Though there’s murder, robbery, extortion, and other crimes going on in the background, The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes is more character-driven than action-packed. This is a story about trauma and safety. The titular heroine Marian is prickly and angry, and she’s earned her grumpiness as life (and men) has not been kind to her. But she hasn’t let that keep her down — she’s tough and independent, and not afraid to do what she has to do to survive. For readers on the hunt for a grumpy x sunshine romance where the grumpy character is a woman, this one is for you.
Rob Brooks is my favorite fictional (anti)hero in a long time. He is definitely written for the (male-attracted) female gaze: a man who listens and cares, and poses no threat to Marian even though he’s a criminal. He’s devoted and affectionate (but only to the extent Marian’s comfortable with), considerate but not obsequious, respectful of Marian’s trauma, undemanding but not spineless. He’s smart and sweet, but will quite literally kill for the people he loves and does what he feels is right and just, whether it’s legal or not.
Sebastian’s narration is full of dry humor, and the banter between the leads is fun and flirty, and the sex is steamy. This is an open-door romance, though not graphic. It centers on a female/male relationship, but both Marian and Rob have had same-sex lovers in the past, though they don’t explicitly identify as bi/pan (as this story is set before the terms were coined).
The conflict is mainly external, rather than between Marian and Rob, and the stakes feel a little lower than in book one, The Queer Principles of Kit Webb (readers will be pleased to know that Kit, Percy, & co. do make an appearance). But sometimes you’re in the mood for something low-angst and indulgent.
However, one small quibble is that the book tends to cut from scene to scene rapid-fire, without transitions and without allowing key moments time to breathe, giving the narrative a slightly compressed feeling.
Ultimately, The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian is ideal for anyone looking for a light-hearted read that will put a smile on their face and a romance that will make them swoon, with a few shenanigans sprinkled in for flavor.
The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes was released on June 7, 2022 from Avon, and is available now wherever books are sold.
Cat Sebastian returns to Georgian London with a stunning tale of a reluctant criminal and the thief who cannot help but love her.
Marian Hayes, the Duchess of Clare, just shot her husband. Of course, the evil, murderous man deserved what was coming to him, but now she must flee to the countryside. Unfortunately, the only person she can ask for help is the charismatic criminal who is blackmailing her—and who she may have left tied up a few hours before…
A highwayman, con artist, and all-around cheerful villain, Rob Brooks is no stranger to the wrong side of the law or the right side of anybody’s bed. He never meant to fall for the woman whose secrets he promised to keep for the low price of five hundred pounds, but how could he resist someone who led him on a merry chase all over London, left him tied up in a seedy inn, and then arrived covered in her husband’s blood and in desperate need of his help?
As they flee across the country—stopping to pickpockets, drink to excess, and rescue invalid cats—they discover more true joy and peace than either has felt in ages. But when the truth of Rob’s past catches up to him, they must decide if they are willing to reshape their lives in order to forge a future together.