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REVIEW: We Could Be So Good by Cat Sebastian

Midcentury NYC: We Could Be So Good – Cat Sebastian

Casey McQuiston meets The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo in this mid-century romdram about a scrappy reporter and a newspaper mogul’s son–perfect for Newsies shippers.

Nick Russo has worked his way from a rough Brooklyn neighborhood to a reporting job at one of the city’s biggest newspapers. But the late 1950s are a hostile time for gay men, and Nick knows that he can’t let anyone into his life. He just never counted on meeting someone as impossible to say no to as Andy.

Andy Fleming’s newspaper-tycoon father wants him to take over the family business. Andy, though, has no intention of running the paper. He’s barely able to run his life–he’s never paid a bill on time, routinely gets lost on the way to work, and would rather gouge out his own eyes than deal with office politics. Andy agrees to work for a year in the newsroom, knowing he’ll make an ass of himself and hate every second of it.

Except, Nick Russo keeps rescuing Andy: showing him the ropes, tracking down his keys, freeing his tie when it gets stuck in the ancient filing cabinets. Their unlikely friendship soon sharpens into feelings they can’t deny. But what feels possible in secret–this fragile, tender thing between them–seems doomed in the light of day. Now Nick and Andy have to decide if, for the first time, they’re willing to fight.


Lots of conflicting feelings here.

We Could Be So Good, Book 1 of Midcentury NYC by Cat Sebastian, is one of those modern historicals I’m exploring since Regencies and Victorians aren’t doing it for me recently. Set in the late 1950s New York, it’s a best-friends-to-lovers romance between a closeted newspaper reporter, Nick Russo, and his newly awakened bisexual friend, Andy Fleming, the publisher’s son.

The book is touted as a “Casey McQuiston meets The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” in that comparative marketing style I hate. I usually see this when a niche genre/indie author (is this the proper term?) is marketed to mainstream readers (again, not sure of the proper term). It’s helpful to a wider audience who might want to venture into queer books, but I prefer the book to stand on its merit.

That said, I’d love it if more people discover Cat Sebastian and other brilliant MM romance authors. That way, their books would be popular enough to be picked up by Hollywood. My dream is to have my favorite books turned into movies. Sometimes, I entertain myself with the idea that if I win the lottery, I’d create my own production company just for that purpose.

Anyway, I’ve seen the movie version of the royal rom-com, though I’ve no idea about Evelyn Hugo. There are a few similarities to the former.

There’s the opposites attract trope where Nick is uber-competent and Andy is a bumbling himbo who can’t even shut a drawer without getting his tie caught. There’s the class difference where Nick comes from an Italian immigrant working-class family while Andy is third of his name and has more money than he knows what to do with. They also had to keep their blossoming romance on the down low.

There’s also a wonderful found family for Nick, Andy, and their queer/non-queer friends. I loved that, by some unspoken agreement, they built a safe space for everyone in Nick’s building apartment.

The story has all the ingredients that make a Cat Sebastian book a swoony, unforgettable experience. The scenes are brimming with mutual pining and longing and fluffy, adorable moments wrapped in cozy domesticity. There’s so much love and kindness between Nick and Andy, and I adore them! They reminded me of the author’s squee-tastic friends-to-lovers masterpiece Two Rogues Make A Right.

Sadly, the feels didn’t soak through to the bone. I wasn’t squee-ing. The romance is of the slow burn variety, which I usually love, but it’s so damn slooow that the slowness is all I could think about. I was audiobooking this, and even the great Joel Leslie couldn’t stop the draggy feeling. 

The glacial pace is compounded by the fact that there is barely any plot. It’s just Nick and Andy doing not-so-exciting everyday things and sending feels to each other. While era-specific LGBTQIA issues are tackled, as well as Nick’s family woes and Andy having his bisexual awakening, these threads felt shallow.

I wanted to love the book so much but it is what it is. I’d still recommend this, since many people loved it and YMMV from mine.

We Could Be So Good is a story of loyal friends, complicated families, and hopeful lovers against the backdrop of the Big Apple. It could have been all my yes had it been faster. Overall, a cozy, sweet romance built on kindness and care that falls in that place between like and love.

Rating:
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

Soundtrack: So Good
Artist: Public Library Commute
Album: Close to the Sun


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WE COULD BE SO GOOD: Kindle I Audiobook

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