Lightning Review

We Could Be So Good by Cat Sebastian


We Could Be So Good

by Cat Sebastian

CW: Homophobia on the page and mentioned in the past

Cat Sebastian is an auto-read for me. She never lets me down. And she certainly hasn’t with this book.

Nick Russo is on the city desk at the Chronicle, a progressive newspaper in New York. (Progressive because they don’t toe the party line and they dare to criticise the police.) He’s worked hard to get there and he’s good at his job. He’s brusque, respected and not particularly close to anyone. Enter Andy Fleming, the publisher’s son. So far, so standard, right? Wrong.

Andy is scattered in an ADHD-coded way (with the baggage that goes along with that) and with two dynamic parents (although he lost his mom), he’s expected to take over the reins one day and he’s absolutely sure that he’ll muck it up. He’s put on the city desk and Nick takes him under his wing when he finds Andy with his tie stuck inside a tricky filing cabinet. Andy reminds him of his nephew Sal who has a similarly scattered approach to things. Nick’s obviously soft heart shines through the cracks in his armour. There are some who suspect Nick’s sexuality, but he keeps them at arm’s length and focuses on being an island.

Andy puts paid to that though and soon the two are best friends. Binary stars rotating around each other. Usually, I detest a friends-to-lovers vibe, but this was such a beautiful, organic growth that it was effortless and believable for me as a reader.

There’s more plot to it, but not much. This story is driven (powerfully) by the growth of Andy and Nick as individuals and as a team. The revelation of Andy’s sexuality and the joy they find with each other are just sweet stops along the way to their HEA.

Why an A for something that amounts to a character study? Oh, my, but it’s perfect! Let me enumerate the reasons. First, these characters are so finely drawn that they felt real. All of their quirks and expressions and thoughts integrate so beautifully into their whole self, that as a reader, I could completely surrender to where the story wanted to take me. The humour (wry and gentle) kept my heart tripping along as their love story evolved. There were so many beautiful moments of bravery in this book! None of that nonsense where a point of tension could be resolved with a simple conversation that the characters refuse to have. Oh no! Here we are big and bold with our words and feelings! Okay, maybe initially, we whisper and imply our feelings, but we build up to the point of forthright openness and acceptance.

TL;DR: Read this book if you’d like to be swept along safely in a rising tide of emotion, predominantly love.


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.

Historical: American, LGBTQIA, Romance
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  1. LisaM says:

    My copy from an indie is wending its too slow way to me by mail. After reading some enthusiastic reviews yesterday, and the HYW notice, I resisted stopping at Barnes & Noble on the way home (you can donate the extra copy to the library, whispered the tempting voice). I think I will have to fight that battle again today after your enthusiastic review. I am so in the mood to read about kindness and care.

  2. kkw says:

    Unsurprisingly phenomenal. I’ve nothing to add really, everyone already knows Cat Sebastian writes terrific books, but I can’t resist gushing a little more each time there’s a new one. Her books are just so lovely, and this is all the things. Very slow burn, minimal plot deftly deployed, delightful characters. Love the NYC setting (and I am very fussy about that). I laughed out loud, I actually kicked my feet in the air in delight, I sniffled some – definitely because the air quality here is bad, not because somehow she got me choked up over imaginary white men’s feelings *again*.
    The book could come with a warning perhaps that it tends to transform readers into a giant puffy marshmallows, and it is very difficult to functionally exist in the world while feeling that soft and sweet and expansive. Whatever, functionality is overrated, it’s entirely reasonable to intentionally read oneself into a puddle of goo, right? Right.

  3. FashionablyEvil says:

    There’s more plot to it, but not much.

    My description of many a Cat Sebastian book is “Nothing happens and it’s delightful.” Seems like this is in a similar vein.

  4. Angie says:

    This really is a perfect book. I absolutely loved it.

  5. Jane says:

    I’m so glad you reviewed this so I know to get it sooner rather than later. I love the idea of a book focusing on the couple falling in love, without a lot of drama/lying/misunderstanding. Also, I love that they meet when one of them has his tie stuck in a filing cabinet.

  6. HeatherS says:

    I pre-ordered a signed copy from Femme Fire Books in Jacksonville, Florida, and it arrived yesterday. I started it last night and so far I’m enjoying it very much, as per usual with Cat’s books. She’s an auto-buy author for me. I’m loving the 1950s setting and hoping for some mention of pulp novels, since they were so much the bookish lifeline for queer people at the time.

  7. Lisa F says:

    CS continues to do no wrong!

  8. Kareni says:

    Thanks for your enthusiastic review, Lara. I look forward to reading this!

  9. HeatherS says:

    @FashionablyEvil: I agree 100%. It’s honestly one of the reasons I love her books so much: there’s no huge drama, no massively terrible, stress-inducing things will happen. It’s just two people falling in love and learning how to arrange their lives so they can be together. Her books are absolute comfort reads.

    I saw a video that had a woman in gardening clothes that said something along the lines of “Millennials skipping midlife crises to enjoy granny hobbies”. One of the comments said “Millennials don’t have midlife crises because our whole lives have been a crisis” and that absolutely rang true to me. My brain and emotions are permanently too tired to handle drama and stress. Just give me that romance and HEA!

  10. Maureen says:

    I finished this today, I loved it! The setting, the characters, the yearning 🙂

    I’m a fairly new reader to Cat Sebastian, I think within the last year? Another author I found thanks to SBTB. I’ve enjoyed every book of hers I’ve read so far.

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