Austin Kleon introduced me to a newsletter issue in which director and writer Mark Slutsky talks about the feeling of being in good hands:

I’ve come to trust a certain feeling that comes over me when I first make contact with a piece of art. The opening lines of a book; the first 30 seconds or so of a movie; bars of a song, etc. It is a feeling of being in good hands, an intuitive sense that the author knows what they are doing and that the experience will be worth my time.

I felt this way as soon as I read the first sentence of Cat Sebastian’s We Could Be So Good:

Nick Russo could fill the Sunday paper with reasons why he shouldn’t be able to stand Andy Fleming.

I loved that book so much, so I was thoroughly psyched to get the chance to read an advanced reading copy for You Should Be So Lucky, a novel set in the same mid-20th-century America narrative world, about a grouchy, grieving arts reporter and the golden retriever/foulmouthed jerk baseball player whose slump the editor of Mark’s newspaper has tasked him with writing about. As often happens in a romance, these two knuckleheads learn, grow, and fall in love, not necessarily in that order.

What I loved: So much. Woof. Hard to even think of how to explain it all. I’ll start by saying that mostly, I love these two characters, and most especially I love Mark, who is a snarky reporter with a squishy heart, who simultaneously so appreciates the way his deceased partner William made him feel worthwhile and loathes the way William’s political ambitions meant that they could never seem even at all possibly queer. I just love him so much. I imagine him as a young Trent Crimm (from Ted Lasso, in case you’re not familiar).

I love Eddie, too, his inability to hide his feelings just ever. His willingness to throw caution to the wind and let his blossoming friendship with Mark just exist in the world without constantly looking over his shoulder about it. His beautiful relationship with his mother and his own bruised heart in the face of learning he was about to be traded to a team that would take him far from his home and everything he knew.

What I wanted more of: Let’s be clear. There is nothing that I’m like, “Cat Sebastian didn’t do enough of that,” because Cat Sebastian is awesome. But let’s also be clear. I will read more of whatever Cat Sebastian wants to write, and if she wrote a lovely Christmas novella about Nick and Andy (from We Could Be So Good) and Mark and Eddie all being at a Christmas party together, I would read it so hard.

What I need to warn you about: This book is about two dudes falling in love, so if you don’t want to read about that, skip it. There is some spice but the language isn’t very explicit. I’d say, medium-ish, maybe slightly less than medium spice? There are some of the kind of things that people usually want content warnings about: death of a partner before the book starts, period-appropriate homophobia, parents kicking a son out due to their own homophobia.

Who should read this: People who want a romance with a lot of interiority, minimal conflict between the two main characters, people who like baseball mixed in with their love.

The cover of the book ‘You Should Be So Lucky’ by Cat Sebastian features two illustrated characters against a blue background. On the left, a character wears a red and white baseball uniform with the team name ‘Robins’ across the chest, holding a baseball bat over one shoulder. On the right stands another character in brown period clothing, holding an open book in one hand and a microphone in the other. Behind them are line drawings that include baseball paraphernalia, architectural elements like columns and arches, and what appears to be the Statue of Liberty’s torch. At the bottom of the image is praise for Cat Sebastian from Olivia Waite, stating, ‘Cat Sebastian is my desert island author.’