Sebastian and Waite: Historical LGBTQ Romances

When we were teenagers, my sister and I loved reading Avon romances. Now that I’m older and want to read more diverse books, I’ve been delighted to find a few authors that provide steamy period pieces for an LGBTQ audience. Here are two entries published in 2021, both involving career criminals transformed by true love.

In The Queer Principles of Kit Webb, a nobleman needs a highwayman’s help retrieve something precious, but the thief is retired and will only help by teaching the man what he knows about stealing. As the lessons go on, though, they each want more than just a business arrangement… Cat Sebastian is a writer with a number of series under her belt, including Seducing the Sedgwicks (featuring Two Rogues Make a Right) and the Turner series (featuring The Soldier’s Scoundrel and The Ruin of a Rake).

The Hellion’s Waltz focuses on a Robin-Hood-style swindler and the swindler-hating woman she must seduce to bring off her heist. But though funding a weaver’s union is a good cause, morality and unexpected love may lead them astray. Olivia Waite has also written The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics and the Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows in this same universe of historical sapphic feminists.

Though perhaps not going to win any literary awards, everything I’ve read by these authors is funny, heartwarming, poignant, addictively readable, and just generally good romantic escapism. If Downton Abbey, Bridgerton, and other swooning period pieces have captured your heart, you may want to try the work of Cat Sebastian and Olivia Waite. (And if you’re just looking for unconventional bodice-rippers, I can also recommend the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger, starting with Soulless).

Does Crime Pay?

something missing Something Missing by Matthew Dicks must make the reader sympathize with and care about Martin, who makes a living by breaking and entering upper middle class homes and systematically robbing the owners. The author succeeds by giving Martin many positive attributes (kindness, empathy, a strong work ethic) to counterbalance his antisocial career.

Martin’s obsessive compulsiveness proves useful in his career as a thief, albeit a conscientious, thoughtful thief who has real fondness for his “clients.”  The book describes in detail his methods and the scrupulous recordkeeping he develops so his thefts will never be detected.

An uncharacteristic slip leads to personal involvement with actual people and not just their “things” and eventually results in a romantic relationship. Martin is a complex character who grows from a fascinating, yet rigid and circumscribed, thief to a man who welcomes, rather than avoids,  connections and relationships.