward. And he had to concede that Will knew something about that topic. But Will was also kind and decent, and Hartley was neither; he was petty and vindictive, because those qualities were all the sword or shield he had.
He poured some brandy into two glasses and handed one to his guest. “The long and short of it is that I would like nothing more than to do a grand disservice to Martin Easterbrook. If you’d like to join forces with me, then I’m interested. If not, so be it. We can pretend tonight never happened.”
“And if I don’t want anything to do with you? If it turns out this Martin fellow is my best mate and I tell him you’re set against him? What if I tell a gossip rag that you tried to approach me?” The man spoke with a rough London accent that was laced through with something else that Hartley couldn’t identify.
“You’re welcome to,” Hartley said lightly. “My name is Hartley Sedgwick. Hartley with an E. Be sure to have the paper spell it correctly.” He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his card case with a flourish that was marred by the hinge being stiff from want of use. “For reference,” he said, holding out a card between two fingers.
Something went wrong because the man palmed the card but then politely shook Hartley’s hand. Hartley froze. The man wasn’t wearing gloves and Hartley had removed his own—gentlemen didn’t eat or drink with gloves on, and Hartley couldn’t bring himself to abandon the rules he had worked so blasted hard to master. Hartley didn’t much care for being touche
d, least of all being touched skin to skin. He felt like he was being flayed alive. Were other people’s hands always so warm, or was this stranger about to succumb to the ague?
“Samuel Fox,” the man said as he finally let go of Hartley’s hand.
“A pleasure, Mr. Fox.” Hartley tried to sound like someone who wasn’t in danger of becoming unglued.
Mr. Fox took a sip of the brandy, and Hartley realized belatedly he ought to have offered ale or cider. Fox wore trousers that were worn at the knees and a coat that strained badly across his broad shoulders; his hands were rough with work. He was plainly not of the brandy drinking classes, and to have presented him with the drink now seemed farcically affected.
“Who is Easterbrook to you?” Fox asked. “I thought this was his house.”
“It was. It’s mine now. Sir Humphrey Easterbrook was my godfather.” Hartley’s voice only caught a little on that designation. “He died a few years ago and left this house to me. Your turn,” he said briskly. “What was Easterbrook to you?”
“He has—had—something that belongs to a friend of mine.”
Hartley raised his eyebrows. “I’m not going to ask whether you intended to walk in and help yourself to—to what, may I ask?”
He took a sip of brandy as he watched Mr. Fox decide whether he could be trusted. Hartley wondered what it must be like to be able to judge trustworthiness on sight. No, he wondered what it must be like to even want to. It was much easier to simply not trust people at all. Hartley trusted Will. He also trusted his older brother, Ben, but that wasn’t any great accomplishment because Ben was utterly incapable of malice. He supposed he also trusted his youngest two brothers, but they were far away so he didn’t have to put it to the test.
“It’s a painting,” Fox said.
Hartley’s glass dropped to the parquet, shattering into bloodred shards. He squeezed his eyes shut. He didn’t want to see Fox, didn’t want to see the mess he had made, didn’t want to see the empty spaces on the walls. A second passed, and he willed his composure to freeze him over into something cold and solid and impenetrable. When he opened his eyes, he knew he had mastered himself, at least as far as it was possible for him to do so.
For starters – Content Warning from Author: This book includes a main character who was sexually abused in the past; abuse happens off page but is alluded to.
I loved the first book in this series, and It Takes Two to Tumble was so low angst and just warm and cozy and glad. I really enjoyed A Gentleman Never Keeps Score as well, but HOLY ANGST, BATMAN, is there a very different tone and level of seriousness to this novel than the first in the series!
Hartley and Sam are both dealing with some major things. Sam Fox is a black man and former ex-pugilist (that means boxer!) who runs a bar that is basically a second home to other black people in Regency London to go to in order to have a save space, fellowship, and maybe a helping hand if they need one. He lives amidst a lot of suspicion and prejudice, but carries himself with pride and is this deep, strong river of good man. He is also very careful not to give the (white) constable who has it in for him any reasons to shut down his bar or look too closely into his life.
While Sam is surrounded by people who love and care about him and basically exists as this warm beacon of hope, Harley is cold and alone. He lives in a house bequeathed to him by his godfather (who was a human piece of garbage). While Sam is someone at the same time a warmly blazing hearth fire and a deep peaceful river, Harley is cold, knotted up, and shriveled in on himself. He is so filled with sel
f-loathing he can’t even allow his brothers to love him, and it’s so sad and breaks my heart. He goes for walks alone in the odd hours of twilight when no one else is around and it’s just so sad. And then coming home one night he bumps into Sam…
I love the relationship between Sam and Hartley. It grows in a way that’s so heart-rending to watch, but Sam is the perfect (patient, kind, good, wise…) man to help Hartley with his layers of self-loathing and fear. The side characters are also a treat, and I love Sam’s family (both blood and made-family) as well as Hartley’s brothers. The relationships Hartley develops with Alf and Sadie are just great, and I love when Sam tries to do things to annoy Hartley and is so surprised by the man Hartley really is underneath his layers of clothing and polish and snobby manners.
I wish I could go more into what I love about this book, but everything I want to say comes way too close to spoilers territory. I love that this is a look at a London that is not totally whitewashed and pristine, and instead shows more diversity (THAT DID EXIST AT THE TIME, ROMANCELANDIA! I’m looking at you!) This was a bit higher on the angst scale than I usually like, but it pulled me in and held my heart tight in a steely grasp throughout so I was unable to put it down. Cat Sebastian has now enslaved me for life.
This is the second book in the Seducing the Sedgwicks series, but can be read as a stand alone. There are not really spoilers for the first book, and you’re not missing anything vital to the story by reading A Gentleman Never Keeps Score first. That being said, definitely also read the first book in the series, It Takes Two to Tumble, because Ben is like a male version of Pollyanna and that books made my heart so glad.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of A GENTLEMAN NEVER KEEPS SCORE by Cat Sebastian, we’re giving away three paperback copies of IT TAKES TWO TO TUMBLE!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. Three winners will each receive a paperback copy of It Takes Two To Tumble by Cat Sebastian. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 7/23/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.
About Cat Sebastian
Cat Sebastian lives in a swampy part of the South with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Before her kids were born, she practiced law and taught high school and college writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s doing crossword puzzles, bird watching, and wondering where she put her coffee cup.
Newsletter Sign Up | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon