A few weeks ago someone on twitter asked if anyone ever actually won those Goodreads giveaways, and yes, people do win Goodreads giveaways. I won a physical copy of Cat Sebastian’s The Queer Principles of Kit Webb. It arrived on my doorstep just as I had pulled out some color complimentary veggies. Look at me being a bookstagramer.
I always know I’m going to like a Cat Sebastian book, but then I get surprised by how much it gets into my feelings. The Queer Principles of Kit Webb works well on many levels. It delivers a romance full of (not so) secret pining with a love language of insults. If you want a grumpy/sunshine dynamic, or two people insisting they won’t catch feelings, this book has those. If you want historical “be queer, do crime,” there are a lot of plots and crimes happening in here with queer main characters – Percy is gay, Kit is bi or pan. I should note though that this isn’t really a heist romance, and no one actually says “stand and deliver.” There is fashion, disguises, sword fighting, early morning cake, and compassionate spider relocation.
Class is an enormous obstacle between aristocrat Percy and commoner Kit. Everyone, including Percy and Kit, warn Kit not to get involved with Percy. One of the joys of reading extensively in a genre is the way expectations are built, played with, and subverted. If you’ve read romance as long as I have, there’s a background expectation that the love interest of lesser wealth will be raised to the level of the love interest of greater wealth, and the marriage between them, while flying in the face of society will ultimately be accepted by good people within the Ton. That’s not going to happen in Kit Webb (queer love was a crime, openly queer relationships were a huge no), and what Cat Sebastian does instead is one of the reasons I loved this book. Sebastian explicitly rejects the myth of the good duke/billionaire. I love that the banner on Cat Sebastian’s website says “Fall in Love, Eat the Rich.”
I love books that make me think and question. At one point, Percy says to Kit, “what I had thought were principles were merely manners, and they’re utterly insufficient for my present circumstances.” Most of us absorb the values of our families and our communities and we may or may not ever consider them. Kit has considered his principles, and Percy is rethinking everything he thought was true. The question of principles versus manners has stuck with me.
I received this as an advance reader copy from the publisher in a Goodreads Giveaway. This has not affected my opinion.
Content warnings: violence (not graphic), remembered traumatic events, past loss of infant, spouse, and parents, and a bad father.