Surprisingly, The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes was my first Cat Sebastian review. I enjoyed it so much that I’m sure I’ll be back for more by this prolific historical romance author very soon.

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The summary, from Amazon:

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 pick pockets, 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.

Buy The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes here.

The story starts off with Marian, the Duchess of Clare, setting out to complete a bit of a convoluted mission. It involves kidnapping Rob, a man she has had an epistolary friendship with that started off with a bit of blackmail. Rob, a commoner and a sort of Robin Hood-esque criminal, recently discovered he is the son of Marian’s husband and that his mother is married to the duke, meaning the duke’s other children (and wives) are illegitimate. However, he has no desire to take on the role. Without revealing that he is the son, he writes to Marian, saying he knows about the other wife and child and demanding payment for his silence. Marian, however, has plans of her own as to what to do with this information.

Step one of her plan involves kidnapping Rob to prevent him for getting in her way. But Marian’s plan goes somewhat awry, and soon she is on her way to check in on her elderly, unwell father and figure out her next moves, Rob in tow, as the two figure out what comes next. Where Marian is aloof, Rob is warm, and the two make perfect foils for one another, solidifying their friendship and falling in love on the journey.

The plot of this one was a little winding, and it didn’t help that I didn’t read book one in this series, The Queer Principles of Kit Webb. While I totally had the context clues to fill in the gaps, I think those who read book one first will have a much better grasp of what is going on and why it’s going on. Nonetheless, the romance here was very special and made up for any issues I had with the book. I loved that both Marian and Rob are bi, and more than that, I loved Marian’s expression of sexuality. She doesn’t enjoy penetrative sex (as performed on her) and I haven’t seen that represented in a romance novel before. I also felt like Marian’s role as a mother was very interesting and representative. I don’t think she would have been a mother had she been born in the modern times, though she never expresses frustration at the role. She worries the emotion she feels towards her daughter isn’t necessarily right at times, but I think Marian loves strongly in her own way. To her, keeping Elizabeth safe was more important than being with her at all times.

This was a super fun read and the steamy scenes just did it for me. I definitely want to read Kit and Percy’s book, not just to fill in the gaps, but because I loved this one so much.

The Perfect Crimes of Marian HayesThe Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The only reason this is 4 stars for me is I haven’t read Kit and Percy’s story – yet! – and I think this would’ve been more enjoyable for me if I had, though it still functions fine as a stand-alone. I loved Marian and Rob. Always here for bi rep 💗💜💙 (both the H and h are bi!) and I found the love scenes in this to be really meaningful. (Marian does not enjoy PIV – or anything-IV sex, which isn’t something I’ve seen represented in romance before.) I also liked how these two were so dissimilar but perfect for one another. Rob is just this loving person who makes friends at the drop of a hat and Marian does not come across as warm and loving but still cares deeply in her own way. This was a truly special read for me.

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Book Club Questions

  1. Describe the friendship and romance between Rob and Marian.
  2. How is Marian’s friendship with Percy similar and different to Rob’s friendship with Kit?
  3. Who was your favorite character? Why?
  4. Marian is more aloof than Rob, but are the emotions she feels towards those she cares for and the way she expresses them also a form of love? How so?

Interested? Buy The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes.
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