A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian (Seducing the Sedgwicks #2)
Released: July 10, 2018
Reviewed by Mandi
I don’t think I’ve ever read Cat Sebastian and shame on me! I really enjoyed her voice in this one – she gives us two characters that will make you smile and warm your heart.
Hartley Sedgwick took London drawing rooms by storm with his good looks and easy charm. But when his godfather dies, and Hartley inherits his house, the godfather’s son, who was overlooked in the inheritance, starts to release salacious gossip about Hartley – that he admires men, not women. There is 100% truth in this gossip, but thankfully the son doesn’t have definite proof that would criminally prosecute Hartley. Instead, Hartley is shunned from society. He refuses to give up his house, and becomes a recluse. No matter how much his brothers try to get him out, he stews in misery as he watches his staff leave.
Sam Fox owns the Bell, a popular pub. A former boxer, Sam decided to leave the sport when he almost killed a man, and then his protegé died in the ring. Sam is black and follows every single rule as to not draw attention to himself. He knows being black makes him a target and he doesn’t want to give those with authority any reason to look at him. When his good friend Kate comes to him, upset that a nude portrait painted of her years ago, is making her nervous that it may one day expose her, he wants to help. Kate and his brother are fond of each other, but she is embarrassed that she posed nude when she was desperate for money years ago. Sam tracks this painting down to Hartley’s godfather, which is how Sam is found lurking outside of Hartley’s house late one night.
Hartley also was painted nude by the same artist – and he still suffers from the trauma of it all in present day. Used and abused as a young man, he can’t stand anyone to touch him. When Sam is lurking outside his house, his first instinct is fear. Sam is big and unknown to him. But Sam soon soothes him and Hartley realizes this man is not a threat. The two of them decide to work together to track down the paintings, and slowly Hartely starts to trust Sam and a romance develops.
I loved Hartley and Sam so much. Hartley’s spirit is broken since gossip broke that he likes men. He doesn’t necessarily deny it – he acts more feminine and it’s just always kind of been known that he wouldn’t chase after women. But he is lonely – and with his trauma of being touched and made to pose nude years ago, it makes it a difficult existence for him. Sam comes into his life in a random moment, and changes his life forever. Sam is the kindest most adorable romance hero!! He a is solid, strong man who also fights his past demons with guilt over what happened in the boxing ring. In present day, it’s exhaustion from having to live his life extremely proper as to not draw police attention to the black man in town.
Sam has a brother and his best friend Kate, and together the three of them have a lovely friendship/family. And what I really liked is that throughout the book, Hartley slowly makes his own family as well. His staff left him once the gossip broke – so he had hired a ruffian kid named Alf, who becomes his valet. And then Alf finds a young pregnant society lady who was kicked out of her house, to be the cook. These two, along with Hartley and Sam, become their own little family and it’s so cute and heart-warming.
The romance between Sam and Hartley starts out slowly, as Hartley can’t be touched. And Sam is so patient and kind, and willing to put Hartley’s needs first – and he listens to Hartley, so he is sure to not overstep his bounds. I loved them together. And let me not forget to mention the scene where Sam caresses Hartley’s gloves at the pub. It’s a longer scene but I’ll give you a tiny taste….
Sam out to put the glove down, pour some beers, get back to his damned job. Instead he turned it over on the table, gave it one final caress, and when he handed it back to Hartley, let his fingers graze over the the other man’s palm.
His breath hitched, and from the other man’s stillness, he thought Hartley wasn’t breathing either.
A heartwarming story of friendship and love.