The Queer Principles of Kit Webb is a book unabashedly about the heart. There are so many famous quotes about the heart that remind me forcefully of this book. Perhaps the easiest is the heart wants what it wants. So much of the plot of The Queer Principles of Kit Webb is caught up in its leads doing what their hearts tell them is right, what they know to be true from somewhere deep within.
We get our two heroes, the titular Kit Webb, a former infamous highwayman who has (mostly) retired from his life of crime due to a job gone wrong that left him disabled and with a dead partner. He now runs his coffee shop, once simply a front for his criminal activity it is now most of his life. When Edward Percival Talbot, Lord Holland, who goes by Percy walks into his coffee shop and announces his intent to hire Kit as his alter ego Gladhand Jack Kit knows in his logical mind that he must not have anything to do with this Lord and his problems. But it’s his heart, and Percy’s persistence that break him down. Percy’s own heart – his love for his childhood best friend and now stepmother Marian and his new baby sister Eliza has him hellbent on doing whatever is necessary to protect them (and by extension himself) from a blackmailer who has surfaced with proof that his father the Duke is a bigamist. Marian and Percy have only a few months to concoct a plan to salvage their futures and punish Percy’s father. Kit offers to teach Percy to perform the robbery himself and from that point we watch as the two men are drawn to each other even though everything about their places in society and personal histories should have them opposing each other at every turn.
But as I (and Emily Dickinson) say, the heart wants what it wants.
This is a re-read for me, as I was intent on revisiting this book immediately before reading its companion The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes (so good!) and what a treat it was to spend more time with Sebastian’s command of banter, her salty secondary characters, and situational humor. Sebastian writes steamy, upbeat historical romances where the protagonists find their matches in their partners, people who keep them on their toes. I love when two characters fall in love despite themselves and found family, which this one also has plenty of. There are also important things to say about representation, and the way in which Sebastian handles tearing apart privilege and wealth that make this an excellent read and I suggest everyone read it at their earliest convenience. I already convinced my mom to take it out from the library, and my sister has it on her to read pile. Success!
Bingo Square: Heart (for all the reasons listed above, and also LOVE)