Exclusive Cover Reveal & Excerpt: The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian
Cat Sebastian has been a fantastic inclusive writer in the romance genre known for her queer historical romance, and we are so excited to share the cover of her upcoming title, THE QUEER PRINCIPLES OF KIT WEBB.
The book is a Georgian romance between a retired highwayman and the aristocrat who hires him for one last heist. I don’t know about you, but that already has me excited. The cover is gorgeous, and I have loved the illustrated book cover trend in romance. As this will be Sebastian’s trade paperback debut, it is a great hook.
We also have the honor of getting to share an excerpt from the upcoming novel, which will be on sale June 8th, 2021.
THE QUEER PRINCIPLES OF KIT WEBB
All sorts of people came to Kit’s. That was the point of the place, the point of coffee houses in general. Ink-stained Grub Street hacks could get out of their cramped hired rooms, shopkeepers could pretend to be intellectuals, and well-shod gentleman could get their hands dirty—but not too dirty.
What Kit sold was the fiction of democracy, accompanied by the aroma of coffee and tobacco and the company of a pretty serving girl. An afternoon in a coffee house was a chance for everyone to pretend the rules were less important than conversation. It was twelfth night, it was carnival, but it took place in broad daylight, with everybody involved dead sober and wide awake, with newspapers and hot drinks to lend everything the faint sheen of respectability.
Still, they didn’t get too many gentlemen like the one Kit noticed in the corner. He was wigged and powdered, a birthmark too dark to be real affixed above one lip. Even from across the room, Kit could tell that the man’s coat—wool of a violet so dark it was nearly blue, adorned with gold braid and brass buttons—must have cost a small fortune. The buttons alone would be worth nicking, as would the expanse of lace that spilled over the man’s wrists. He had one leg crossed over the other, revealing, beneath the hem of his violet knee breeches, thin stockings of the palest lavender, embellished with a pattern of white flowers that crept up the side of his calf. On his feet he wore shiny black shoes with silver buckles and a small but obvious heel. At his hip he wore one of those shiny, ornamental swords that gentlemen insisted on swanning about with.
The man didn’t have a newspaper open before him, nor a book, nor even a broadside. Apart from his cup of coffee—untouched, Kit noticed—his table was empty. Instead of sitting at the long table at the center of the room, which was where most unaccompanied patrons chose to sit, this man lounged at one of the smaller tables that lined the room. It was off to the side but not in the shadows. It was almost as if he wanted to be looked at. It stood to reason, Kit supposed—one didn’t wear purple coats or high heeled shoes if one wished to remain unobtrusive.
Odder still, the man wasn’t talking or reading or taking snuff. He wasn’t even drinking his coffee.
Instead, he was doing one thing, and he was doing it incessantly—he was watching Kit.
“Don’t look now,” he murmured to Betty the next time she came out from the kitchen. “But the man at table four is up to something.”
She took her tray and made a circuit of the room, removing empty cups and exchanging remarks with a handful of regular patrons. “I could snatch his watch, his handkerchief, and his coin purse before he even reached the door,” she said when she returned. “Not that I will. Keep your hair on, I know the rules,” she added hastily and with audible regret. “My point is that the poor lamb’s about to have a very bad day. As soon as he steps one pretty foot outside somebody’ll lighten his pockets. Maybe even before then, if I know Johnny Fowler.”
They both cast a sideways glance at Fowler, who was indeed watching the gentleman almost as intently—but more covertly—than the gentleman was watching Kit. Fowler’s mouth was practically watering. Kit sighed: he doubted Fowler would manage to wait until the gentleman crossed the threshold.
That was another thing coffee houses were good for; an observant pickpocket could browse coffee house patrons for a likely target, follow them outside, and ply their craft. Hell, that was why Kit had thought to buy a coffee house in the first place—after spending hundreds of hours and countless pounds in such establishments, he figured he might as well try life on the opposite side of the till. And now it turned out operating a coffee house of his own was one of the few types of work—honest or otherwise—that he was fit for.
“But what’s he doing?” Kit asked. “The gentleman, not Fowler. Why is he here? Gentlemen usually come in groups of twos or threes, not on their own.”
“Maybe he’s looking to pick somebody else’s pocket,” Betty said.
“Maybe,” Kit mused. This man wouldn’t be the first thief who dressed as a gentleman in order to throw off suspicion. He wouldn’t even be the first thief to actually be a gentleman. “But he’s only looking at me, not the room.”
“You sure you don’t know him?”
Kit raised his eyebrows at her. “I think I’d remember meeting the likes of that.”
He chanced another look at the man. Kit was good at remembering faces—he had to be, both in his present line of work and his former one. And he knew he had never seen that man before. Beneath the powder, the man’s face was unremarkable—straight nose, a jaw that was neither weak nor strong, eyes of some color that was neither dark nor light. His eyebrows were a pale wheat, meaning that the hair beneath his wig was likely even lighter. It was hard to tell, what with all the stuff he had on his face, but he was probably not an unpleasant looking man. Maybe even handsome, in a bland sort of way.
With the powder, patch, and rouge, not to mention that very stupid wig and a frankly unethical quantity of purple silk, though, he was exquisite. There was, unfortunately, no other word that did the man justice. Kit found it hard to look away. Within an hour of the man’s arrival, he could have described the precise number and variation of flowers on the bastard’s stockings.
There was always the possibility that he knew who Kit was, but Kit had covered up his tracks pretty well. Only a handful of people knew Kit in both his identities, and nearly all of those were past confederates in whose interest it was that Kit never be exposed. Still, he had always suspected that revenge would come to find him one day, but he hadn’t expected it to arrive in a purple coat and with lavender ribbons in its wig.
But no, this man wasn’t looking at Kit with anything like malice. If anything, he looked…curious. Maybe even appreciative. Kit was just letting his imagination get the better of him.
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