I know, this is historical romance, not SFF, and that this is supposed to be a SFF blog. But screw it, my blog, my rules, and when I find a perfect book, damn right I’m going to yell about it. It all started when I heard about Two Rogues Make a Right from Sara back in April – I have some extremely specific romance preferences, and when a book satisfies one of them, that’s usually plenty. This one seemed to tick off the whole damn list. Of course I had to. The only issue was that it was the last book of a series, but whatever, the other two can’t be bad – and indeed they were not.
In essence, each book of the Sedgwicks series features one of the brothers. All of whom have issues. I was pretty meh on the first one, but the series got progressively better with each book – A Gentleman Never Keeps Score was super enjoyable, and Two Rogues Make a Right as predicted, a new favourite. What I especially like about all of them is how carefully they handle consent and trust and making sure both parties are okay with something before moving forward. I don’t like sex scenes as a rule, but I could appreciate that. They’re all fairly soft and low on plot, which suits me, and of course, as any good romance, the character work is fantastic and they read incredibly fast.
Now, onto each individual book.
1. It Takes Two to Tumble
– goodreads –
This was super sweet. It features a grumpy dyslexic captain and a total cinnamon roll of a vicar. I liked their dynamic, and the supporting cast was wonderful as well – from Phillip’s children to Ben’s betrothed, Alice. The heat level was too high for my liking, but I’m used to ignoring sex scenes by now (I think I read…maybe one romance book that was just right), and it won’t be an issue for most.
But thinking back, I definitely liked it the worst of all three. It was fine, I guess, but didn’t have any of my catnip.
Recommended to: those who like the grump/cinnamon roll dynamic
Not recommended to: those who prefer a lower heat level
2. A Gentleman Never Keeps Score
– goodreads –
“He being decent to you? I’ll murder him if he isn’t. Wait. Are you being decent to him? I’ll murder you both if you hurt one another.” She looked so torn about not knowing who to murder that Sam couldn’t stop himself from smiling.
This continues the story of Ben’s brother Hartley from It Takes Two to Tumble, but it works great as a standalone too. Sam and Hartley meet over a painting Sam’s friend Kate wants destroyed. That part of the plot remains a bit thin, but the romance more than makes up for it. Also, found families, I love found families. Hartley is traumatised from what his godfather did to him, he hates being touched, and seeing how they slowly worked through that, the huge emphasis on gentleness and trust and consent – it was fantastic. Down below I’m a sappy fool who likes her romance honey-sweet and this was great. I liked it a lot more than book 1 – I have a huge weakness for broken characters, and it’s slightly less explicit, too.
In addition, I spotted the setup for book 3 which increased my anticipation even more.
Recommended to: anyone looking for sweet, gentle romance featuring broken protagonists and found families
Not recommended to: those who need their romances to have a strong plot outside of the relationship
Content warning: discussion of past sexual abuse
3. Two Rogues Make a Right
– goodreads –
I’d give this a thousand stars if I could. It was perfect.
“You’re allowed to be greedy and grasping. You’re allowed to be cross with him. That’s sometimes what love is. It’s not all sweetness and light.”
Initially, I thought I’d borrow it, but it wasn’t long until I got sick of waiting and bought it and I couldn’t be more glad I did. I knew I’d love it. I read the whole series just to get to it. And in the end, yes, my instincts were once again correct. It literally couldn’t fit my preferences better and I devoured it in a span of a few hours.
If there’s a trope I’m weak for when it comes to romance, it’s a character taking care of their sick lover (any hurt/comfort is good, really, but this in particular), and if there’s two tropes, very messed up people finding love is the second. Which is, well, pretty much exactly what this book is. Will, a former opium addict suffering from PTSD after his time in the navy under a horrific captain, spends most of it caring for Martin, who’s always been sickly but is now suffering from consumption.
“How long are you here for?”
“Well, at least I don’t have a monopoly on idiocy.”
Will stared. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I’m here, full stop, because it’s my home, because—as you said two minutes ago—it’s where you are, you monumental lackwit.”
It’s not a love heals all story. Neither of them is all well and good by the end, but they learn to live with it, and I loved that. I also liked that their love was a prickly thing, that even though they’ve been pining for each other for their whole lives, they mess up a lot and are terrible with feelings and use idiot as a term of endearment. So good. I have said before I like my romance soft and sweet, and it was that, but there are no cinnamon rolls here.
(As a sidenote, the other characters were also fantastic, especially the women. From Daisy, easily as prickly as Martin, to his terrifying aunt.)
Even though each book in this series can technically stand alone, this one in particular benefits greatly from having read the other two, otherwise you miss a lot of context about the relationships between the brothers. I’m glad that despite my impatience to get to this book in particular, I went for the whole series.
But either way. I think I have a new favourite romance book.
Recommended to: fellow suckers for hurt/comfort and romance involving healing, those looking for bisexual and aroace-spec characters