Phillip Dacre is the captain of his ship and used to everyone following his commands. He spends most of his life at sea and rarely sees his children or his home. Now that his ship is going in for repairs for a couple of months, Phillip is returning home for the summer. Since his wife’s death, reports are that his children are running wild and getting into all sorts of trouble. However, Phillip is pretty sure that with his command skills, it will take no time at all to bring his children in line.
Ben Sedgwick is the local vicar and a kind, good spirited man who wants a peaceful life helping others. When the Dacre childrens’ latest caregiver flees, Ben agrees to step in and keep an eye on them until their father returns. Ben knows that these kids are vulnerable after losing their mother and being left adrift, and he knows it is important to build trust and a sense of security for them. When Phillip gets home, all he wants is to instill discipline, putting the men at odds, until Phillip reluctantly acknowledges that Ben is faring far better with his children than he is.
As things settle down with the kids, Ben and Phillip begin to recognize a mutual attraction. Ben has long known about his feelings towards men, but never acted on them. While Ben doesn’t see it as a sin, despite his job, he is looking for a stable and solid life. Ben grew up with a father who cared more about his poetry and his friends than worrying about his childrens’ well being, and all Ben wants is a normal life. That includes a steady job, a home, and a family (which he hopes to have with his best friend Alice). As much as he grows to care about Phillip, Ben can’t imagine giving up his stability for the uncertainty of whatever a relationship with Phillip would bring. For his part, Phillip wants Ben in his life, but he is also planning to return to his ship and his life in the military.
As the men begin to fall harder for one another, they must decide if the visions they had of their futures are really the lives they still want, or if falling in love will lead them in new directions.
It Takes Two to Tumble is the first book in Cat Sebastian’s new Seducing the Sedgewicks series and I absolutely loved it. I fell in love with Sebastian’s writing from her first book, The Soldier’s Scoundrel, and adored that whole series. I am thrilled to say I think Sebastian has done it again, and this book is really fabulous. What impresses me most about Sebastian’s work is her incredible writing. There is so much depth to her characters, so many connections she makes throughout the story, so many layers to uncover as you read. Rather than falling back on simply telling the story, Sebastian draws you in and shows you all these little nuances that make her work so rich and well developed.
The book starts off with Ben taking on the role of temporary caregiver to the wild Dacre children. Having grown up in a home with no structure or semblance of order, Ben can relate to the chaos in these childrens’ lives. He knows they need to feel secure again before they will trust anyone, and so he gives them a lot of free reign, mostly working to keep them out of harm and sneaking in lessons into everyday tasks. When Phillip comes home, he plans to institute some iron discipline, only to find that his kids want nothing to do with him and are impossible to control. There is a lovely Sound of Music feel to this section as the captain returns home, expecting his military style of leadership to work just fine with kids, only to realize they need a bit more freedom and a nontraditional approach. I enjoyed seeing not only how Phillip comes to look toward Ben’s support and guidance, but also opens his heart up to his children whom he has always kept at a distance. Soon the group, including Ben, have grown close and Phillip has connected with his children in a way he never has before.
As the story continues, the focus shifts more to Ben and Phillip’s relationship. The guys have an attraction almost right away, and I loved watching their relationship develop. I found myself particularly drawn to Ben, as he is so full of life, as well as just a sweet, kind person. Sebastian has created a really interesting character in Ben and I enjoyed seeing how his past impacts his outlook on life. Ben is fairly non-traditional, at least for a clergyman, which is understandable given his upbringing. But he also craves a sense of order and stability. He has this vision for what his life will look like — a career, a home, family — and we can really feel for him as he watches all these expectations shatter. There are some really poignant moments here as Ben recognizes that if he were interested in women, he could have all the trappings of a traditional life that he craves. But because he loves a man, finding that kind of happiness is so much harder. So it is really rewarding to see how things come together for these men, and with a particularly sweet ending that I just adored.
I think Sebastian has created something really special here, and I am just dying for more in the series. From what we have learned about the Sedgewick family here, there is so much delicious fodder for future books. I really can’t wait to explore all they have to offer. So I really thought this book was fabulous and I can highly recommend it. I am really looking forward to more.